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Tips to Leverage your PPC Campaigns with Standard Shopping

As a PPC professional, you’d have often wondered which campaign type would best suit your goals and business objectives. While it can’t be denied that Smart Shopping is more data-driven and less time consuming, Standard Shopping campaigns can also be quite beneficial if used efficiently. Not only will you be able to have full control over your campaigns, but direct the adjustments more effectively without compromising on the target.

This means that you can run efficient and profitable campaigns with Standard Shopping if you want to! Here are some tips to structure Standard Shopping campaigns to make them profitable with insights from Optmyzr products.

1. Campaign Structure

Pro Tip: If you have an existing shopping campaign, use the Shopping Analysis Tool to see performance aggregated by different product attributes. This can help you decide on the best structure for your campaigns and ad groups. We recommend choosing attributes that have 100% coverage in the feed because it prevents products from falling into everything else in the product group. The feed analysis feature from Optmyzr can give you an overview of attribute coverage.

Using inventory filters for campaign settings can help you make sure that you’re not advertising the same products in multiple campaigns. You can define inventory filters in the Google Ads interface in the campaign settings. Also, when you create shopping campaigns using Optmyzr’s Shopping Builder 2.0, these inventory filters are set up automatically based on the structure you choose.

2. Search Query Management

Shopping campaigns do not have keywords so it is not possible to tell Google which queries you want your ads to show for. However, you can tell Google which queries you don’t want to show your ads for by using negative keywords. Negative keywords can also help sculpt traffic to direct traffic to more profitable ad groups. This makes sure that queries are more accurately matched to products that help maximize ROAS. 

Pro Tip: Use the Shopping Negatives tool from Optmyzr to send traffic to more profitable ad groups or to add unprofitable queries as negatives to save cost. You can also use the Rule Engine to automate this process. 

3. Bidding

Standard Shopping campaigns give you a lot of flexibility with bidding strategy and that is one of the reasons we prefer them over smart shopping campaigns. You can either choose to use a manual bidding strategy or put the campaigns on an automated bidding strategy like target ROAS (tROAS).

Automated Bidding (tROAS)

You can set your shopping campaigns to run on a tROAS automated bidding strategy. We recommend using standard automated bidding instead of portfolio automated bidding. This way you will have the opportunity to tweak the target ROAS at the ad group level when you use standard automated bidding. In fact, this is one of the ways to use automation layering to get better performance and benefit from Google’s automated bidding.

You can use the Optimize Target ROAS optimization that helps increase conversions and increase ROAS. This optimization was built using the Rule Engine so you can build your own version of it as well and automate it.

Manual Bidding

You can also use manual bidding which will give you more granular control over bids. Apart from making bid changes at the product group level, you can also set bid adjustments by time, geography, audiences, and devices. While it requires a higher level of monitoring than automated bidding, it can be quite rewarding. 

Optmyzr has a whole suite of tools to help you manage hours of the week, geo, audience, gender, and device bid adjustments. You can also use the Rule Engine to automate your strategy which reduces the day-to-day overhead. When you are running on manual bidding, analyze the benchmark CTR and benchmark CPC metrics to see how your products are performing against your competitors. This information can come in handy when you’re setting bids. 

4. Budgets

When you have a multi-campaign structure, make sure to allocate budgets in a way that maximizes the performance. For example, if your most profitable campaigns are losing impression share due to budget, reallocate budget from other campaigns. The Optimize Budget tool from Optmyzr can help you do this very easily.

Points to remember

Make sure to note the following points to maximize the profits and efficiency of your Standard Shopping campaign:

When you choose to go with Standard Shopping campaigns, you’d have full control over your campaigns, making every decision based on your own business choices. You can structure campaigns to have separate ad groups and product groups which will give you the flexibility to manage their bids, ROAS targets, and negative keywords. Smart shopping campaigns don’t give the user control to manage any of these things.

If you are an experienced professional, working with Standard Shopping campaigns can help you analyze and experiment with your accounts. Using predictive tools like Optmyzr can help you hone your campaign objectives and give meaningful suggestions to better optimize your PPC accounts. 

3 Ways to Take Control of Universal App Campaigns in Optmyzr

If you want to scale the growth of your Apps, then Google’s UACs (Universal App Campaigns) must be one of the focal points of your marketing strategy. An automated type of campaign, UACs are an excellent choice for driving both installations and in-app actions, like purchases. This campaign type allows targeting audiences across Google Search, Google Display, Youtube, Google Play, and Apple Store. Google has an excellent course that can help you learn more about Universal App Campaigns.

UACs were launched to make in-app advertising easier and quicker. In line with this, to set up your UACs – you only require minimal initial data like texts, images, or videos. Google’s machine learning-based algorithms then work to show your App’s ads to your target audience. Since, these are automated campaigns – unlike your search ads – you won’t need to manually test the ads to find the best performers. Google does this bit for you. 

No doubt Google does a decent job of driving high-quality traffic for UACs, but did you know that you can lend Google a hand to bring you better results? This can help you save money being spent on the wrong placements and audience and at the same time help you use your budget efficiently. 

Here are some tips to try out that will help you exert a higher level of control over your UACs using Optmyzr:

1. Manage location targeting

Google doesn’t translate your ads for specific spoken languages for locations. This makes it imperative to run ads for only those locations that align with the languages in which an App is available. Therefore, while you work on making your app available in more languages, don’t forget to target locations for your campaigns accordingly. 

You can also go granular within these locations and manage targeting based on how regions and cities perform. Some ways to optimize location targeting are:

Pro Tip: Use the Geo HeatMap or Rule Engine from Optmyzr to get a report of cities, regions and postal codes that are performing best or worst – to target or exclude them respectively.

2. Optimize for in-app goals 

How cool would it be to find campaigns which are driving registrations or in-app purchases and manage the Target CPA for them? Optmyzr’s Rule Engine can help you achieve this.

Take a look at the screenshot below of the Optmyzr Rule Engine, wherein we are pulling the in-app actions and even action values that are being tracked as conversions and conversion values. You can base optimizations on any such custom conversions which you might be tracking for your campaigns.

For example, here’s a rule that finds all the campaigns which have brought in registrations and recommends increasing the Target CPA for them by 10%. 

Check out the campaigns below, which have had the “Registrations” type of conversions, and the system is recommending tweaking target values for them. Just like this, you can optimize for any in-app action as required. Eg: If you’re driving “Registrations”, and losing impression share, increasing TCPA can help. 

3. Ensure sufficient budget for your CPA

It is recommended that these campaigns have a daily budget of at least 20-30 times of your CPA (cost-per-action). Create a rule in the Rule Engine to label campaigns on which you need to consider increasing your budgets. 

Conclusion

UACs have helped unburden advertisers from needing to try out ad combinations to find what drives good results i.e. acquisitions/conversions. While you should make use of Google’s machine learning, don’t forget to optimize and control your campaigns from time to time. 

To start setting up UACs, 
Sign in to your Google Ads account → go to the page menu → Campaigns → Universal App. 

Once you’ve accrued traffic on UACs – try out the tricks I shared above using Optmyzr (14-day free trial) and improve the performance of your campaigns. Feel free to reach out to support@optmyzr.com if you have any questions. 

Oct 2020 Paid Advertising Roundup from Mabo: New in Google Ads & Facebook

Artificial intelligence is bringing about a golden age of technological divination, opening up insights that predict futures and trends that shape the market. Advanced machine learning models change the way we work, always learning and adapting, providing us with an accurate array of digestible data. The latest features from this month include new tools to give advertisers the ability to tap into that unrelenting power.

1. Google Ads

1.1 – Google Insights Page & Performance Max Bidding

Google’s announced two additions to the Ads platform in their recent Advertising Week roundup. The Insights page, which initially will be available as a beta, will prove key trends and account information to help accounts push in those areas. It may show an interest in a certain product range, or forecast future growth opportunities which you will be able to optimize towards. It goes without saying just how incredibly useful this feature will be, allowing you to catch the latest trends in time and build your strategy around them.

Performance Max campaigns will serve as an addition to Search campaigns, helping find the signals that ultimately lead to a conversion. They will allow you to focus on several goals such as new customer acquisitions which will give the option to assign additional conversion value, calculated from the potential future revenue. However you intend to choose your goals and accompanying value, we’re receiving yet another tool to expand our already diverse toolkit.

1.2 – Data-Driven Attribution Changes

Attribution modeling has always been a hugely important part of accounts, and getting the right model can play a huge role in an account’s performance. The Data-Driven model is excellent as it’s unique to each account, using advanced learning to find the ads which had the highest impact for each conversion.

Fortunately, the data requirements for an account to be eligible for data-driven attribution have reduced to a minimum of 3,000 ad interactions and at least 300 conversions in the past 30 days; that’s down from 15,000 ad interactions and 600 conversion events in the past 30 days. Google have updated their support article with these changes.

In addition to this change, Youtube metrics have now been included in attribution reports so that you can see how much video metrics play a part in conversions, further expanding opportunities for advertisers. This is currently in beta so you’ll have to opt in to take advantage and to put the cherry on top, Google have mentioned that they’ve got plans to include Display ads in the upcoming months.

1.3 – Google Local Services Ads Now Available In Europe

Google introduced Google Local Services Ads a while ago, allowing users to find local businesses, book appointments & more. These ads initially came to US & Canadian audiences however they’ve recently expanded to include a host of European countries including the UK, France & Germany. With a focus on home service industries, such as plumbing or electricians, these unique ads are ideal for lead generation with the added ‘Google Guaranteed’ bonus.

1.4 – Google Analytics 4

The new update for Google Analytics utilizes the same machine learning, which has successfully powered the Ads platform, provides smarter data insights to push for success. Similar to the Insights page for Ads, these new insights can give access to current trends and user demand, alongside predictive metrics that can project the amount of revenue a group of customers can bring, producing new opportunities for custom audiences. It will also give deeper access to a customer’s journey, how they discovered your brand and how they engage with your content. It’s safe to say these new features, which require you need to create a new view to access, will be pivotal to anyone wanting to analyze their traffic.

2. Facebook & Instagram

2.1 – Facebook Attribution Window Changes

Due to changes in digital privacy, Facebook will be removing the 28-day attribution window option and will instead offer a 7-day window, which they claim is a more sustainable measurement strategy. We can’t stress just how necessary data is for advertising so it’s disheartening news to hear. These changes came into effect from the 12th of October; however, any historical account data will remain. During this transition, you may find your reports showing a downturn in performance, although it’s important to note that this may likely be down to how results are measured.

2.2 – Facebook’s New Language Model

The team behind Facebook’s incredible AI have announced significant changes to the way language is processed, moving forward to their multilingual machine translation model (MMT). Whereas before, the translation model used English as the connective language due to the extent of English data that’s available. The new model, named M2M-100, cuts out the English connection allowing for 2,200 language directions improving how the meaning of the original text is conveyed. This change brings for more accurate translations with a model that’s continually improving in a world that’s getting closer every day.

October’s Attribution To Success

This month’s changes seem to be heavily focused on attribution changes with Google now including Youtube into attribution reports and reducing the limitations for accounts to take on the data-driven model. To contrast that, Facebook have reduced their attribution window from 28 to 7 days but have at least updated their ad policies allowing for more lenient creatives. Finally, Google Analytics has seen a new update to bring in advanced machine learning features, a massive benefit to all platforms.

For more information on Mabo and their paid advertising management services, please visit Mabo.co.uk.

Google Smart vs. Standard Shopping: When to choose which campaign type

While many marketers and agencies might prefer Smart Shopping campaigns for its ease of use, some still prefer Standard campaigns because they feel more in control. One question that we hear from e-commerce advertisers time and again is what works better: Smart or Standard Shopping campaigns?

You’re in for a surprise if you think we advocate for one over the other.

To be honest, there’s no universal ‘right answer’ to which campaign type is better. It all depends on your vertical, business goals, and the strategy for your PPC campaigns.

In some cases, Standard Shopping campaigns outperform Smart ones in terms of ROAS; other times, a purely Smart campaign strategy can deliver better performance; or you can deploy a hybrid strategy, like using Standard campaigns with automated bidding.

In this article, we’ll take you through some use cases to help you better understand which Google Shopping campaign type will work better for your needs.

1. Feed size and variety of products

If you have a small feed with products that are very similar to one another, then combining all of them in the same campaign will probably work well. For example, if you’re only selling custom shoes that are all priced between $100-150, running a single Smart Shopping campaign may be a good idea. This is because the expected return on ad spend (ROAS) for all products in the campaign is pretty much at the same level.

Optmyzr Tip: Our Shopping Analysis tool can help you see if products in your Smart Shopping campaigns have varying performance.

However, if you have a large product feed with varying products, a single Smart Shopping campaign will not yield the best performance.

Consider the example of a large clothing retailer who sells a variety of apparel like t-shirts, shoes, ties, shirts, and socks. A single Smart Shopping campaign is not the best strategy since different products will have varying manufacturing costs and price points, and you may wish to allocate different budgets to different categories of products based on what you want to advertise more.

If everything is in one Smart Shopping campaign, the performance will average out and won’t be optimized for profitability. In cases like these, we recommend either multiple Smart Shopping campaigns or multiple Standard campaigns.

Optmyzr Tip: Our Shopping Builder 2.0 _tool can help you create multiple campaign structures for your feed very easily._

The proof is in the pudding. Shopping Builder 2.0 is a great way to create
Shopping campaigns faster and get straight to selling.

2. Niche products or seasonal products

If you are selling niche or very seasonal products, like highly specialized tools or Christmas ornaments, it would be wiser to avoid Smart Shopping campaigns. This is largely because there may not be enough data for Google’s machine learning algorithms to make smart decisions.

In this case, a Standard Shopping campaign with manual bidding or target ROAS/target CPA bidding strategy will work better.

3. Scarcity of time

When you don’t have much time to manage your Shopping campaigns and the choice boils down to either running a campaign or none at all, pick a Smart Shopping campaign. However, if you do have some time to manage your campaigns and your feed has different kinds of products, choose a multiple campaign structure.

4. Control & Visibility

Let’s face it: Smart campaigns don’t give you much control. If you want more granular command over different attributes — bids, target ROAS, search queries, networks, and devices to name some — then consider switching to Standard Shopping campaigns.

With Standard campaigns, you have the flexibility to choose which parts of the campaign management process you want to automate.

For example, you can use automated bidding strategies like target ROAS that automate the bidding process, but you can still retain control over other things like search queries and negative keywords.

When you need more visibility into your campaign’s performance, Smart Shopping may not be the best option. If you want to see which search queries drive the most sales — or even which ones are not profitable and should be added as negatives — Smart Shopping won’t give you that data while Standard ones will.

What can you do in each type of campaign?

To wrap things up, here is an overview of the levers you can pull to optimize both smart and standard shopping campaigns. 

For Smart Shopping campaigns: 

For Standard Shopping campaigns:

Both Smart and Standard campaigns have their pros and cons, so choose what suits the campaign you’re running, your line of business, your marketing strategy, and how much time you have.

At the same time, stay mindful of your clients and their business goals while choosing a strategy. If your clients are focused on profitability and not ROAS (as we all should be), then adapt accordingly.

One recommendation we make often is to run Standard Shopping campaigns with an automated bidding strategy like target ROAS, as it brings together the best of both worlds — the power of automation without sacrificing insight and control.

Happy selling!

Sep 2020 Paid Advertising Roundup from Mabo: Google Limits Search Terms & More

As we come to the end of Q3, preparations are underway to take advantage of the seasonal peaks to maximize on this upcoming potential. The ability to access a monumental amount of data is our biggest ally in the battle for profitability. New updates can come as a rallying cry of innovation or a new hurdle to surpass; the way we react to these changes can be a defining attribute for any advertiser.

1. Google Ads

1.1 – Google Reducing Visibility For Search Terms

In a heavily disputed move, Google announced on the Ads platform that they will start hiding low-traffic search terms, only showing high-traffic results. To confirm, even if that term received a click, it might not show up.

Data is king in this industry, whatever the amount, so this move has received some rather negative feedback. According to Google, this is a move to support privacy and protect user data, which seems slightly hypocritical considering how many user signals are tracked and used for smart bidding.

1.2 – In-Market Audiences Available for Shopping Campaigns

Google’s latest CSS newsletter has announced that in-market audiences have officially been launched for Shopping campaigns, a hugely welcome feature for many of us. With smart bidding taking away a lot of optimization opportunities, audiences are now more critical than ever given that you can still enhance your smart bidding through adjustments. Additional audiences bring more options for you to optimize your bidding, allowing you to utilize that data tweak your bidding on a more granular level.

1.3 – Create Rules More Efficiently In Merchant Center

Feed rules have become even easier to do in the Merchant Center. You can add multiple words and phrases within a single rule with new options giving access to ‘any of’ variants, such as ‘contains any of’. Gone are the days of arduously creating a rule for each query to action on; quality-of-life improvements like these are a real step forward for user efficiency.

2. Microsoft Ads

2.1 – Dynamic Remarketing & More

One of the best additions this month comes from Microsoft, giving us a huge boost just in time for the holiday season with some powerful audience features.

Dynamic Remarketing is now accessible for advertisers, allowing you to target your audience with the very products they’ve been viewing; a perfect fit for Black Friday, Christmas and more. Go one step further with LinkedIn Profile Targeting, giving you a unique approach to create custom audiences based on a user’s company, job function and industry.

Finally, in-market audiences are now available for both France and Germany.

3. The Digital Services Tax (gov.uk publication)

3.1 – Google Parrying the New Tax

Google’s answer to tackling the new DST fees is one that’s come with shock, with them imposing the tax onto the advertiser’s bill as a percentage of spend. Initially affecting the UK, Austria and Turkey, the fees will start as of November 1 with a straight 2% of a UK account’s monthly spend being added onto the bill, rising to 5% for Austria & Turkey accounts.

Although this fee impacts all businesses, it does seem exceptionally harsh to SMEs, having just dealt with the economic repercussions of lockdown.

3.2 – Amazon Following Suit

Amazon has followed the same approach as Google by forwarding the new tax onto its sellers, their justification being that they absorbed the DST whilst the legislation was in the process of being passed. The fees for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) will increase by 2% as of September 1 and 15, respectively.

3.3 – Facebook’s Heroic Response

Facebook has a history of sour representation given David Fincher’s powerful 2010 drama and congressional hearing that sprouted several unflattering memes. Yet in an inspiring move, they have announced their intention to absorb the new tax so that it’s not passed onto sellers.

We’re seeing a rare glimpse of ethical responsibility coming from Facebook in a bold act that will surely improve their image.

A Controversial September

This September is one that advertisers may hope to forget. Despite Google bringing some practical updates, they’ve also included some revisions which are arguably more detrimental to the ads platform. Amazon continues to be frugal and Facebook is taking an unexpected moral high ground, though we’re yet to hear any official word from Microsoft.

Unlike the last two months showering us with utility updates, this month hasn’t been half as fruitful.

For more information on Mabo and their paid advertising management services, please visit Mabo.co.uk.

Breaking Down Google’s Showcase Ads Updates

As a leader in search advertising, Google is constantly innovating and developing new ways for advertisers to showcase their products and services. One long-standing feature, Showcase Shopping Ads are core to retail advertising and have helped businesses target top-of-funnel audiences.

Similar to product ads, Showcase ads appear at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) above any search ads. Clicking them shows products matching the broad search query, with an expanded catalog of products that matches search terms. Active since 2017, Showcase ads are almost like a virtual storefront for retailers.

Let’s take a look at a few recent changes to Showcase ads to see what they mean for the search marketing community.

1. Re-designed Showcase format

In order to provide more engagement from users and drive better performance, Showcase Ads are getting a total redesign. The new format has been expected to fully roll out by August.

With this restructuring, brand names have become clickable, which means that users can easily switch between retailers to view their group. Google has also added a description input space for the advertiser in the ad creation process.

The new update will also help users see a carousel of retailer offers that are most relevant to the query. Marketers can also input the Category Page URL during the ad creation process.

Image courtesy Google.com

2. Dynamic Showcase Ads: Ad variation reporting no longer available

In July, Google stopped providing the monthly reports on ad text variation metrics. To report on the performance of Dynamic Showcase ads, advertisers can measure pre/post-pilot activation. You can also reference the Google Ads landing page report to measure traffic to dynamically populated URLs in the whitelisted ad group.

3. Showcase Ads fully launched in Sweden & Netherlands

Showcase ads have been fully available to advertisers in Sweden & Netherlands since this past summer. Existing advertisers in these markets should expect a 2-3x increase in volume with this introduction.

Optmyzr’s take on the updates

Source: Merkle’s Digital Marketing Report Q1 2020

Shopping ads are one of the main sources of search clicks for e-commerce. And while they’re great to connect consumers with merchants when they’re looking for a specific product, they’ve been less useful for consumers who are at the beginning of their buying journey. Showcase ads help with this by letting advertisers display a variety of their products when the user’s query is still fairly generic.

Source: AdHawk

On the topic of ad variation reports going away, we can say this is another example of a move towards hands-off automation where Google wants to automate the whole process and avoid interference from humans. You could say that this reminds us of Smart Shopping Ads where there is very little to manage.

At Optmyzr, however, we see better results when advertisers create multiple Smart Shopping campaigns with different ROAS goals that are based on profitability targets and margins. We also see that with our Shopping Analysis tool, we can still help advertisers get insights on things like which product mix is most effective.

This insight can then be turned into an optimization where underperforming products are excluded from the Smart Shopping campaign. So even when it seems like there is little left to manage, the best advertisers will still find ways to use tools like Optmyzr to eke another bit of efficiency out of their campaigns, thereby allowing them to stay ahead of the competition.

4 Smart Shopping Myths BUSTED: How to Optimize Even with Limitations

Over the years, through many product webinars and solution calls with customers, I’ve noticed that search marketers continue to perpetuate certain myths around Smart Shopping. While Google has made Shopping campaigns more accessible (and marketers benefit from that), some misconceptions still float around on whether you can optimize them.

So, let’s cut to the chase. Check out 4 of the most common myths around Smart Shopping campaigns that I’ve seen, and find out how you can optimize them better.

Myth #1: Smart Shopping campaigns don’t offer any control.

It’s no secret that Google Smart Shopping doesn’t let you control negative keywords or offer many bidding strategies to choose from. But even with these limitations, there are still a lot of things that you can control.

Myth #2: Smart Shopping campaigns can’t be optimized.

I beg to differ. You can certainly optimize the structure and performance of your campaigns as explained above. And there are a few more things you can optimize.

Myth #3: You can’t favor high-performing products.

While you depend on Smart Shopping campaigns to maximize your conversion value for an allocated budget, you can still favor your choice of products. Do this by creating different campaigns for products based on their performance or attributes, such as price point. Then, set up different budgets for each campaign to help Google maximize your conversion value. Allocate budget to campaigns with products that have higher profit margins or higher expected ROAS.

Check out the screenshot below to get a better idea. 

Myth #4: You have to advertise all products from your merchant feed.

Google recommends adding as many products as possible to your merchant feed. That’s a very good idea… please continue to do that. But at the same time, it’s imperative that you monitor campaign performance and exclude products that underperform. 

Some ways to identify product groups that should be excluded from Smart Shopping campaigns are:

Google is currently not favoring that last category of products and may continue to do so.

Pro Tip: Create a new standard Campaign to target these kinds of products with better results.

Improving the Shopping Experience in Optmyzr

While you can make these optimizations manually in Google Ads, they’re going to eat up much of your time — time that could instead be spent on testing and planning. If you’re a fan of getting back hours of time each week, sign up for our 14-day free trial. All our features are ungated during this time, letting you explore all the ways we help you optimize your campaigns.

As a quick sneak peek into an upcoming Optmyzr feature, we’ll be adding support to the Rule Engine to exclude product groups that are underperforming. Stay tuned for more on when this goes live!

Still have questions? Write to us at support@optmyzr.com to get a demo of Optmyzr!

Take Control of Geo Bid Adjustments and Placements with Optmyzr

Imagine if your bank let you transfer money to people but made it difficult to decide who receives your transfers. Pretty silly, right?

Despite the objections of every advertiser ever, it’s still not easy to tune many aspects of your campaigns in Google Ads. So it was pretty much second nature that we stepped up to make the experience better for our customers.

Bid adjustments — using audience analytics and insights to regulate ad performance — are invaluable. But you can’t overlook the time-consuming chore that is bid management through Google’s engine. The challenge is even greater when it comes to setting placements, especially the ever-popular ‘exclude all mobile apps’ preference.

Those are the two key areas of our recent Rule Engine updates designed to help account managers and PPC strategists speed things up. Let’s take a look at what’s new, where to find the updates, and how you can use them.

New in Geo Bid Adjustment and Placements

Simply put, these updates take the form of instant strategies in the Rule Engine, Optmyzr’s logic-driven rule builder that uses ‘if-then’ statements to get your account to take a specific action when certain conditions are met.

These new strategies are:

While our instant strategies come with recommended settings, they can be further customized and automated using your own preferences. If you’re familiar with how the Rule Engine works, you can create your own geo bid adjustment and placement strategies from scratch — all the components are there.

Other Geo Bid Adjustment and Placement Features

The Geo Bid Adjustments tool analyzes campaign performance in different locations and makes recommendations for bid adjustments. You can implement adjustments at the country, region, city, and zip/pin code level. This tool also lets you discover new cities based on traffic and target them according to ROAS or CPA.

With Placements Exclusion, you can customize your strategy to prevent showcasing your ads at random in the Google Display Network. No more manually excluding apps one by one. Bypass the limits of Google Ads and remove your ads from showing via the entire mobile apps category.

Optmyzr Tip: Stop wasting money on bids and sites that don’t yield profit or returns. These tools give you more granular control over campaign behavior based on geolocations and ad placement. You can use a mix of custom and instant strategies in the Rule Engine to improve your ad performance, or use these tools for research before you even build and run a campaign.

Use Cases for Geo Bid Adjustments 

1. Account for holidays or other closures.

Depending on your industry and location, some events lead to virtually zero-sale days with customers focused on things other than shopping. With Geo Bid Adjustments, you can now mark those locations and lower your bid to account for those lulls in activity. Customize the bids to -90% to keep the campaign running but with reduced ad spend.

2. Track cities with wasted ad spend.

Throughout your campaign, you might find some locations don’t provide enough conversions for the number of clicks they show for. These might be areas where the cost per conversion is higher than the campaign average, resulting in potentially wasted spend. Now you can just use the ‘Find Expensive Cities’ instant strategy in Rule Engine, and customize your initial campaign actions to exclude these cities or create bid adjustments for those locations. Or, you can use the strategy as an alert system to be notified of locations that put out a higher CPA.

3. Discover potential target locations.

Due to erratic lockdowns and reopenings across the globe, businesses might start receiving traffic from newer locations where they didn’t drive sales in the past. You need a system to account for any possible new traffic. With the ‘Find New Cities’ strategy, you can find locations that showed traffic in the last 14 days but not before. Run this strategy twice a month to track any new traffic and find new areas of interest.

Use Cases for Display Placements

1. Target placements with a specific bid.

While running a Display campaign without any targeted placements, you’ll see that the engine will automatically place you where it thinks your ad may perform best based on past data. With the Display Placements Exclusion tool, you can identify sites (or placements) where you’re doing well and customize your strategies to target these in future campaigns.

2. Bid lower for placements with bad ROAS or CPA.

Most ad placements on mobile devices happen below the fold, and the chances that people scroll down to even see to your ads are extremely thin. Your placements might not have enough viewability and will therefore have poor ROAS or CPA. With this same tool, you can see suggestions for such weak placements and lower your bid on them to prevent spending on low-converting traffic.

3. Exclude placements on all apps or a specific operating system.

While some apps are great to advertise on, others tend to have an audience who won’t benefit from your ad at all. With the Placements Exclusion instant strategy, you can stop your ads from showing on all mobile apps and even certain operating systems.

Conclusion

Between our new Rule Engine strategies and existing tools, Optmyzr allows you to truly control and optimize your campaigns beyond what Google’s automated rules will enable. This makes search marketers the final authority, and allows you to layer multiple powerful automations to support your campaigns efficiently.

Analyze data based on preferred date ranges and other metrics to arrive at what’s best for your business, and focus your time on building excellent strategies rather than performing repetitive tasks.

Save time, save ad spend, and take control back from Google.

Try out these and all our other tools for 14 days at absolutely no risk with our free trial. No credit card required!

Google Limits Search Query Reporting: Impact and Reactions

If you’re not familiar with cricket, there’s a term called the “googly” that refers to a deceptive delivery from the bowler to the batsman. And earlier this week, Google pulled a googly of uniquely Google proportions.

If you haven’t heard yet, only queries with a “significant” amount of traffic behind them will appear in your search terms report. There’s no clarity on what that means or where the threshold lies, and the reactions from search marketers range from confused to disappointed to outright furious.

Rachel Smith’s original tweet that kicked off a storm on Twitter

What does it mean for advertisers?

The short version: Advertisers are going to have less visibility into the search behavior that drives traffic to their ads.

A search terms report currently includes all the queries or phrases that resulted in any number of clicks for your ads — from 1 to 1 million. Search marketers use these reports to exclude terms that don’t create value by adding them as negative keywords. That might be a single click from a search term completely unrelated to your campaign, or it might be several hundred clicks from a search term that doesn’t yield enough conversions.

Without information on the search terms that fall below Google’s new threshold, there’s no way to exclude the ones that cost a business money without creating some kind of returns. Irrespective of the cost of each individual click, it can quickly add up.

An advertiser that spends tens of millions of dollars a year might not feel the impact so heavily for multiple reasons, including financial insulation and an understanding that their ad muscle comes at the cost of some wastage.

But the wasted spend of the biggest advertisers can exceed the annual budgets of some small businesses who count on Google and its plethora of data to survive, let alone thrive. With no way to prune their traffic and optimize their campaigns for real returns, small businesses will be disproportionately affected.

What’s the word on the street?

The PPC community hasn’t exactly reacted with placid acceptance or resignation, as tends to happen when Google updates their ad engine in their usual inexplicable way. This time, the reaction is much more vocal and dissenting — it’s almost unanimous how much search marketers dislike this update.

Third Door Media’s Ginny Marvin calls the update predictably “disappointing”
Julie F. Bacchini of Neptune Moon isn’t buying the privacy excuse
Seer Interactive founder Wil Reynolds knows exactly what’s about to happen
Collin Slattery did the math… and it’s not looking too good.
Kirk Williams presents a balanced take, as always.
Duane Brown takes some risk by telling it like it is.

How does Optmyzr feel about this update?

Search query management is an important part of keeping search campaigns profitable. Not being able to see all the terms that accrued cost will be a disadvantage to PPC marketers. The actual impact this change has will really depend on how many queries Google recognizes on average as low-volume and doesn’t include in the search terms report.

For more expensive verticals like legal, the cost of each query adds up. It will make marketers more reserved about running broad-match keywords to mine for profitable search queries. We may see a transition to more specific match types, like exact and phrase.

This change probably fits with Google’s strategy of getting more advertisers on automated bidding, and gives them more room to experiment with which queries they show your ads for.

Our team at Optmyzr is keeping a close eye on these changes, so that we can let our customers know if and how our platform will be impacted once we know more.

4 Proven Tips to Control Automated Bidding

During my 5 years as a PPC strategist, I’ve learned that the most common dilemma marketers face is choosing between automated and manual bidding.

While many other factors also come into the picture — budgets and targets, for example — choosing an efficient bidding strategy is the undisputed winner.

So let’s dive right into how we find the solution. Here are 4 proven tips I’ve seen PPC managers use to control automated bidding.

How much can you really rely on Smart Bidding?

On a past episode of PPC Town Hall, Google’s Partner Development Analyst Peter Oliveira said, “Smart bidding uses both aggregated and recent trends, [but] favors what’s been happening recently.”

While Smart Bidding looks more agile, it may not be as robust as you’d like it to be. This is because the automated system may not wait long enough to adjust bids. Those bids might be set based on new patterns, leading to potential anomalies.

So do you rely on Google’s Smart Bidding to get the best results? Or should you roll up your sleeves and take responsibility for manually driving the best results?

In my experience, the answer is a combination of the two.

Experts say that your choice of bidding strategy should depend on how much time you can devote to PPC management and your goals.

But according to a more recent train of thought from our CEO Fred Vallaeys, marketers should train automated bidding strategies to get better results — something likely to resonate with the world’s most renowned PPC practitioners.

As you rely on automated bidding strategies to stay agile (especially in the current scenario), add your own expertise and understanding of the market to strengthen Google’s automation.

The solution: Pick the right automated bidding strategy and train it to get your desired results efficiently. That means feeding it the right settings, like Target CPA and Target ROAS, at a very granular level.

1. Don’t be afraid to switch strategies to get more control.

Here’s my golden tip: Don’t set it and forget it.

Automation is only as good as what you feed it. You may start a campaign to achieve one thing, but don’t leave it there. Monitor its performance regularly, and when you don’t see the desired output, you can easily switch to the next strategy.

For example, when you want to generate conversions rather than get clicks, you’d choose the “Maximize Conversions” bidding strategy. After running that for 30 days or exhausting your budget, you can gauge the performance of your campaigns.

When you have a tool like Optmyzr, the next step is to check out performance using the Rule Engine strategy shown below. And if you’ve had enough conversions — say 50 in 30 days — you can switch to a more specific strategy like “Target CPA” or “Target ROAS”.

This is because the campaign is already able to spend more than its daily budget. In that scenario, taking control of the target values for CPA or ROAS can improve performance even further.

2. Get granular.

Align campaigns based on the goals and strategies you intend to use for optimization, right from the beginning. Think of it as a more futuristic approach to preparing your campaigns for a bidding strategy like “Target CPA” or “Target ROAS” from the beginning.

If you have different margins for the brand, categories of products, product types, or location targets you’re advertising for, then group them separately.

3. Update your targets.

Google allows you to set the target values for “Target CPA” and “Target ROAS” bidding strategies. Make use of this flexibility.

If you set one bidding target for all of your ad groups, it’s akin to expecting all the fingers on your hand to do the same thing.

One target for all your ad groups is likely to limit their performance, and you may also prevent Google’s machine from optimizing the best results for your different ad groups. Instead, optimize your target values based on each ad group’s current performance.

Check out one such strategy ready for you to try in Optmyzr: Optimize Target CPA & Target ROAS.

4. Don’t rule out manual bidding.

While automated bidding strategies may work for most of your campaigns, it might not be the solution in every scenario. Keep your options open.

Using Optmyzr, you can set up automation to find campaigns where automated bidding didn’t fare well. Switch them to a control group of campaigns where you can run manual bidding strategies.

Check out the image below showing how to find those campaigns using our Rule Engine:

Conclusion

Automated bidding strategies are a good foundation, but it’s the PPC strategist’s role to make them smarter. Analyze, introspect, and always be prepared to shift bidding strategies if you aren’t moving the needle on your goals.

And as you switch to other bidding strategies, keep in mind that the accumulation of data points over a period of time can guide Google’s engine to drive the best results for you.

Optimizing your strategies on automated bidding isn’t always simple, but Optmyzr can help you shave hours off execution. Our tools layer automation over what the ad engines provide, helping you leverage automated bidding while staying in control.

To try out the Rule Engine strategies in this article and many others, try Optmyzr absolutely free for 14 days.

10 Ways Customers Use Optmyzr to Retain Control with Smart Bidding

Marketers fear automation, but Smart Bidding is a great example of how it actually helps.

Teeming with data and interactions, Smart Bidding uses machine learning to create optimal bid strategies. And because it saves both time and money, it’s quickly become an important part of PPC.

But there’s a (literally) dark side to it as well.

Smart Bidding means surrendering control to the black box of Google’s AI, with strategies that simply don’t allow you to tweak aspects of them to your specifications. Simply put, you input your goals and Google uses your account’s past behavior to produce results.

What do you do when you want the convenience of Smart Bidding but don’t want to give up control? You turn to a tool like Optmyzr.

Here are 10 ways Optmyzr customers use our platform to retain control when they use Smart Bidding.

Understanding how automated bidding works

The keystone of AI or machine learning is the data the system uses to make decisions and predictions. In the same vein, the success of automated bidding strategies depends on the quality of the performance data that system is able to collect. This in turn depends on how your account is set up.

The performance of badly structured campaigns cannot be improved by putting them on an automated bidding strategy.

A good account structure and the right attribution model are vital to the success of any automated bidding strategy. If you’re using last click attribution, either change to another attribution model or run manual bidding.

Campaigns that run on automated bidding strategies need to be optimized in order to have the right data to work with. In theory, the only thing Google takes care of is setting bids — only one aspect of managing an account.

The rest is still on you.

Automated bidding is not a ‘set it and forget it’ deal. However, with bidding out of the picture, you’ll have more time for other tasks — the kind of search queries you want to show for, or the messaging you want to use in your ads.

1. Search Query Management

Search queries are still the primary source of traffic for search campaigns, so it’s important to monitor the ones your ads show for so you can remove irrelevant ones (add them as negative keywords). It’s also a good idea to add high-performing search queries as keywords because you can write more specific ads for them.

Optmyzr Tools Used: Keyword Lasso, Search Terms n-Grams, Negative Keyword Finder

2. Quality Score Optimization

Optimizing to increase Quality Score is one way to reduce your CPA and increase ROAS. Even though Google is automatically setting your bids in the auction, a high Quality Score requires a lower bid.

In other words, you pay less for each click.

Find keywords in your account with low Quality Score and move them to their own SKAGs with the more specific ads. Or, pause them if they have an irredeemable quality score of 1.

Optmyzr Tools Used: Quality Score Tracker, Rule Engine

3. Creating Ad Schedules

This isn’t about setting bid adjustments for different times of the week; your automated bidding strategy already does that. We’re talking about allocating campaign budgets to the more lucrative times of day by turning your ads off when they’re not profitable, making it something of a budget optimization.

Optmyzr Tools Used: Hour of Week Analysis, Hour of Week Bid Adjustments

4. Non-Converting Keywords

Pause keywords that have not converted in a long time but have accrued significant cost. This optimization should only be done if you aren’t running on last click attribution. Otherwise, you’ll pause top-of-funnel keywords and eventually reduce conversions.

Optmyzr Tools Used: Non-Converting Keywords, Rule Engine

5. Budget Optimization

You did budget optimizations before automated bidding, and you should continue to do them now. Reallocating budgets across campaigns based on performance helps improve overall account ROAS.

Check if high-performing campaigns are losing impression share due to budget, and increase their budget by giving them money from underperforming campaigns.

Optmyzr Tools Used: Spend Projection, Optimize Budgets

6. Tweaking Targets

If you’re running on the standard automated bidding strategy (target CPA and target ROAS), you can tweak targets at the ad group level. There are two instances where I’d recommend doing this:

Optmyzr Tools Used: Optimize Target CPA & ROAS, Rule Engine

  1. Increase target CPA for ad groups that are converting but losing impression share due to ad rank. For campaigns running on target ROAS, reduce ROAS. This is the same as increasing bids for high-converting keywords when campaigns are on manual bidding. It enables Google to bid more to drive more conversions.

  2. Reduce target CPA or increase ROAS for ad groups whose actual CPA and ROAS are significantly better than the target and whose impression share is already more than 70%. This reduces the chances of Google buying very expensive traffic when the automated bidding system thinks there’s room to increase CPA and win more traffic.

7. A/B Testing Ads & Updating Messaging

Ad text automation is probably one of the last things that will happen in PPC — writing ads always involves subjectivity and creativity. Responsive Search Ads are a step in that direction, but they only combine headlines and description lines; you still have to write them.

This is why it’s important to continually A/B test ads — so you can remove underperforming ones and keep messaging fresh.

Optmyzr Tools Used: A/B Testing, Ad Text Optimization

8. Performance Monitoring & Alerts

Perhaps one of the most important things you can do is set up alerts to notify you of sudden changes in traffic, conversions, CPA, ROAS, or any other KPI that’s important to you.

This helps you stay on top of your campaigns, especially when something doesn’t go as expected. For example, if the CPA for a campaign suddenly shoots up, you’ll want to see why it happened and take appropriate action.

Optmyzr Tools Used: Alerts on the MCC dashboard, Rule Engine

9. Performance Audits of Automated Bid Strategies

Knowing when to pivot is critical to success, be it in PPC or any other business. It’s a good idea to regularly check on the performance of your campaigns’ bidding strategies to see if you need to pivot.

For example, if a campaign is running to maximize conversions, it might be time to move it to target CPA and ROAS. You can also see if certain campaigns on automated bidding strategies aren’t driving enough conversions and move them to manual bidding for a while.

Optmyzr Tools Used: PPC Audits, Rule Engine

10. Structural Account Audits

Regular account audits are so important for good structure. Check for things like too many keywords in an ad group, too few ads, campaigns with not enough negative keywords, or campaigns missing site links.

This ensures that campaigns in your account have a solid foundation on which automated bidding strategies can do what they’re capable of.

Optmyzr Tools Used: PPC Audits

Conclusion

We live in a world where competition is fierce and standards are demanding. PPC marketers rely on automated bidding more than ever to do more in less time. What automated bidding lacks intuition and human understanding, you can provide by optimizing your campaigns.

Help it help you.

There’s no one way to win with automated bidding, but Optmyzr offers several tools that allow you to layer your own automation over what the ad engines provide. If you don’t have Optmyzr, try our platform free for 14 days with access to all features.

Paid Advertising Roundup from Mabo: July 2020

The paid advertising industry is a continuous train ride of updates that, if you don’t keep up with, you’ll eventually get left behind. We’ve seen some major acceleration come with automation, how responsive ads & smart bidding are redefining our roles in the field.

To master these changes is to understand how to utilize them to their fullest.

Each month, we’ll break down the latest digest from the industry, giving you the head start you need to stay on track and the knowledge that you’re one step ahead.

New Features For Responsive Search Ads

Google have already shown us just how effective Responsive Search Ads were when they came about but now they’re taking them to the next level. To further enhance just how dynamic these ads can be, you can now insert locations and use custom countdowns.

It’s good to see updates on their latest products to include these already powerful features.

To quote Google, “Over 80% of digital marketers’ time is spent on manual tasks like reporting, while only 20% is spent on strategy.” We can find ourselves utilizing valuable time just getting the right data into the right place.

Thankfully they have our back with asset reporting, adding performance ratings & including descriptions, allowing you to analyze the ad copy that’s performing best — a very useful area for consolidating performance across your ads, which later becomes helpful for AB testing.

To learn more about these new Responsive Search Ads features, click here.

A New Look For Responsive Display Ads

Google have recently brought new additions to their Responsive Display Ads, focusing on customer engagement, with new designs & automated video. Three new ad layouts have been added to the mix, designed for engagement but with a crisp aesthetic in mind.

Also, you can now automatically create video ads just by using the images and ad copy available, using animations to switch between the assets to create an engaging experience for the user. The is a great resource for those smaller firms who might not have the funding or capacity to create custom video ads.

To find out more about the new looks for responsive display ads, click here.

Buy On Google Goes Commission-Free

Image courtesy of Google.com

We can all appreciate a seamless checkout experience with Amazon leading in that area. To fight back, Google released their own checkout service ‘Buy on Google’ but unfortunately for merchants, it came with a fee. Not anymore.

Starting in the US, the checkout service has zero commissions granting retailers free access to this payment system, dealing a major blow to Amazon. As we see our audiences shifting more towards this purchase option, it can only mean more weight being added to paid ads.

To find out more about this, click here.

Microsoft Ads

Discover Powerful New Keywords With Keyword Planner

In true Microsoft style, features we know and love from Google Ads are continually being added to Microsoft’s platform with the latest update bringing the Keyword Planner. Some accounts may not have the ability to import existing data so having this tool to help expand new campaigns is another step forward.

To find out more about this new tool, click here.

Facebook Ads

Facebook’s Shops: A Revolution In Social Media Shopping

Facebook have released some exciting and much-needed changes pushing their shopping presence into an impressive new direction. Facebook Shops allows users to buy products straight from their account, through a ‘catalogue’ of regularly updated stock, essentially their version of a shopping feed.

Users can add their payment information to their account, alongside other information such as size, resulting in a shop’s page dynamically showing the products available with a system to purchase without having to venture through their website.

This is huge for social media advertisers, where Analytics and a convoluted sales funnel was one of the main ways to gauge performance. The ability to have direct attribution coming straight from the Shops platform for metrics such as revenue & ROAS will be priceless for advertisers.

Advertisers can check stock, upload inventory, check insights and more through the Commerce Manager, the centralized hub for Facebook Shops. Granted that their platform already has over 2 billion monthly active users, the potential here is mind-blowing.

UK businesses will have to hold on though, with this service only being available in the US to start with unless they can get hold of an American bank account.

It doesn’t stop there though as with the Facebook Shops platform, you can create augmented reality ads, which allows users to envision how that particular product might look in their living room or if that shirt they like goes with their favorite pair of jeans.

To find out more about Facebook Shops, click here and to find out more about Commerce Manager, click here.

Facebook’s Roadmap

Building on their 10-year roadmap, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent talks have continued talking about how to combine their services, Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp. They have announced plans to merge the chats of these services into one.

Whether that’s just the technical infrastructure of the app itself hasn’t fully been confirmed but with ads now present in Messenger, this potential merge could introduce more opportunities, or frustration, to these social media networks.

What does this mean for the future?

July brings a step forward for PPC providers chasing in the footsteps of the giant that is Google, who themselves are further emphasizing the future that is dynamic advertising.

We’re seeing Microsoft establishing themselves as a top player adding more enticing features to their platform and rumors that Smart Shopping is on the horizon.

The e-commerce experience is drastically improving with Google & Facebook retaliating against Amazon giving retailers & consumers more options to buy directly.

Our creativity is progressing at an incredible level, where we can utilize the vast amount of user data available to create ads tailored to the individual. The industry is rapidly evolving and it’s our job to keep up.

For more information on Mabo and their paid advertising management services, please visit Mabo.co.uk.

Search Ad Masterclass Pt. 3: Optimize campaigns in 5 steps

Over the past two weeks, we’ve looked at two core facets of any search campaign: writing ad text that’s designed to convert, and diversifying ad types to attract a wider audience.

This week, I want to discuss the third part of the process: optimizing your campaigns to improve their performance.

As every PPC marketer knows, taking a campaign live is when the testing and learning really begin. Using the insights that follow is how you develop a strong foundation into a memorable, profitable campaign.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can optimize existing campaigns to drive additional traffic and better conversions.

1. Understand the point of testing.

Imagine you’re in a mall shopping for clothes. What makes you decide to enter a store? Is it the window display? That big sale with 50% discounts? Points or cashback on your credit card?

The store won’t know until they ask; testing and identifying what really helps. Your PPC campaigns work in a similar way.

You could have drafted the best ad copy ever — proposing value, mentioning promotions. But until you test it in a way designed to provide answers, you won’t know if the ad text works or which parts are most enticing to users.

2. Pause ads that aren’t converting.

Performance metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate, and conversions to impressions served can help you identify if your ads resonate with users. After your ads have served for enough time or won enough impressions, you can begin testing them.

Traffic for each ad group will vary, which is why testing ads is a continuous process. This ensures that as soon as some of your ad groups have served the right amount of traffic, you can:

PPC expert and long-time Optmyzr customer Isaac Rudansky shared his best practices in this blog, explaining how Optmyzr can help you test your ads more effectively.

3. Turn winners into champions.

The next step is to test your ad components to find messaging that works the best across your campaigns. Some cool ways to manage ad content better include:

4. Keep seasonality in mind.

As important as it is to keep updating your ad text and content, it’s equally vital to keep updating any seasonal offers.

For example, running Christmas ads weeks after the season ends is a fundamental advertising blunder. Avoid mistakes like this by running audits of ad text and replacing these out-of-date ads with new content.

As an aside, you can also use the Rule Engine in Optmyzr to automatically pause campaigns based on seasonality or holiday timing. Find out more about that here.

5. Enhance existing campaigns.

There’s always a way to add a new edge to your ads, whether it’s through components you haven’t used or a change in strategy. Here are some ways to take your campaigns to the next level:

Conclusion

When it comes to optimization, testing is the most important component. Until your ads have served long enough to get some strong data behind them, it can be difficult to gauge just what is and isn’t working.

The further you get along this journey, the quicker and more scalable your optimization needs to be. If you’d like to see how Optmyzr can make this experience more seamless, you can try our platform completely free for 14 days — no credit card required!

If you have any other questions, write to us at support@optmyzr.com and we’ll be happy to start a conversation!

Search Ad Masterclass Pt. 2: Experiment with ad types for better results

In last week’s post, we talked about why it’s important to take the time to write ads that resonate with your target audience — and to update them periodically.

So you’ve written some ads and they’re performing well. How do you take it to the next level and move the performance needle?

This week, I’ll show you how your client or business can benefit from experimenting with different ad types on the Search network.

What ad types can drive the results you want?

The amount of diversity within Google’s selection of Search ads is considerable, and different ad types are better suited to different business goals. Today, I want to talk about three of the more popular choices if you’re just getting into writing PPC ads.

1. Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) according to Google:

Dynamic Search Ads are the easiest way to find customers searching on Google for precisely what you offer. Ideal for advertisers with a well-developed website or a large inventory, Dynamic Search Ads use your website content to target your ads and can help fill in the gaps of your keyword based campaigns.

When you run a DSA, Google uses structured website data to automatically create headlines and descriptions, and links landing pages that match user queries to your ad.

While a DSA might not offer the control and flexibility to customize or edit ad text, it’s the ideal way to get started with new PPC accounts — provided you have the web content and landing pages to support it.

Once Google starts generating DSAs, keep a close eye on their performance. You can use the best-performing headlines and descriptions in targeted Search ads or other types of specialty ads.

2. Expanded Text Ads

Expanded Text Ads (DSA) according to Google:

Expanded text ads are similar to the text ads that you’re used to, but with a few key differences:

  1. Expanded text ads have three headline fields… the third is optional.
  2. Expanded text ads also have two 90-character description fields.
  3. The domain of your display URL is based on your final URL domain.
  4. The display URL can include two optional “Path” fields.
  5. _Expanded text ads are mobile-optimized._

Running an ETA is entrusting Google’s machine learning to figure out what works best for your business. All you do is enter a combination of different text elements — make sure these aren’t just variants of the same message, but distinctly different value propositions and calls to action.

My recommendation is to create three or four ETAs using combinations of distinct headlines and descriptions within one ad group. Once these ads start performing, you can run additional tests to identify which ad copy yields better CTRs or conversion rates

And while you test your ads, you can also create variations of them to drive better performance. Some of the advantages of ETAs include being able to:

3. Responsive Search Ads

Responsive Search Ads (DSA) according to Google:

Responsive search ads let you create an ad that adapts to show more text — and more relevant messages — to your customers. Enter multiple headlines and descriptions when creating a responsive search ad, and over time, Google Ads will automatically test different combinations and learn which combinations perform best.

RSAs allow you to expand your reach to show on inventories you might be missing with ETAs (quality score and bids).

Choose this ad type if you’d like to rely on Google’s disruptive methodology to find the right combinations of headlines and descriptions from the options provided to show ads created to respond to specific user queries.

When running an RSA, make sure that:

Remember that you can only have up to three RSAs in one ad group, and Google recommends running at least one in each.

The million-dollar question: All for one, or one for all?

Once your account is up and running, a combination of RSAs and ETAs can help you strike a balance between controlling your ad text and exploring new opportunities to show your ads.

While you set up these ad types, remember to create variations of ETAs — as well as the headlines and descriptions of RSAs — while keeping in mind the traffic you expect your ad group to serve:

This approach to ad creation should allow for earlier identification of winners — for Google to find better-performing headlines and descriptions, and to identify the better-performing ads based on A/B testing.

Conclusion

As always, keep a close eye on your campaigns — especially in the early stages of using a new ad type. You might discover something that affects ad performance that can be sorted out quickly.

A tool like Optmyzr can be of use. The Ad Text Optimization tool lets you import existing campaign data to find your best performing headlines and descriptions (with tracking templates), and we also have a feature that can help you build RSAs within our platform.

In the next blog post, I’ll show you how to optimize your ads and ad text to drive even better results. In the meantime, you might want to look at Google’s resource directory for ads and campaigns to better understand these (and other) ad types.

Search Ad Masterclass Pt. 1: How to write ads that get quality clicks

Write ads. Get clicks. Make money.

Simple, yes. Easy, not at all.

Across this three-part search ad masterclass, I’ll share insights I’ve picked up from working with some of the world’s most successful PPC strategists.

Insights that will help you:

Let’s kick things off with how you can write ads designed to win high-quality clicks that are actually relevant to your business.

Why relevant ad text drives clicks

Think of your PPC campaign’s ads as the window displays in a store, which are often a shopper’s first point of engagement. All your hard work winning an ad auction could be nothing more than an empty time-sink if your ads aren’t written to get clicks from people who want your product or service.

And despite all the automation implemented by Google, writing ads that get clicks still relies on the creativity of account managers.

Just as store displays are changed frequently to continue attracting traffic, so too is it important to keep updating PPC ads with fresh promotions — always while highlighting your value proposition.

A regular refresh to ad text that keeps up with industry trends frequently improves the chances of getting relevant clicks on your ads.

How to write ad text like a winner 

The image below shows ad results for the search term “buy women shoes”. The ad in first position is a great example of how to utilize the space provided by Google to promote value proposition via ad extensions and promotions.

Even if this ad had only won second position, I would still be very likely to click on it:

A quick glance at the two ads placed lower reveal flaws that might have intrigued a click if they:

Taking ad text to the next level

Along with ad text that’s relevant to a user’s search, another aspect of your ads that can make a difference to performance is which ad type you select.

Google offers multiple ad types to help you advertise in a way that’ll help you achieve your PPC goals. If we’re sticking with Search ads, there are two highly popular ad types you can run in addition to regular search ads.

  1. Expanded Text Ads are popular with PPC strategists working across industries. Expanded Text Ads let you create an ad with three static headlines and two descriptions. It offers ample space to convey your company’s value proposition, and those of the products and services being advertised.
  2. Responsive Search Ads are a type of ad that automates the process of A/B testing. Google allows you to define up to 15 headlines and four descriptions, and A/B testing is automated. Google’s machines experiment to find the combination of headlines and description that are predicted to work best for specific user queries.

Conclusion

If you’re advertising on Google’s Search network, your ad text and choice of ad type play crucial roles in the performance of your campaigns — for both Expanded Text Ads and Responsive Search Ads.

Creating search campaigns that get quality clicks is as simple as this four-step process:

  1. Select ad types intelligently.
  2. Write relevant ad text that highlights value.
  3. Create well-structured ad group themes.
  4. Refresh your ads periodically.

Once you start seeing results from your campaigns and need support managing them at scale, a tool like Optmyzr can help you make bulk ad text changes across all your campaigns in just a few clicks.
Next week in part 2 of this series, we’ll further explore these ad types — plus one more that might get you additional results. In the meantime, check out this support article from Google for more amazing tips to help you write successful ads.

Get Better Results on Google Search & Shopping In 2 Weeks

It doesn’t matter how well your PPC accounts are performing — great marketers and agencies always want to do better.

But better takes time, right?

Not when you have a tool like Optmyzr at your disposal. Our PPC management platform enables users to get better results from their Google search and shopping ads in just two weeks.

And with a 14-day free trial that grants access to all features, you can test these strategies out for yourself at no risk.

So whether you’re just starting out with Optmyzr or want to onboard another client, here’s how we can help set your accounts up for success in just two weeks.

You can also find links at the bottom of this page to download these checklists as interactive PDFs with clickable links to the tools themselves, help articles, and video resources.

A. Search Advertising

Day 1: Set up alerts to monitor accounts and track budgets.

Pro Tip: Enhanced scripts can be installed at the MCC level. Read more about installing scripts.

Day 3: Analyze account performance and start optimizing.

Day 5: Analyze search queries to add new keywords and negatives to your account.

Pro Tip: Combine these optimizations into a single workflow using Blueprints.

Day 6: Manage bids.

i. Campaigns using manual bidding

ii. Campaigns using automated bidding

Pro Tip: Combine these optimizations into a single Workflow using Blueprints.

Day 7: Improve quality score and manage budgets.

Day 9: A/B test and create new ads.

Day 11: Set hourly bid adjustments and build custom optimizations.

Bonus: Experiment with a custom strategy in the Rule Engine.

Day 13: Set bid adjustments for locations and demographics based on performance.

Day 14: Create your own workflows and implement automation.

B. Shopping Campaigns

Day 1: Set up merchant feed and monitor budget.

Pro Tip: Enhanced scripts can be installed at the MCC level. Read more about installing scripts.

Day 2: Filter out irrelevant shopping queries by managing negatives.

Pro Tip: Combine these optimizations into a single Workflow using Blueprints.

Day 4: Analyze feed and resync campaign structure.

Day 6: Manage bids.

i. Campaigns using manual bidding

ii. Campaigns using automated bidding

Day 8: Create custom optimizations.

Pro Tip: Watch this video for ideas on how to use the Rule Engine to set up custom optimizations.

Day 10: Create your own workflows and implement automation.

See the difference for yourself.

Our mission at Optmyzr is to develop not just the tools that PPC marketers need today, but ones they can use to safeguard their true roles as digital marketing strategists.

That’s why everything in this onboarding guide has one eye on long-term results, and why we don’t gate any of our features to trial users.

What you see is what you get.

Don’t believe us? Sign up for a 14-day free trial to experience for yourself how Optmyzr makes PPC management faster and your contributions more value-oriented.

**Download the Search campaigns checklist**_ here_.

**Download the Shopping campaigns checklist**_ here_.

6 Ways Optmyzr’s Rule Engine Beats Google Ads Automated Rules For Flexibility

We all have repetitive PPC management tasks we wish we could automate and get off our daily to-do lists. Fortunately, there are several options for PPC advertisers to achieve this, like Google Ads’ Automated Rules, and Optmyzr’s Rule Engine.

In working with hundreds of customers in my two years at Optmyzr, I noticed many advertisers don’t explore our Rule Engine’s most powerful capabilities because they assume it’s just another interface to control Google’s Automated Rules.

Turns out there’s much more to it than that.

The Rule Engine actually enables our power users to do some of their most advanced optimizations that they wouldn’t have time for without this level of automation. 

I talked to Fred, one of our founders who shared that the Rule Engine was initially built as a script for a customer whose bid management strategy took a full day of his time every week!

The script was useful but limited to that advertiser’s strategy. So our company built the Rule Engine to allow every advertiser to automate their most powerful strategies.

While we’re fans of Google Ads Automated Rules for their simple setup, that simplicity is limiting when you want to take your account to the next level with a more powerful strategy. That’s the gap we’re solving with our Rule Engine.

Let me share 6 useful things you can do with the Optmyzr Rule Engine that you cannot with Google Ads Automated Rules.

1. Combine multiple rules into layered strategies.

Though in Google Ads you can add as many automated rules as you want, it’s not possible to combine them into a single optimization. In Optmyzr, this is possible with Rule Engine strategies.

In Optmyzr, a rule is a set of conditions and actions (if and then statements). Strategies let you combine multiple rules — in essence, letting you add the ‘else’ portion in an ‘if’, ‘then’, else’ rule.

For example, in just one strategy, you can consolidate all your search query management by adding one rule to add positive keywords and another rule to add negatives.

You can also have multiple actions applied to an entity. For example, you can add a label to the keywords your rule paused because they were found to be too expensive.

2. Use data from multiple date ranges.

Automated rules in Google Ads let you use a single date range for metrics. This makes it impossible to do relative comparisons, like to find ad groups that have a sudden spike in CPA for the past week compared to the last 30 days.

With our Rule Engine, you can bring in performance data from as many date ranges as you’d like, making relative comparisons very easy.

3. Use data from custom date ranges.

While using multiple date ranges is useful, it’s even better when you can customize those date ranges. Rather than just using default ones like the last 7/30/n days, you can build custom date ranges that are based on lookback windows.

For example, you can build a custom date range for 14 days ago to 8 days ago (week before last), and another for 7 days ago to 1 day ago (last week). This enables you to find search terms that have gained a lot of impressions in the past week compared to the week before, or ad groups that have seen a decline in CTR for a few weeks in a row.

4. Do relative comparisons of metrics across a hierarchical structure.

With our Rule Engine, you’re able to compare, in just one condition, the performance of the same metric at different levels. This comes in handy when you want to do a relative comparison using expressions/formulas.

For example, compare the CPA of one keyword versus the CPA of the campaign in which the keyword is located. Now you could do things like find keywords that are 50% more expensive than average for the campaign.

In Google Ads automated rules, you can compare a metric against a static value but not against other elements. So you can only do things like find keywords whose CPA is higher than $20. That’s not helpful when you know that CPAs vary greatly between brand and non-brand campaigns, and even between campaigns that sell different services in different locations.

By using a relative comparison, you don’t need to set a static target for all your comparisons, and it becomes very easy to simply look for outliers.

Note: You can also use expressions as actions to calculate new bids and targets.

4. Use external data.

What happens when you want to use data not available in Google Ads, but that is also important for your business and optimizations?

In Rule Engine, you can connect a Google Sheet to use your own data in your rules. You can get as creative as you want: use profit margins defined by your agency, analytics data, weather data, a list of holidays, etc.

For ideas and use cases, you can have a look at our series of blog posts Thinking Outside the Box & Do More with Optmyzr.

5. Set rules on autopilot or review them on demand.

While automations help you save tons of time, you may not always want to give up full control; this is why we also let you use your Rule Engine strategies manually. We give you everything necessary to create your own optimization tools and then run them on demand.

Following this idea, even when your strategies are running automatically, we still let you decide if you want to review the changes before you apply them. This is a huge advantage when you want to test your optimization before giving all the control to the automation.

6. Exclude recent changes.

You can avoid applying continuous changes to the same entity for a defined period of time to give them enough time to perform before it’s considered by the strategy again. This helps when you don’t want to stack bids or change the target CPA of an ad group that was already adjusted the day before.

This is particularly helpful in situations where you’re slowly changing things like bids until they meet your goal.

For example, if you automate bidding to set an ideal CPC based on the last 7 days’ conversion rate and your target CPA (new CPC = target CPA * conversion rate), you can run that rule as often as you want without worrying that your bids will get out of control.

However, the following is a riskier automation: new CPC = old CPC + $0.10 when last 7 days’ CPA is below CPA target.

It’s risky because if you run this rule 5 times per day, it will increase the bid 5 times even though the last 7 days’ CPA includes only a small portion of data since the last bid change.

With Optmyzr, you can remove this risk by excluding items that were already changed recently. Now every time the rule runs, it will only make suggestions for entities that were not already recently changed by the same rule.

The Rule Engine is my favorite, because you can tailor account rules to match what the individual client needs to be seeing for performance.

Larry C, Owner/Operator, 707 Marketing

Conclusion

If we have to sum up all of the above, it’s about two things: flexibility and more control. Which tool to use will depend on how much of your workflow you want to automate, and how much customization is required.

The Rule Engine definitely is a powerful tool that gives you much room to play with and is designed for both novice and advanced users.

Interested in learning more about it? Let support@optmyzr.com know, and we’ll be happy to help you!

How to Build a Profitable Google Shopping Campaign Structure

In a world where people can’t always go out to make a purchase, e-commerce is more important than ever.

We’ve been buying clothes, shoes, electronics, and many other categories of products online for several years. Now, we’re seeing surging demand for new ones — groceries, home entertainment, educational products, and office equipment to name a few.

Besides, if your business is able to fulfill orders made online, it enables you to service a larger market and potentially tap into additional sources of revenue.

So while there are several great reasons for businesses to implement Shopping Campaigns and promote all the inventory they can, it can be daunting to get started.

A major point about Google Shopping campaigns that we hear from our customers — and performance marketers in general — is setting up the right campaign structure to manage bids and (eventually) optimize them with ease.

Here are our recommendations on how to approach campaign structures for a Google Shopping campaign.

Campaign Creation Strategy

Planning a campaign creation strategy typically depends on how many products your feed contains, as well as how you’d like to segregate the traffic you’re driving to your account. For larger feeds (tens of thousands of products) and to better manage search queries, multiple campaigns are the best setup.

Here are some key strategies to build the right campaign structure:

Inventory Filters

Use this feature to direct traffic to campaigns based on criteria such as product condition, size or color. Let’s look at a real-world example to understand this better.

If you’re selling laptops, then ‘refurbished’ and ‘New’ are two possible conditions for your inventory that you’ll want to take into consideration. This ensures that you don’t advertise new laptops to potential customers who are searching for refurbished ones.

You can segregate your campaigns using this logic by implementing inventory filters for each condition type.

Campaign Priorities

If you have multiple Google Shopping campaigns that promote the same product, you can prioritize showing ads for search terms that matter — ones that are more relevant to your goal from a specific campaign.

Campaign priorities have three tiers: low, medium and high.

Priority levels outweigh the bid amount at auction time. So if a campaign on high priority has a lower bid than a campaign on medium priority, the high priority campaign’s bid will be used. When multiple campaigns have the same priority, the one with the highest bid will count during the auction.

This feature was created by Martin Röttgerding, head of search engine advertising at Bloofusion, and a panelist on episode 4 of PPC Town Hall.

You can read more on how you can leverage Campaign Priorities in our detailed blog post.

Ad Group Creation Strategy

Selecting your creation strategy at the ad group level depends on multiple factors:

Managing Negatives

Ad group creation strategy helps align the right traffic to the right ad groups.

For users searching for a Macbook Pro, it’s better to show available configurations for the same model rather than ads that promote the Macbook Air. To achieve this, you can build a campaign for each brand and ad group in both categories: Macbook Pro and Macbook Air.

This will help you add negative search terms — ‘Macbook Air’ to the Macbook Pro ad group and vice versa.

Size of your feed

If your inventory consists of more than 20,000 SKUs (or if you expect to cross this number in the near future), you won’t be able to fit all of these products into a single ad group. Instead, you’ll need to set up multiple ad groups to bypass the ad group limits established by Google.

Product Group Hierarchy

Selecting your product group hierarchy will depend on how you want to manage bids.

If you’re selling shoes and you know that the Adidas Black Alphabounce+ is your best-selling product, you’re probably going to want to bid higher on it. Going one layer deeper, you realize that just size 11 constitutes 70% of your sales for this product.

If you have a structure that also includes the size, you’ll be able to bid especially high for the size 11 Adidas Black Alphabounce +.

A high degree of granularity can help you make sure only the right products get a higher bid.

If you’d like to manage bids for each item in your feed, you can choose to build product groups at the item ID level and structure it by incorporating all the important attributes into the campaign structure.

But when choosing your hierarchy, you also need to analyze the attributes defined for products in your feed to select a split where the fewest products end up in the ‘Everything Else’ product group, so that you are able to manage bids to an optimal degree.

Real-world examples

Let’s take a look at a couple of real-world scenarios and how they translate over to Google Shopping campaigns:

Laptops

We’re revisiting this product category, this time in order to prioritize display. To do that, you’ll need to figure out which products have the highest profit margin, or which ones sell the most units. Consider the placement of your different laptops similar to the bids you’re going to place.

As store manager, you know the different factors that influence buyers who are looking to purchase a laptop like: screen size, processor, operating system, graphics card, etc.

In order to arrange your products, you need to decide the order for the product arrangement to deliver the best possible customer experience: helping people find what they want quickly and easily.

Naturally, products that sell faster and ones with higher profit margins take priority in the lineup.

Assigning degrees of importance to all of these features helps you select which products need to be most visible i.e. which ads you need to bid highest on.

Apparel

Let’s consider that a brand like H&M or Zara is running a seasonal sale.

While the storeboard at the entrance will highlight this, it’s also important for store managers to promote all the products that are being sold. The idea is that before a prospective buyer gets to the discount rack, they go through all the new arrivals and are tempted to buy something because it’s trending.

Overall, the sale value for the buyer would be higher — a combination of discount purchases and the excitement of owning something on the edge of what’s trending. For the store, it means a better profit margin.

In this case, the higher bids are placed on new arrivals that have better margins then on-sale products, which might receive lower bids or be advertised on a landing page for the new arrivals.

Conclusion

Just like deciding the order in which to present your products in a brick and mortar store, Google Shopping campaign success requires businesses to identify the right products by attributes. You’ll want to bank on this priority list to create your Google Shopping campaigns, so that you’re able to draw the right audience and receive the best profit return on ad spend.

Though each business and industry is different, there are some common parameters for choosing the right structure for your Google Shopping campaigns: what’s new, what’s selling well, what’s in demand, what’s easy to procure, and what’s easiest to ship.

Together, they can help you identify where your marketing dollars will yield the best results.

How to Start Selling the Easy Way On Google Shopping

Earlier this year, Google made an announcement that changed the way advertisers perceived Shopping campaigns. By making Google Shopping listings free, the world’s largest advertising network forced everyone selling tangible products to rethink their PPC strategies.

Suddenly, this component of the Google advertising network became much more attractive.

At first, brands and PPC marketers were captivated by the prospect of free ad space. Once the initial hype faded, it became clear that only a portion of Google Shopping listings would be made free and that certain conditions had to be met.

To take advantage of these free listings, advertisers need to have active Google Merchant Center accounts and enable their products to show on all surfaces including Google Images, the Google Shopping tab, Google Lens, and Google Search.

As of late May, our conversations with experts like Kirk Williams of Zato Marketing revealed that an average of 5-6% of Google Shopping listings were made complementary.

But that’s not the only reason it makes sense to give your products Google Shopping visibility.

If like many other brands, your business or client are just starting to get involved in building Google Shopping campaigns, this article will help you figure out how to sell on Google Shopping.

In this article, we’ll explore:

How to take advantage of Google Shopping listings

Google Shopping allows advertisers to promote physical, shippable products with a greater amount of visual appeal. Consumers searching for ‘blue shoes’ or ‘leather couch’ can view and explore a range of product listings that match closely with what they’re looking for.

Google Shopping campaigns come in two varieties: Standard and Smart.

Image sourced from versafeed.com

Standard campaigns are built manually to deliver on highly strategic goals. These require some understanding of product groups, campaign structures, and other campaign components in order to achieve a specific goal, such as a target ROAS.

Smart campaigns on Google Shopping reduce the entry barrier by using machine learning and automation to speed up the process. This makes them ideal for small businesses with limited budgets, or advertisers who don’t have the time to build out Standard campaigns.

While Standard campaigns afford greater control over location targeting, negative keywords, custom scheduling, and network placement; Smart campaigns require historical data but will determine placement and other parameters for you based on past performance of other campaigns.

Google Shopping: A proven channel for product visibility

Google Shopping campaigns have always been considered a core part of the PPC marketer’s toolbox. They carry a visual component, which has proven to be more attractive than plain text when products are involved.

Here are four more reasons why Google Shopping is a proven way to give your products the visibility they need, especially with the current economic landscape in mind.

How to sell on Google Shopping the easy way

Google Shopping campaigns can be highly valuable if your business calls for them. But it can be confusing and tricky to build them out if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Moreover, creating splits (e.g. by brand or category) takes a significant amount of time when done manually — and leaves you prone to human error.

Optmyzr’s tools for Google Shopping cover the full life cycle, allowing you to create campaigns and set structures from scratch. Use us to do the heavy lifting and help you create the campaign structures you want, quickly and without error.

With Optmytzr guiding you step by step, you can create both Standard and Smart Google Shopping campaigns and ad groups in just a few clicks.

Campaign Builder 2.0

Campaign Builder 2.0 is Optmyzr’s tool to build Standard and Smart Google Shopping campaigns from scratch. Anyone can link a spreadsheet or Google Merchant Center feed to get started in minutes.

Product Group Refresher 2.0

Product Group Refresher 2.0 optimizes existing Google Shopping campaigns by adding new products and product groups based on existing campaign structures. It looks at your current campaign structures and syncs with the feed to accurately reflect your inventory.

Machine learning provides suggestions, and you can even automate the entire process. For example, when new products are added to the inventory feed, Optmyzr can automatically create new product groups for them.

Manage Shopping Bids

This optimization identifies high-performing product groups, allowing you to raise bids for product groups that are driving results. It also shows which product groups are underperforming or failing, letting you lower bids for them.

By nature, this tool only supports Standard Google Shopping campaigns.

Shopping Analysis

One of our most popular Insight tools, Shopping Analysis helps Optmyzr users understand how their products are performing irrespective of structure. Use it to aggregate data and determine performance based on a number of different attributes.

Aggregate data by price to see the performance and ROAS that products at different price points drive. Or if you’re selling shoes, easily see which sizes are more popular and sell more, or which ones aren’t in demand so you can fine-tune procurement.

Shopping Analysis works with both Standard and Smart Google Shopping campaigns. With the former, you can use this aggregate data to change bids using the Attribute Bidder. For Smart Shopping, you can see which products are selling better — an insight that’s not easy to obtain in Google Ads.

Conclusion

While it’s admirable that Google is thinking of advertisers and supporting them with some complementary Shopping listings, there’s greater value to be experienced than just a couple of freebies.

Unlike services, products have shape and form — and people love to see what they’re buying before they make a purchase. Google Shopping campaigns enable you to do this while expanding your reach, allowing small businesses to flourish and hobbyists to turn passion into profession.

To learn more about how we can help you build and optimize Google Shopping campaigns with minimal time sink, write to us at support@optymzr.com or sign up to try Optmyzr free of cost.

PPC Town Hall #10: 5 Observations on Google’s Initiatives in Q2

If you joined us for PPC Town Hall this week, you probably noticed that we look different! Everyone is combating Zoom fatigue, so we streamlined the show to be more visually engaging and appealing.

Joining us for the first new-look PPC Town Hall were two of the most insightful experts in paid search:

As always, you can view this week’s episode as well as previous editions of PPC Town Hall right here.

Let’s dive into this week’s observations on Google’s initiatives during Q2 of 2020 — and we might even have an additional surprise for you at the end!

1. A shift in messaging is overdue.

With businesses reopening in the post-lockdown phase, COVID messaging is in need of a change in tone. Ann thinks now is a good time for brands to realign themselves.

“I do think some messages have been played out — how to do virtual conferences, how to spend your day on Zoom. People are getting fed up with that and it’s time for messaging to come out on the other side,” she noted.

“People are once again able to do things they weren’t able to do before; certain shops are reopening and we’re trying to get back to business. In the UK, our furlough grants have been very helpful in making sure a lot of people have salaries and are able to spend.”

2. E-commerce isn’t as simple as some people think.

With millions of consumers unable or unwilling to visit brick and mortar locations, small businesses and those dependent on tourism income are turning to e-commerce to plug revenue gaps.

But Gianpaolo has a word of caution for anyone who thinks setting up a Shopify store or listing on Amazon is the catch-all solution.

“In Italy, it’s been a couple of years now that almost everyone wants to get into e-commerce, even if they don’t need it,” he shared. “But starting an e-commerce operation is only the beginning; you cannot set up an online store and think you’re done.”

Gianpaolo recommends leveraging the power of search and other forms of paid advertising to get people to your online stores — a critical step that some businesses new to e-commerce may not account for.

3. Legitimate businesses welcome advertiser verification.

With Google already rolling out its mandatory advertiser verification program, businesses that use their paid advertising services will have 21 days from the moment they’re contacted to verify their identities.

Ann believes that legitimate businesses will universally welcome this move, and that it will help filter out some of the more unsavory players.

“I’m very much in favor of Google’s advertiser verification. I feel there are so many questionable agencies and other businesses that rip people off. I’ve been in this industry nearly 20 years now, and I’ve seen and heard so many stories about this,” she shared.

4. Google’s ad credits are here — and they’ll be useful.

It didn’t take too long after global lockdowns started to take effect for Google to announce that they would be disbursing millions of dollars in free ad credits to small businesses. While this move to prop up some of Google’s hardest-hit customers took some time, America and Europe are now seeing results.

“This week in Italy, we received the first COVID ad credits from Google, so they are coming to Europe as well. They are set in fixed amounts: €75, €210, €590 and probably €1000 (I haven’t seen this yet), depending on last year’s range of spend,” Gianpaolo told us.

“Anything helps to get out of this situation. Even if €1,000 can’t change your business landscape, it can still help. If you found something that was working, I suggest putting part of your credits back on that. Of course, you can also try something new.

“Personally, my approach to the situation has been not to stop campaigns, but to lower budgets and CPCs to the minimum possible. Spending a tenth of what you normally do is a good solution, especially in search.

“If someone is searching for something they are likely to convert — maybe not now, but at some point. Why lose those hyper-competitive slots if you can keep them while spending a fraction of what you spent before?”

5. Agencies want Google to rethink their partner program.

Google’s partner program has long been a source of contention with many agencies, especially those who focus on quality and results. With the program postponed to next year due to the pandemic, this offers Google a chance to bring requirements in line with agency realities.

“As an MCC owner, we’ve got so many accounts linked to us. We had to have 70 people take the exam in organizations that have nothing to do with us. I’m hoping Google will have second thoughts about the way they do these qualifications, because there’s no way we can oversee all the organizations we are linked to,” Ann said.

“The other thing I don’t like about the partner status is it’s based on volume and growth in spend. At a premium agency like ours, not every client is looking for massive growth. In some cases, the first thing we do with a new client is cut out a load of wasted spend. And then we get penalized for bringing the spend down while we’re trying to improve the quality and make more money for the client. Google’s program isn’t always aligned with client needs.”

Bonus: LinkedIn targeting is coming to Microsoft.

Towards the end of this week’s show, Gianpaolo had some interesting news and advice for users of Microsoft Advertising.

“Keep an eye on the Microsoft Audience Network. They’re integrating it with LinkedIn targeting options for B2B campaigns in their display network,” he told us.

“This is something I would try to test even more deeply when I have an occasion to do so. I think it’s probably the first time that Microsoft is a little bit ahead of Google in something. I’m happy they’re doing this, and I’d definitely do some testing on this.”

Conclusion

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Google has been active in rolling out initiatives to help businesses and the PPC industry ride the storm. And while some of those programs were hyped up to be a lot more than they turned out to be, there’s no doubt they’ve done more than most advertising platforms.

It will be interesting to see how they adapt and what new ideas they roll out as the landscape continues to morph based on restrictions and developments in different geographies.

Join us again next week for PPC Town Hall, where we’ll be discussing e-commerce and Google Shopping campaigns. Catch the details on our PPC Town Hall landing page or follow us on Twitter.

Google Told Us Their 6 Tips to Impact Smart Bidding

The last time we sat down with Google to talk shop, the discussion found its way to managing PPC campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With supply chains disrupted and business models being tested, companies around the world are facing a variety of new conditions. And though the results aren’t uniform, what’s consistent is how every business has been affected in some way.

Many are struggling to find customers. Some are facing uncertain futures. A few fortunate ones are doing better than ever — will they struggle when things return to normal?

We put together some advice for PPC marketers that took the shape of this blog post. But in the weeks since, we’ve seen and heard the debate over automated bidding become one of the prevailing industry conversations.

Thankfully, our friends at Google had plenty more to say.

Here are their recommendations for 6 secret tips that can help you impact Smart Bidding and more reliably navigate a marketplace in flux.

6 Secret Tips to Impact Smart Bidding

As you monitor shifting trends and course-correct your business plan, you’ll also need to bring your strategic approach in line with what the current situation demands. To help you provide clients and customers with a fruitful experience without eating too much of your time, Google recommends Smart Bidding.

Let’s recap the tactics we recommended last time, as well as explore how they impact Smart Bidding.

1. Keywords

How does this impact Smart Bidding?

Keyword optimization helps deliver more at the same CPA/ROAS goal, and ensures that brand strategies align with business goals. Broad match keywords allow the Smart Bidding machine to discover new opportunities for conversions.

Optmyzr Tip: You’ll still want to keep other match types and regularly review new search terms with tools like Optmyzr. The Rule Engine’s latest addition takes high-performing keywords with one match type and lets you add new match types at the ad group level.

2. Creatives

How does this impact Smart Bidding?

Getting your creatives right prevents your message and customer experience are on the same page, which ensures that each bid brings relevant engagement.

Optmyzr Tip: Regulations and restrictions can change frequently. With the Ad Text Optimization tool, you can quickly and consistently change ad copy to reflect the real-world operating conditions of your business. The Add Responsive Search Ad tool is also useful to build RSAs for each of your ad groups.

The Responsive Search Ads tool lets you maximize your chances of getting meaningful clicks

3. Bids and Budgets

How does this impact Smart Bidding?

Putting your marketing dollars where they’re likely to yield the best returns is PPC 101. You capture more leads at the same CPA/ROAS goal, and forecasting often captures the most recent demand trends.

Optmyzr Tip: Campaigns that worked a few months ago might not be winners today, for no fault of their own or yours. Put your dollars where they need to be with the Optimize Budgets tool. It can help you quickly re-allocate budgets based on how different campaigns are doing against your goals.

Optimize Budgets lets you see how to adjust spend to achieve specific goals

4. Target Constraints/Goals

How does this impact Smart Bidding?

Using CPA/ROAS goal adjustments can help you control spend and volume. But to achieve the same thing for Max strategies, Google recommends using budget adjustments.

Optmyzr Tip: Use the Optimize Target CPA & ROAS on campaigns with automated bidding to increase conversions and Impression Share. You can also see converting ad groups that use other automated bidding strategies.

5. Account-Wide Best Practices

How does this impact Smart Bidding?

Smart Bidding uses account-wide signals (cross-account under MCC, if applicable). If you’re struggling to see results from Smart Bidding, it might be because you’re still using Last Click Attribution in an era of erratic search behavior.

Optmyzr Tip: The Rule Engine allows you to create data-based strategies, like removing non-converting keywords related to COVID-19. Or for a fun way to keep your account in shape, try the Workouts that combine multiple optimizations to achieve a specific objective.

6. Audiences

How does this impact Smart Bidding?

First-party audience lists improve Smart Bidding algorithms, but Google lists have a neutral impact on Smart Bidding. For best results, provide your own customer information.

Optmyzr Tip: You always want Smart Bidding to have the latest and greatest information about your customers. Use the Customer Match List Updates tool (under Optimizations > Utilities) to keep your audiences in sync between your business data and Google’s audience repository.

6 Ways to Fully Control & Adjust Smart Bidding

While Smart Bidding might make PPC a bit less time-consuming, it’s far from a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. There are many things you can do to affect the degree of control and influence you have over your bids.

Check out these 6 ways to fully control and adjust Smart Bidding.

1. Goals

Goals are the end objectives of your campaign; think of them as a destination. Tweaking goal values can change the way Smart Bidding tries to get there.

2. Conversions

Current market realities have impacted conversions across the board. Use the information in this space to inform your strategy and reshape the Smart Bidding process.

3. Constraints

Setting hard limits on your financials can enable Smart Bidding to look at creating value over volume. As always, keep an eye on things as you implement this approach.

4. Targeting

Audience is one of the most influential factors in PPC, and there’s no doubt that who and how you choose to target can make a difference to Smart Bidding results.

5. Budgets

At the end of the day, it’s all about the dollars. Experimenting with budgetary values can provide some of the most significant influence on Smart Bidding.

6. Misc. Adjustments

There are other adjustments you can make to shape Smart Bidding, including seasonal adjustments. We suggest exercising oversight when using some of these in today’s market.

Conclusion

It’s been said before but bears repeating: There’s only one way PPC professionals can do right by their businesses and clients — by having as much information as possible. That’s why we’ve partnered with Google to bring you these posts on how to gain maximum value from the tools at your disposal.

These recommendations from Google are intended to supplement a brand’s unique business strategy. Both Google and Optmyzr suggest you balance any automated bidding strategy by keeping a close eye on your accounts. After all, only humans can provide context to the data.

And be on the lookout for the third part of our collaboration with Google, when we discuss what advertisers in hard-hit industries can do to prepare for the end of lockdown.

3 Recent Google Developments Every PPC Pro Needs to Know About

As the doom and gloom of COVID-19 fades, we’re hearing fewer conversations about troubleshooting and more about solving problems. The world is settling into its ‘new normal’ — at least for the near future.

Google is playing a key role in helping PPC professionals shift from just weathering the storm to being creative once more. So if you work in digital marketing or paid search, here are 3 recent Google developments in PPC and why you should care.

1. Google Shopping reintroduces free listings.

First up, in what is arguably the most significant announcement from Google since the current economic crisis began, a portion of Shopping Ads will now be free listings. That means any advertiser who hasn’t prioritized them due to budgetary considerations now needs to rethink their approach.

Free listings allow more advertisers to get their products noticed at a lower investment, and somewhat levels the playing field for SMBs who might ordinarily lose out to far larger competitors.

It’s important to note that Google hasn’t entirely demonetized this product. While some listings will be free, paid ads will still appear at the top and bottom like a normal SERP.

A lower entry threshold also means a surge in interest from advertisers, which subsequently leads to the need to optimize your shopping campaigns with tools like Optmyzr.

Optmyzr’s Shopping Campaign Builder 2.0 lets you connect a Google Merchant Feed, and our machine provides intelligent suggestions to help you group products, manage bids and budgets, and adjust parameters to your preference.

Once you have some campaigns running, you can further strengthen existing campaigns — add negative keywords, manage bids by product attribute, or automate the Product Group Refresher 2.0 to periodically update campaigns to reflect your inventory.

By the way, we’re starting to see these free listings in use already. PPC influencer Kirk Williams of Zato Marketing has seen outliers of 0.5-11% of Google shopping clicks coming from this free channel (perhaps 5-6% is a more accurate estimate). This is limited to the US, but it appears Google is ahead of schedule in rolling it out across other markets.

Action Item for Advertisers: Make sure you have given Google permission to show your products on all surfaces if you want to be in consideration for free Shopping listings.

2. Google makes advertiser verification a must.

To quote Google’s recent notice on this subject:

“Users should be empowered to make informed decisions about the ads they see online. That’s why we’re launching advertiser identity verification, a policy that requires advertisers to verify their identities for ads served through Google Ads.”

Image courtesy of Google.com

Let’s break down the implications for both consumers and advertisers.

If you’re a consumer, this is probably a very welcome move. For one thing, it means your chances of buying a counterfeit product when you click on a Google ad are about to drop to virtually zero.

On top of that, it enables a high degree of customization. Consumers can block advertisers whose content they find irrelevant, out of touch, distasteful or uninteresting. Or you can simply blacklist advertisers based on your experience buying from them.

That means if you buy an NBA jersey and it’s a knock-off, you can block that seller’s future ads altogether. Ordered a birthday gift for your spouse and got it two weeks later than promised? You never have to see that company’s ads again.

Call it a huge win for Google’s reputation when it comes to privacy and trust.

Advertisers will be affected as well. In addition to filtering out questionable sellers, Google’s new policy poses questions about data privacy.

Scam artists will wither, but legitimate advertisers will rightly have some concerns.

The final announcement we’re covering here is the introduction of Call Ads with an optional website link.

For anyone unfamiliar with this category (previously known as Call-only Ads), it’s a type of mobile ad that includes a phone number. A ‘click’ leads to a call — to the advertiser’s front desk, a sales rep or other destination.

Image courtesy of Google.com

Now, the addition of an optional ‘Visit website’ call to action enables advertisers to split traffic between a phone number and a landing page.

Let’s take a look at two examples of how businesses can leverage these ads, keeping in mind the current economic and logistical landscapes.

Example A: Steaks

If you eat meat, chances are you enjoy a good steak. It’s why companies like Omaha Steaks have turned online fulfillment into a cornerstone of their business model.

Right now, since people can’t go out to restaurants, they’re probably buying a lot more steak to grill at home. So in other words, demand is through the roof. If you’re a steak company, you have no way of coping with the surge.

So you place some of these new Call Ads to direct some of that traffic to a phone line, while the rest of it ends up on a landing page with all your products and an order form. Now you’re able to cater to all your potential customers instead of sitting on supply you can’t move.

This example applies to any business that fulfills orders via e-commerce, but is also useful if you’ve recently moved from brick and mortar to online fulfillment. It lets you absorb and service traffic without having to make a significant investment in sales staff.

Example B: Hotels

Travel and hospitality are arguably the worst hit industries right now. But if you’re a hotel trying to get by during this crisis, the last thing you want to do is go out of sight and mind.

Imagine you’re a popular hotel situated downtown in one of the world’s most visited cities, like Rome or New York. Until recently, you probably enjoyed a significant chunk of Impression Share for your search terms.

As part of your wider digital marketing strategy for the Coronavirus crisis, you change your messaging to offer hope for the future instead of trying to achieve conversions. You share your plans to reopen, tell visitors how you’ll facilitate social distancing when it happens, and provide some sweet incentives to tempt them.

And because you know people crave travel (especially when they can’t have it), you fully expect to keep getting calls. But due to local restrictions, your front desk is now staffed by one person instead of your full crew.

So you adjust your Call Ads to include a link to your website or landing page with the new messaging, you split the traffic that would otherwise overwhelm your one-person front desk, and you maintain visibility for your brand while your competitors fade into the background.

Conclusion

It’s heartening to see Google embrace its influence and make the web a safer, more convenient place for consumers and advertisers alike. In times like these, every industry needs its leading organizations to keep the right values in mind as they set the pace.

Each of us — agency or consultant, enterprise or startup — needs to follow suit.

We’ll be using these developments to make sure Optmyzr customers continue to experience optimal value by using our product.

Google’s 6 Practical Tips for PPC During the Pandemic

There’s no company that isn’t affected by COVID-19. Whether it’s lower than usual demand or a supply chain that’s unable to keep up, every business must adjust the way they advertise to the people who buy their products and services.

Customers understandably have high expectations that companies will provide value and act responsibly during this time. And with “the new normal” changing almost constantly, 71% of consumers say that they want to hear from businesses that can help them navigate this crisis, according to a joint study between Google and Ipsos.

We spoke to some friends at Google to get some actionable advice. If you experience changes in demand for your products and services, or volatility in your PPC data, here are some of the best practices they shared to manage your marketing campaigns through unusual times.

Phase I: Surveying the landscape

While you keep an eye on shifting trends, there are ways to alter your business plan, update your strategic approach, and adapt to the current situation so you can be there for your customers. Google has useful resources available to help you navigate this uncertain time.

Plan your way forward

To know where you need to get, you have to start by figuring out where you are. Google recommends answering a few basic questions about your business or client, and the impact of COVID-19 on operations and marketing.

Once you have the answers, you’ll be able to take steps to alter your strategic approach.

Use Google’s knowledge bank

There are a number of tools and resources developed by Google that can help you study the marketplace and understand consumer behavior.

And as you re-engage with your customers, you can also explore additional resources on Google My Business, Performance Planner, and Smart Shopping and YouTube campaigns.

Phase II: Assessing the situation

Once you’ve answered some core questions about the state of your business or your client’s, you’ll be able to start piecing together a strategic solution. What that entails will depend on multiple factors — demand, availability, visibility, geography, and more.

Here are four categories of situations that businesses find themselves in today.

A. Businesses at risk

These are companies in financial or operational trouble who need help staying afloat. Many are at risk of furloughs or layoffs, or likely to shut their doors.

B. Businesses facing some challenges

Some companies are experiencing threatening situations like supply chain shortages or decreased customer demand, and are unable to meet normal revenue targets.

C. Businesses that have pivoted

These companies have realized the need to adapt to the new normal, and are building awareness as they shift to producing something new.

D. Businesses in demand

Companies that are fortunate enough to be doing well are experiencing higher demand for their products. They want to discover newer ways to connect with and help customers.

Phase III: Building a new strategy

Depending on which category your business or client falls under, it might now be time to start putting together a paid search plan.

Keeping the current business situation and new marketing goals in mind, here are six common tactics you can use.

1. Keywords

Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: Use the Keyword Lasso tool to discover new keyword suggestions, or the Negative Keyword Ideas tool to find keywords that are causing wasted spend. 

2. Creatives

Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: The Ad Text Optimization tool allows you to search for phrases or words across campaigns and instantly edit them. Use this to quickly and consistently make bulk changes as your messaging needs to reflect the rapidly changing conditions in the world.

3. Bids and Budgets

Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: Conversion Grabber lets you increase Impression Share by raising bids for high-converting keywords that are missing out on traffic due to low ad rank. The Optimize Budgets tool can help you quickly re-allocate budgets based on how different campaigns are doing against your goals.

4. Target Constraints/Goals

Goals: Evaluate your new business strategies and confirm target goals. Set performance targets and customize settings to your unique business goals.

Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: Use the Optimize Target CPA & ROAS on campaigns with automated bidding to increase conversions and Impression Share. You can also see converting ad groups that use other automated bidding strategies.

5. Account-Wide Best Practices

Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: The Rule Engine allows you to create data-based strategies, like removing non-converting keywords related to COVID-19. Or for a fun way to keep your account in shape, try the Workouts that combine multiple optimizations to achieve a specific objective.

6. Audiences

First-Party Audience Lists: Add all RSLA, Similar Audiences, and Customer Match lists to Smart Bidding campaigns.

Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: Use the Customer Match List Updates tool (under Optimizations > Utilities) to keep your audiences in sync between your business data and Google’s audience repository.

Phase IV: Measuring the impact of your new investments

Once you have a new strategy in place, it’s important to keep a close eye on your campaigns to make sure they’re doing what you want them to. Even with automation, human context is critical to regular adjustments and optimization.

Here’s what you can do.

We hope these insights from Google enable you to make the right decisions for your businesses and clients. For any additional support, our friends at Google recommend that you visit the Think with Google hub or contact your Google Ads representative.

PPC Town Hall #5: 10 Digital Marketing Truths to Remember

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:

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).

Conclusion

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!

Google Shifts Approach On Ads Editor, Partners Program, Trends & More

In the last couple of weeks, Google has both altered existing plans and announced new measures to deal with the ramifications of COVID-19 on PPC and paid search. Some of these aim to make campaign management a bit easier; others are in response to what agencies and advertisers are experiencing.

Here’s our take on some of the recent changes in Google Ads.

It’s always interesting for us to see Google make changes to Ads Editor. Optmyzr CEO Fred Vallaeys, one of Google’s first 500 employees, helped build the initial version of the tool when it was called the AdWords Editor. It’s great to see that the product is still in use and receiving steady support many years later.

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s included with Google Ads Editor 1.3:

New Features

Updated Features

Optimization Score in Google Ads Editor. Image courtesy of Google.com.

Optimization score, which is now more present in the new Ads Editor, is Google’s way of guiding advertisers to make common best-practice optimizations. But it’s important to remember that Google’s advice is just a suggestion and may not be relevant for your account. 

As a simple example, Google may suggest increasing budget when there is impression share lost in a campaign with conversions. This may ignore that your account has a strict monthly budget cap and raising the campaign budget would bump the total account spend over the limits. Of course Optmyzr’s tools and scripts to help manage and optimize monthly account budgets would still work, regardless of whether an advertiser accepts Google’s budget suggestions.

Also, PPC marketers have the freedom to make changes in the tool they’re most comfortable with. It’s not necessary to make all changes from the Google Ads interface.

“Contrary to what many PPC pros think, Google doesn’t care where you make your edits,” Fred revealed.

“Many marketers believe you have to log into Google Ads and press that final button to get the improvement to your Optimization Score, but that’s not the case. You can continue to use a tool like the Ads Editor, or Optmyzr to audit and optimize your campaigns.”

Fred Vallaeys, Optmyzr

Google Partner Program

COVID-19 is affecting us all, and the world’s largest search engine is no exception.

In February, Google announced sweeping changes to its Partners Program that would start to be enforced from June. Some of these included a minimum 90-day ad spend of $20,000 and requiring accounts to follow Google’s recommendations for Optimization Score.

As Susan Wenograd writes in Search Engine Journal, recent events have forced Google to postpone these new rules to 2021, allowing existing Partners to retain their status and specialization badges and non-Partners to apply using current criteria.

Fred believes this is the right move.

“It’s good that Google has pushed this to give agencies more time and space to deal with the challenges their clients are facing. But at the same time, it’s important that existing and prospective Partners take the time to push ahead and prepare for these changes to take hold in 2021.”

-Fred Vallaeys, Optmyzr

Optmyzr Tip: While existing Google Partner agencies should prioritize client success, don’t wait until it’s too late to get moving on the new goals. If you’re just now applying to become one, let the 2021 criteria serve as your north star.

Ad Credits for Google SMBs

Another widely-lauded move from Google is the announcement of $340 million in ad credits to help “alleviate some of the cost from small and medium-sized businesses to stay in touch with their customers during this challenging time”.

Much like we advised agencies to do all they can to ensure their clients don’t envision a future without them in this earlier post, it seems Google is also wary of losing steady income from a segment that makes up a significant portion of its ad revenue.

Image courtesy of Google.com.

In the midst of a $1.7 billion European Commission fine, the last thing Google needed was a sharp drop in ad revenue — but that’s just what COVID brought to the table. Alphabet’s first quarter earnings were well below expectations, and there’s little evidence to suggest that Q2 will be any different.

Perhaps Google is playing the long game, looking at 2021 revenues and hoping that keeping SMBs on their ad network yields a better payoff than waiting for them to bounce back on their own.

Google recognizes how volatile the current market is and how rapidly it’s shifting — it’s why they recommend that advertisers plan weekly rather than monthly for the near future.

Google Trends reflects this sentiment in search behavior. A tool that’s normally used to reliably find and compare popular search terms, discover related topics and queries, and observe geographic trends is painting incredibly different pictures from one week to the next.

So what’s the value of Google Trends in a dynamic environment?

“The business value is that it can help you figure out what you want to put in your ads. Your value propositions might change based on what people are experiencing and searching for,” Fred says.

“For example, while travel might have once been about the cheapest tickets or the most luxurious hotels, when it opens back up the popular searches might revolve around cleanliness or low-density properties.

“If you dive even deeper, you can unravel more insights. If people want to travel but are still wary of taking flights, they might decide to drive. So in this scenario, hotels might notice a surge in search volume for something like ‘free overnight parking’.”

Fred Vallaeys, Optmyzr

Google Trends. Image courtesy of Google.com.

Businesses might have to explore qualities that they never looked at before. And while they may have an inkling of what’s to come, they have no idea of the degree to which it may occur. In this case, Google Trends serves as a good barometer of demand and search behavior.

Optmyzr Tip: The Rule Engine allows you to build custom strategies to optimize your Google Ads accounts based on fluctuations you observe in Google Trends, such as identifying keywords that exceeded the CPA target for the last 7 days but met the CPA target for the previous 30 days.

Conclusion

As the world’s leading search engine, Google’s actions set the pace for the majority of the PPC community. During both peaks and troughs, many agencies take their cue from Google or use their behavior to influence strategy.

It’ll be interesting to see what more they do to revitalize hard-hit industries and keep paid search on the radar for businesses, especially once the market has experienced a full quarter of COVID-related challenges.

PPC Town Hall: 9 Insights on Bid Management, Paid Social & More

Following last week’s successful PPC Town Hall, we returned with a 4th edition featuring some of the most knowledgeable minds in the PPC and paid search space.

If you happened to miss this week’s chat or any previous editions, check them all out on our YouTube channel or listen to them as podcasts over here.

This week, we focused on bid management in dynamic environments (such as the one created by COVID-19). Optmyzr CEO, Frederick Vallaeys, moderated a panel that included:

Let’s take a look at 9 key insights from this week’s conversation that every agency, advertiser, and consultant can act on.

We’re still in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be achieving any degree of ‘normal’ in the immediate future. With so much volatility across markets, it might be a good time to explore Google’s Performance Planner if you haven’t already.

To quote Google, “Performance Planner is a tool that lets you create plans for your advertising spend, and see how changes to campaigns might affect key metrics and overall performance.”

Google Ads Performance Planner. Image courtesy of Google.com.

Performance Planner works with the latest data at any given time, but the current climate means that said data is rarely predictable and stable from one week to the next.

Peter recommended checking in on Performance Planner every week to explore the impact of shifting CPA, ROAS goals, and manual bids.

“The market is changing so frequently that a target ROAS that gave you a great volume last week might not do the same this week.”

2. Not all businesses have been affected equally.

Just like in every crisis, certain businesses are doing well even as others struggle to stay afloat.

You might have a client whose product or service is experiencing incredibly low demand, or one that’s waiting on overseas shipments and can’t run more ads until they’re able to fulfill additional orders.

Martin has seen that spectrum play out for some of Bloofusion’s client base.

“With our e-commerce clients, we’ve seen a number of differing challenges in the current crisis. Some were overwhelmed by demand. In a few cases, supply is an issue. Others have problems to keep up with packing and shipping. They’ve scaled back or turned off their campaigns to gain a little breathing room.”

3. Products that make isolation less boring are in demand.

With most states in the US (and many geographies around the world) under ‘shelter in place’ orders, it’s no surprise that Google has observed a significant uptick in volume for search terms related to products that make the experience more tolerable.

“We’re seeing that as people are spending more time online, usage is increasing across multiple devices,” Emi said.

“Consumers are searching for many things including technology that helps them work from home (+750%) as well as connected televisions (+37%), streaming devices (+38%), and gaming consoles (+48%).”

4. Consumers want to stay healthy and informed.

But not everything is about work and recreation. Consumers are also looking to maintain their health — and that of their finances.

“In healthcare, consumers are looking to keep themselves physically and mentally healthy while at home. For example, searches related to ‘online workouts’ increased 12x in the past 90 days,” Emi revealed.

Alongside that, people are also preoccupied with what’s happening in their bank accounts. With unemployment hitting record levels and even those in secure jobs suddenly looking cash flow issues in the eye, there’s been a surge in search volume for many related topics.

She added, “Consumers are also looking for financial help, professional advice, and mobile apps to plan for the future with a 9x increase in ‘financial help’ queries e.g. rent/mortgage relief, loan relief, deferred payments.”

5. Hard-hit industries are starting to figure a way out.

It’s worth noting that Tinuiti has an insightful tracker that monitors Facebook spend performance segmented by vertical (signup required).

A quick glance shows that travel is down 79.5% month-on-month but has risen 13.5% week-on-week. Fred speculated that this could be a sign that some of the industries COVID forced to pump the brakes are starting to put new strategies in place.

“People still want to travel; we just can’t,” he said. “These companies could realistically be building desire and demand, identifying an audience searching for these things during this restrictive phase, so they can convert them when travel opens up again.”

Google Trends. Image courtesy of Google.com.

In the case of the automotive industry, which is also showing signs of resurgent spending, Susan speculated that it could be an effort to supplement TV commercials advertising never-before-seen offers like extended windows for no payments and 0% financing.

Either way, it’s evident that businesses that can’t convert at their usual pace are starting to acquire new users to fill the top of their funnel. Which means…

6. It’s a great time to use social media to build TOF.

You don’t have to be as hard-hit as travel or hospitality to consider taking advantage of low-priced social media.

Given that your clients have the budget to do so, now’s as strategic a time as ever to front-load your pipeline with consumers who are high on intent but limited in their capacity to act.

In other words, you can build desire and demand to a fever pitch — and do so with a fraction of the budget you’d normally need.

“We’re seeing some of the cheapest Facebook media with CPMs as low as $2-3. If you have the flexibility and the budget to focus on some top-of-funnel activity, it’s not a bad time to acquire users even if they’re not all going to convert right away,” Susan observed.

If you want to dive deeper into paid media performance during COVID-19, check out her article on Search Engine Journal.

7. Smart bidding offers more control than you realize.

While some advertisers and agencies might be hesitant to allow machines more than a modicum of control over their paid search strategies in the current environment, Smart Bidding might actually empower you more than you thought.

By using tens of millions of data signals, Smart Bidding pairs your inputs with similar auctions in the industry, so it works even if you’re short on first-party data.

“Smart bidding has the ability to pick up signals and compare it to other things going on in the market to make those adjustments. While it uses both aggregated and recent trends, it favors what’s been happening recently,” Peter noted.

Google Smart Bidding considers a multitude of signals to set the right bid for every query. Image courtesy of Google.com.

The key is to remember that as human operators, we’re capable of watching the news and observing the world around us, and then using those observations to provide context to your paid search programs.

You really can influence Smart Bidding to work for you as long as you don’t ‘set it and forget it’!

8. Hyper-segmentation might actually be a good idea.

Under normal circumstances, it’s not absurd to look at the US as a single market: largely the same regulations, similar opening hours, and common methods of fulfillment.

Today, that’s simply not the case. States are enforcing their own COVID-19 restrictions, and even individual counties and cities can impose their own limitations.

So while it’s not the best idea to hyper-segment under normal circumstances, it might be useful to at least try it out right now — and Smart Bidding could be of help.

“Smart Bidding lets you bid at the intersection of each bid adjustment you can manually set,” Fred shared. “One example is adjustments for a location like New York which has been hit hard, one for time of day, and then another for the audience. It can look at the actual scenario of that one auction and how that combination actually matters.”

Peter agreed that if you see significant discrepancies in a geography or other parameter, separating campaigns can afford you a greater degree of control by putting individual levers on your campaigns.

9. Experts are making it easy for PPC pros to stay informed.

As the PPC community continues to face a number of hardships with finding reliable data, some of the industry’s leading experts have developed scripts that enable marketers to make quick observations about the shift in behavior.

One example is this COVID-19 visualization script developed by Fred, which overlays government actions related to the pandemic on Google Ads performance metrics.

“The idea is to help you see if certain events, like store closures, the start of shelter in place, the closing of schools, or the introduction of social distancing correlates in any way with drop-offs or spikes in performance.”

Martin has also developed a script that compares pre- and post-COVID behavior.

Google Ads script by Bloofusion and Martin Röttgerding generates charts showing account performance before and during COVID-19. Image courtesy of Bloofusion.

“Overall trends may be a traffic shift from mobile devices to desktop computers, people searching later at night, and weekdays blurring,” he said.

“However, we’ve found that this is not true for every account. In many cases, these things have remained more or less stable. The script can give you some handy charts about the situation in your own accounts.”

Conclusion

We started the first PPC Town Hall with two objectives in mind: to provide a safe space for paid search pros to vent and share their thoughts on everything that’s been happening, and to steer clear of using it as an opportunity to promote any kind of software or services.

Since then, the PPC community has embraced these weekly conversations, and they’ve evolved into a source of insights on how to approach these new problems that none of us really have all the answers to.

We’re in this together, and we’ll get out of it together.

Please join our next PPC Town Hall on Wednesday, April 22.

PPC Mastered! Art Meets Science at SMX West

On the heels of great sessions and networking at this year’s two Friends of Search events in Amsterdam, Optmyzr is gearing up for back-to-back SMX sessions you won’t want to miss in February.

SMX West always draws a great crowd of search marketers from around the country. We celebrate all skill levels and those of us fortunate to host SMX sessions learn as much as we give. 

This year, Optmyzr will present two high-impact sessions focusing on essential skills for mid- to advanced search marketing pros hoping to separate from the pack as a PPC rockstar.

Both Optmyzr presentations happen Wednesday, February 19 at the San Jose Convention Center. We present amid a great lineup of presenters on the full agenda, but for those craving in-depth learning about SEM/PPC in 2020, I encourage you to check out our sessions. 

Following our SMX sessions, our team will also host an Optmyzr workshop at the WeWork office just down the road of the convention center. You can register for our workshop here: https://forms.gle/rHu56nZy3oAboDys7.

Here’s a look at what we’ll cover at SMX West: 

The Art of Structuring Search and Shopping Campaigns

Over the past 12-18 months, we’ve seen huge advancements in search marketers’ abilities to craft and manage high performing search and shopping campaigns. The tools in Google and Bing have become much more immersive for users as both platforms are offering many more features and functionality. At the same time, platform automations take much of the guesswork out of core search and shopping campaigns. 

We’ll go deeper during our first SMX session (Wednesday, February 19 at 11:30 AM). 

While it’s become pretty easy and fail-safe to do the basics well, we’ll dive into the art to using the tools to their potential. We’ll explore what’s good and not-so-good about popular structures such as alpha/beta, single keyword ad groups, and GriP (groups of individual products). 

This session will also show you how to easily deploy free automations in the platforms in ways that maintain target structures in a dynamic environment. We’ll dig into other free tools within Google and Bing that you might not be using to analyze data in ways that are better aligned with your unique business needs. 

Perhaps most powerful, though, we’ll bring clarity to how campaign structures work alongside Smart Bidding and other automations. AND we’ll go beyond the platform-level automations to help marketers see how third-party PPC management tools can elevate their role from marketing tactician to genius-level, groundbreaking PPC superstar.

And speaking of “genius level”…

Genius-Level Microsoft Ads, Google Ads Optimizations

Our second SMX session on the 19th is a natural extension of the earlier discussion about search and shopping ads. Entitled “Genius Level Microsoft Ads, Google Ads Optimizations,” our 2:30 PM session will explore ways to optimize across Microsoft Ads AND Google Ads in tandem. 

Using automation layering via Optmyzr, we’ll showcase ways to tackle critical tasks and manage platform automations that will give the PPC pro greater control over his or her search marketing programs. Let’s face it, the PPC pie is getting much bigger. While Google remains king, Bing is continuing to carve out its place as the other big player in search. It’s essential to know how to work in both platforms – essentially working together.

I’ll present alongside Mark Irvine, Senior Data Scientist from Wordstream. Together, we’ll help learn to build a unique PPC game plan for your business, along with a scalable, executable strategy. 

Working in both platforms, you’ll also need to know and understand the important, and often subtle, differences between the two big search engines. Master the automations and gain genius-level status to optimize in both universes. 

SMX West is always a great event for our team, and it’s right in Optmyzr’s backyard. Check out the agenda for this year’s event and be sure to check out our sessions in the SEM/PPC track. If you spot me in the hallways or after a session, just yell “Fred!” I’d love to connect with you. If time allows, maybe even grab a cup of coffee. 

And don’t forget to tell us if you’d like to join our free workshop from 4:30pm – 5:45pm in San Jose on February 19th, right after our sessions at SMX.

See you in San Jose!

How to Pick a Profitable ACOS or ROAS Target

Online advertising can get expensive but thankfully the ad engines like Google, Bing and Amazon all have controls that help advertisers keep costs at the right level for their business goals.

In this post I’ll share how to use your profit margin in conjunction with either target ROAS (tROAS) or target ACOS (tACOS) to achieve break-even on your ad spend. Once you know how to pick the right target so you don’t lose money on PPC, you can dial it up or down to find the right balance between profits and revenue.

The Difference Between Google ROAS and Amazon ACOS

First let’s take a look at what ROAS and ACOS mean and how they are calculated.

Google uses ROAS

When it comes to reporting columns, Google uses terms like ‘Conv. value / cost’ or ‘All conv. Value / cost’. ROAS (return on ad spend) isn’t a metric you can pick: 

But the good news is that ROAS is simply one of the ratios expressed as a percentage so it’s just multiplied by 100 and a ‘%’ sign is slapped on the back:

Google does use the term ROAS in one of its automated bid strategies: Target ROAS (tROAS).

Amazon uses ACOS

Amazon shows the ACOS (advertising cost of sales) metric in its interface more prominently so advertisers are immediately exposed to it when they start advertising on Amazon.

ACOS is based on two of the other metrics Amazon shows by default in its interface:

ACOS and ROAS both serve the same purpose of giving guidance on how to make online ads profitable but at first glance the two metrics seem very different:

While the formulas look quite different, that’s mostly due to the difference in nomenclature between the two ad platforms. Where Google calls it ‘cost’, Amazon calls it ‘Ad Spend’. 

Google cost = Amazon ad spend

Where Google calls it ‘Conversion Value’, ‘Conv. Value’, or ‘Value’, Amazon calls it ‘Sales’.

Google Conversion Value = Amazon Sales

So once we standardize the terminology and swap out all the synonyms, we see that ROAS is the inverse of ACOS:

We need to know product profit margin before ACOS and ROAS become useful.

So how are ACOS and ROAS helpful in bid management? How might we decide what a good target ROAS or target ACOS might be? To do that, we need to understand margins.

Product profit margin or gross profit margin is the ratio of profit over revenue for a single product. The simplest way to think of profit is as the value of the sale minus the cost of producing the thing that was sold:

Let’s look at an example where we sell 3 products for the same price but they all cost different amounts to make. Or for an Amazon reseller, they all cost a different amount to buy from the manufacturer:

Combine margin with ROAS or ACOS to find your break-even point

Now we have all the pieces needed to find how much we can spend on advertising to break even on each sale or conversion*. 

To make sure we don’t lose money by buying ads, our ad spend to get a sale should be no more than the profit we get from that sale.

We make a profit when:

profit on the item sold >advertising cost to get the sale

That’s simple logic to understand, but to communicate this goal to the ad engines, we need to translate it into the jargon they use. That means we need to bring it back to ROAS and ACOS.

What is a Break-Even ACOS

ACOS it’s very simple to equate to break-even if you know your margin. The numbers have to be the same.

What is a break-even ROAS?

Because ROAS and ACOS are the inverse of each other, our break-even point on Google is when is (product profit margin)-1 . That’s the product margin divided by 1.

Let’s see that in a different more visual way:

The bottom line

So there you have it, the perfect ACOS or ROAS to break-even on your ad spend on Google or Amazon. On Amazon, it’s the profit margin of the product you sell. On Google it’s the inverse of that same number.

*You don’t really break even by spending no more on ads to get a sale than what you gain from that sale as that doesn’t consider other costs to run the business of selling things. This is why knowing the break-even point is just the start and you should add a target profitability so you make money.

Understanding Google’s new Extension of Phrase Match and Broad Match Modifiers

Watching this year’s Google Marketing Live event, one of the things that really intrigued me was Ben Gomes, Google’s SVP of Search, explaining the process of how query matching has evolved from the first Google searches up to this day. 

He used the following example:

“The pictures of modern TVs are phenomenal, except sometimes they look strange. And the question is “How do you ask a question about ‘my TV looking strange’?”.

See, the question is no longer a simple query, as it would be to search for “my TV is not connecting” or “How do I fix the resolution on my screen”, but rather a much more complex concept. He then proceeded to explain how by using ML and Neural Networks, they were able to take that query and transform it into a neural embedding. This query’s neural embedding then matched the neural embeddings contained in their documents and that allowed them to match to the best result.

This process is known as Neuromatching, and although it’s no new information, seeing it graphed onto a neurolinguistic “word cloud”, and hearing the explanation of why this was so, gave me a fresh perspective into where we’re heading today. 

The Prelude

Last year we were introduced to an expansion of exact match close variants that included same meaning variations. Using Google’s own example, the exact match keyword [yosemite camping] would now also match to queries such as “yosemite campground” and “campsites in yosemite.” It was no longer just about the keyword the user typed into the query, but also the implied meaning of what they typed.

This was a pretty big change, which meant among other things paying much closer attention to search term reports for their exact match keywords. Some embraced this change energetically, while others were at first more hesitant as to why these changes were being made. These are just a couple of examples:

This year we’ve been struck yet again with another change: Google is now extending same-meaning close variants to phrase match, broad match modifiers.

The Change

But what does all of this mean? In a nutshell, it means that broad match modifier and phrase match keywords will now also begin matching words within the search query that share the same meaning as the keyword.

Google is broadening the results to not just the query, but rather the intent as well. With its vast work regarding ML and AI, it now stands a better ground to understand what the intent behind a query really was. 

Using Google’s example, with broad match modifier, the keywords +lawn +mowing +service may now match to queries such as “grass cutting and gardening services” or “rates for services that cut your grass”. 

With phrase match, the keyword “lawn mowing service” will also include queries for “grass cutting service near me” or “local lawn cutting services.” 

The Future

But coming back to Ben Gomes. If we look at these two changes made to keyword matching as standalone changes, they might not be as exciting as if we look at where they are coming from – and where they are headed. The purpose of Google search from day one has been to find the best way to match what the user needs, to what type of results they can offer. This new change seeks to cover all these extensions and variations.

You can read further on how to prepare with Frederick Vallaeys’ post on 3 Things to do Before Google Changes How Keyword Match Types Work.

Why Smart Bidding and Last-Click Attribution are a Dangerous Combination

Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation are three trending topics in the industry today. It’s an accepted fact that automation is here to stay so it’s our job to learn how to make the most of it for our PPC accounts. In my book “Digital Marketing in an AI World”, I explain that one of the roles humans will have to play when their old job has been automated is that of the “PPC Doctor”: someone who knows the right medicine for their patient and who also understands potentially dangerous interactions. This post covers one such interaction that can lead to disastrous results in PPC.

We’re talking here about Google Ads’ smart bidding strategies. Even though they’re designed to help advertisers reach a determined goal, they lack the human intuition for understanding how to deal with gray areas, and are prone to bad decisions when they’re fed bad data. Specifically, they can do major damage to accounts that are using last-click attribution (LCA) models.

Understanding Last-Click Attribution Model

Last-Click is one of the 6 different attribution models offered by Google Ads. It gives all the credit to the ad and keyword which was last clicked before a conversion.

For example, let’s say you are advertising athletic shoes. There’s a sequence of queries done by a user that goes something like this: “Sneakers” > “Running Shoes” > “Adidas Running Shoes” and finally they search for “Ultraboost 19”. This is just a simple example to illustrate that users tend to start with broad queries and get more specific as they get to understand what it is they might want to buy.

If your campaign is using the Last-Click attribution (LCA) model, then all the credit for the conversion will be given to the ad shown for the final query: “Ultraboost 19”, and no credit will be given to any of the queries that preceded it.

Conversion Funnels and LCA

So why is this so bad? When you give all the credit to the last-clicked ad/keyword, it’s like saying you don’t think there was any value to all the queries along the way that helped the user become aware and familiar with your offering. You’re assuming the user would have discovered to search for “Ultraboost 19” without having been exposed to any of your other ads. This is generally a false assumption, especially for consumers who are not very familiar with your brand and its latest offerings.

Consumers today have more interactions than ever before with brands while researching what to buy. Brands that are not present at the earlier stages of a user’s discovery process may not be in contention to win their business later down the line.

So using last-click attribution would mean that “Sneakers”, “Running Shoes” or “Adidas Running Shoes” are assigned no value.

Attribution Models Inform Optimizations

Why is it so important to assign the correct value? Doesn’t the attribution model just change the numbers in reports? The answer is ‘no,’ the attribution model populates the conversion and conversion value metrics and most account managers rely on these to decide where to allocate their budgets, where to change bids, what queries to add as keywords, and what negative keywords to add.

This could all be okay if a human was managing all this manually. For example, while the lack of conversions for a keyword like ‘sneakers’ might normally be grounds for a bid reduction, an account manager would likely realize that they’d still want to bid for this keyword. Human judgment would win out over purely following some logical rules and the account might do fine.

But like I said before, automation is increasingly doing more of the day-to-day account management and it lacks the human judgment that averted disaster in this scenario of an advertiser using last-click attribution.

Smart Bidding + Last-Click Attribution

When last-click attribution is being used, the keywords “Sneakers”, “Running Shoes” or “Adidas Running Shoes” from the example above, will be reported as non-converting, although they are still valuable keywords because they help consumers unfamiliar with your brand discover your brand’s offerings as they do their research.

Now here’s where results can get really bad… by combining bid automation with last-click attribution. The job of automated bidding, like target CPA (tCPA) or target ROAS (tROAS) bidding from Google, is to calculate the appropriate CPC that is needed for the ad to enter the auction.

The ‘right’ CPC is determined one of two ways:

  1. For tCPA, Google uses the predicted conversion rate to calculate CPC
  2. For tROAS, Google uses the predicted conversion value for a click to set the CPC

But if the attribution model hasn’t been assigning conversions to upper-funnel searches, it will predict that conversion rate will be low and that the value per click will be low. So now the automated bidding system will start to reduce bids for these upper funnel keywords. And eventually bids will get so low that the ads may stop showing altogether.

This is bad because it means you’re reducing the volume of prospects who will be exposed to your brand at earlier stages. Eventually your funnel just dries up and the only sales you’re left with are those from people who already knew your brand and products very well — the people who knew to search for “Ultraboost 19”.

Final Thoughts

Considering the significant risk of making bad decisions for the reasons explained above, we advise all our customers to switch away from using Last-Click attribution. If anything, simply switch to a time-decay model which is most similar to last-click while still giving some value to all stages of the funnel.

When it comes to automations like smart bidding strategies, or automated bids using another platform, knowing how they interact with your measurement systems is an absolute must if you want to avert an account blowup.

Key Takeaways from SMX Advanced: Automation, Measurement and The Role of PPC Pros Moving Forward

As the Spring conference season winds down, in-the-know search marketers have a lot of fresh insight following a packed SMX Advanced in Seattle. Start-to-finish, organizers and everyone at Third Door Media hosted another powerful elite search marketing event.

The impact of machines, artificial intelligence, data, and ongoing innovations from Google and Bing were evident across sessions this week. But it’s also clear we, as search marketers and PPC pros, still have a lot to learn and contribute in the increasingly AI-fueled universe in which we work.

Automation & Your Role in PPC

For one of my two presentations at SMX, I participated in a panel, “Next Generation Automation.” Core to the session, we focused on two levels of automation to consider if you want to grow your business – whether as an agency or the in-house PPC expert:

  1. Automations provided by the engines (e.g. Smart Bidding)
  2. Automations you create to streamline your in-house processes

Not surprisingly, many PPC pros spend much more time thinking about the first level than the second. However, PPC rockstars flip that mindset and focus more time and energy on the automations they can do in concert with the built-in automations that keep expanding within Google and Bing. How your own automations interact with the big engines’ automations can set your game apart from competitors.

Think specifically about automations that can streamline workflows. For example, you can set up workflows that automatically assign tasks to the right account managers and present the account managers with a filtered list of things to do. So the machine makes some suggestions for the person to review.

You can also layer your automations. Think about creating a tool that monitors an automation like ‘close variant keywords’ from Google and automatically flags low performance variants, and possibly even automatically breaks these out as new keywords with lower bids or as negative keywords. This is quite easy to do in Optmyzr with the Rule Engine. No scripts required.

The examples above just scratch the surface of what PPC pros can do with automations you can do on your own – in tandem with the expanding automations within the big engines. We explored automation through scripts earlier this year, which is always a good topic to revisit.

SEM Keynote: Machines & Automation

Machine learning, AI and automation were common threads through many SMX sessions, including the Tuesday keynote session that featured four top thinkers in our industry.

Ginny Marvin was part of that keynote group. As SEL Editor-in-chief and one of the people on the 25 Most Influential PPC Experts list, Ginny has authority when she says we can’t reverse the trend of automation so we need to figure out how to coexist with it. She also gave a nice shout-out that my book “Digital Marketing in an AI World” is very topical.

When Ginny talks about machine learning (ML), she likens it to going on an airplane flight with a toddler. When parents attempt this feat the first time, it’s typically horrible because the toddler doesn’t know how to behave and parents have unreasonable expectations – plus they didn’t buy the now-seemingly-giant toddler their own seat. The next trip, that parent takes his or her learnings and decides that buying the child his own seat will help a lot and they teach him how to behave on a plane. Before they know it, the increasingly travel-savvy parent has a teenager who’s a pleasure to fly with and who even helps carry the family bags.

ML is much like flying with kids. You need reasonable expectations and must work hard to teach the machine what you expect of it.

Ginny’s topic snowballed perfectly with the keynote portion by Nic Darveau-Garneau, Google’s  Chief Search Evangelist. Nic spoke extensively about how ML can only work well if you give it good goals. When possible, don’t give it proxy goals but give it the real goal you care about so it can optimize for that.

Advertisers have grown so accustomed to measuring and optimizing everything, so they unrealistically expect EVERY click to be profitable. But the new camp of advertisers knows the focus should be on in-channel profitability, which allows the ML to figure out where to best allocate budget and set bids for the overall best performance.

“How your own automations interact with the big engines’ automations can set your game apart from competitors.”

Part of transitioning from the old to the new camp is to shift the expectations of your boss or client. Don’t give a keyword-by-keyword breakdown of ROAS. Instead, show them how their budget can drive profitability over the next three years. Nic laid out a beautiful vision, but I believe the PPC pro still needs to know where to optimize so those more detailed reports are useful to inform new strategies. For example, if you ignore the details of RSA performance, you won’t know that perhaps the ML is stuck because you gave it bad headline variations to choose from. As a smart PPC pro (and possibly one using the new RSA Builder from Optmyzr), you can act on these insights and help get the absolute best performance out of each channel.

Discussing PPC Automation with Ginny Marvin

During a rare moment of “downtime” at SMX, I appreciated the opportunity to catch up 1:1 with Ginny for an upcoming podcast. She graciously did a recorded interview with me about my book, specifically talking about how the changing role of the PPC professional as machines take over more and more of our daily tasks.

Clearly there are opportunities for PPC pros to elevate their game and be much more strategic. The machines may seem like a threat to our roles in marketing, but as Ginny and I discussed, they actually provide great opportunity for us to get out of the weeds and the tasks and put our critical thinking, strategic minds, and our creativity to use much more effectively.

Here’s what is really exciting: We are only scratching the surface of what machines and AI will do for our industry in the coming years. Position yourself well to ride the wave of AI-infused PPC. Don’t fear the machines. Work WITH them. After all, People + machines = always better.

We updated this post on June 14th with a link to the podcast.

Fred’s Book for PPC Rockstars is Out! Digital Marketing in an AI World

The Optmyzr team is excited to see our cofounding CEO, Fred Vallaeys, publish a new book: “Digital Marketing in an AI World”. It’s now out and available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.

Book cover of Digital Marketing in an AI World by Frederick Vallaeys and Optmyzr

The book explores the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning – specifically how it is changing the world for PPC professionals. We see this book as a survive-and-THRIVE guide for PPC pros navigating a universe where some fear being automated right into obsolescence.

As Fred shares in his book, the new AI era is actually a time of unprecedented opportunity for PPC pros who aspire to be PPC rockstars. We’ve been saying for a long time that machines and AI are amazing and can do things humans cannot do. But machines PLUS humans makes an even more powerful force. Fred’s book is essential for PPC pros at agencies and in-house alike.

At the core, AI and machine learning certainly eliminate tasks and automate the tasks that should be automated. Smart PPC pros are the ones who use that automation to redirect their energy and attention to chart bold new strategies and spend more time on the strategic, human elements of marketing.

Fred’s book is out on Amazon today at special introductory pricing. Order between now and Friday, May 31, 2019, and get the Kindle version for an introductory price of $0.99. The Kindle price returns to full retail of only $9.99 on June 1, and the paperback version is available for $15.99. �

If you are attending SMX in Seattle, Fred will host an advanced SEM clinic, which promises to be a don’t-miss session. He’ll have copies of the book with him available for purchase (and we think he’ll even sign those copies!).

PPC pros who want to up their game and turn uncertainty into opportunity as a PPC rockstar should invest in this book. It may very well have a transformational impact on your PPC career.

What Was Announced at Google Marketing Live 2019

Sitting in the front of the main keynote today, it’s clear Google Marketing Live is an essential experience for anyone who works in the PPC trenches. Let’s face it – Google Ads will continue to change at breakneck pace and introduce changes that can make or break a PPC pro’s next few months. It’s essential to stay on top of what is announced by Google at their premier event for marketers.

This year’s event has a lot of focus around new ad experiences for users, the latest on video experiences, branding, and (of course) the mobile web and apps. We’re here to make sure the Optmyzr team is on top of the evolution to continually push powerful automation tools to help you continue to strive for PPC rockstar status. Read our tweets and see videos we took at the keynote.

Here are some of our initial key takeaways from the day 1 keynote in San Francisco.

New Experiences to Satisfy Consumer Expectations

With such a huge chunk of search activity happening on smartphones, and to a lesser degree voice assistants with screens — what Google refers to as ‘surfaces’ —  consumers are increasingly interacting more with Google on smaller screens. The consumer is expecting ever-improving quality in the results – not just in terms of information received, but in the overall experience. When the screen is smaller, the information — including ads — has to be better.

Your brand’s presence in those results (paid, in particular) is critical. The small screen is also becoming a primary content and video consumption hub for hundreds of millions of people. Google responded with the expanded offering of Shopping Ads to YouTube and Google Discover. Coming mid summer, the expanded opportunities with Shopping Ads will allow for broader distribution of immersive search ad experiences for the consumer.

Google also announced entirely redesigned search experiences for retail and travel and both have ways to let advertisers connect with prospective new customers. Google Discover helps consumers discover must-buy products while consuming a feed. The redesigned Google Travel experience which is launching today offers ways for travel advertisers to find more buyers for experiences, hotel rooms, and flights.

They also announced Gallery Ads, a more visual ad format for the ‘absolute top’ position ads on mobile searches.

Smart(er) Bidding

Of course, we’re talking one of our favorite topics! (and the Optmyzr team will be busy quickly incorporating the latest from Google). Google Ads unveiled new capabilities for smart bidding that allow PPC pros to choose desired conversion actions for optimization at the campaign level.

Those action sets can then be applied across campaigns. Other new bidding capabilities include:

Really cool in this is the ability to set rules that will make it easier to adapt conversion values by audience type and then fine-tune bids according to specific value.

Insights and Information

Machine learning and AI continue to fuel so much of the innovation coming out of Google. The company is deepening offerings that will make it easier to:

We’re particularly keen on applying the latest from Google into the Optmyzr platform to help PPC pros connect the dots in a growing avalanche of data and insight. Being able to explain why a machine learning system made certain decisions and then using that insight across other clients will be a big win for advertisers.

Campaign/Program Management & Measurement

The more things get “automated” the more complex and challenging they can be. Google is introducing some interesting management functions designed to put more control in the PPC pro’s hands. Specifically, we got a glimpse into some interesting new tools & functionality, ideally to help:

Measurement is also front and center this year. The Google team is tackling:

Even by Google standards, the latter elements create some of the most challenging problems to solve.

More to Come

The topics and news coming out of Google today are far reaching and will have a huge impact on our industry throughout 2019. A small sampling of other news/topics includes:

The Optmyzr team is on the ground here and taking in everything we can (while putting our Google roots to good use to get great front-row seats as well as networking with the Who’s Who in the land of Google for even deeper insights). Look for more detailed recaps in the days following GML, and we’ll be crafting our own solutions to help you extract the greatest value from the ever-expanding set of tools in Google.

Google Average Position – Goodbye Old Friend :-/

Google is finally putting the venerable Average Position metric out to pasture. It’s one of the oldest metrics on the books for PPC pros and a mainstay on client reports for many years. After all these years, did the metric really help? Maybe not that much.

Many PPC pros have become a bit numb to changes from Google. Seems like we spend a great deal of our time just keeping up with the updates and new features they seem to constantly toss into the PPC world. And while it may seem Google is haphazard in making changes, I can tell that as a former Googler, they are very purposeful and methodical about altering our shared universe. It just isn’t always evident why they do so.

Average Position, however, has held a place in our common PPC vernacular longer than most metrics. Yet saying goodbye to this old friend later this year really won’t be that difficult.

AP just wasn’t all that helpful.

Sorry.

In this age of AI-energized PPC, Average Position has become little more than a vague barometer of conditions in a PPC program when PPC pros need actionable, granular data to make specific and smart decisions.

AP was of rapidly diminishing value when you consider the vast amount of highly specific performance data from which we can pull.

Google is replacing Average Position with the following more precise metrics to identify those opportunities to get more impressions at the top:

In addition, two metrics help give critical insight into what we actually should optimize to get there (which AP never told us):

Here’s what it will look like in your Google Ads Manager:

You’ll be able to easily select the more exacting metrics to meet your needs and start to get much more granular as you assess strategies and determine the best optimizations.

If you want to dig into very specific scenarios that show where the soon-to-be-retired Average Position metric could lead to confusion, check out my recent Search Engine Journal contributed post.

In that SEJ post, we examine real-world case studies that demonstrate how these new metrics also bring new importance to the trusty old Quality Score. It’s worth a read.

Okay…shouldn’t we just optimize impression share by adjusting bids?

Given the greater view into Impression Share vs. Average Position with the new metrics, it could be easy for some PPC pros to jump on the “fix it by changing the bid” approach.

Pause please.

For an ad to appear at the top of the page, it needs to meet certain relevance and Ad Rank thresholds that are set by Google. The levels of these thresholds are not published so it can be a game of trial-and-error. It’s worth remembering, however, that Google really wants ads to be relevant, so you may need to set an exorbitantly high CPC to get an ad with low QS to move to the top of the page.

A smarter optimization will address QS issues first, for example, by moving the low QS keyword to an ad group by itself (this is called a SKAG – single keyword ad group.) This is a good way to fix QS issues because it lets you write an ad and pick a landing page that are optimized for that unique keyword.

Once the quality of the keyword and the ad are fixed, you may be able to gain the desired top position with a much smaller bid increase than if you’d skipped the QS optimization.

How a PPC Pro Can Stay on Top of Things

First, it’s important to start tapping into the new metrics that will replace the aging Average Position. AP goes into retirement in September, but it’s not really doing us much good anyway. Send our old friend a “happy retirement” card and then make the shift today. Start to understand the improved insight and how it will help you make decisions.

Second, keep tuned in to Optmyzr. Our dev teams are always working with the never-ending changes that come from Google (and Bing – and other platforms) to automate optimizations and simplify the tasks and decisions you need to make. The more changes they create and the more they automate, the more confusing things can get for even the most advanced PPC rockstars.

We welcome the ongoing changes in the platforms, in particular the innovations by the big search engines thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. The challenge for the practitioner in the trenches, however, is keeping up with all of these changes and integrating them into new and existing strategies, something we hope to help you with!

What happens after Average Position is gone

Google Ads has announced it will no longer report on ‘average position’ later this year. To learn more about this change, check out my post on Search Engine Land. Optmyzr can help make the transition smoother as one of the most frequently used original AdWords metrics sails into the sunset later this year.

 

Average Position in Reports

When the ‘average position’ metric disappears from all reports, Optmyzr will automatically handle this in scheduled, automated reports. Specific details will be shared as we get closer to the sunset date but we plan to make this a seamless transition for our customers.

 

For example, any report templates that include the ‘average position’ metric will continue to work even if you don’t make any change. We will simply remove the metric that is no longer supported by Google so that your reports will continue to be delivered uninterrupted to your clients and stakeholders.

 

Average Position in Rule Engine Recipes

Some advertisers have used the Optmyzr Rule Engine to automate a bid-to-position strategy that relies on ‘average position.’ Rules that contain the deprecated metric will stop working when Google no longer reports average position because any comparisons will fail. In other words, if your rule says to change a bid if the average position > 2, that comparison against ‘greater than 2’ will fail so the rule will be broken.

 

To make the transition easier, advertisers who have active rules that are impacted� will receive a notification from us as we get closer to the date in September when average position will no longer be available.

 

Alternatives to Average Position in Automated Rules

The Optmyzr Rule Engine can still be used to change bids (among many other things it can automate) based on position goals. Instead of using the ‘average position’, you can use one of the newer metrics like ‘Impression (Absolute Top) %’.

 

For example, for a brand term where you’d like your ad to be in first position and appear above the organic results, you could check if the impressions at the absolute top are close to 100%. If they are not, this could be because your bid or quality score (QS) are too low. Remember Google has a top promotion threshold and if you’re below that level, even if your ad is ranked first, it won’t be eligible to show at the top of the page. So if you then find that QS is good (7 or higher), you could boost your bid to try and cross the threshold to get your ad at the top.

 

The beauty of the Rule Engine is that you have the ultimate flexibility in turning your optimization process into an easily repeatable automation that you can deploy quickly across all your accounts. The example above is just one way to do it but our hope is that you will leverage the full power of the tool to help you manage accounts the way you like.

 

What’s next

Optmyzr is committed to building tools to make PPC pros more efficient and that includes making this transition to a post-average position world easier, and offering alternative ways to achieve your position-based goals. Stay tuned for more details soon.

Google Complimentary Support: Yes? No? Maybe?

Over the last several days, many Google Ads account owners have been getting notices from Google notifying of something the search giant is calling “complimentary campaign support.” The gist of the notification is pretty straightforward: Google Ads experts (and the powerful suite of tools at their disposal) promise to help you get more out of your ads. Essentially do nothing and you let Google take a load off your plate.

 

Here’s a screenshot of the message from Google:

 

The offer may be tempting. Google (and Bing – although not pertinent for this specific topic) are both making great strides automating many tasks associated with PPC, with an expressed goal of simplifying processes and enhancing performance for its advertisers.

 

The question to ask yourself: Do you want/need to take advantage of this genuine offer from our friends at Google? If you receive the offer notice, you better decide – otherwise they automatically will start this campaign support within 7 business days. Here are three thoughts to help you decide:

 

  • We’ve covered concepts around automation at great length and we plan to continue exploring the topic throughout 2019. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are, without question, changing PPC. But should the technology take humans out of the equation? We see AI and machine learning as additive and powerful tools that yield best results when humans and machines collaborate. Google has never taken the stance that people are no longer needed.

    You need to ask yourself how much control you want to cede to the machines at this point and with this offer from Google, it’s not clear how much will be done by machines vs humans.

  • <li style="font-weight: 400;">
      <span style="font-weight: 400;">Google Ads has seemingly countless settings and levers that help PPC pros go way beyond the basics. Choosing the right ones, though, can be challenging. Your own value as a PPC rockstar is that YOU know the levers as well as your clients’ needs and human needs of the searching public. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Google’s notification, they say flat out that their team has gained knowledge from 800,000 accounts and will apply the learnings to your accounts. To us, that actually validates that experience is a huge factor. If you are using Optmyzr, you’re not a PPC newbie. YOU provide the value. Tools in Google and those in Optmyzr give you your powers to manage accounts efficiently, but you bring the expertise from having done this for many other campaigns. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></p> 
      
      <p>
        </span></li> 
        
        <li style="font-weight: 400;">
          <span style="font-weight: 400;">Ask yourself which human will be in charge? Will it be YOU or a Google person. I’m not knocking Google’s team at all. They truly do know their stuff. But do they know your business, your clients and your audience the way you do? </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">This offer from Google seems geared more toward those in PPC who perhaps lack the time, knowledge and experiences to strategically run PPC programs. We recommend you keep the reigns for now. Let others commoditize their PPC. You have even greater opportunity to stand out as the PPC rockstar that you are. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></p> 
          
          <p>
            </span></li> </ol> 
            
            <p>
              <span style="font-weight: 400;">We do see Google’s offer as legitimate and well-intended. In fact, it may be just the ticket for lesser PPC pros to help them get through their day. As you’ll hear from us throughout 2019, though, the AI- and machine learning-driven automation we’re seeing from Google (and Bing) are really about removing tasks and simplifying processes. All of that is great for really smart PPC pros to spend more energy and time on strategy, creative and other critical elements to blast past competitors. </span>
            </p>
            
            <p>
              &nbsp;
            </p>
            
            <p>
              <span style="font-weight: 400;">Keep your PPC programs in your control. Use the tools at your disposal, but be the one to lead your PPC initiatives to new heights in 2019. Keep this all in mind if you get the offer for complimentary campaign support. </span>
            </p>
            
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    Improve your Shopping Campaign’s performance by leveraging Campaign Priorities

    Shopping campaigns are managed very differently from Search and Display campaigns. � In this series of posts, we’ll address some of the most important differences and share best-practice strategies based on what we’ve heard from our customers.

    One of these strategies is to set Campaign Priorities, to prioritize the products you want to highlight or sell more of.

    What are Campaign Priorities?

    Campaign priorities in Google Ads are used to select the bid when a product is advertised through multiple campaigns. Though every new shopping campaign is automatically created on “low priority” as a default setting, you can modify this and set your campaigns to either high, medium or low priority.

    Keep in mind that campaign priorities are not the same as using negatives, as you aren’t driving or excluding traffic, but rather giving first or second priority for participation in auctions.

    Priority levels outweigh the bid amount at auction time, so if a campaign on high priority has a lower bid than a campaign on medium priority, the high priority campaign’s bid will be used. In another case, if multiple campaigns have the same priority, then the campaign with highest bid is the one that will be used in the auction.

    Note that budget issues can cause the priorities to be ignored. For example, if the highest priority campaign runs out of budget, then the bid from the runner-up in terms of priority levels will be used.

    Campaign priorities are mostly useful when you’re advertising the same product, for the same country, in multiple Shopping campaigns.

    Strategies Using Campaign Priorities

    Prioritize Best Sellers for Generic Searches

    Campaign priorities can be used to give first participation in auction for a campaign with your best sellers, or a campaign with the products you want to prioritize or highlight in appearing.

    To avoid your shopping ads showing up for unqualified searches you can make your campaigns “compete smarter”, as detailed on this CPC Strategy article. �

    As an example, let’s say your inventory contains a variety of wireless speakers. You have different brands and models, but the Bose Minilink II and the JBL Flip speakers are your best-selling items. And as best sellers, you want to make sure that they have first participation in auction upon a generic “wireless speakers” search.

    The way to do this would be to create a campaign for best-sellers and include the Bose Minilink II and the JBL Flip speakers, and then set the priority of this campaign to “High Priority”. This doesn’t exclude any campaigns from participating, it just helps you define where you first want to place the bid from.

    Prioritize Flighted Budgets

    Another case would be to use campaign priorities to spend flighted or seasonal budgets before spending evergreen budgets. Say you are creating a winter campaign which runs on a specific budget and focuses on winter clothing items only. One of the products in this campaign is a jacket, which is also included in the outdoor apparel campaign that runs year-round.

    Considering the winter campaign has its own specific budget, you can make sure that budget is used first, before that of the outdoor apparel campaign. To do this, you’d set the winter campaign on a high priority, and the outdoor apparel campaign with a medium or low priority.

    Bid Less for Generic Searches and More for Product Searches

    Somewhat counterintuitively, CPCs for generic queries tend to run higher than those for specific product searches. Here’s an illustration of that effect from Andreas Reiffen and Crealytics:

    The higher the bid, the more one word (generic) queries the ad is shown for.

    This is generally bad because generic searches tend to happen long before the conversion. The more specific, multi-word queries tend to immediately precede the sale. So ROAS focused advertisers will want to bid more for specific queries and less for generic queries but that’s the opposite of what happens when you have just one campaign for your products.

    A strategy that lets you bid more for specific product searches involves a mix of campaign priorities, different bids, and different negative keywords. Kirk Williams wrote a detailed step-by-step article on the benefits of setting up an SKU-level shopping strategy.

    This strategy was pioneered by Martin Roettgerding. Here’s how it works:

    So for the Generic Campaign, the one that is supposed to attract clicks for the most generic queries related to what you sell, you set a high priority, low bids and add negative keywords for the brands and product names. Now if a branded search happens, the high priority campaign is skipped because it has a negative brand keyword so the medium campaign will pick up the traffic with a reasonable bid.

    If you’ve tried some of these techniques or explored others that leverage shopping campaign priorities, let us know. We’d love to feature your story in an upcoming blog post.

    How Keyword Match Types Work With Close Variants (2018)

    Keyword match types have long existed as a way for advertisers on Google and Bing to define how closely a user’s query has to match a keyword before it can trigger an ad to show.

    Match types allow advertisers to either tightly control exactly what searches their ads may appear for (through exact match keywords) or to give a lot of control to Google’s Machine Learning to decide when the ad might be relevant to a search, even if it doesn’t contain any of the words in the keyword (through broad match keywords).

    Because Google says that approximately 15% of searches that happen every day are unique (i.e. that same query has not been seen in the past 90 days), they believe that advertisers who restrict their keywords too much will miss out on a lot of relevant traffic. Their point is valid.

    At the same time, broad match has a reputation for sometimes being a bit too quick to show ads and causing irrelevant clicks and that has led some advertisers to stop using broad match all together. While they’re more in control, they miss significant opportunities, and Google is missing the opportunity to monetize.

    Close Variants

    So Google started to look for a solution and in 2014� they introduced the notion of ‘close variants’. In a 2017� update, ‘close variants’ were updated and by then could encompass plurals, singulars, misspellings, stemmings, or the addition or removal of function words.

    Keywords of ANY match type can be mutated through the ‘close variant’ algorithm. Through this change, advertisers can benefit from a tightly controlled exact match keyword without needing to add additional exact match keywords for very minor variations, i.e. close variants.

    2018 Close Variant Update

    In the most recent 2018 update, close variants were again redefined and they can now behave in one of 2 ways depending on the match type:

    For any positive keyword type, except ‘exact’, a close variant can be:

    1. A typo
    2. The plural or singular
    3. A stemming
    4. The word with function words added or removed

    For exact match keywords, close variants can be all the above PLUS one more:

    1. A string that indicates the same intent

    Think of a close variant as the ability for Google to take any string of words in your keyword and replace it with one of the variations described above. If that new keyword is eligible to show an ad in the match type chosen by the advertiser, the keyword will enter the ad auction.

    There is one further change that is worth noting. The word order in exact match keywords used to matter. In the 2017 close variant update, word order for exact matches could be changed.

    Because match types are more complicated to understand due to the existence of close variants, we’ve created a table to explain how match types work as of the launch of the October 2018 close variant update.

    Close Variant AdWords Script

    We’ve also created a free AdWords Script that will help you do an analysis of how close variants are impacting your account. Simply copy-and-paste this into a single account’s AdWords Scripts section and run it to get a Google Sheet showing how your keywords have been changed by close variants.

    Get the script here:

    Watch our instruction video on how to use the script:

    Close Variant Automated Rule

    Subscribers of Optmyzr can also try our Predefined Recipe in the Rule Engine called “Close Variant Performance for Exact Match Keywords” to get a similar report. This predefined recipe can easily be updated to automatically add negative keywords if the query proves to be significantly underperforming the underlying keyword.

    Google Marketing Live: Automation & AI = Smarter/Easier Google Advertising

    Google Marketing Live just wrapped up this week in San Jose, clearly laying out the path for search marketers and business owners alike. Now in its fifth year, Google Marketing Live has grown in size and sophistication. It’s essential that search marketers pay close attention to what happens at Live.

    I had the great opportunity to spend time at the epicenter of the event, alongside friends and former colleagues from my days at Google. Reconnecting with so many amazing Googlers is always an invigorating time, professionally and personally. Google upped the game with an on-site experience on par with, or better than, major network TV events, including a slick live video stream for those attending online.

    [Google Marketing Live prep][1]
    Prepping with Ali for live post-keynote analysis

    My main takeaways from Live 2018 – machine learning, AI and automation continue to be among the most powerful forces simplifying search marketing today. On the surface, search marketers could understandably fear being automated right into unemployment, but the advancements occurring in this space actually open new opportunities for advanced marketers IF they stay ahead of the game.

    Advertising that works for everyone

    Marketing Live keynoter,� Google’s SVP for Ads Sridhar Ramaswamy, cemented the theme “advertising that works for everyone” by spelling out core opportunities and challenges for businesses. Today’s reality, people want help in the moment, where they are and on their terms. Search makes it possible for them to find answers to immediate questions or needs, 1:1, no matter where they are.

    But search advertising also has to work for the advertisers. Solving problems is a two-way street. People need assistance in the moment. Advertisers can remedy those problems and drive new business for themselves. During Marketing Live, it was clear that Sridhar and the rest of the Google team continue to work toward ensuring that advertising works for everyone.

    Three critical things stood out to me during Marketing Live this week:

    I encourage you to invest 90 minutes this week to watch the entire keynote along with post-keynote analysis featuring Google experts Matt Lawson, VP of Ads Marketing, and Ali Miller, Group Product Manager for Video Ads, and me. We dug deep into the keynote to help the livestream audience get even more value out of the event. I think you’ll find it of great interest as we move through 2018 and start seeing Google’s latest innovations come to life.

    [][3]
    Google Marketing Live demo hall

    In the meantime, here are a few key takeaways that really stood out to me after spending 2+ days at the event. Context for PPC experts like you, continually adapting to a shifting playing field:

    Automation is good

    There’s no way to stop the innovation we are seeing today. Automation is not futuristic anymore. It’s here and it IS happening. Smart PPC experts (like you) see opportunity instead of threat. Automation is happening most profoundly at the solution level to eliminate tasks and process. The PPC experts who will lead in this new era are those who will invest time to stay on top of the latest innovations and learn how to put them together to create great campaigns.

    We will always need people with smarts & intellect to visualize, strategize, run tests, think through the nuances, and make amazing things happen in PPC and search overall.

    Final note: AdWords is dead

    Okay, that subhead is the storytelling equivalent to clickbait. The statement is true, though, because we all need to purge “AdWords” from our vocabulary. Sridhar talked about it during his keynote, as did other Googlers during Marketing Live. Google AdWords is now officially known more simply as “Google Ads.”

    After spending time at Google Marketing Live, it’s clear the search giant is making great strides unifying its advertising offerings as a cohesive set of channels. Google Ads becomes the umbrella for search, display, YouTube – with structure and services that allow a more integrated approach and helping advertisers become more of an assistant to the user.

    Consider the theme for this week’s event, “advertising that works for everyone.” Customers, businesses, agencies alike. We all benefit when we (PPC pros and search marketers) get it right. So immerse yourself in the new innovations from Google. Doing so will help you maintain relevance for a long time to come.

    What is the new Cross-Network in AdWords?

    AdWords recently introduced a new type of shopping campaign – Goal-based Shopping Campaigns. These are similar to Universal App campaigns and are completely automated. To start a goal-based shopping campaign, all you need to do is link your merchant center account, set a budget, upload products, and let Google know your country of sale. You don’t have any control over the bids or the campaign structure. Google will show shopping ads across networks based on your goal. With this new shopping campaign type, Google snuck in a new type of network which shows up as cross-network in reports.

    Goal-based shopping campaigns show product shopping ads on Google as well as on display. The campaign also includes remarketing ads and ads to similar audiences. Ads from these campaigns are eligible to appear on Google Search, Display, Gmail, and YouTube.

    Cross-Network in AdWords

    When you segment data by networks in AdWords, you’ll see a new network type called cross-network. This will only have data if you’re running the new goal-based shopping campaigns. As of today, if you’re not running goal-based shopping campaigns, you won’t see data under this network. However, this may change if Google introduces additional campaign types that are fully automated. In all there are now six different network types available in AdWords. Based on the kind of campaign you’re running, you can get traffic from one or more networks.

    Networks vs. Campaign Types

    AdWords segments data in two ways – Advertising Channel/Campaign Type (Search, Shopping, Display, Video, App) and Networks (Google Search, Search Partners, Google Display Network, YouTube Search, YouTube Videos, Cross-network). There is some overlap between the two which sometimes causes confusion. The biggest difference between networks and channels is that networks are the mediums or properties on which ads are shown whereas, campaign types or channels refer to the type of ads that are shown.

    One campaign type can show ads across different networks. For example, search is an advertising channel as well as a network. However, when you look at Google search as a network, it includes data from both regular search campaigns and shopping campaigns because ads from both campaign types can show on the search network. When you select search as a campaign type/channel (All campaigns) from the left menu in your AdWords account you’ll see data for multiple networks. This is because ads from search campaigns can show on Google Search, Search Partners, and YouTube search. They can also show on the Google Display Network if you’re running search display select campaigns.

    In AdWords, when you select a campaign type on the left (Search, Shopping, Display…) it selects the advertising channel/campaign type and not the network. Understanding the difference between networks and channels becomes important when you’re running different types of campaigns.

     

    Are you using AdWords Broad Match Modifier in the right way?

    Broad match modifier (BMM): This match type is a relatively new entrant and lies in between broad and phrase match. It gives more control than broad match and more freedom than phrase match. It works by adding a ‘+’ sign in front of words in a keyword phrase when the match type is selected as broad. For the keyword to match, the words that have the ‘+’ sign in front of them should be present in the search query. The order of the keywords doesn’t matter. Unlike broad match, modified broad match won’t show your ad for synonyms or related searches which gives a higher level of control. Also, unlike phrase match the order of the words in the search query is not important which gives more flexibility. For example, if your keyword is +women’s +shoes it’ll match women’s shoes, women’s black shoes and buy women’s red shoes. However, it will not match ladies shoes because the word women’s is missing from the search query.

    How should you use it?

    Put the ‘+’ sign only in front of the words that are important and define your product. If your keyword phrase has 3+ words in it and each of them has a ‘+’ sign in front of it then it is as good as phrase match. For example, if your keyword is buy strappy black women’s shoes, the words that are important are black women’s shoes so the BMM keyword would be buy strappy +black +women’s +shoes. If you put a ‘+’ sign in front of all the words +buy +strappy +black +women’s +shoes it’ll mean that all the five words need to be present in the search query for the keyword to match which makes it as good as a phrase match keyword. The probability that someone will search for all these five words in a single search query is quite low which restricts traffic.

    Regular Pages

    Tips to Leverage your PPC Campaigns with Standard Shopping

    As a PPC professional, you’d have often wondered which campaign type would best suit your goals and business objectives. While it can’t be denied that Smart Shopping is more data-driven and less time consuming, Standard Shopping campaigns can also be quite beneficial if used efficiently. Not only will you be able to have full control over your campaigns, but direct the adjustments more effectively without compromising on the target.

    This means that you can run efficient and profitable campaigns with Standard Shopping if you want to! Here are some tips to structure Standard Shopping campaigns to make them profitable with insights from Optmyzr products.

    1. Campaign Structure

    Pro Tip: If you have an existing shopping campaign, use the Shopping Analysis Tool to see performance aggregated by different product attributes. This can help you decide on the best structure for your campaigns and ad groups. We recommend choosing attributes that have 100% coverage in the feed because it prevents products from falling into everything else in the product group. The feed analysis feature from Optmyzr can give you an overview of attribute coverage.

    Using inventory filters for campaign settings can help you make sure that you’re not advertising the same products in multiple campaigns. You can define inventory filters in the Google Ads interface in the campaign settings. Also, when you create shopping campaigns using Optmyzr’s Shopping Builder 2.0, these inventory filters are set up automatically based on the structure you choose.

    2. Search Query Management

    Shopping campaigns do not have keywords so it is not possible to tell Google which queries you want your ads to show for. However, you can tell Google which queries you don’t want to show your ads for by using negative keywords. Negative keywords can also help sculpt traffic to direct traffic to more profitable ad groups. This makes sure that queries are more accurately matched to products that help maximize ROAS. 

    Pro Tip: Use the Shopping Negatives tool from Optmyzr to send traffic to more profitable ad groups or to add unprofitable queries as negatives to save cost. You can also use the Rule Engine to automate this process. 

    3. Bidding

    Standard Shopping campaigns give you a lot of flexibility with bidding strategy and that is one of the reasons we prefer them over smart shopping campaigns. You can either choose to use a manual bidding strategy or put the campaigns on an automated bidding strategy like target ROAS (tROAS).

    Automated Bidding (tROAS)

    You can set your shopping campaigns to run on a tROAS automated bidding strategy. We recommend using standard automated bidding instead of portfolio automated bidding. This way you will have the opportunity to tweak the target ROAS at the ad group level when you use standard automated bidding. In fact, this is one of the ways to use automation layering to get better performance and benefit from Google’s automated bidding.

    You can use the Optimize Target ROAS optimization that helps increase conversions and increase ROAS. This optimization was built using the Rule Engine so you can build your own version of it as well and automate it.

    Manual Bidding

    You can also use manual bidding which will give you more granular control over bids. Apart from making bid changes at the product group level, you can also set bid adjustments by time, geography, audiences, and devices. While it requires a higher level of monitoring than automated bidding, it can be quite rewarding. 

    Optmyzr has a whole suite of tools to help you manage hours of the week, geo, audience, gender, and device bid adjustments. You can also use the Rule Engine to automate your strategy which reduces the day-to-day overhead. When you are running on manual bidding, analyze the benchmark CTR and benchmark CPC metrics to see how your products are performing against your competitors. This information can come in handy when you’re setting bids. 

    4. Budgets

    When you have a multi-campaign structure, make sure to allocate budgets in a way that maximizes the performance. For example, if your most profitable campaigns are losing impression share due to budget, reallocate budget from other campaigns. The Optimize Budget tool from Optmyzr can help you do this very easily.

    Points to remember

    Make sure to note the following points to maximize the profits and efficiency of your Standard Shopping campaign:

    When you choose to go with Standard Shopping campaigns, you’d have full control over your campaigns, making every decision based on your own business choices. You can structure campaigns to have separate ad groups and product groups which will give you the flexibility to manage their bids, ROAS targets, and negative keywords. Smart shopping campaigns don’t give the user control to manage any of these things.

    If you are an experienced professional, working with Standard Shopping campaigns can help you analyze and experiment with your accounts. Using predictive tools like Optmyzr can help you hone your campaign objectives and give meaningful suggestions to better optimize your PPC accounts. 

    3 Ways to Take Control of Universal App Campaigns in Optmyzr

    If you want to scale the growth of your Apps, then Google’s UACs (Universal App Campaigns) must be one of the focal points of your marketing strategy. An automated type of campaign, UACs are an excellent choice for driving both installations and in-app actions, like purchases. This campaign type allows targeting audiences across Google Search, Google Display, Youtube, Google Play, and Apple Store. Google has an excellent course that can help you learn more about Universal App Campaigns.

    UACs were launched to make in-app advertising easier and quicker. In line with this, to set up your UACs – you only require minimal initial data like texts, images, or videos. Google’s machine learning-based algorithms then work to show your App’s ads to your target audience. Since, these are automated campaigns – unlike your search ads – you won’t need to manually test the ads to find the best performers. Google does this bit for you. 

    No doubt Google does a decent job of driving high-quality traffic for UACs, but did you know that you can lend Google a hand to bring you better results? This can help you save money being spent on the wrong placements and audience and at the same time help you use your budget efficiently. 

    Here are some tips to try out that will help you exert a higher level of control over your UACs using Optmyzr:

    1. Manage location targeting

    Google doesn’t translate your ads for specific spoken languages for locations. This makes it imperative to run ads for only those locations that align with the languages in which an App is available. Therefore, while you work on making your app available in more languages, don’t forget to target locations for your campaigns accordingly. 

    You can also go granular within these locations and manage targeting based on how regions and cities perform. Some ways to optimize location targeting are:

    Pro Tip: Use the Geo HeatMap or Rule Engine from Optmyzr to get a report of cities, regions and postal codes that are performing best or worst – to target or exclude them respectively.

    2. Optimize for in-app goals 

    How cool would it be to find campaigns which are driving registrations or in-app purchases and manage the Target CPA for them? Optmyzr’s Rule Engine can help you achieve this.

    Take a look at the screenshot below of the Optmyzr Rule Engine, wherein we are pulling the in-app actions and even action values that are being tracked as conversions and conversion values. You can base optimizations on any such custom conversions which you might be tracking for your campaigns.

    For example, here’s a rule that finds all the campaigns which have brought in registrations and recommends increasing the Target CPA for them by 10%. 

    Check out the campaigns below, which have had the “Registrations” type of conversions, and the system is recommending tweaking target values for them. Just like this, you can optimize for any in-app action as required. Eg: If you’re driving “Registrations”, and losing impression share, increasing TCPA can help. 

    3. Ensure sufficient budget for your CPA

    It is recommended that these campaigns have a daily budget of at least 20-30 times of your CPA (cost-per-action). Create a rule in the Rule Engine to label campaigns on which you need to consider increasing your budgets. 

    Conclusion

    UACs have helped unburden advertisers from needing to try out ad combinations to find what drives good results i.e. acquisitions/conversions. While you should make use of Google’s machine learning, don’t forget to optimize and control your campaigns from time to time. 

    To start setting up UACs, 
    Sign in to your Google Ads account → go to the page menu → Campaigns → Universal App. 

    Once you’ve accrued traffic on UACs – try out the tricks I shared above using Optmyzr (14-day free trial) and improve the performance of your campaigns. Feel free to reach out to support@optmyzr.com if you have any questions. 

    Oct 2020 Paid Advertising Roundup from Mabo: New in Google Ads & Facebook

    Artificial intelligence is bringing about a golden age of technological divination, opening up insights that predict futures and trends that shape the market. Advanced machine learning models change the way we work, always learning and adapting, providing us with an accurate array of digestible data. The latest features from this month include new tools to give advertisers the ability to tap into that unrelenting power.

    1. Google Ads

    1.1 – Google Insights Page & Performance Max Bidding

    Google’s announced two additions to the Ads platform in their recent Advertising Week roundup. The Insights page, which initially will be available as a beta, will prove key trends and account information to help accounts push in those areas. It may show an interest in a certain product range, or forecast future growth opportunities which you will be able to optimize towards. It goes without saying just how incredibly useful this feature will be, allowing you to catch the latest trends in time and build your strategy around them.

    Performance Max campaigns will serve as an addition to Search campaigns, helping find the signals that ultimately lead to a conversion. They will allow you to focus on several goals such as new customer acquisitions which will give the option to assign additional conversion value, calculated from the potential future revenue. However you intend to choose your goals and accompanying value, we’re receiving yet another tool to expand our already diverse toolkit.

    1.2 – Data-Driven Attribution Changes

    Attribution modeling has always been a hugely important part of accounts, and getting the right model can play a huge role in an account’s performance. The Data-Driven model is excellent as it’s unique to each account, using advanced learning to find the ads which had the highest impact for each conversion.

    Fortunately, the data requirements for an account to be eligible for data-driven attribution have reduced to a minimum of 3,000 ad interactions and at least 300 conversions in the past 30 days; that’s down from 15,000 ad interactions and 600 conversion events in the past 30 days. Google have updated their support article with these changes.

    In addition to this change, Youtube metrics have now been included in attribution reports so that you can see how much video metrics play a part in conversions, further expanding opportunities for advertisers. This is currently in beta so you’ll have to opt in to take advantage and to put the cherry on top, Google have mentioned that they’ve got plans to include Display ads in the upcoming months.

    1.3 – Google Local Services Ads Now Available In Europe

    Google introduced Google Local Services Ads a while ago, allowing users to find local businesses, book appointments & more. These ads initially came to US & Canadian audiences however they’ve recently expanded to include a host of European countries including the UK, France & Germany. With a focus on home service industries, such as plumbing or electricians, these unique ads are ideal for lead generation with the added ‘Google Guaranteed’ bonus.

    1.4 – Google Analytics 4

    The new update for Google Analytics utilizes the same machine learning, which has successfully powered the Ads platform, provides smarter data insights to push for success. Similar to the Insights page for Ads, these new insights can give access to current trends and user demand, alongside predictive metrics that can project the amount of revenue a group of customers can bring, producing new opportunities for custom audiences. It will also give deeper access to a customer’s journey, how they discovered your brand and how they engage with your content. It’s safe to say these new features, which require you need to create a new view to access, will be pivotal to anyone wanting to analyze their traffic.

    2. Facebook & Instagram

    2.1 – Facebook Attribution Window Changes

    Due to changes in digital privacy, Facebook will be removing the 28-day attribution window option and will instead offer a 7-day window, which they claim is a more sustainable measurement strategy. We can’t stress just how necessary data is for advertising so it’s disheartening news to hear. These changes came into effect from the 12th of October; however, any historical account data will remain. During this transition, you may find your reports showing a downturn in performance, although it’s important to note that this may likely be down to how results are measured.

    2.2 – Facebook’s New Language Model

    The team behind Facebook’s incredible AI have announced significant changes to the way language is processed, moving forward to their multilingual machine translation model (MMT). Whereas before, the translation model used English as the connective language due to the extent of English data that’s available. The new model, named M2M-100, cuts out the English connection allowing for 2,200 language directions improving how the meaning of the original text is conveyed. This change brings for more accurate translations with a model that’s continually improving in a world that’s getting closer every day.

    October’s Attribution To Success

    This month’s changes seem to be heavily focused on attribution changes with Google now including Youtube into attribution reports and reducing the limitations for accounts to take on the data-driven model. To contrast that, Facebook have reduced their attribution window from 28 to 7 days but have at least updated their ad policies allowing for more lenient creatives. Finally, Google Analytics has seen a new update to bring in advanced machine learning features, a massive benefit to all platforms.

    For more information on Mabo and their paid advertising management services, please visit Mabo.co.uk.

    Google Smart vs. Standard Shopping: When to choose which campaign type

    While many marketers and agencies might prefer Smart Shopping campaigns for its ease of use, some still prefer Standard campaigns because they feel more in control. One question that we hear from e-commerce advertisers time and again is what works better: Smart or Standard Shopping campaigns?

    You’re in for a surprise if you think we advocate for one over the other.

    To be honest, there’s no universal ‘right answer’ to which campaign type is better. It all depends on your vertical, business goals, and the strategy for your PPC campaigns.

    In some cases, Standard Shopping campaigns outperform Smart ones in terms of ROAS; other times, a purely Smart campaign strategy can deliver better performance; or you can deploy a hybrid strategy, like using Standard campaigns with automated bidding.

    In this article, we’ll take you through some use cases to help you better understand which Google Shopping campaign type will work better for your needs.

    1. Feed size and variety of products

    If you have a small feed with products that are very similar to one another, then combining all of them in the same campaign will probably work well. For example, if you’re only selling custom shoes that are all priced between $100-150, running a single Smart Shopping campaign may be a good idea. This is because the expected return on ad spend (ROAS) for all products in the campaign is pretty much at the same level.

    Optmyzr Tip: Our Shopping Analysis tool can help you see if products in your Smart Shopping campaigns have varying performance.

    However, if you have a large product feed with varying products, a single Smart Shopping campaign will not yield the best performance.

    Consider the example of a large clothing retailer who sells a variety of apparel like t-shirts, shoes, ties, shirts, and socks. A single Smart Shopping campaign is not the best strategy since different products will have varying manufacturing costs and price points, and you may wish to allocate different budgets to different categories of products based on what you want to advertise more.

    If everything is in one Smart Shopping campaign, the performance will average out and won’t be optimized for profitability. In cases like these, we recommend either multiple Smart Shopping campaigns or multiple Standard campaigns.

    Optmyzr Tip: Our Shopping Builder 2.0 _tool can help you create multiple campaign structures for your feed very easily._

    The proof is in the pudding. Shopping Builder 2.0 is a great way to create
    Shopping campaigns faster and get straight to selling.

    2. Niche products or seasonal products

    If you are selling niche or very seasonal products, like highly specialized tools or Christmas ornaments, it would be wiser to avoid Smart Shopping campaigns. This is largely because there may not be enough data for Google’s machine learning algorithms to make smart decisions.

    In this case, a Standard Shopping campaign with manual bidding or target ROAS/target CPA bidding strategy will work better.

    3. Scarcity of time

    When you don’t have much time to manage your Shopping campaigns and the choice boils down to either running a campaign or none at all, pick a Smart Shopping campaign. However, if you do have some time to manage your campaigns and your feed has different kinds of products, choose a multiple campaign structure.

    4. Control & Visibility

    Let’s face it: Smart campaigns don’t give you much control. If you want more granular command over different attributes — bids, target ROAS, search queries, networks, and devices to name some — then consider switching to Standard Shopping campaigns.

    With Standard campaigns, you have the flexibility to choose which parts of the campaign management process you want to automate.

    For example, you can use automated bidding strategies like target ROAS that automate the bidding process, but you can still retain control over other things like search queries and negative keywords.

    When you need more visibility into your campaign’s performance, Smart Shopping may not be the best option. If you want to see which search queries drive the most sales — or even which ones are not profitable and should be added as negatives — Smart Shopping won’t give you that data while Standard ones will.

    What can you do in each type of campaign?

    To wrap things up, here is an overview of the levers you can pull to optimize both smart and standard shopping campaigns. 

    For Smart Shopping campaigns: 

    For Standard Shopping campaigns:

    Both Smart and Standard campaigns have their pros and cons, so choose what suits the campaign you’re running, your line of business, your marketing strategy, and how much time you have.

    At the same time, stay mindful of your clients and their business goals while choosing a strategy. If your clients are focused on profitability and not ROAS (as we all should be), then adapt accordingly.

    One recommendation we make often is to run Standard Shopping campaigns with an automated bidding strategy like target ROAS, as it brings together the best of both worlds — the power of automation without sacrificing insight and control.

    Happy selling!

    Sep 2020 Paid Advertising Roundup from Mabo: Google Limits Search Terms & More

    As we come to the end of Q3, preparations are underway to take advantage of the seasonal peaks to maximize on this upcoming potential. The ability to access a monumental amount of data is our biggest ally in the battle for profitability. New updates can come as a rallying cry of innovation or a new hurdle to surpass; the way we react to these changes can be a defining attribute for any advertiser.

    1. Google Ads

    1.1 – Google Reducing Visibility For Search Terms

    In a heavily disputed move, Google announced on the Ads platform that they will start hiding low-traffic search terms, only showing high-traffic results. To confirm, even if that term received a click, it might not show up.

    Data is king in this industry, whatever the amount, so this move has received some rather negative feedback. According to Google, this is a move to support privacy and protect user data, which seems slightly hypocritical considering how many user signals are tracked and used for smart bidding.

    1.2 – In-Market Audiences Available for Shopping Campaigns

    Google’s latest CSS newsletter has announced that in-market audiences have officially been launched for Shopping campaigns, a hugely welcome feature for many of us. With smart bidding taking away a lot of optimization opportunities, audiences are now more critical than ever given that you can still enhance your smart bidding through adjustments. Additional audiences bring more options for you to optimize your bidding, allowing you to utilize that data tweak your bidding on a more granular level.

    1.3 – Create Rules More Efficiently In Merchant Center

    Feed rules have become even easier to do in the Merchant Center. You can add multiple words and phrases within a single rule with new options giving access to ‘any of’ variants, such as ‘contains any of’. Gone are the days of arduously creating a rule for each query to action on; quality-of-life improvements like these are a real step forward for user efficiency.

    2. Microsoft Ads

    2.1 – Dynamic Remarketing & More

    One of the best additions this month comes from Microsoft, giving us a huge boost just in time for the holiday season with some powerful audience features.

    Dynamic Remarketing is now accessible for advertisers, allowing you to target your audience with the very products they’ve been viewing; a perfect fit for Black Friday, Christmas and more. Go one step further with LinkedIn Profile Targeting, giving you a unique approach to create custom audiences based on a user’s company, job function and industry.

    Finally, in-market audiences are now available for both France and Germany.

    3. The Digital Services Tax (gov.uk publication)

    3.1 – Google Parrying the New Tax

    Google’s answer to tackling the new DST fees is one that’s come with shock, with them imposing the tax onto the advertiser’s bill as a percentage of spend. Initially affecting the UK, Austria and Turkey, the fees will start as of November 1 with a straight 2% of a UK account’s monthly spend being added onto the bill, rising to 5% for Austria & Turkey accounts.

    Although this fee impacts all businesses, it does seem exceptionally harsh to SMEs, having just dealt with the economic repercussions of lockdown.

    3.2 – Amazon Following Suit

    Amazon has followed the same approach as Google by forwarding the new tax onto its sellers, their justification being that they absorbed the DST whilst the legislation was in the process of being passed. The fees for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) will increase by 2% as of September 1 and 15, respectively.

    3.3 – Facebook’s Heroic Response

    Facebook has a history of sour representation given David Fincher’s powerful 2010 drama and congressional hearing that sprouted several unflattering memes. Yet in an inspiring move, they have announced their intention to absorb the new tax so that it’s not passed onto sellers.

    We’re seeing a rare glimpse of ethical responsibility coming from Facebook in a bold act that will surely improve their image.

    A Controversial September

    This September is one that advertisers may hope to forget. Despite Google bringing some practical updates, they’ve also included some revisions which are arguably more detrimental to the ads platform. Amazon continues to be frugal and Facebook is taking an unexpected moral high ground, though we’re yet to hear any official word from Microsoft.

    Unlike the last two months showering us with utility updates, this month hasn’t been half as fruitful.

    For more information on Mabo and their paid advertising management services, please visit Mabo.co.uk.

    Breaking Down Google’s Showcase Ads Updates

    As a leader in search advertising, Google is constantly innovating and developing new ways for advertisers to showcase their products and services. One long-standing feature, Showcase Shopping Ads are core to retail advertising and have helped businesses target top-of-funnel audiences.

    Similar to product ads, Showcase ads appear at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) above any search ads. Clicking them shows products matching the broad search query, with an expanded catalog of products that matches search terms. Active since 2017, Showcase ads are almost like a virtual storefront for retailers.

    Let’s take a look at a few recent changes to Showcase ads to see what they mean for the search marketing community.

    1. Re-designed Showcase format

    In order to provide more engagement from users and drive better performance, Showcase Ads are getting a total redesign. The new format has been expected to fully roll out by August.

    With this restructuring, brand names have become clickable, which means that users can easily switch between retailers to view their group. Google has also added a description input space for the advertiser in the ad creation process.

    The new update will also help users see a carousel of retailer offers that are most relevant to the query. Marketers can also input the Category Page URL during the ad creation process.

    Image courtesy Google.com

    2. Dynamic Showcase Ads: Ad variation reporting no longer available

    In July, Google stopped providing the monthly reports on ad text variation metrics. To report on the performance of Dynamic Showcase ads, advertisers can measure pre/post-pilot activation. You can also reference the Google Ads landing page report to measure traffic to dynamically populated URLs in the whitelisted ad group.

    3. Showcase Ads fully launched in Sweden & Netherlands

    Showcase ads have been fully available to advertisers in Sweden & Netherlands since this past summer. Existing advertisers in these markets should expect a 2-3x increase in volume with this introduction.

    Optmyzr’s take on the updates

    Source: Merkle’s Digital Marketing Report Q1 2020

    Shopping ads are one of the main sources of search clicks for e-commerce. And while they’re great to connect consumers with merchants when they’re looking for a specific product, they’ve been less useful for consumers who are at the beginning of their buying journey. Showcase ads help with this by letting advertisers display a variety of their products when the user’s query is still fairly generic.

    Source: AdHawk

    On the topic of ad variation reports going away, we can say this is another example of a move towards hands-off automation where Google wants to automate the whole process and avoid interference from humans. You could say that this reminds us of Smart Shopping Ads where there is very little to manage.

    At Optmyzr, however, we see better results when advertisers create multiple Smart Shopping campaigns with different ROAS goals that are based on profitability targets and margins. We also see that with our Shopping Analysis tool, we can still help advertisers get insights on things like which product mix is most effective.

    This insight can then be turned into an optimization where underperforming products are excluded from the Smart Shopping campaign. So even when it seems like there is little left to manage, the best advertisers will still find ways to use tools like Optmyzr to eke another bit of efficiency out of their campaigns, thereby allowing them to stay ahead of the competition.

    4 Smart Shopping Myths BUSTED: How to Optimize Even with Limitations

    Over the years, through many product webinars and solution calls with customers, I’ve noticed that search marketers continue to perpetuate certain myths around Smart Shopping. While Google has made Shopping campaigns more accessible (and marketers benefit from that), some misconceptions still float around on whether you can optimize them.

    So, let’s cut to the chase. Check out 4 of the most common myths around Smart Shopping campaigns that I’ve seen, and find out how you can optimize them better.

    Myth #1: Smart Shopping campaigns don’t offer any control.

    It’s no secret that Google Smart Shopping doesn’t let you control negative keywords or offer many bidding strategies to choose from. But even with these limitations, there are still a lot of things that you can control.

    Myth #2: Smart Shopping campaigns can’t be optimized.

    I beg to differ. You can certainly optimize the structure and performance of your campaigns as explained above. And there are a few more things you can optimize.

    Myth #3: You can’t favor high-performing products.

    While you depend on Smart Shopping campaigns to maximize your conversion value for an allocated budget, you can still favor your choice of products. Do this by creating different campaigns for products based on their performance or attributes, such as price point. Then, set up different budgets for each campaign to help Google maximize your conversion value. Allocate budget to campaigns with products that have higher profit margins or higher expected ROAS.

    Check out the screenshot below to get a better idea. 

    Myth #4: You have to advertise all products from your merchant feed.

    Google recommends adding as many products as possible to your merchant feed. That’s a very good idea… please continue to do that. But at the same time, it’s imperative that you monitor campaign performance and exclude products that underperform. 

    Some ways to identify product groups that should be excluded from Smart Shopping campaigns are:

    Google is currently not favoring that last category of products and may continue to do so.

    Pro Tip: Create a new standard Campaign to target these kinds of products with better results.

    Improving the Shopping Experience in Optmyzr

    While you can make these optimizations manually in Google Ads, they’re going to eat up much of your time — time that could instead be spent on testing and planning. If you’re a fan of getting back hours of time each week, sign up for our 14-day free trial. All our features are ungated during this time, letting you explore all the ways we help you optimize your campaigns.

    As a quick sneak peek into an upcoming Optmyzr feature, we’ll be adding support to the Rule Engine to exclude product groups that are underperforming. Stay tuned for more on when this goes live!

    Still have questions? Write to us at support@optmyzr.com to get a demo of Optmyzr!

    Take Control of Geo Bid Adjustments and Placements with Optmyzr

    Imagine if your bank let you transfer money to people but made it difficult to decide who receives your transfers. Pretty silly, right?

    Despite the objections of every advertiser ever, it’s still not easy to tune many aspects of your campaigns in Google Ads. So it was pretty much second nature that we stepped up to make the experience better for our customers.

    Bid adjustments — using audience analytics and insights to regulate ad performance — are invaluable. But you can’t overlook the time-consuming chore that is bid management through Google’s engine. The challenge is even greater when it comes to setting placements, especially the ever-popular ‘exclude all mobile apps’ preference.

    Those are the two key areas of our recent Rule Engine updates designed to help account managers and PPC strategists speed things up. Let’s take a look at what’s new, where to find the updates, and how you can use them.

    New in Geo Bid Adjustment and Placements

    Simply put, these updates take the form of instant strategies in the Rule Engine, Optmyzr’s logic-driven rule builder that uses ‘if-then’ statements to get your account to take a specific action when certain conditions are met.

    These new strategies are:

    While our instant strategies come with recommended settings, they can be further customized and automated using your own preferences. If you’re familiar with how the Rule Engine works, you can create your own geo bid adjustment and placement strategies from scratch — all the components are there.

    Other Geo Bid Adjustment and Placement Features

    The Geo Bid Adjustments tool analyzes campaign performance in different locations and makes recommendations for bid adjustments. You can implement adjustments at the country, region, city, and zip/pin code level. This tool also lets you discover new cities based on traffic and target them according to ROAS or CPA.

    With Placements Exclusion, you can customize your strategy to prevent showcasing your ads at random in the Google Display Network. No more manually excluding apps one by one. Bypass the limits of Google Ads and remove your ads from showing via the entire mobile apps category.

    Optmyzr Tip: Stop wasting money on bids and sites that don’t yield profit or returns. These tools give you more granular control over campaign behavior based on geolocations and ad placement. You can use a mix of custom and instant strategies in the Rule Engine to improve your ad performance, or use these tools for research before you even build and run a campaign.

    Use Cases for Geo Bid Adjustments 

    1. Account for holidays or other closures.

    Depending on your industry and location, some events lead to virtually zero-sale days with customers focused on things other than shopping. With Geo Bid Adjustments, you can now mark those locations and lower your bid to account for those lulls in activity. Customize the bids to -90% to keep the campaign running but with reduced ad spend.

    2. Track cities with wasted ad spend.

    Throughout your campaign, you might find some locations don’t provide enough conversions for the number of clicks they show for. These might be areas where the cost per conversion is higher than the campaign average, resulting in potentially wasted spend. Now you can just use the ‘Find Expensive Cities’ instant strategy in Rule Engine, and customize your initial campaign actions to exclude these cities or create bid adjustments for those locations. Or, you can use the strategy as an alert system to be notified of locations that put out a higher CPA.

    3. Discover potential target locations.

    Due to erratic lockdowns and reopenings across the globe, businesses might start receiving traffic from newer locations where they didn’t drive sales in the past. You need a system to account for any possible new traffic. With the ‘Find New Cities’ strategy, you can find locations that showed traffic in the last 14 days but not before. Run this strategy twice a month to track any new traffic and find new areas of interest.

    Use Cases for Display Placements

    1. Target placements with a specific bid.

    While running a Display campaign without any targeted placements, you’ll see that the engine will automatically place you where it thinks your ad may perform best based on past data. With the Display Placements Exclusion tool, you can identify sites (or placements) where you’re doing well and customize your strategies to target these in future campaigns.

    2. Bid lower for placements with bad ROAS or CPA.

    Most ad placements on mobile devices happen below the fold, and the chances that people scroll down to even see to your ads are extremely thin. Your placements might not have enough viewability and will therefore have poor ROAS or CPA. With this same tool, you can see suggestions for such weak placements and lower your bid on them to prevent spending on low-converting traffic.

    3. Exclude placements on all apps or a specific operating system.

    While some apps are great to advertise on, others tend to have an audience who won’t benefit from your ad at all. With the Placements Exclusion instant strategy, you can stop your ads from showing on all mobile apps and even certain operating systems.

    Conclusion

    Between our new Rule Engine strategies and existing tools, Optmyzr allows you to truly control and optimize your campaigns beyond what Google’s automated rules will enable. This makes search marketers the final authority, and allows you to layer multiple powerful automations to support your campaigns efficiently.

    Analyze data based on preferred date ranges and other metrics to arrive at what’s best for your business, and focus your time on building excellent strategies rather than performing repetitive tasks.

    Save time, save ad spend, and take control back from Google.

    Try out these and all our other tools for 14 days at absolutely no risk with our free trial. No credit card required!

    Google Limits Search Query Reporting: Impact and Reactions

    If you’re not familiar with cricket, there’s a term called the “googly” that refers to a deceptive delivery from the bowler to the batsman. And earlier this week, Google pulled a googly of uniquely Google proportions.

    If you haven’t heard yet, only queries with a “significant” amount of traffic behind them will appear in your search terms report. There’s no clarity on what that means or where the threshold lies, and the reactions from search marketers range from confused to disappointed to outright furious.

    Rachel Smith’s original tweet that kicked off a storm on Twitter

    What does it mean for advertisers?

    The short version: Advertisers are going to have less visibility into the search behavior that drives traffic to their ads.

    A search terms report currently includes all the queries or phrases that resulted in any number of clicks for your ads — from 1 to 1 million. Search marketers use these reports to exclude terms that don’t create value by adding them as negative keywords. That might be a single click from a search term completely unrelated to your campaign, or it might be several hundred clicks from a search term that doesn’t yield enough conversions.

    Without information on the search terms that fall below Google’s new threshold, there’s no way to exclude the ones that cost a business money without creating some kind of returns. Irrespective of the cost of each individual click, it can quickly add up.

    An advertiser that spends tens of millions of dollars a year might not feel the impact so heavily for multiple reasons, including financial insulation and an understanding that their ad muscle comes at the cost of some wastage.

    But the wasted spend of the biggest advertisers can exceed the annual budgets of some small businesses who count on Google and its plethora of data to survive, let alone thrive. With no way to prune their traffic and optimize their campaigns for real returns, small businesses will be disproportionately affected.

    What’s the word on the street?

    The PPC community hasn’t exactly reacted with placid acceptance or resignation, as tends to happen when Google updates their ad engine in their usual inexplicable way. This time, the reaction is much more vocal and dissenting — it’s almost unanimous how much search marketers dislike this update.

    Third Door Media’s Ginny Marvin calls the update predictably “disappointing”
    Julie F. Bacchini of Neptune Moon isn’t buying the privacy excuse
    Seer Interactive founder Wil Reynolds knows exactly what’s about to happen
    Collin Slattery did the math… and it’s not looking too good.
    Kirk Williams presents a balanced take, as always.
    Duane Brown takes some risk by telling it like it is.

    How does Optmyzr feel about this update?

    Search query management is an important part of keeping search campaigns profitable. Not being able to see all the terms that accrued cost will be a disadvantage to PPC marketers. The actual impact this change has will really depend on how many queries Google recognizes on average as low-volume and doesn’t include in the search terms report.

    For more expensive verticals like legal, the cost of each query adds up. It will make marketers more reserved about running broad-match keywords to mine for profitable search queries. We may see a transition to more specific match types, like exact and phrase.

    This change probably fits with Google’s strategy of getting more advertisers on automated bidding, and gives them more room to experiment with which queries they show your ads for.

    Our team at Optmyzr is keeping a close eye on these changes, so that we can let our customers know if and how our platform will be impacted once we know more.

    4 Proven Tips to Control Automated Bidding

    During my 5 years as a PPC strategist, I’ve learned that the most common dilemma marketers face is choosing between automated and manual bidding.

    While many other factors also come into the picture — budgets and targets, for example — choosing an efficient bidding strategy is the undisputed winner.

    So let’s dive right into how we find the solution. Here are 4 proven tips I’ve seen PPC managers use to control automated bidding.

    How much can you really rely on Smart Bidding?

    On a past episode of PPC Town Hall, Google’s Partner Development Analyst Peter Oliveira said, “Smart bidding uses both aggregated and recent trends, [but] favors what’s been happening recently.”

    While Smart Bidding looks more agile, it may not be as robust as you’d like it to be. This is because the automated system may not wait long enough to adjust bids. Those bids might be set based on new patterns, leading to potential anomalies.

    So do you rely on Google’s Smart Bidding to get the best results? Or should you roll up your sleeves and take responsibility for manually driving the best results?

    In my experience, the answer is a combination of the two.

    Experts say that your choice of bidding strategy should depend on how much time you can devote to PPC management and your goals.

    But according to a more recent train of thought from our CEO Fred Vallaeys, marketers should train automated bidding strategies to get better results — something likely to resonate with the world’s most renowned PPC practitioners.

    As you rely on automated bidding strategies to stay agile (especially in the current scenario), add your own expertise and understanding of the market to strengthen Google’s automation.

    The solution: Pick the right automated bidding strategy and train it to get your desired results efficiently. That means feeding it the right settings, like Target CPA and Target ROAS, at a very granular level.

    1. Don’t be afraid to switch strategies to get more control.

    Here’s my golden tip: Don’t set it and forget it.

    Automation is only as good as what you feed it. You may start a campaign to achieve one thing, but don’t leave it there. Monitor its performance regularly, and when you don’t see the desired output, you can easily switch to the next strategy.

    For example, when you want to generate conversions rather than get clicks, you’d choose the “Maximize Conversions” bidding strategy. After running that for 30 days or exhausting your budget, you can gauge the performance of your campaigns.

    When you have a tool like Optmyzr, the next step is to check out performance using the Rule Engine strategy shown below. And if you’ve had enough conversions — say 50 in 30 days — you can switch to a more specific strategy like “Target CPA” or “Target ROAS”.

    This is because the campaign is already able to spend more than its daily budget. In that scenario, taking control of the target values for CPA or ROAS can improve performance even further.

    2. Get granular.

    Align campaigns based on the goals and strategies you intend to use for optimization, right from the beginning. Think of it as a more futuristic approach to preparing your campaigns for a bidding strategy like “Target CPA” or “Target ROAS” from the beginning.

    If you have different margins for the brand, categories of products, product types, or location targets you’re advertising for, then group them separately.

    3. Update your targets.

    Google allows you to set the target values for “Target CPA” and “Target ROAS” bidding strategies. Make use of this flexibility.

    If you set one bidding target for all of your ad groups, it’s akin to expecting all the fingers on your hand to do the same thing.

    One target for all your ad groups is likely to limit their performance, and you may also prevent Google’s machine from optimizing the best results for your different ad groups. Instead, optimize your target values based on each ad group’s current performance.

    Check out one such strategy ready for you to try in Optmyzr: Optimize Target CPA & Target ROAS.

    4. Don’t rule out manual bidding.

    While automated bidding strategies may work for most of your campaigns, it might not be the solution in every scenario. Keep your options open.

    Using Optmyzr, you can set up automation to find campaigns where automated bidding didn’t fare well. Switch them to a control group of campaigns where you can run manual bidding strategies.

    Check out the image below showing how to find those campaigns using our Rule Engine:

    Conclusion

    Automated bidding strategies are a good foundation, but it’s the PPC strategist’s role to make them smarter. Analyze, introspect, and always be prepared to shift bidding strategies if you aren’t moving the needle on your goals.

    And as you switch to other bidding strategies, keep in mind that the accumulation of data points over a period of time can guide Google’s engine to drive the best results for you.

    Optimizing your strategies on automated bidding isn’t always simple, but Optmyzr can help you shave hours off execution. Our tools layer automation over what the ad engines provide, helping you leverage automated bidding while staying in control.

    To try out the Rule Engine strategies in this article and many others, try Optmyzr absolutely free for 14 days.

    10 Ways Customers Use Optmyzr to Retain Control with Smart Bidding

    Marketers fear automation, but Smart Bidding is a great example of how it actually helps.

    Teeming with data and interactions, Smart Bidding uses machine learning to create optimal bid strategies. And because it saves both time and money, it’s quickly become an important part of PPC.

    But there’s a (literally) dark side to it as well.

    Smart Bidding means surrendering control to the black box of Google’s AI, with strategies that simply don’t allow you to tweak aspects of them to your specifications. Simply put, you input your goals and Google uses your account’s past behavior to produce results.

    What do you do when you want the convenience of Smart Bidding but don’t want to give up control? You turn to a tool like Optmyzr.

    Here are 10 ways Optmyzr customers use our platform to retain control when they use Smart Bidding.

    Understanding how automated bidding works

    The keystone of AI or machine learning is the data the system uses to make decisions and predictions. In the same vein, the success of automated bidding strategies depends on the quality of the performance data that system is able to collect. This in turn depends on how your account is set up.

    The performance of badly structured campaigns cannot be improved by putting them on an automated bidding strategy.

    A good account structure and the right attribution model are vital to the success of any automated bidding strategy. If you’re using last click attribution, either change to another attribution model or run manual bidding.

    Campaigns that run on automated bidding strategies need to be optimized in order to have the right data to work with. In theory, the only thing Google takes care of is setting bids — only one aspect of managing an account.

    The rest is still on you.

    Automated bidding is not a ‘set it and forget it’ deal. However, with bidding out of the picture, you’ll have more time for other tasks — the kind of search queries you want to show for, or the messaging you want to use in your ads.

    1. Search Query Management

    Search queries are still the primary source of traffic for search campaigns, so it’s important to monitor the ones your ads show for so you can remove irrelevant ones (add them as negative keywords). It’s also a good idea to add high-performing search queries as keywords because you can write more specific ads for them.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: Keyword Lasso, Search Terms n-Grams, Negative Keyword Finder

    2. Quality Score Optimization

    Optimizing to increase Quality Score is one way to reduce your CPA and increase ROAS. Even though Google is automatically setting your bids in the auction, a high Quality Score requires a lower bid.

    In other words, you pay less for each click.

    Find keywords in your account with low Quality Score and move them to their own SKAGs with the more specific ads. Or, pause them if they have an irredeemable quality score of 1.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: Quality Score Tracker, Rule Engine

    3. Creating Ad Schedules

    This isn’t about setting bid adjustments for different times of the week; your automated bidding strategy already does that. We’re talking about allocating campaign budgets to the more lucrative times of day by turning your ads off when they’re not profitable, making it something of a budget optimization.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: Hour of Week Analysis, Hour of Week Bid Adjustments

    4. Non-Converting Keywords

    Pause keywords that have not converted in a long time but have accrued significant cost. This optimization should only be done if you aren’t running on last click attribution. Otherwise, you’ll pause top-of-funnel keywords and eventually reduce conversions.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: Non-Converting Keywords, Rule Engine

    5. Budget Optimization

    You did budget optimizations before automated bidding, and you should continue to do them now. Reallocating budgets across campaigns based on performance helps improve overall account ROAS.

    Check if high-performing campaigns are losing impression share due to budget, and increase their budget by giving them money from underperforming campaigns.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: Spend Projection, Optimize Budgets

    6. Tweaking Targets

    If you’re running on the standard automated bidding strategy (target CPA and target ROAS), you can tweak targets at the ad group level. There are two instances where I’d recommend doing this:

    Optmyzr Tools Used: Optimize Target CPA & ROAS, Rule Engine

    1. Increase target CPA for ad groups that are converting but losing impression share due to ad rank. For campaigns running on target ROAS, reduce ROAS. This is the same as increasing bids for high-converting keywords when campaigns are on manual bidding. It enables Google to bid more to drive more conversions.

    2. Reduce target CPA or increase ROAS for ad groups whose actual CPA and ROAS are significantly better than the target and whose impression share is already more than 70%. This reduces the chances of Google buying very expensive traffic when the automated bidding system thinks there’s room to increase CPA and win more traffic.

    7. A/B Testing Ads & Updating Messaging

    Ad text automation is probably one of the last things that will happen in PPC — writing ads always involves subjectivity and creativity. Responsive Search Ads are a step in that direction, but they only combine headlines and description lines; you still have to write them.

    This is why it’s important to continually A/B test ads — so you can remove underperforming ones and keep messaging fresh.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: A/B Testing, Ad Text Optimization

    8. Performance Monitoring & Alerts

    Perhaps one of the most important things you can do is set up alerts to notify you of sudden changes in traffic, conversions, CPA, ROAS, or any other KPI that’s important to you.

    This helps you stay on top of your campaigns, especially when something doesn’t go as expected. For example, if the CPA for a campaign suddenly shoots up, you’ll want to see why it happened and take appropriate action.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: Alerts on the MCC dashboard, Rule Engine

    9. Performance Audits of Automated Bid Strategies

    Knowing when to pivot is critical to success, be it in PPC or any other business. It’s a good idea to regularly check on the performance of your campaigns’ bidding strategies to see if you need to pivot.

    For example, if a campaign is running to maximize conversions, it might be time to move it to target CPA and ROAS. You can also see if certain campaigns on automated bidding strategies aren’t driving enough conversions and move them to manual bidding for a while.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: PPC Audits, Rule Engine

    10. Structural Account Audits

    Regular account audits are so important for good structure. Check for things like too many keywords in an ad group, too few ads, campaigns with not enough negative keywords, or campaigns missing site links.

    This ensures that campaigns in your account have a solid foundation on which automated bidding strategies can do what they’re capable of.

    Optmyzr Tools Used: PPC Audits

    Conclusion

    We live in a world where competition is fierce and standards are demanding. PPC marketers rely on automated bidding more than ever to do more in less time. What automated bidding lacks intuition and human understanding, you can provide by optimizing your campaigns.

    Help it help you.

    There’s no one way to win with automated bidding, but Optmyzr offers several tools that allow you to layer your own automation over what the ad engines provide. If you don’t have Optmyzr, try our platform free for 14 days with access to all features.

    Paid Advertising Roundup from Mabo: July 2020

    The paid advertising industry is a continuous train ride of updates that, if you don’t keep up with, you’ll eventually get left behind. We’ve seen some major acceleration come with automation, how responsive ads & smart bidding are redefining our roles in the field.

    To master these changes is to understand how to utilize them to their fullest.

    Each month, we’ll break down the latest digest from the industry, giving you the head start you need to stay on track and the knowledge that you’re one step ahead.

    New Features For Responsive Search Ads

    Google have already shown us just how effective Responsive Search Ads were when they came about but now they’re taking them to the next level. To further enhance just how dynamic these ads can be, you can now insert locations and use custom countdowns.

    It’s good to see updates on their latest products to include these already powerful features.

    To quote Google, “Over 80% of digital marketers’ time is spent on manual tasks like reporting, while only 20% is spent on strategy.” We can find ourselves utilizing valuable time just getting the right data into the right place.

    Thankfully they have our back with asset reporting, adding performance ratings & including descriptions, allowing you to analyze the ad copy that’s performing best — a very useful area for consolidating performance across your ads, which later becomes helpful for AB testing.

    To learn more about these new Responsive Search Ads features, click here.

    A New Look For Responsive Display Ads

    Google have recently brought new additions to their Responsive Display Ads, focusing on customer engagement, with new designs & automated video. Three new ad layouts have been added to the mix, designed for engagement but with a crisp aesthetic in mind.

    Also, you can now automatically create video ads just by using the images and ad copy available, using animations to switch between the assets to create an engaging experience for the user. The is a great resource for those smaller firms who might not have the funding or capacity to create custom video ads.

    To find out more about the new looks for responsive display ads, click here.

    Buy On Google Goes Commission-Free

    Image courtesy of Google.com

    We can all appreciate a seamless checkout experience with Amazon leading in that area. To fight back, Google released their own checkout service ‘Buy on Google’ but unfortunately for merchants, it came with a fee. Not anymore.

    Starting in the US, the checkout service has zero commissions granting retailers free access to this payment system, dealing a major blow to Amazon. As we see our audiences shifting more towards this purchase option, it can only mean more weight being added to paid ads.

    To find out more about this, click here.

    Microsoft Ads

    Discover Powerful New Keywords With Keyword Planner

    In true Microsoft style, features we know and love from Google Ads are continually being added to Microsoft’s platform with the latest update bringing the Keyword Planner. Some accounts may not have the ability to import existing data so having this tool to help expand new campaigns is another step forward.

    To find out more about this new tool, click here.

    Facebook Ads

    Facebook’s Shops: A Revolution In Social Media Shopping

    Facebook have released some exciting and much-needed changes pushing their shopping presence into an impressive new direction. Facebook Shops allows users to buy products straight from their account, through a ‘catalogue’ of regularly updated stock, essentially their version of a shopping feed.

    Users can add their payment information to their account, alongside other information such as size, resulting in a shop’s page dynamically showing the products available with a system to purchase without having to venture through their website.

    This is huge for social media advertisers, where Analytics and a convoluted sales funnel was one of the main ways to gauge performance. The ability to have direct attribution coming straight from the Shops platform for metrics such as revenue & ROAS will be priceless for advertisers.

    Advertisers can check stock, upload inventory, check insights and more through the Commerce Manager, the centralized hub for Facebook Shops. Granted that their platform already has over 2 billion monthly active users, the potential here is mind-blowing.

    UK businesses will have to hold on though, with this service only being available in the US to start with unless they can get hold of an American bank account.

    It doesn’t stop there though as with the Facebook Shops platform, you can create augmented reality ads, which allows users to envision how that particular product might look in their living room or if that shirt they like goes with their favorite pair of jeans.

    To find out more about Facebook Shops, click here and to find out more about Commerce Manager, click here.

    Facebook’s Roadmap

    Building on their 10-year roadmap, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent talks have continued talking about how to combine their services, Facebook, Instagram & WhatsApp. They have announced plans to merge the chats of these services into one.

    Whether that’s just the technical infrastructure of the app itself hasn’t fully been confirmed but with ads now present in Messenger, this potential merge could introduce more opportunities, or frustration, to these social media networks.

    What does this mean for the future?

    July brings a step forward for PPC providers chasing in the footsteps of the giant that is Google, who themselves are further emphasizing the future that is dynamic advertising.

    We’re seeing Microsoft establishing themselves as a top player adding more enticing features to their platform and rumors that Smart Shopping is on the horizon.

    The e-commerce experience is drastically improving with Google & Facebook retaliating against Amazon giving retailers & consumers more options to buy directly.

    Our creativity is progressing at an incredible level, where we can utilize the vast amount of user data available to create ads tailored to the individual. The industry is rapidly evolving and it’s our job to keep up.

    For more information on Mabo and their paid advertising management services, please visit Mabo.co.uk.

    Search Ad Masterclass Pt. 3: Optimize campaigns in 5 steps

    Over the past two weeks, we’ve looked at two core facets of any search campaign: writing ad text that’s designed to convert, and diversifying ad types to attract a wider audience.

    This week, I want to discuss the third part of the process: optimizing your campaigns to improve their performance.

    As every PPC marketer knows, taking a campaign live is when the testing and learning really begin. Using the insights that follow is how you develop a strong foundation into a memorable, profitable campaign.

    Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can optimize existing campaigns to drive additional traffic and better conversions.

    1. Understand the point of testing.

    Imagine you’re in a mall shopping for clothes. What makes you decide to enter a store? Is it the window display? That big sale with 50% discounts? Points or cashback on your credit card?

    The store won’t know until they ask; testing and identifying what really helps. Your PPC campaigns work in a similar way.

    You could have drafted the best ad copy ever — proposing value, mentioning promotions. But until you test it in a way designed to provide answers, you won’t know if the ad text works or which parts are most enticing to users.

    2. Pause ads that aren’t converting.

    Performance metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate, and conversions to impressions served can help you identify if your ads resonate with users. After your ads have served for enough time or won enough impressions, you can begin testing them.

    Traffic for each ad group will vary, which is why testing ads is a continuous process. This ensures that as soon as some of your ad groups have served the right amount of traffic, you can:

    PPC expert and long-time Optmyzr customer Isaac Rudansky shared his best practices in this blog, explaining how Optmyzr can help you test your ads more effectively.

    3. Turn winners into champions.

    The next step is to test your ad components to find messaging that works the best across your campaigns. Some cool ways to manage ad content better include:

    4. Keep seasonality in mind.

    As important as it is to keep updating your ad text and content, it’s equally vital to keep updating any seasonal offers.

    For example, running Christmas ads weeks after the season ends is a fundamental advertising blunder. Avoid mistakes like this by running audits of ad text and replacing these out-of-date ads with new content.

    As an aside, you can also use the Rule Engine in Optmyzr to automatically pause campaigns based on seasonality or holiday timing. Find out more about that here.

    5. Enhance existing campaigns.

    There’s always a way to add a new edge to your ads, whether it’s through components you haven’t used or a change in strategy. Here are some ways to take your campaigns to the next level:

    Conclusion

    When it comes to optimization, testing is the most important component. Until your ads have served long enough to get some strong data behind them, it can be difficult to gauge just what is and isn’t working.

    The further you get along this journey, the quicker and more scalable your optimization needs to be. If you’d like to see how Optmyzr can make this experience more seamless, you can try our platform completely free for 14 days — no credit card required!

    If you have any other questions, write to us at support@optmyzr.com and we’ll be happy to start a conversation!

    Search Ad Masterclass Pt. 2: Experiment with ad types for better results

    In last week’s post, we talked about why it’s important to take the time to write ads that resonate with your target audience — and to update them periodically.

    So you’ve written some ads and they’re performing well. How do you take it to the next level and move the performance needle?

    This week, I’ll show you how your client or business can benefit from experimenting with different ad types on the Search network.

    What ad types can drive the results you want?

    The amount of diversity within Google’s selection of Search ads is considerable, and different ad types are better suited to different business goals. Today, I want to talk about three of the more popular choices if you’re just getting into writing PPC ads.

    1. Dynamic Search Ads

    Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) according to Google:

    Dynamic Search Ads are the easiest way to find customers searching on Google for precisely what you offer. Ideal for advertisers with a well-developed website or a large inventory, Dynamic Search Ads use your website content to target your ads and can help fill in the gaps of your keyword based campaigns.

    When you run a DSA, Google uses structured website data to automatically create headlines and descriptions, and links landing pages that match user queries to your ad.

    While a DSA might not offer the control and flexibility to customize or edit ad text, it’s the ideal way to get started with new PPC accounts — provided you have the web content and landing pages to support it.

    Once Google starts generating DSAs, keep a close eye on their performance. You can use the best-performing headlines and descriptions in targeted Search ads or other types of specialty ads.

    2. Expanded Text Ads

    Expanded Text Ads (DSA) according to Google:

    Expanded text ads are similar to the text ads that you’re used to, but with a few key differences:

    1. Expanded text ads have three headline fields… the third is optional.
    2. Expanded text ads also have two 90-character description fields.
    3. The domain of your display URL is based on your final URL domain.
    4. The display URL can include two optional “Path” fields.
    5. _Expanded text ads are mobile-optimized._

    Running an ETA is entrusting Google’s machine learning to figure out what works best for your business. All you do is enter a combination of different text elements — make sure these aren’t just variants of the same message, but distinctly different value propositions and calls to action.

    My recommendation is to create three or four ETAs using combinations of distinct headlines and descriptions within one ad group. Once these ads start performing, you can run additional tests to identify which ad copy yields better CTRs or conversion rates

    And while you test your ads, you can also create variations of them to drive better performance. Some of the advantages of ETAs include being able to:

    3. Responsive Search Ads

    Responsive Search Ads (DSA) according to Google:

    Responsive search ads let you create an ad that adapts to show more text — and more relevant messages — to your customers. Enter multiple headlines and descriptions when creating a responsive search ad, and over time, Google Ads will automatically test different combinations and learn which combinations perform best.

    RSAs allow you to expand your reach to show on inventories you might be missing with ETAs (quality score and bids).

    Choose this ad type if you’d like to rely on Google’s disruptive methodology to find the right combinations of headlines and descriptions from the options provided to show ads created to respond to specific user queries.

    When running an RSA, make sure that:

    Remember that you can only have up to three RSAs in one ad group, and Google recommends running at least one in each.

    The million-dollar question: All for one, or one for all?

    Once your account is up and running, a combination of RSAs and ETAs can help you strike a balance between controlling your ad text and exploring new opportunities to show your ads.

    While you set up these ad types, remember to create variations of ETAs — as well as the headlines and descriptions of RSAs — while keeping in mind the traffic you expect your ad group to serve:

    This approach to ad creation should allow for earlier identification of winners — for Google to find better-performing headlines and descriptions, and to identify the better-performing ads based on A/B testing.

    Conclusion

    As always, keep a close eye on your campaigns — especially in the early stages of using a new ad type. You might discover something that affects ad performance that can be sorted out quickly.

    A tool like Optmyzr can be of use. The Ad Text Optimization tool lets you import existing campaign data to find your best performing headlines and descriptions (with tracking templates), and we also have a feature that can help you build RSAs within our platform.

    In the next blog post, I’ll show you how to optimize your ads and ad text to drive even better results. In the meantime, you might want to look at Google’s resource directory for ads and campaigns to better understand these (and other) ad types.

    Search Ad Masterclass Pt. 1: How to write ads that get quality clicks

    Write ads. Get clicks. Make money.

    Simple, yes. Easy, not at all.

    Across this three-part search ad masterclass, I’ll share insights I’ve picked up from working with some of the world’s most successful PPC strategists.

    Insights that will help you:

    Let’s kick things off with how you can write ads designed to win high-quality clicks that are actually relevant to your business.

    Why relevant ad text drives clicks

    Think of your PPC campaign’s ads as the window displays in a store, which are often a shopper’s first point of engagement. All your hard work winning an ad auction could be nothing more than an empty time-sink if your ads aren’t written to get clicks from people who want your product or service.

    And despite all the automation implemented by Google, writing ads that get clicks still relies on the creativity of account managers.

    Just as store displays are changed frequently to continue attracting traffic, so too is it important to keep updating PPC ads with fresh promotions — always while highlighting your value proposition.

    A regular refresh to ad text that keeps up with industry trends frequently improves the chances of getting relevant clicks on your ads.

    How to write ad text like a winner 

    The image below shows ad results for the search term “buy women shoes”. The ad in first position is a great example of how to utilize the space provided by Google to promote value proposition via ad extensions and promotions.

    Even if this ad had only won second position, I would still be very likely to click on it:

    A quick glance at the two ads placed lower reveal flaws that might have intrigued a click if they:

    Taking ad text to the next level

    Along with ad text that’s relevant to a user’s search, another aspect of your ads that can make a difference to performance is which ad type you select.

    Google offers multiple ad types to help you advertise in a way that’ll help you achieve your PPC goals. If we’re sticking with Search ads, there are two highly popular ad types you can run in addition to regular search ads.

    1. Expanded Text Ads are popular with PPC strategists working across industries. Expanded Text Ads let you create an ad with three static headlines and two descriptions. It offers ample space to convey your company’s value proposition, and those of the products and services being advertised.
    2. Responsive Search Ads are a type of ad that automates the process of A/B testing. Google allows you to define up to 15 headlines and four descriptions, and A/B testing is automated. Google’s machines experiment to find the combination of headlines and description that are predicted to work best for specific user queries.

    Conclusion

    If you’re advertising on Google’s Search network, your ad text and choice of ad type play crucial roles in the performance of your campaigns — for both Expanded Text Ads and Responsive Search Ads.

    Creating search campaigns that get quality clicks is as simple as this four-step process:

    1. Select ad types intelligently.
    2. Write relevant ad text that highlights value.
    3. Create well-structured ad group themes.
    4. Refresh your ads periodically.

    Once you start seeing results from your campaigns and need support managing them at scale, a tool like Optmyzr can help you make bulk ad text changes across all your campaigns in just a few clicks.
    Next week in part 2 of this series, we’ll further explore these ad types — plus one more that might get you additional results. In the meantime, check out this support article from Google for more amazing tips to help you write successful ads.

    Get Better Results on Google Search & Shopping In 2 Weeks

    It doesn’t matter how well your PPC accounts are performing — great marketers and agencies always want to do better.

    But better takes time, right?

    Not when you have a tool like Optmyzr at your disposal. Our PPC management platform enables users to get better results from their Google search and shopping ads in just two weeks.

    And with a 14-day free trial that grants access to all features, you can test these strategies out for yourself at no risk.

    So whether you’re just starting out with Optmyzr or want to onboard another client, here’s how we can help set your accounts up for success in just two weeks.

    You can also find links at the bottom of this page to download these checklists as interactive PDFs with clickable links to the tools themselves, help articles, and video resources.

    A. Search Advertising

    Day 1: Set up alerts to monitor accounts and track budgets.

    Pro Tip: Enhanced scripts can be installed at the MCC level. Read more about installing scripts.

    Day 3: Analyze account performance and start optimizing.

    Day 5: Analyze search queries to add new keywords and negatives to your account.

    Pro Tip: Combine these optimizations into a single workflow using Blueprints.

    Day 6: Manage bids.

    i. Campaigns using manual bidding

    ii. Campaigns using automated bidding

    Pro Tip: Combine these optimizations into a single Workflow using Blueprints.

    Day 7: Improve quality score and manage budgets.

    Day 9: A/B test and create new ads.

    Day 11: Set hourly bid adjustments and build custom optimizations.

    Bonus: Experiment with a custom strategy in the Rule Engine.

    Day 13: Set bid adjustments for locations and demographics based on performance.

    Day 14: Create your own workflows and implement automation.

    B. Shopping Campaigns

    Day 1: Set up merchant feed and monitor budget.

    Pro Tip: Enhanced scripts can be installed at the MCC level. Read more about installing scripts.

    Day 2: Filter out irrelevant shopping queries by managing negatives.

    Pro Tip: Combine these optimizations into a single Workflow using Blueprints.

    Day 4: Analyze feed and resync campaign structure.

    Day 6: Manage bids.

    i. Campaigns using manual bidding

    ii. Campaigns using automated bidding

    Day 8: Create custom optimizations.

    Pro Tip: Watch this video for ideas on how to use the Rule Engine to set up custom optimizations.

    Day 10: Create your own workflows and implement automation.

    See the difference for yourself.

    Our mission at Optmyzr is to develop not just the tools that PPC marketers need today, but ones they can use to safeguard their true roles as digital marketing strategists.

    That’s why everything in this onboarding guide has one eye on long-term results, and why we don’t gate any of our features to trial users.

    What you see is what you get.

    Don’t believe us? Sign up for a 14-day free trial to experience for yourself how Optmyzr makes PPC management faster and your contributions more value-oriented.

    **Download the Search campaigns checklist**_ here_.

    **Download the Shopping campaigns checklist**_ here_.

    6 Ways Optmyzr’s Rule Engine Beats Google Ads Automated Rules For Flexibility

    We all have repetitive PPC management tasks we wish we could automate and get off our daily to-do lists. Fortunately, there are several options for PPC advertisers to achieve this, like Google Ads’ Automated Rules, and Optmyzr’s Rule Engine.

    In working with hundreds of customers in my two years at Optmyzr, I noticed many advertisers don’t explore our Rule Engine’s most powerful capabilities because they assume it’s just another interface to control Google’s Automated Rules.

    Turns out there’s much more to it than that.

    The Rule Engine actually enables our power users to do some of their most advanced optimizations that they wouldn’t have time for without this level of automation. 

    I talked to Fred, one of our founders who shared that the Rule Engine was initially built as a script for a customer whose bid management strategy took a full day of his time every week!

    The script was useful but limited to that advertiser’s strategy. So our company built the Rule Engine to allow every advertiser to automate their most powerful strategies.

    While we’re fans of Google Ads Automated Rules for their simple setup, that simplicity is limiting when you want to take your account to the next level with a more powerful strategy. That’s the gap we’re solving with our Rule Engine.

    Let me share 6 useful things you can do with the Optmyzr Rule Engine that you cannot with Google Ads Automated Rules.

    1. Combine multiple rules into layered strategies.

    Though in Google Ads you can add as many automated rules as you want, it’s not possible to combine them into a single optimization. In Optmyzr, this is possible with Rule Engine strategies.

    In Optmyzr, a rule is a set of conditions and actions (if and then statements). Strategies let you combine multiple rules — in essence, letting you add the ‘else’ portion in an ‘if’, ‘then’, else’ rule.

    For example, in just one strategy, you can consolidate all your search query management by adding one rule to add positive keywords and another rule to add negatives.

    You can also have multiple actions applied to an entity. For example, you can add a label to the keywords your rule paused because they were found to be too expensive.

    2. Use data from multiple date ranges.

    Automated rules in Google Ads let you use a single date range for metrics. This makes it impossible to do relative comparisons, like to find ad groups that have a sudden spike in CPA for the past week compared to the last 30 days.

    With our Rule Engine, you can bring in performance data from as many date ranges as you’d like, making relative comparisons very easy.

    3. Use data from custom date ranges.

    While using multiple date ranges is useful, it’s even better when you can customize those date ranges. Rather than just using default ones like the last 7/30/n days, you can build custom date ranges that are based on lookback windows.

    For example, you can build a custom date range for 14 days ago to 8 days ago (week before last), and another for 7 days ago to 1 day ago (last week). This enables you to find search terms that have gained a lot of impressions in the past week compared to the week before, or ad groups that have seen a decline in CTR for a few weeks in a row.

    4. Do relative comparisons of metrics across a hierarchical structure.

    With our Rule Engine, you’re able to compare, in just one condition, the performance of the same metric at different levels. This comes in handy when you want to do a relative comparison using expressions/formulas.

    For example, compare the CPA of one keyword versus the CPA of the campaign in which the keyword is located. Now you could do things like find keywords that are 50% more expensive than average for the campaign.

    In Google Ads automated rules, you can compare a metric against a static value but not against other elements. So you can only do things like find keywords whose CPA is higher than $20. That’s not helpful when you know that CPAs vary greatly between brand and non-brand campaigns, and even between campaigns that sell different services in different locations.

    By using a relative comparison, you don’t need to set a static target for all your comparisons, and it becomes very easy to simply look for outliers.

    Note: You can also use expressions as actions to calculate new bids and targets.

    4. Use external data.

    What happens when you want to use data not available in Google Ads, but that is also important for your business and optimizations?

    In Rule Engine, you can connect a Google Sheet to use your own data in your rules. You can get as creative as you want: use profit margins defined by your agency, analytics data, weather data, a list of holidays, etc.

    For ideas and use cases, you can have a look at our series of blog posts Thinking Outside the Box & Do More with Optmyzr.

    5. Set rules on autopilot or review them on demand.

    While automations help you save tons of time, you may not always want to give up full control; this is why we also let you use your Rule Engine strategies manually. We give you everything necessary to create your own optimization tools and then run them on demand.

    Following this idea, even when your strategies are running automatically, we still let you decide if you want to review the changes before you apply them. This is a huge advantage when you want to test your optimization before giving all the control to the automation.

    6. Exclude recent changes.

    You can avoid applying continuous changes to the same entity for a defined period of time to give them enough time to perform before it’s considered by the strategy again. This helps when you don’t want to stack bids or change the target CPA of an ad group that was already adjusted the day before.

    This is particularly helpful in situations where you’re slowly changing things like bids until they meet your goal.

    For example, if you automate bidding to set an ideal CPC based on the last 7 days’ conversion rate and your target CPA (new CPC = target CPA * conversion rate), you can run that rule as often as you want without worrying that your bids will get out of control.

    However, the following is a riskier automation: new CPC = old CPC + $0.10 when last 7 days’ CPA is below CPA target.

    It’s risky because if you run this rule 5 times per day, it will increase the bid 5 times even though the last 7 days’ CPA includes only a small portion of data since the last bid change.

    With Optmyzr, you can remove this risk by excluding items that were already changed recently. Now every time the rule runs, it will only make suggestions for entities that were not already recently changed by the same rule.

    The Rule Engine is my favorite, because you can tailor account rules to match what the individual client needs to be seeing for performance.

    Larry C, Owner/Operator, 707 Marketing

    Conclusion

    If we have to sum up all of the above, it’s about two things: flexibility and more control. Which tool to use will depend on how much of your workflow you want to automate, and how much customization is required.

    The Rule Engine definitely is a powerful tool that gives you much room to play with and is designed for both novice and advanced users.

    Interested in learning more about it? Let support@optmyzr.com know, and we’ll be happy to help you!

    How to Build a Profitable Google Shopping Campaign Structure

    In a world where people can’t always go out to make a purchase, e-commerce is more important than ever.

    We’ve been buying clothes, shoes, electronics, and many other categories of products online for several years. Now, we’re seeing surging demand for new ones — groceries, home entertainment, educational products, and office equipment to name a few.

    Besides, if your business is able to fulfill orders made online, it enables you to service a larger market and potentially tap into additional sources of revenue.

    So while there are several great reasons for businesses to implement Shopping Campaigns and promote all the inventory they can, it can be daunting to get started.

    A major point about Google Shopping campaigns that we hear from our customers — and performance marketers in general — is setting up the right campaign structure to manage bids and (eventually) optimize them with ease.

    Here are our recommendations on how to approach campaign structures for a Google Shopping campaign.

    Campaign Creation Strategy

    Planning a campaign creation strategy typically depends on how many products your feed contains, as well as how you’d like to segregate the traffic you’re driving to your account. For larger feeds (tens of thousands of products) and to better manage search queries, multiple campaigns are the best setup.

    Here are some key strategies to build the right campaign structure:

    Inventory Filters

    Use this feature to direct traffic to campaigns based on criteria such as product condition, size or color. Let’s look at a real-world example to understand this better.

    If you’re selling laptops, then ‘refurbished’ and ‘New’ are two possible conditions for your inventory that you’ll want to take into consideration. This ensures that you don’t advertise new laptops to potential customers who are searching for refurbished ones.

    You can segregate your campaigns using this logic by implementing inventory filters for each condition type.

    Campaign Priorities

    If you have multiple Google Shopping campaigns that promote the same product, you can prioritize showing ads for search terms that matter — ones that are more relevant to your goal from a specific campaign.

    Campaign priorities have three tiers: low, medium and high.

    Priority levels outweigh the bid amount at auction time. So if a campaign on high priority has a lower bid than a campaign on medium priority, the high priority campaign’s bid will be used. When multiple campaigns have the same priority, the one with the highest bid will count during the auction.

    This feature was created by Martin Röttgerding, head of search engine advertising at Bloofusion, and a panelist on episode 4 of PPC Town Hall.

    You can read more on how you can leverage Campaign Priorities in our detailed blog post.

    Ad Group Creation Strategy

    Selecting your creation strategy at the ad group level depends on multiple factors:

    Managing Negatives

    Ad group creation strategy helps align the right traffic to the right ad groups.

    For users searching for a Macbook Pro, it’s better to show available configurations for the same model rather than ads that promote the Macbook Air. To achieve this, you can build a campaign for each brand and ad group in both categories: Macbook Pro and Macbook Air.

    This will help you add negative search terms — ‘Macbook Air’ to the Macbook Pro ad group and vice versa.

    Size of your feed

    If your inventory consists of more than 20,000 SKUs (or if you expect to cross this number in the near future), you won’t be able to fit all of these products into a single ad group. Instead, you’ll need to set up multiple ad groups to bypass the ad group limits established by Google.

    Product Group Hierarchy

    Selecting your product group hierarchy will depend on how you want to manage bids.

    If you’re selling shoes and you know that the Adidas Black Alphabounce+ is your best-selling product, you’re probably going to want to bid higher on it. Going one layer deeper, you realize that just size 11 constitutes 70% of your sales for this product.

    If you have a structure that also includes the size, you’ll be able to bid especially high for the size 11 Adidas Black Alphabounce +.

    A high degree of granularity can help you make sure only the right products get a higher bid.

    If you’d like to manage bids for each item in your feed, you can choose to build product groups at the item ID level and structure it by incorporating all the important attributes into the campaign structure.

    But when choosing your hierarchy, you also need to analyze the attributes defined for products in your feed to select a split where the fewest products end up in the ‘Everything Else’ product group, so that you are able to manage bids to an optimal degree.

    Real-world examples

    Let’s take a look at a couple of real-world scenarios and how they translate over to Google Shopping campaigns:

    Laptops

    We’re revisiting this product category, this time in order to prioritize display. To do that, you’ll need to figure out which products have the highest profit margin, or which ones sell the most units. Consider the placement of your different laptops similar to the bids you’re going to place.

    As store manager, you know the different factors that influence buyers who are looking to purchase a laptop like: screen size, processor, operating system, graphics card, etc.

    In order to arrange your products, you need to decide the order for the product arrangement to deliver the best possible customer experience: helping people find what they want quickly and easily.

    Naturally, products that sell faster and ones with higher profit margins take priority in the lineup.

    Assigning degrees of importance to all of these features helps you select which products need to be most visible i.e. which ads you need to bid highest on.

    Apparel

    Let’s consider that a brand like H&M or Zara is running a seasonal sale.

    While the storeboard at the entrance will highlight this, it’s also important for store managers to promote all the products that are being sold. The idea is that before a prospective buyer gets to the discount rack, they go through all the new arrivals and are tempted to buy something because it’s trending.

    Overall, the sale value for the buyer would be higher — a combination of discount purchases and the excitement of owning something on the edge of what’s trending. For the store, it means a better profit margin.

    In this case, the higher bids are placed on new arrivals that have better margins then on-sale products, which might receive lower bids or be advertised on a landing page for the new arrivals.

    Conclusion

    Just like deciding the order in which to present your products in a brick and mortar store, Google Shopping campaign success requires businesses to identify the right products by attributes. You’ll want to bank on this priority list to create your Google Shopping campaigns, so that you’re able to draw the right audience and receive the best profit return on ad spend.

    Though each business and industry is different, there are some common parameters for choosing the right structure for your Google Shopping campaigns: what’s new, what’s selling well, what’s in demand, what’s easy to procure, and what’s easiest to ship.

    Together, they can help you identify where your marketing dollars will yield the best results.

    How to Start Selling the Easy Way On Google Shopping

    Earlier this year, Google made an announcement that changed the way advertisers perceived Shopping campaigns. By making Google Shopping listings free, the world’s largest advertising network forced everyone selling tangible products to rethink their PPC strategies.

    Suddenly, this component of the Google advertising network became much more attractive.

    At first, brands and PPC marketers were captivated by the prospect of free ad space. Once the initial hype faded, it became clear that only a portion of Google Shopping listings would be made free and that certain conditions had to be met.

    To take advantage of these free listings, advertisers need to have active Google Merchant Center accounts and enable their products to show on all surfaces including Google Images, the Google Shopping tab, Google Lens, and Google Search.

    As of late May, our conversations with experts like Kirk Williams of Zato Marketing revealed that an average of 5-6% of Google Shopping listings were made complementary.

    But that’s not the only reason it makes sense to give your products Google Shopping visibility.

    If like many other brands, your business or client are just starting to get involved in building Google Shopping campaigns, this article will help you figure out how to sell on Google Shopping.

    In this article, we’ll explore:

    How to take advantage of Google Shopping listings

    Google Shopping allows advertisers to promote physical, shippable products with a greater amount of visual appeal. Consumers searching for ‘blue shoes’ or ‘leather couch’ can view and explore a range of product listings that match closely with what they’re looking for.

    Google Shopping campaigns come in two varieties: Standard and Smart.

    Image sourced from versafeed.com

    Standard campaigns are built manually to deliver on highly strategic goals. These require some understanding of product groups, campaign structures, and other campaign components in order to achieve a specific goal, such as a target ROAS.

    Smart campaigns on Google Shopping reduce the entry barrier by using machine learning and automation to speed up the process. This makes them ideal for small businesses with limited budgets, or advertisers who don’t have the time to build out Standard campaigns.

    While Standard campaigns afford greater control over location targeting, negative keywords, custom scheduling, and network placement; Smart campaigns require historical data but will determine placement and other parameters for you based on past performance of other campaigns.

    Google Shopping: A proven channel for product visibility

    Google Shopping campaigns have always been considered a core part of the PPC marketer’s toolbox. They carry a visual component, which has proven to be more attractive than plain text when products are involved.

    Here are four more reasons why Google Shopping is a proven way to give your products the visibility they need, especially with the current economic landscape in mind.

    How to sell on Google Shopping the easy way

    Google Shopping campaigns can be highly valuable if your business calls for them. But it can be confusing and tricky to build them out if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Moreover, creating splits (e.g. by brand or category) takes a significant amount of time when done manually — and leaves you prone to human error.

    Optmyzr’s tools for Google Shopping cover the full life cycle, allowing you to create campaigns and set structures from scratch. Use us to do the heavy lifting and help you create the campaign structures you want, quickly and without error.

    With Optmytzr guiding you step by step, you can create both Standard and Smart Google Shopping campaigns and ad groups in just a few clicks.

    Campaign Builder 2.0

    Campaign Builder 2.0 is Optmyzr’s tool to build Standard and Smart Google Shopping campaigns from scratch. Anyone can link a spreadsheet or Google Merchant Center feed to get started in minutes.

    Product Group Refresher 2.0

    Product Group Refresher 2.0 optimizes existing Google Shopping campaigns by adding new products and product groups based on existing campaign structures. It looks at your current campaign structures and syncs with the feed to accurately reflect your inventory.

    Machine learning provides suggestions, and you can even automate the entire process. For example, when new products are added to the inventory feed, Optmyzr can automatically create new product groups for them.

    Manage Shopping Bids

    This optimization identifies high-performing product groups, allowing you to raise bids for product groups that are driving results. It also shows which product groups are underperforming or failing, letting you lower bids for them.

    By nature, this tool only supports Standard Google Shopping campaigns.

    Shopping Analysis

    One of our most popular Insight tools, Shopping Analysis helps Optmyzr users understand how their products are performing irrespective of structure. Use it to aggregate data and determine performance based on a number of different attributes.

    Aggregate data by price to see the performance and ROAS that products at different price points drive. Or if you’re selling shoes, easily see which sizes are more popular and sell more, or which ones aren’t in demand so you can fine-tune procurement.

    Shopping Analysis works with both Standard and Smart Google Shopping campaigns. With the former, you can use this aggregate data to change bids using the Attribute Bidder. For Smart Shopping, you can see which products are selling better — an insight that’s not easy to obtain in Google Ads.

    Conclusion

    While it’s admirable that Google is thinking of advertisers and supporting them with some complementary Shopping listings, there’s greater value to be experienced than just a couple of freebies.

    Unlike services, products have shape and form — and people love to see what they’re buying before they make a purchase. Google Shopping campaigns enable you to do this while expanding your reach, allowing small businesses to flourish and hobbyists to turn passion into profession.

    To learn more about how we can help you build and optimize Google Shopping campaigns with minimal time sink, write to us at support@optymzr.com or sign up to try Optmyzr free of cost.

    PPC Town Hall #10: 5 Observations on Google’s Initiatives in Q2

    If you joined us for PPC Town Hall this week, you probably noticed that we look different! Everyone is combating Zoom fatigue, so we streamlined the show to be more visually engaging and appealing.

    Joining us for the first new-look PPC Town Hall were two of the most insightful experts in paid search:

    As always, you can view this week’s episode as well as previous editions of PPC Town Hall right here.

    Let’s dive into this week’s observations on Google’s initiatives during Q2 of 2020 — and we might even have an additional surprise for you at the end!

    1. A shift in messaging is overdue.

    With businesses reopening in the post-lockdown phase, COVID messaging is in need of a change in tone. Ann thinks now is a good time for brands to realign themselves.

    “I do think some messages have been played out — how to do virtual conferences, how to spend your day on Zoom. People are getting fed up with that and it’s time for messaging to come out on the other side,” she noted.

    “People are once again able to do things they weren’t able to do before; certain shops are reopening and we’re trying to get back to business. In the UK, our furlough grants have been very helpful in making sure a lot of people have salaries and are able to spend.”

    2. E-commerce isn’t as simple as some people think.

    With millions of consumers unable or unwilling to visit brick and mortar locations, small businesses and those dependent on tourism income are turning to e-commerce to plug revenue gaps.

    But Gianpaolo has a word of caution for anyone who thinks setting up a Shopify store or listing on Amazon is the catch-all solution.

    “In Italy, it’s been a couple of years now that almost everyone wants to get into e-commerce, even if they don’t need it,” he shared. “But starting an e-commerce operation is only the beginning; you cannot set up an online store and think you’re done.”

    Gianpaolo recommends leveraging the power of search and other forms of paid advertising to get people to your online stores — a critical step that some businesses new to e-commerce may not account for.

    3. Legitimate businesses welcome advertiser verification.

    With Google already rolling out its mandatory advertiser verification program, businesses that use their paid advertising services will have 21 days from the moment they’re contacted to verify their identities.

    Ann believes that legitimate businesses will universally welcome this move, and that it will help filter out some of the more unsavory players.

    “I’m very much in favor of Google’s advertiser verification. I feel there are so many questionable agencies and other businesses that rip people off. I’ve been in this industry nearly 20 years now, and I’ve seen and heard so many stories about this,” she shared.

    4. Google’s ad credits are here — and they’ll be useful.

    It didn’t take too long after global lockdowns started to take effect for Google to announce that they would be disbursing millions of dollars in free ad credits to small businesses. While this move to prop up some of Google’s hardest-hit customers took some time, America and Europe are now seeing results.

    “This week in Italy, we received the first COVID ad credits from Google, so they are coming to Europe as well. They are set in fixed amounts: €75, €210, €590 and probably €1000 (I haven’t seen this yet), depending on last year’s range of spend,” Gianpaolo told us.

    “Anything helps to get out of this situation. Even if €1,000 can’t change your business landscape, it can still help. If you found something that was working, I suggest putting part of your credits back on that. Of course, you can also try something new.

    “Personally, my approach to the situation has been not to stop campaigns, but to lower budgets and CPCs to the minimum possible. Spending a tenth of what you normally do is a good solution, especially in search.

    “If someone is searching for something they are likely to convert — maybe not now, but at some point. Why lose those hyper-competitive slots if you can keep them while spending a fraction of what you spent before?”

    5. Agencies want Google to rethink their partner program.

    Google’s partner program has long been a source of contention with many agencies, especially those who focus on quality and results. With the program postponed to next year due to the pandemic, this offers Google a chance to bring requirements in line with agency realities.

    “As an MCC owner, we’ve got so many accounts linked to us. We had to have 70 people take the exam in organizations that have nothing to do with us. I’m hoping Google will have second thoughts about the way they do these qualifications, because there’s no way we can oversee all the organizations we are linked to,” Ann said.

    “The other thing I don’t like about the partner status is it’s based on volume and growth in spend. At a premium agency like ours, not every client is looking for massive growth. In some cases, the first thing we do with a new client is cut out a load of wasted spend. And then we get penalized for bringing the spend down while we’re trying to improve the quality and make more money for the client. Google’s program isn’t always aligned with client needs.”

    Bonus: LinkedIn targeting is coming to Microsoft.

    Towards the end of this week’s show, Gianpaolo had some interesting news and advice for users of Microsoft Advertising.

    “Keep an eye on the Microsoft Audience Network. They’re integrating it with LinkedIn targeting options for B2B campaigns in their display network,” he told us.

    “This is something I would try to test even more deeply when I have an occasion to do so. I think it’s probably the first time that Microsoft is a little bit ahead of Google in something. I’m happy they’re doing this, and I’d definitely do some testing on this.”

    Conclusion

    Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Google has been active in rolling out initiatives to help businesses and the PPC industry ride the storm. And while some of those programs were hyped up to be a lot more than they turned out to be, there’s no doubt they’ve done more than most advertising platforms.

    It will be interesting to see how they adapt and what new ideas they roll out as the landscape continues to morph based on restrictions and developments in different geographies.

    Join us again next week for PPC Town Hall, where we’ll be discussing e-commerce and Google Shopping campaigns. Catch the details on our PPC Town Hall landing page or follow us on Twitter.

    Google Told Us Their 6 Tips to Impact Smart Bidding

    The last time we sat down with Google to talk shop, the discussion found its way to managing PPC campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    With supply chains disrupted and business models being tested, companies around the world are facing a variety of new conditions. And though the results aren’t uniform, what’s consistent is how every business has been affected in some way.

    Many are struggling to find customers. Some are facing uncertain futures. A few fortunate ones are doing better than ever — will they struggle when things return to normal?

    We put together some advice for PPC marketers that took the shape of this blog post. But in the weeks since, we’ve seen and heard the debate over automated bidding become one of the prevailing industry conversations.

    Thankfully, our friends at Google had plenty more to say.

    Here are their recommendations for 6 secret tips that can help you impact Smart Bidding and more reliably navigate a marketplace in flux.

    6 Secret Tips to Impact Smart Bidding

    As you monitor shifting trends and course-correct your business plan, you’ll also need to bring your strategic approach in line with what the current situation demands. To help you provide clients and customers with a fruitful experience without eating too much of your time, Google recommends Smart Bidding.

    Let’s recap the tactics we recommended last time, as well as explore how they impact Smart Bidding.

    1. Keywords

    How does this impact Smart Bidding?

    Keyword optimization helps deliver more at the same CPA/ROAS goal, and ensures that brand strategies align with business goals. Broad match keywords allow the Smart Bidding machine to discover new opportunities for conversions.

    Optmyzr Tip: You’ll still want to keep other match types and regularly review new search terms with tools like Optmyzr. The Rule Engine’s latest addition takes high-performing keywords with one match type and lets you add new match types at the ad group level.

    2. Creatives

    How does this impact Smart Bidding?

    Getting your creatives right prevents your message and customer experience are on the same page, which ensures that each bid brings relevant engagement.

    Optmyzr Tip: Regulations and restrictions can change frequently. With the Ad Text Optimization tool, you can quickly and consistently change ad copy to reflect the real-world operating conditions of your business. The Add Responsive Search Ad tool is also useful to build RSAs for each of your ad groups.

    The Responsive Search Ads tool lets you maximize your chances of getting meaningful clicks

    3. Bids and Budgets

    How does this impact Smart Bidding?

    Putting your marketing dollars where they’re likely to yield the best returns is PPC 101. You capture more leads at the same CPA/ROAS goal, and forecasting often captures the most recent demand trends.

    Optmyzr Tip: Campaigns that worked a few months ago might not be winners today, for no fault of their own or yours. Put your dollars where they need to be with the Optimize Budgets tool. It can help you quickly re-allocate budgets based on how different campaigns are doing against your goals.

    Optimize Budgets lets you see how to adjust spend to achieve specific goals

    4. Target Constraints/Goals

    How does this impact Smart Bidding?

    Using CPA/ROAS goal adjustments can help you control spend and volume. But to achieve the same thing for Max strategies, Google recommends using budget adjustments.

    Optmyzr Tip: Use the Optimize Target CPA & ROAS on campaigns with automated bidding to increase conversions and Impression Share. You can also see converting ad groups that use other automated bidding strategies.

    5. Account-Wide Best Practices

    How does this impact Smart Bidding?

    Smart Bidding uses account-wide signals (cross-account under MCC, if applicable). If you’re struggling to see results from Smart Bidding, it might be because you’re still using Last Click Attribution in an era of erratic search behavior.

    Optmyzr Tip: The Rule Engine allows you to create data-based strategies, like removing non-converting keywords related to COVID-19. Or for a fun way to keep your account in shape, try the Workouts that combine multiple optimizations to achieve a specific objective.

    6. Audiences

    How does this impact Smart Bidding?

    First-party audience lists improve Smart Bidding algorithms, but Google lists have a neutral impact on Smart Bidding. For best results, provide your own customer information.

    Optmyzr Tip: You always want Smart Bidding to have the latest and greatest information about your customers. Use the Customer Match List Updates tool (under Optimizations > Utilities) to keep your audiences in sync between your business data and Google’s audience repository.

    6 Ways to Fully Control & Adjust Smart Bidding

    While Smart Bidding might make PPC a bit less time-consuming, it’s far from a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. There are many things you can do to affect the degree of control and influence you have over your bids.

    Check out these 6 ways to fully control and adjust Smart Bidding.

    1. Goals

    Goals are the end objectives of your campaign; think of them as a destination. Tweaking goal values can change the way Smart Bidding tries to get there.

    2. Conversions

    Current market realities have impacted conversions across the board. Use the information in this space to inform your strategy and reshape the Smart Bidding process.

    3. Constraints

    Setting hard limits on your financials can enable Smart Bidding to look at creating value over volume. As always, keep an eye on things as you implement this approach.

    4. Targeting

    Audience is one of the most influential factors in PPC, and there’s no doubt that who and how you choose to target can make a difference to Smart Bidding results.

    5. Budgets

    At the end of the day, it’s all about the dollars. Experimenting with budgetary values can provide some of the most significant influence on Smart Bidding.

    6. Misc. Adjustments

    There are other adjustments you can make to shape Smart Bidding, including seasonal adjustments. We suggest exercising oversight when using some of these in today’s market.

    Conclusion

    It’s been said before but bears repeating: There’s only one way PPC professionals can do right by their businesses and clients — by having as much information as possible. That’s why we’ve partnered with Google to bring you these posts on how to gain maximum value from the tools at your disposal.

    These recommendations from Google are intended to supplement a brand’s unique business strategy. Both Google and Optmyzr suggest you balance any automated bidding strategy by keeping a close eye on your accounts. After all, only humans can provide context to the data.

    And be on the lookout for the third part of our collaboration with Google, when we discuss what advertisers in hard-hit industries can do to prepare for the end of lockdown.

    3 Recent Google Developments Every PPC Pro Needs to Know About

    As the doom and gloom of COVID-19 fades, we’re hearing fewer conversations about troubleshooting and more about solving problems. The world is settling into its ‘new normal’ — at least for the near future.

    Google is playing a key role in helping PPC professionals shift from just weathering the storm to being creative once more. So if you work in digital marketing or paid search, here are 3 recent Google developments in PPC and why you should care.

    1. Google Shopping reintroduces free listings.

    First up, in what is arguably the most significant announcement from Google since the current economic crisis began, a portion of Shopping Ads will now be free listings. That means any advertiser who hasn’t prioritized them due to budgetary considerations now needs to rethink their approach.

    Free listings allow more advertisers to get their products noticed at a lower investment, and somewhat levels the playing field for SMBs who might ordinarily lose out to far larger competitors.

    It’s important to note that Google hasn’t entirely demonetized this product. While some listings will be free, paid ads will still appear at the top and bottom like a normal SERP.

    A lower entry threshold also means a surge in interest from advertisers, which subsequently leads to the need to optimize your shopping campaigns with tools like Optmyzr.

    Optmyzr’s Shopping Campaign Builder 2.0 lets you connect a Google Merchant Feed, and our machine provides intelligent suggestions to help you group products, manage bids and budgets, and adjust parameters to your preference.

    Once you have some campaigns running, you can further strengthen existing campaigns — add negative keywords, manage bids by product attribute, or automate the Product Group Refresher 2.0 to periodically update campaigns to reflect your inventory.

    By the way, we’re starting to see these free listings in use already. PPC influencer Kirk Williams of Zato Marketing has seen outliers of 0.5-11% of Google shopping clicks coming from this free channel (perhaps 5-6% is a more accurate estimate). This is limited to the US, but it appears Google is ahead of schedule in rolling it out across other markets.

    Action Item for Advertisers: Make sure you have given Google permission to show your products on all surfaces if you want to be in consideration for free Shopping listings.

    2. Google makes advertiser verification a must.

    To quote Google’s recent notice on this subject:

    “Users should be empowered to make informed decisions about the ads they see online. That’s why we’re launching advertiser identity verification, a policy that requires advertisers to verify their identities for ads served through Google Ads.”

    Image courtesy of Google.com

    Let’s break down the implications for both consumers and advertisers.

    If you’re a consumer, this is probably a very welcome move. For one thing, it means your chances of buying a counterfeit product when you click on a Google ad are about to drop to virtually zero.

    On top of that, it enables a high degree of customization. Consumers can block advertisers whose content they find irrelevant, out of touch, distasteful or uninteresting. Or you can simply blacklist advertisers based on your experience buying from them.

    That means if you buy an NBA jersey and it’s a knock-off, you can block that seller’s future ads altogether. Ordered a birthday gift for your spouse and got it two weeks later than promised? You never have to see that company’s ads again.

    Call it a huge win for Google’s reputation when it comes to privacy and trust.

    Advertisers will be affected as well. In addition to filtering out questionable sellers, Google’s new policy poses questions about data privacy.

    Scam artists will wither, but legitimate advertisers will rightly have some concerns.

    The final announcement we’re covering here is the introduction of Call Ads with an optional website link.

    For anyone unfamiliar with this category (previously known as Call-only Ads), it’s a type of mobile ad that includes a phone number. A ‘click’ leads to a call — to the advertiser’s front desk, a sales rep or other destination.

    Image courtesy of Google.com

    Now, the addition of an optional ‘Visit website’ call to action enables advertisers to split traffic between a phone number and a landing page.

    Let’s take a look at two examples of how businesses can leverage these ads, keeping in mind the current economic and logistical landscapes.

    Example A: Steaks

    If you eat meat, chances are you enjoy a good steak. It’s why companies like Omaha Steaks have turned online fulfillment into a cornerstone of their business model.

    Right now, since people can’t go out to restaurants, they’re probably buying a lot more steak to grill at home. So in other words, demand is through the roof. If you’re a steak company, you have no way of coping with the surge.

    So you place some of these new Call Ads to direct some of that traffic to a phone line, while the rest of it ends up on a landing page with all your products and an order form. Now you’re able to cater to all your potential customers instead of sitting on supply you can’t move.

    This example applies to any business that fulfills orders via e-commerce, but is also useful if you’ve recently moved from brick and mortar to online fulfillment. It lets you absorb and service traffic without having to make a significant investment in sales staff.

    Example B: Hotels

    Travel and hospitality are arguably the worst hit industries right now. But if you’re a hotel trying to get by during this crisis, the last thing you want to do is go out of sight and mind.

    Imagine you’re a popular hotel situated downtown in one of the world’s most visited cities, like Rome or New York. Until recently, you probably enjoyed a significant chunk of Impression Share for your search terms.

    As part of your wider digital marketing strategy for the Coronavirus crisis, you change your messaging to offer hope for the future instead of trying to achieve conversions. You share your plans to reopen, tell visitors how you’ll facilitate social distancing when it happens, and provide some sweet incentives to tempt them.

    And because you know people crave travel (especially when they can’t have it), you fully expect to keep getting calls. But due to local restrictions, your front desk is now staffed by one person instead of your full crew.

    So you adjust your Call Ads to include a link to your website or landing page with the new messaging, you split the traffic that would otherwise overwhelm your one-person front desk, and you maintain visibility for your brand while your competitors fade into the background.

    Conclusion

    It’s heartening to see Google embrace its influence and make the web a safer, more convenient place for consumers and advertisers alike. In times like these, every industry needs its leading organizations to keep the right values in mind as they set the pace.

    Each of us — agency or consultant, enterprise or startup — needs to follow suit.

    We’ll be using these developments to make sure Optmyzr customers continue to experience optimal value by using our product.

    Google’s 6 Practical Tips for PPC During the Pandemic

    There’s no company that isn’t affected by COVID-19. Whether it’s lower than usual demand or a supply chain that’s unable to keep up, every business must adjust the way they advertise to the people who buy their products and services.

    Customers understandably have high expectations that companies will provide value and act responsibly during this time. And with “the new normal” changing almost constantly, 71% of consumers say that they want to hear from businesses that can help them navigate this crisis, according to a joint study between Google and Ipsos.

    We spoke to some friends at Google to get some actionable advice. If you experience changes in demand for your products and services, or volatility in your PPC data, here are some of the best practices they shared to manage your marketing campaigns through unusual times.

    Phase I: Surveying the landscape

    While you keep an eye on shifting trends, there are ways to alter your business plan, update your strategic approach, and adapt to the current situation so you can be there for your customers. Google has useful resources available to help you navigate this uncertain time.

    Plan your way forward

    To know where you need to get, you have to start by figuring out where you are. Google recommends answering a few basic questions about your business or client, and the impact of COVID-19 on operations and marketing.

    Once you have the answers, you’ll be able to take steps to alter your strategic approach.

    Use Google’s knowledge bank

    There are a number of tools and resources developed by Google that can help you study the marketplace and understand consumer behavior.

    And as you re-engage with your customers, you can also explore additional resources on Google My Business, Performance Planner, and Smart Shopping and YouTube campaigns.

    Phase II: Assessing the situation

    Once you’ve answered some core questions about the state of your business or your client’s, you’ll be able to start piecing together a strategic solution. What that entails will depend on multiple factors — demand, availability, visibility, geography, and more.

    Here are four categories of situations that businesses find themselves in today.

    A. Businesses at risk

    These are companies in financial or operational trouble who need help staying afloat. Many are at risk of furloughs or layoffs, or likely to shut their doors.

    B. Businesses facing some challenges

    Some companies are experiencing threatening situations like supply chain shortages or decreased customer demand, and are unable to meet normal revenue targets.

    C. Businesses that have pivoted

    These companies have realized the need to adapt to the new normal, and are building awareness as they shift to producing something new.

    D. Businesses in demand

    Companies that are fortunate enough to be doing well are experiencing higher demand for their products. They want to discover newer ways to connect with and help customers.

    Phase III: Building a new strategy

    Depending on which category your business or client falls under, it might now be time to start putting together a paid search plan.

    Keeping the current business situation and new marketing goals in mind, here are six common tactics you can use.

    1. Keywords

    Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: Use the Keyword Lasso tool to discover new keyword suggestions, or the Negative Keyword Ideas tool to find keywords that are causing wasted spend. 

    2. Creatives

    Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: The Ad Text Optimization tool allows you to search for phrases or words across campaigns and instantly edit them. Use this to quickly and consistently make bulk changes as your messaging needs to reflect the rapidly changing conditions in the world.

    3. Bids and Budgets

    Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: Conversion Grabber lets you increase Impression Share by raising bids for high-converting keywords that are missing out on traffic due to low ad rank. The Optimize Budgets tool can help you quickly re-allocate budgets based on how different campaigns are doing against your goals.

    4. Target Constraints/Goals

    Goals: Evaluate your new business strategies and confirm target goals. Set performance targets and customize settings to your unique business goals.

    Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: Use the Optimize Target CPA & ROAS on campaigns with automated bidding to increase conversions and Impression Share. You can also see converting ad groups that use other automated bidding strategies.

    5. Account-Wide Best Practices

    Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: The Rule Engine allows you to create data-based strategies, like removing non-converting keywords related to COVID-19. Or for a fun way to keep your account in shape, try the Workouts that combine multiple optimizations to achieve a specific objective.

    6. Audiences

    First-Party Audience Lists: Add all RSLA, Similar Audiences, and Customer Match lists to Smart Bidding campaigns.

    Fine-tune it with Optmyzr: Use the Customer Match List Updates tool (under Optimizations > Utilities) to keep your audiences in sync between your business data and Google’s audience repository.

    Phase IV: Measuring the impact of your new investments

    Once you have a new strategy in place, it’s important to keep a close eye on your campaigns to make sure they’re doing what you want them to. Even with automation, human context is critical to regular adjustments and optimization.

    Here’s what you can do.

    We hope these insights from Google enable you to make the right decisions for your businesses and clients. For any additional support, our friends at Google recommend that you visit the Think with Google hub or contact your Google Ads representative.

    PPC Town Hall #5: 10 Digital Marketing Truths to Remember

    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:

    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).

    Conclusion

    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!

    Google Shifts Approach On Ads Editor, Partners Program, Trends & More

    In the last couple of weeks, Google has both altered existing plans and announced new measures to deal with the ramifications of COVID-19 on PPC and paid search. Some of these aim to make campaign management a bit easier; others are in response to what agencies and advertisers are experiencing.

    Here’s our take on some of the recent changes in Google Ads.

    It’s always interesting for us to see Google make changes to Ads Editor. Optmyzr CEO Fred Vallaeys, one of Google’s first 500 employees, helped build the initial version of the tool when it was called the AdWords Editor. It’s great to see that the product is still in use and receiving steady support many years later.

    Here’s a quick roundup of what’s included with Google Ads Editor 1.3:

    New Features

    Updated Features

    Optimization Score in Google Ads Editor. Image courtesy of Google.com.

    Optimization score, which is now more present in the new Ads Editor, is Google’s way of guiding advertisers to make common best-practice optimizations. But it’s important to remember that Google’s advice is just a suggestion and may not be relevant for your account. 

    As a simple example, Google may suggest increasing budget when there is impression share lost in a campaign with conversions. This may ignore that your account has a strict monthly budget cap and raising the campaign budget would bump the total account spend over the limits. Of course Optmyzr’s tools and scripts to help manage and optimize monthly account budgets would still work, regardless of whether an advertiser accepts Google’s budget suggestions.

    Also, PPC marketers have the freedom to make changes in the tool they’re most comfortable with. It’s not necessary to make all changes from the Google Ads interface.

    “Contrary to what many PPC pros think, Google doesn’t care where you make your edits,” Fred revealed.

    “Many marketers believe you have to log into Google Ads and press that final button to get the improvement to your Optimization Score, but that’s not the case. You can continue to use a tool like the Ads Editor, or Optmyzr to audit and optimize your campaigns.”

    Fred Vallaeys, Optmyzr

    Google Partner Program

    COVID-19 is affecting us all, and the world’s largest search engine is no exception.

    In February, Google announced sweeping changes to its Partners Program that would start to be enforced from June. Some of these included a minimum 90-day ad spend of $20,000 and requiring accounts to follow Google’s recommendations for Optimization Score.

    As Susan Wenograd writes in Search Engine Journal, recent events have forced Google to postpone these new rules to 2021, allowing existing Partners to retain their status and specialization badges and non-Partners to apply using current criteria.

    Fred believes this is the right move.

    “It’s good that Google has pushed this to give agencies more time and space to deal with the challenges their clients are facing. But at the same time, it’s important that existing and prospective Partners take the time to push ahead and prepare for these changes to take hold in 2021.”

    -Fred Vallaeys, Optmyzr

    Optmyzr Tip: While existing Google Partner agencies should prioritize client success, don’t wait until it’s too late to get moving on the new goals. If you’re just now applying to become one, let the 2021 criteria serve as your north star.

    Ad Credits for Google SMBs

    Another widely-lauded move from Google is the announcement of $340 million in ad credits to help “alleviate some of the cost from small and medium-sized businesses to stay in touch with their customers during this challenging time”.

    Much like we advised agencies to do all they can to ensure their clients don’t envision a future without them in this earlier post, it seems Google is also wary of losing steady income from a segment that makes up a significant portion of its ad revenue.

    Image courtesy of Google.com.

    In the midst of a $1.7 billion European Commission fine, the last thing Google needed was a sharp drop in ad revenue — but that’s just what COVID brought to the table. Alphabet’s first quarter earnings were well below expectations, and there’s little evidence to suggest that Q2 will be any different.

    Perhaps Google is playing the long game, looking at 2021 revenues and hoping that keeping SMBs on their ad network yields a better payoff than waiting for them to bounce back on their own.

    Google recognizes how volatile the current market is and how rapidly it’s shifting — it’s why they recommend that advertisers plan weekly rather than monthly for the near future.

    Google Trends reflects this sentiment in search behavior. A tool that’s normally used to reliably find and compare popular search terms, discover related topics and queries, and observe geographic trends is painting incredibly different pictures from one week to the next.

    So what’s the value of Google Trends in a dynamic environment?

    “The business value is that it can help you figure out what you want to put in your ads. Your value propositions might change based on what people are experiencing and searching for,” Fred says.

    “For example, while travel might have once been about the cheapest tickets or the most luxurious hotels, when it opens back up the popular searches might revolve around cleanliness or low-density properties.

    “If you dive even deeper, you can unravel more insights. If people want to travel but are still wary of taking flights, they might decide to drive. So in this scenario, hotels might notice a surge in search volume for something like ‘free overnight parking’.”

    Fred Vallaeys, Optmyzr

    Google Trends. Image courtesy of Google.com.

    Businesses might have to explore qualities that they never looked at before. And while they may have an inkling of what’s to come, they have no idea of the degree to which it may occur. In this case, Google Trends serves as a good barometer of demand and search behavior.

    Optmyzr Tip: The Rule Engine allows you to build custom strategies to optimize your Google Ads accounts based on fluctuations you observe in Google Trends, such as identifying keywords that exceeded the CPA target for the last 7 days but met the CPA target for the previous 30 days.

    Conclusion

    As the world’s leading search engine, Google’s actions set the pace for the majority of the PPC community. During both peaks and troughs, many agencies take their cue from Google or use their behavior to influence strategy.

    It’ll be interesting to see what more they do to revitalize hard-hit industries and keep paid search on the radar for businesses, especially once the market has experienced a full quarter of COVID-related challenges.

    PPC Town Hall: 9 Insights on Bid Management, Paid Social & More

    Following last week’s successful PPC Town Hall, we returned with a 4th edition featuring some of the most knowledgeable minds in the PPC and paid search space.

    If you happened to miss this week’s chat or any previous editions, check them all out on our YouTube channel or listen to them as podcasts over here.

    This week, we focused on bid management in dynamic environments (such as the one created by COVID-19). Optmyzr CEO, Frederick Vallaeys, moderated a panel that included:

    Let’s take a look at 9 key insights from this week’s conversation that every agency, advertiser, and consultant can act on.

    We’re still in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be achieving any degree of ‘normal’ in the immediate future. With so much volatility across markets, it might be a good time to explore Google’s Performance Planner if you haven’t already.

    To quote Google, “Performance Planner is a tool that lets you create plans for your advertising spend, and see how changes to campaigns might affect key metrics and overall performance.”

    Google Ads Performance Planner. Image courtesy of Google.com.

    Performance Planner works with the latest data at any given time, but the current climate means that said data is rarely predictable and stable from one week to the next.

    Peter recommended checking in on Performance Planner every week to explore the impact of shifting CPA, ROAS goals, and manual bids.

    “The market is changing so frequently that a target ROAS that gave you a great volume last week might not do the same this week.”

    2. Not all businesses have been affected equally.

    Just like in every crisis, certain businesses are doing well even as others struggle to stay afloat.

    You might have a client whose product or service is experiencing incredibly low demand, or one that’s waiting on overseas shipments and can’t run more ads until they’re able to fulfill additional orders.

    Martin has seen that spectrum play out for some of Bloofusion’s client base.

    “With our e-commerce clients, we’ve seen a number of differing challenges in the current crisis. Some were overwhelmed by demand. In a few cases, supply is an issue. Others have problems to keep up with packing and shipping. They’ve scaled back or turned off their campaigns to gain a little breathing room.”

    3. Products that make isolation less boring are in demand.

    With most states in the US (and many geographies around the world) under ‘shelter in place’ orders, it’s no surprise that Google has observed a significant uptick in volume for search terms related to products that make the experience more tolerable.

    “We’re seeing that as people are spending more time online, usage is increasing across multiple devices,” Emi said.

    “Consumers are searching for many things including technology that helps them work from home (+750%) as well as connected televisions (+37%), streaming devices (+38%), and gaming consoles (+48%).”

    4. Consumers want to stay healthy and informed.

    But not everything is about work and recreation. Consumers are also looking to maintain their health — and that of their finances.

    “In healthcare, consumers are looking to keep themselves physically and mentally healthy while at home. For example, searches related to ‘online workouts’ increased 12x in the past 90 days,” Emi revealed.

    Alongside that, people are also preoccupied with what’s happening in their bank accounts. With unemployment hitting record levels and even those in secure jobs suddenly looking cash flow issues in the eye, there’s been a surge in search volume for many related topics.

    She added, “Consumers are also looking for financial help, professional advice, and mobile apps to plan for the future with a 9x increase in ‘financial help’ queries e.g. rent/mortgage relief, loan relief, deferred payments.”

    5. Hard-hit industries are starting to figure a way out.

    It’s worth noting that Tinuiti has an insightful tracker that monitors Facebook spend performance segmented by vertical (signup required).

    A quick glance shows that travel is down 79.5% month-on-month but has risen 13.5% week-on-week. Fred speculated that this could be a sign that some of the industries COVID forced to pump the brakes are starting to put new strategies in place.

    “People still want to travel; we just can’t,” he said. “These companies could realistically be building desire and demand, identifying an audience searching for these things during this restrictive phase, so they can convert them when travel opens up again.”

    Google Trends. Image courtesy of Google.com.

    In the case of the automotive industry, which is also showing signs of resurgent spending, Susan speculated that it could be an effort to supplement TV commercials advertising never-before-seen offers like extended windows for no payments and 0% financing.

    Either way, it’s evident that businesses that can’t convert at their usual pace are starting to acquire new users to fill the top of their funnel. Which means…

    6. It’s a great time to use social media to build TOF.

    You don’t have to be as hard-hit as travel or hospitality to consider taking advantage of low-priced social media.

    Given that your clients have the budget to do so, now’s as strategic a time as ever to front-load your pipeline with consumers who are high on intent but limited in their capacity to act.

    In other words, you can build desire and demand to a fever pitch — and do so with a fraction of the budget you’d normally need.

    “We’re seeing some of the cheapest Facebook media with CPMs as low as $2-3. If you have the flexibility and the budget to focus on some top-of-funnel activity, it’s not a bad time to acquire users even if they’re not all going to convert right away,” Susan observed.

    If you want to dive deeper into paid media performance during COVID-19, check out her article on Search Engine Journal.

    7. Smart bidding offers more control than you realize.

    While some advertisers and agencies might be hesitant to allow machines more than a modicum of control over their paid search strategies in the current environment, Smart Bidding might actually empower you more than you thought.

    By using tens of millions of data signals, Smart Bidding pairs your inputs with similar auctions in the industry, so it works even if you’re short on first-party data.

    “Smart bidding has the ability to pick up signals and compare it to other things going on in the market to make those adjustments. While it uses both aggregated and recent trends, it favors what’s been happening recently,” Peter noted.

    Google Smart Bidding considers a multitude of signals to set the right bid for every query. Image courtesy of Google.com.

    The key is to remember that as human operators, we’re capable of watching the news and observing the world around us, and then using those observations to provide context to your paid search programs.

    You really can influence Smart Bidding to work for you as long as you don’t ‘set it and forget it’!

    8. Hyper-segmentation might actually be a good idea.

    Under normal circumstances, it’s not absurd to look at the US as a single market: largely the same regulations, similar opening hours, and common methods of fulfillment.

    Today, that’s simply not the case. States are enforcing their own COVID-19 restrictions, and even individual counties and cities can impose their own limitations.

    So while it’s not the best idea to hyper-segment under normal circumstances, it might be useful to at least try it out right now — and Smart Bidding could be of help.

    “Smart Bidding lets you bid at the intersection of each bid adjustment you can manually set,” Fred shared. “One example is adjustments for a location like New York which has been hit hard, one for time of day, and then another for the audience. It can look at the actual scenario of that one auction and how that combination actually matters.”

    Peter agreed that if you see significant discrepancies in a geography or other parameter, separating campaigns can afford you a greater degree of control by putting individual levers on your campaigns.

    9. Experts are making it easy for PPC pros to stay informed.

    As the PPC community continues to face a number of hardships with finding reliable data, some of the industry’s leading experts have developed scripts that enable marketers to make quick observations about the shift in behavior.

    One example is this COVID-19 visualization script developed by Fred, which overlays government actions related to the pandemic on Google Ads performance metrics.

    “The idea is to help you see if certain events, like store closures, the start of shelter in place, the closing of schools, or the introduction of social distancing correlates in any way with drop-offs or spikes in performance.”

    Martin has also developed a script that compares pre- and post-COVID behavior.

    Google Ads script by Bloofusion and Martin Röttgerding generates charts showing account performance before and during COVID-19. Image courtesy of Bloofusion.

    “Overall trends may be a traffic shift from mobile devices to desktop computers, people searching later at night, and weekdays blurring,” he said.

    “However, we’ve found that this is not true for every account. In many cases, these things have remained more or less stable. The script can give you some handy charts about the situation in your own accounts.”

    Conclusion

    We started the first PPC Town Hall with two objectives in mind: to provide a safe space for paid search pros to vent and share their thoughts on everything that’s been happening, and to steer clear of using it as an opportunity to promote any kind of software or services.

    Since then, the PPC community has embraced these weekly conversations, and they’ve evolved into a source of insights on how to approach these new problems that none of us really have all the answers to.

    We’re in this together, and we’ll get out of it together.

    Please join our next PPC Town Hall on Wednesday, April 22.

    PPC Mastered! Art Meets Science at SMX West

    On the heels of great sessions and networking at this year’s two Friends of Search events in Amsterdam, Optmyzr is gearing up for back-to-back SMX sessions you won’t want to miss in February.

    SMX West always draws a great crowd of search marketers from around the country. We celebrate all skill levels and those of us fortunate to host SMX sessions learn as much as we give. 

    This year, Optmyzr will present two high-impact sessions focusing on essential skills for mid- to advanced search marketing pros hoping to separate from the pack as a PPC rockstar.

    Both Optmyzr presentations happen Wednesday, February 19 at the San Jose Convention Center. We present amid a great lineup of presenters on the full agenda, but for those craving in-depth learning about SEM/PPC in 2020, I encourage you to check out our sessions. 

    Following our SMX sessions, our team will also host an Optmyzr workshop at the WeWork office just down the road of the convention center. You can register for our workshop here: https://forms.gle/rHu56nZy3oAboDys7.

    Here’s a look at what we’ll cover at SMX West: 

    The Art of Structuring Search and Shopping Campaigns

    Over the past 12-18 months, we’ve seen huge advancements in search marketers’ abilities to craft and manage high performing search and shopping campaigns. The tools in Google and Bing have become much more immersive for users as both platforms are offering many more features and functionality. At the same time, platform automations take much of the guesswork out of core search and shopping campaigns. 

    We’ll go deeper during our first SMX session (Wednesday, February 19 at 11:30 AM). 

    While it’s become pretty easy and fail-safe to do the basics well, we’ll dive into the art to using the tools to their potential. We’ll explore what’s good and not-so-good about popular structures such as alpha/beta, single keyword ad groups, and GriP (groups of individual products). 

    This session will also show you how to easily deploy free automations in the platforms in ways that maintain target structures in a dynamic environment. We’ll dig into other free tools within Google and Bing that you might not be using to analyze data in ways that are better aligned with your unique business needs. 

    Perhaps most powerful, though, we’ll bring clarity to how campaign structures work alongside Smart Bidding and other automations. AND we’ll go beyond the platform-level automations to help marketers see how third-party PPC management tools can elevate their role from marketing tactician to genius-level, groundbreaking PPC superstar.

    And speaking of “genius level”…

    Genius-Level Microsoft Ads, Google Ads Optimizations

    Our second SMX session on the 19th is a natural extension of the earlier discussion about search and shopping ads. Entitled “Genius Level Microsoft Ads, Google Ads Optimizations,” our 2:30 PM session will explore ways to optimize across Microsoft Ads AND Google Ads in tandem. 

    Using automation layering via Optmyzr, we’ll showcase ways to tackle critical tasks and manage platform automations that will give the PPC pro greater control over his or her search marketing programs. Let’s face it, the PPC pie is getting much bigger. While Google remains king, Bing is continuing to carve out its place as the other big player in search. It’s essential to know how to work in both platforms – essentially working together.

    I’ll present alongside Mark Irvine, Senior Data Scientist from Wordstream. Together, we’ll help learn to build a unique PPC game plan for your business, along with a scalable, executable strategy. 

    Working in both platforms, you’ll also need to know and understand the important, and often subtle, differences between the two big search engines. Master the automations and gain genius-level status to optimize in both universes. 

    SMX West is always a great event for our team, and it’s right in Optmyzr’s backyard. Check out the agenda for this year’s event and be sure to check out our sessions in the SEM/PPC track. If you spot me in the hallways or after a session, just yell “Fred!” I’d love to connect with you. If time allows, maybe even grab a cup of coffee. 

    And don’t forget to tell us if you’d like to join our free workshop from 4:30pm – 5:45pm in San Jose on February 19th, right after our sessions at SMX.

    See you in San Jose!

    How to Pick a Profitable ACOS or ROAS Target

    Online advertising can get expensive but thankfully the ad engines like Google, Bing and Amazon all have controls that help advertisers keep costs at the right level for their business goals.

    In this post I’ll share how to use your profit margin in conjunction with either target ROAS (tROAS) or target ACOS (tACOS) to achieve break-even on your ad spend. Once you know how to pick the right target so you don’t lose money on PPC, you can dial it up or down to find the right balance between profits and revenue.

    The Difference Between Google ROAS and Amazon ACOS

    First let’s take a look at what ROAS and ACOS mean and how they are calculated.

    Google uses ROAS

    When it comes to reporting columns, Google uses terms like ‘Conv. value / cost’ or ‘All conv. Value / cost’. ROAS (return on ad spend) isn’t a metric you can pick: 

    But the good news is that ROAS is simply one of the ratios expressed as a percentage so it’s just multiplied by 100 and a ‘%’ sign is slapped on the back:

    Google does use the term ROAS in one of its automated bid strategies: Target ROAS (tROAS).

    Amazon uses ACOS

    Amazon shows the ACOS (advertising cost of sales) metric in its interface more prominently so advertisers are immediately exposed to it when they start advertising on Amazon.

    ACOS is based on two of the other metrics Amazon shows by default in its interface:

    ACOS and ROAS both serve the same purpose of giving guidance on how to make online ads profitable but at first glance the two metrics seem very different:

    While the formulas look quite different, that’s mostly due to the difference in nomenclature between the two ad platforms. Where Google calls it ‘cost’, Amazon calls it ‘Ad Spend’. 

    Google cost = Amazon ad spend

    Where Google calls it ‘Conversion Value’, ‘Conv. Value’, or ‘Value’, Amazon calls it ‘Sales’.

    Google Conversion Value = Amazon Sales

    So once we standardize the terminology and swap out all the synonyms, we see that ROAS is the inverse of ACOS:

    We need to know product profit margin before ACOS and ROAS become useful.

    So how are ACOS and ROAS helpful in bid management? How might we decide what a good target ROAS or target ACOS might be? To do that, we need to understand margins.

    Product profit margin or gross profit margin is the ratio of profit over revenue for a single product. The simplest way to think of profit is as the value of the sale minus the cost of producing the thing that was sold:

    Let’s look at an example where we sell 3 products for the same price but they all cost different amounts to make. Or for an Amazon reseller, they all cost a different amount to buy from the manufacturer:

    Combine margin with ROAS or ACOS to find your break-even point

    Now we have all the pieces needed to find how much we can spend on advertising to break even on each sale or conversion*. 

    To make sure we don’t lose money by buying ads, our ad spend to get a sale should be no more than the profit we get from that sale.

    We make a profit when:

    profit on the item sold >advertising cost to get the sale

    That’s simple logic to understand, but to communicate this goal to the ad engines, we need to translate it into the jargon they use. That means we need to bring it back to ROAS and ACOS.

    What is a Break-Even ACOS

    ACOS it’s very simple to equate to break-even if you know your margin. The numbers have to be the same.

    What is a break-even ROAS?

    Because ROAS and ACOS are the inverse of each other, our break-even point on Google is when is (product profit margin)-1 . That’s the product margin divided by 1.

    Let’s see that in a different more visual way:

    The bottom line

    So there you have it, the perfect ACOS or ROAS to break-even on your ad spend on Google or Amazon. On Amazon, it’s the profit margin of the product you sell. On Google it’s the inverse of that same number.

    *You don’t really break even by spending no more on ads to get a sale than what you gain from that sale as that doesn’t consider other costs to run the business of selling things. This is why knowing the break-even point is just the start and you should add a target profitability so you make money.

    Understanding Google’s new Extension of Phrase Match and Broad Match Modifiers

    Watching this year’s Google Marketing Live event, one of the things that really intrigued me was Ben Gomes, Google’s SVP of Search, explaining the process of how query matching has evolved from the first Google searches up to this day. 

    He used the following example:

    “The pictures of modern TVs are phenomenal, except sometimes they look strange. And the question is “How do you ask a question about ‘my TV looking strange’?”.

    See, the question is no longer a simple query, as it would be to search for “my TV is not connecting” or “How do I fix the resolution on my screen”, but rather a much more complex concept. He then proceeded to explain how by using ML and Neural Networks, they were able to take that query and transform it into a neural embedding. This query’s neural embedding then matched the neural embeddings contained in their documents and that allowed them to match to the best result.

    This process is known as Neuromatching, and although it’s no new information, seeing it graphed onto a neurolinguistic “word cloud”, and hearing the explanation of why this was so, gave me a fresh perspective into where we’re heading today. 

    The Prelude

    Last year we were introduced to an expansion of exact match close variants that included same meaning variations. Using Google’s own example, the exact match keyword [yosemite camping] would now also match to queries such as “yosemite campground” and “campsites in yosemite.” It was no longer just about the keyword the user typed into the query, but also the implied meaning of what they typed.

    This was a pretty big change, which meant among other things paying much closer attention to search term reports for their exact match keywords. Some embraced this change energetically, while others were at first more hesitant as to why these changes were being made. These are just a couple of examples:

    This year we’ve been struck yet again with another change: Google is now extending same-meaning close variants to phrase match, broad match modifiers.

    The Change

    But what does all of this mean? In a nutshell, it means that broad match modifier and phrase match keywords will now also begin matching words within the search query that share the same meaning as the keyword.

    Google is broadening the results to not just the query, but rather the intent as well. With its vast work regarding ML and AI, it now stands a better ground to understand what the intent behind a query really was. 

    Using Google’s example, with broad match modifier, the keywords +lawn +mowing +service may now match to queries such as “grass cutting and gardening services” or “rates for services that cut your grass”. 

    With phrase match, the keyword “lawn mowing service” will also include queries for “grass cutting service near me” or “local lawn cutting services.” 

    The Future

    But coming back to Ben Gomes. If we look at these two changes made to keyword matching as standalone changes, they might not be as exciting as if we look at where they are coming from – and where they are headed. The purpose of Google search from day one has been to find the best way to match what the user needs, to what type of results they can offer. This new change seeks to cover all these extensions and variations.

    You can read further on how to prepare with Frederick Vallaeys’ post on 3 Things to do Before Google Changes How Keyword Match Types Work.

    Why Smart Bidding and Last-Click Attribution are a Dangerous Combination

    Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation are three trending topics in the industry today. It’s an accepted fact that automation is here to stay so it’s our job to learn how to make the most of it for our PPC accounts. In my book “Digital Marketing in an AI World”, I explain that one of the roles humans will have to play when their old job has been automated is that of the “PPC Doctor”: someone who knows the right medicine for their patient and who also understands potentially dangerous interactions. This post covers one such interaction that can lead to disastrous results in PPC.

    We’re talking here about Google Ads’ smart bidding strategies. Even though they’re designed to help advertisers reach a determined goal, they lack the human intuition for understanding how to deal with gray areas, and are prone to bad decisions when they’re fed bad data. Specifically, they can do major damage to accounts that are using last-click attribution (LCA) models.

    Understanding Last-Click Attribution Model

    Last-Click is one of the 6 different attribution models offered by Google Ads. It gives all the credit to the ad and keyword which was last clicked before a conversion.

    For example, let’s say you are advertising athletic shoes. There’s a sequence of queries done by a user that goes something like this: “Sneakers” > “Running Shoes” > “Adidas Running Shoes” and finally they search for “Ultraboost 19”. This is just a simple example to illustrate that users tend to start with broad queries and get more specific as they get to understand what it is they might want to buy.

    If your campaign is using the Last-Click attribution (LCA) model, then all the credit for the conversion will be given to the ad shown for the final query: “Ultraboost 19”, and no credit will be given to any of the queries that preceded it.

    Conversion Funnels and LCA

    So why is this so bad? When you give all the credit to the last-clicked ad/keyword, it’s like saying you don’t think there was any value to all the queries along the way that helped the user become aware and familiar with your offering. You’re assuming the user would have discovered to search for “Ultraboost 19” without having been exposed to any of your other ads. This is generally a false assumption, especially for consumers who are not very familiar with your brand and its latest offerings.

    Consumers today have more interactions than ever before with brands while researching what to buy. Brands that are not present at the earlier stages of a user’s discovery process may not be in contention to win their business later down the line.

    So using last-click attribution would mean that “Sneakers”, “Running Shoes” or “Adidas Running Shoes” are assigned no value.

    Attribution Models Inform Optimizations

    Why is it so important to assign the correct value? Doesn’t the attribution model just change the numbers in reports? The answer is ‘no,’ the attribution model populates the conversion and conversion value metrics and most account managers rely on these to decide where to allocate their budgets, where to change bids, what queries to add as keywords, and what negative keywords to add.

    This could all be okay if a human was managing all this manually. For example, while the lack of conversions for a keyword like ‘sneakers’ might normally be grounds for a bid reduction, an account manager would likely realize that they’d still want to bid for this keyword. Human judgment would win out over purely following some logical rules and the account might do fine.

    But like I said before, automation is increasingly doing more of the day-to-day account management and it lacks the human judgment that averted disaster in this scenario of an advertiser using last-click attribution.

    Smart Bidding + Last-Click Attribution

    When last-click attribution is being used, the keywords “Sneakers”, “Running Shoes” or “Adidas Running Shoes” from the example above, will be reported as non-converting, although they are still valuable keywords because they help consumers unfamiliar with your brand discover your brand’s offerings as they do their research.

    Now here’s where results can get really bad… by combining bid automation with last-click attribution. The job of automated bidding, like target CPA (tCPA) or target ROAS (tROAS) bidding from Google, is to calculate the appropriate CPC that is needed for the ad to enter the auction.

    The ‘right’ CPC is determined one of two ways:

    1. For tCPA, Google uses the predicted conversion rate to calculate CPC
    2. For tROAS, Google uses the predicted conversion value for a click to set the CPC

    But if the attribution model hasn’t been assigning conversions to upper-funnel searches, it will predict that conversion rate will be low and that the value per click will be low. So now the automated bidding system will start to reduce bids for these upper funnel keywords. And eventually bids will get so low that the ads may stop showing altogether.

    This is bad because it means you’re reducing the volume of prospects who will be exposed to your brand at earlier stages. Eventually your funnel just dries up and the only sales you’re left with are those from people who already knew your brand and products very well — the people who knew to search for “Ultraboost 19”.

    Final Thoughts

    Considering the significant risk of making bad decisions for the reasons explained above, we advise all our customers to switch away from using Last-Click attribution. If anything, simply switch to a time-decay model which is most similar to last-click while still giving some value to all stages of the funnel.

    When it comes to automations like smart bidding strategies, or automated bids using another platform, knowing how they interact with your measurement systems is an absolute must if you want to avert an account blowup.

    Key Takeaways from SMX Advanced: Automation, Measurement and The Role of PPC Pros Moving Forward

    As the Spring conference season winds down, in-the-know search marketers have a lot of fresh insight following a packed SMX Advanced in Seattle. Start-to-finish, organizers and everyone at Third Door Media hosted another powerful elite search marketing event.

    The impact of machines, artificial intelligence, data, and ongoing innovations from Google and Bing were evident across sessions this week. But it’s also clear we, as search marketers and PPC pros, still have a lot to learn and contribute in the increasingly AI-fueled universe in which we work.

    Automation & Your Role in PPC

    For one of my two presentations at SMX, I participated in a panel, “Next Generation Automation.” Core to the session, we focused on two levels of automation to consider if you want to grow your business – whether as an agency or the in-house PPC expert:

    1. Automations provided by the engines (e.g. Smart Bidding)
    2. Automations you create to streamline your in-house processes

    Not surprisingly, many PPC pros spend much more time thinking about the first level than the second. However, PPC rockstars flip that mindset and focus more time and energy on the automations they can do in concert with the built-in automations that keep expanding within Google and Bing. How your own automations interact with the big engines’ automations can set your game apart from competitors.

    Think specifically about automations that can streamline workflows. For example, you can set up workflows that automatically assign tasks to the right account managers and present the account managers with a filtered list of things to do. So the machine makes some suggestions for the person to review.

    You can also layer your automations. Think about creating a tool that monitors an automation like ‘close variant keywords’ from Google and automatically flags low performance variants, and possibly even automatically breaks these out as new keywords with lower bids or as negative keywords. This is quite easy to do in Optmyzr with the Rule Engine. No scripts required.

    The examples above just scratch the surface of what PPC pros can do with automations you can do on your own – in tandem with the expanding automations within the big engines. We explored automation through scripts earlier this year, which is always a good topic to revisit.

    SEM Keynote: Machines & Automation

    Machine learning, AI and automation were common threads through many SMX sessions, including the Tuesday keynote session that featured four top thinkers in our industry.

    Ginny Marvin was part of that keynote group. As SEL Editor-in-chief and one of the people on the 25 Most Influential PPC Experts list, Ginny has authority when she says we can’t reverse the trend of automation so we need to figure out how to coexist with it. She also gave a nice shout-out that my book “Digital Marketing in an AI World” is very topical.

    When Ginny talks about machine learning (ML), she likens it to going on an airplane flight with a toddler. When parents attempt this feat the first time, it’s typically horrible because the toddler doesn’t know how to behave and parents have unreasonable expectations – plus they didn’t buy the now-seemingly-giant toddler their own seat. The next trip, that parent takes his or her learnings and decides that buying the child his own seat will help a lot and they teach him how to behave on a plane. Before they know it, the increasingly travel-savvy parent has a teenager who’s a pleasure to fly with and who even helps carry the family bags.

    ML is much like flying with kids. You need reasonable expectations and must work hard to teach the machine what you expect of it.

    Ginny’s topic snowballed perfectly with the keynote portion by Nic Darveau-Garneau, Google’s  Chief Search Evangelist. Nic spoke extensively about how ML can only work well if you give it good goals. When possible, don’t give it proxy goals but give it the real goal you care about so it can optimize for that.

    Advertisers have grown so accustomed to measuring and optimizing everything, so they unrealistically expect EVERY click to be profitable. But the new camp of advertisers knows the focus should be on in-channel profitability, which allows the ML to figure out where to best allocate budget and set bids for the overall best performance.

    “How your own automations interact with the big engines’ automations can set your game apart from competitors.”

    Part of transitioning from the old to the new camp is to shift the expectations of your boss or client. Don’t give a keyword-by-keyword breakdown of ROAS. Instead, show them how their budget can drive profitability over the next three years. Nic laid out a beautiful vision, but I believe the PPC pro still needs to know where to optimize so those more detailed reports are useful to inform new strategies. For example, if you ignore the details of RSA performance, you won’t know that perhaps the ML is stuck because you gave it bad headline variations to choose from. As a smart PPC pro (and possibly one using the new RSA Builder from Optmyzr), you can act on these insights and help get the absolute best performance out of each channel.

    Discussing PPC Automation with Ginny Marvin

    During a rare moment of “downtime” at SMX, I appreciated the opportunity to catch up 1:1 with Ginny for an upcoming podcast. She graciously did a recorded interview with me about my book, specifically talking about how the changing role of the PPC professional as machines take over more and more of our daily tasks.

    Clearly there are opportunities for PPC pros to elevate their game and be much more strategic. The machines may seem like a threat to our roles in marketing, but as Ginny and I discussed, they actually provide great opportunity for us to get out of the weeds and the tasks and put our critical thinking, strategic minds, and our creativity to use much more effectively.

    Here’s what is really exciting: We are only scratching the surface of what machines and AI will do for our industry in the coming years. Position yourself well to ride the wave of AI-infused PPC. Don’t fear the machines. Work WITH them. After all, People + machines = always better.

    We updated this post on June 14th with a link to the podcast.

    Fred’s Book for PPC Rockstars is Out! Digital Marketing in an AI World

    The Optmyzr team is excited to see our cofounding CEO, Fred Vallaeys, publish a new book: “Digital Marketing in an AI World”. It’s now out and available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.

    Book cover of Digital Marketing in an AI World by Frederick Vallaeys and Optmyzr

    The book explores the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning – specifically how it is changing the world for PPC professionals. We see this book as a survive-and-THRIVE guide for PPC pros navigating a universe where some fear being automated right into obsolescence.

    As Fred shares in his book, the new AI era is actually a time of unprecedented opportunity for PPC pros who aspire to be PPC rockstars. We’ve been saying for a long time that machines and AI are amazing and can do things humans cannot do. But machines PLUS humans makes an even more powerful force. Fred’s book is essential for PPC pros at agencies and in-house alike.

    At the core, AI and machine learning certainly eliminate tasks and automate the tasks that should be automated. Smart PPC pros are the ones who use that automation to redirect their energy and attention to chart bold new strategies and spend more time on the strategic, human elements of marketing.

    Fred’s book is out on Amazon today at special introductory pricing. Order between now and Friday, May 31, 2019, and get the Kindle version for an introductory price of $0.99. The Kindle price returns to full retail of only $9.99 on June 1, and the paperback version is available for $15.99. �

    If you are attending SMX in Seattle, Fred will host an advanced SEM clinic, which promises to be a don’t-miss session. He’ll have copies of the book with him available for purchase (and we think he’ll even sign those copies!).

    PPC pros who want to up their game and turn uncertainty into opportunity as a PPC rockstar should invest in this book. It may very well have a transformational impact on your PPC career.

    What Was Announced at Google Marketing Live 2019

    Sitting in the front of the main keynote today, it’s clear Google Marketing Live is an essential experience for anyone who works in the PPC trenches. Let’s face it – Google Ads will continue to change at breakneck pace and introduce changes that can make or break a PPC pro’s next few months. It’s essential to stay on top of what is announced by Google at their premier event for marketers.

    This year’s event has a lot of focus around new ad experiences for users, the latest on video experiences, branding, and (of course) the mobile web and apps. We’re here to make sure the Optmyzr team is on top of the evolution to continually push powerful automation tools to help you continue to strive for PPC rockstar status. Read our tweets and see videos we took at the keynote.

    Here are some of our initial key takeaways from the day 1 keynote in San Francisco.

    New Experiences to Satisfy Consumer Expectations

    With such a huge chunk of search activity happening on smartphones, and to a lesser degree voice assistants with screens — what Google refers to as ‘surfaces’ —  consumers are increasingly interacting more with Google on smaller screens. The consumer is expecting ever-improving quality in the results – not just in terms of information received, but in the overall experience. When the screen is smaller, the information — including ads — has to be better.

    Your brand’s presence in those results (paid, in particular) is critical. The small screen is also becoming a primary content and video consumption hub for hundreds of millions of people. Google responded with the expanded offering of Shopping Ads to YouTube and Google Discover. Coming mid summer, the expanded opportunities with Shopping Ads will allow for broader distribution of immersive search ad experiences for the consumer.

    Google also announced entirely redesigned search experiences for retail and travel and both have ways to let advertisers connect with prospective new customers. Google Discover helps consumers discover must-buy products while consuming a feed. The redesigned Google Travel experience which is launching today offers ways for travel advertisers to find more buyers for experiences, hotel rooms, and flights.

    They also announced Gallery Ads, a more visual ad format for the ‘absolute top’ position ads on mobile searches.

    Smart(er) Bidding

    Of course, we’re talking one of our favorite topics! (and the Optmyzr team will be busy quickly incorporating the latest from Google). Google Ads unveiled new capabilities for smart bidding that allow PPC pros to choose desired conversion actions for optimization at the campaign level.

    Those action sets can then be applied across campaigns. Other new bidding capabilities include:

    Really cool in this is the ability to set rules that will make it easier to adapt conversion values by audience type and then fine-tune bids according to specific value.

    Insights and Information

    Machine learning and AI continue to fuel so much of the innovation coming out of Google. The company is deepening offerings that will make it easier to:

    We’re particularly keen on applying the latest from Google into the Optmyzr platform to help PPC pros connect the dots in a growing avalanche of data and insight. Being able to explain why a machine learning system made certain decisions and then using that insight across other clients will be a big win for advertisers.

    Campaign/Program Management & Measurement

    The more things get “automated” the more complex and challenging they can be. Google is introducing some interesting management functions designed to put more control in the PPC pro’s hands. Specifically, we got a glimpse into some interesting new tools & functionality, ideally to help:

    Measurement is also front and center this year. The Google team is tackling:

    Even by Google standards, the latter elements create some of the most challenging problems to solve.

    More to Come

    The topics and news coming out of Google today are far reaching and will have a huge impact on our industry throughout 2019. A small sampling of other news/topics includes:

    The Optmyzr team is on the ground here and taking in everything we can (while putting our Google roots to good use to get great front-row seats as well as networking with the Who’s Who in the land of Google for even deeper insights). Look for more detailed recaps in the days following GML, and we’ll be crafting our own solutions to help you extract the greatest value from the ever-expanding set of tools in Google.

    Google Average Position – Goodbye Old Friend :-/

    Google is finally putting the venerable Average Position metric out to pasture. It’s one of the oldest metrics on the books for PPC pros and a mainstay on client reports for many years. After all these years, did the metric really help? Maybe not that much.

    Many PPC pros have become a bit numb to changes from Google. Seems like we spend a great deal of our time just keeping up with the updates and new features they seem to constantly toss into the PPC world. And while it may seem Google is haphazard in making changes, I can tell that as a former Googler, they are very purposeful and methodical about altering our shared universe. It just isn’t always evident why they do so.

    Average Position, however, has held a place in our common PPC vernacular longer than most metrics. Yet saying goodbye to this old friend later this year really won’t be that difficult.

    AP just wasn’t all that helpful.

    Sorry.

    In this age of AI-energized PPC, Average Position has become little more than a vague barometer of conditions in a PPC program when PPC pros need actionable, granular data to make specific and smart decisions.

    AP was of rapidly diminishing value when you consider the vast amount of highly specific performance data from which we can pull.

    Google is replacing Average Position with the following more precise metrics to identify those opportunities to get more impressions at the top:

    In addition, two metrics help give critical insight into what we actually should optimize to get there (which AP never told us):

    Here’s what it will look like in your Google Ads Manager:

    You’ll be able to easily select the more exacting metrics to meet your needs and start to get much more granular as you assess strategies and determine the best optimizations.

    If you want to dig into very specific scenarios that show where the soon-to-be-retired Average Position metric could lead to confusion, check out my recent Search Engine Journal contributed post.

    In that SEJ post, we examine real-world case studies that demonstrate how these new metrics also bring new importance to the trusty old Quality Score. It’s worth a read.

    Okay…shouldn’t we just optimize impression share by adjusting bids?

    Given the greater view into Impression Share vs. Average Position with the new metrics, it could be easy for some PPC pros to jump on the “fix it by changing the bid” approach.

    Pause please.

    For an ad to appear at the top of the page, it needs to meet certain relevance and Ad Rank thresholds that are set by Google. The levels of these thresholds are not published so it can be a game of trial-and-error. It’s worth remembering, however, that Google really wants ads to be relevant, so you may need to set an exorbitantly high CPC to get an ad with low QS to move to the top of the page.

    A smarter optimization will address QS issues first, for example, by moving the low QS keyword to an ad group by itself (this is called a SKAG – single keyword ad group.) This is a good way to fix QS issues because it lets you write an ad and pick a landing page that are optimized for that unique keyword.

    Once the quality of the keyword and the ad are fixed, you may be able to gain the desired top position with a much smaller bid increase than if you’d skipped the QS optimization.

    How a PPC Pro Can Stay on Top of Things

    First, it’s important to start tapping into the new metrics that will replace the aging Average Position. AP goes into retirement in September, but it’s not really doing us much good anyway. Send our old friend a “happy retirement” card and then make the shift today. Start to understand the improved insight and how it will help you make decisions.

    Second, keep tuned in to Optmyzr. Our dev teams are always working with the never-ending changes that come from Google (and Bing – and other platforms) to automate optimizations and simplify the tasks and decisions you need to make. The more changes they create and the more they automate, the more confusing things can get for even the most advanced PPC rockstars.

    We welcome the ongoing changes in the platforms, in particular the innovations by the big search engines thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. The challenge for the practitioner in the trenches, however, is keeping up with all of these changes and integrating them into new and existing strategies, something we hope to help you with!

    What happens after Average Position is gone

    Google Ads has announced it will no longer report on ‘average position’ later this year. To learn more about this change, check out my post on Search Engine Land. Optmyzr can help make the transition smoother as one of the most frequently used original AdWords metrics sails into the sunset later this year.

     

    Average Position in Reports

    When the ‘average position’ metric disappears from all reports, Optmyzr will automatically handle this in scheduled, automated reports. Specific details will be shared as we get closer to the sunset date but we plan to make this a seamless transition for our customers.

     

    For example, any report templates that include the ‘average position’ metric will continue to work even if you don’t make any change. We will simply remove the metric that is no longer supported by Google so that your reports will continue to be delivered uninterrupted to your clients and stakeholders.

     

    Average Position in Rule Engine Recipes

    Some advertisers have used the Optmyzr Rule Engine to automate a bid-to-position strategy that relies on ‘average position.’ Rules that contain the deprecated metric will stop working when Google no longer reports average position because any comparisons will fail. In other words, if your rule says to change a bid if the average position > 2, that comparison against ‘greater than 2’ will fail so the rule will be broken.

     

    To make the transition easier, advertisers who have active rules that are impacted� will receive a notification from us as we get closer to the date in September when average position will no longer be available.

     

    Alternatives to Average Position in Automated Rules

    The Optmyzr Rule Engine can still be used to change bids (among many other things it can automate) based on position goals. Instead of using the ‘average position’, you can use one of the newer metrics like ‘Impression (Absolute Top) %’.

     

    For example, for a brand term where you’d like your ad to be in first position and appear above the organic results, you could check if the impressions at the absolute top are close to 100%. If they are not, this could be because your bid or quality score (QS) are too low. Remember Google has a top promotion threshold and if you’re below that level, even if your ad is ranked first, it won’t be eligible to show at the top of the page. So if you then find that QS is good (7 or higher), you could boost your bid to try and cross the threshold to get your ad at the top.

     

    The beauty of the Rule Engine is that you have the ultimate flexibility in turning your optimization process into an easily repeatable automation that you can deploy quickly across all your accounts. The example above is just one way to do it but our hope is that you will leverage the full power of the tool to help you manage accounts the way you like.

     

    What’s next

    Optmyzr is committed to building tools to make PPC pros more efficient and that includes making this transition to a post-average position world easier, and offering alternative ways to achieve your position-based goals. Stay tuned for more details soon.

    Google Complimentary Support: Yes? No? Maybe?

    Over the last several days, many Google Ads account owners have been getting notices from Google notifying of something the search giant is calling “complimentary campaign support.” The gist of the notification is pretty straightforward: Google Ads experts (and the powerful suite of tools at their disposal) promise to help you get more out of your ads. Essentially do nothing and you let Google take a load off your plate.

     

    Here’s a screenshot of the message from Google:

     

    The offer may be tempting. Google (and Bing – although not pertinent for this specific topic) are both making great strides automating many tasks associated with PPC, with an expressed goal of simplifying processes and enhancing performance for its advertisers.

     

    The question to ask yourself: Do you want/need to take advantage of this genuine offer from our friends at Google? If you receive the offer notice, you better decide – otherwise they automatically will start this campaign support within 7 business days. Here are three thoughts to help you decide:

     

  • We’ve covered concepts around automation at great length and we plan to continue exploring the topic throughout 2019. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are, without question, changing PPC. But should the technology take humans out of the equation? We see AI and machine learning as additive and powerful tools that yield best results when humans and machines collaborate. Google has never taken the stance that people are no longer needed.

    You need to ask yourself how much control you want to cede to the machines at this point and with this offer from Google, it’s not clear how much will be done by machines vs humans.

  • <li style="font-weight: 400;">
      <span style="font-weight: 400;">Google Ads has seemingly countless settings and levers that help PPC pros go way beyond the basics. Choosing the right ones, though, can be challenging. Your own value as a PPC rockstar is that YOU know the levers as well as your clients’ needs and human needs of the searching public. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Google’s notification, they say flat out that their team has gained knowledge from 800,000 accounts and will apply the learnings to your accounts. To us, that actually validates that experience is a huge factor. If you are using Optmyzr, you’re not a PPC newbie. YOU provide the value. Tools in Google and those in Optmyzr give you your powers to manage accounts efficiently, but you bring the expertise from having done this for many other campaigns. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></p> 
      
      <p>
        </span></li> 
        
        <li style="font-weight: 400;">
          <span style="font-weight: 400;">Ask yourself which human will be in charge? Will it be YOU or a Google person. I’m not knocking Google’s team at all. They truly do know their stuff. But do they know your business, your clients and your audience the way you do? </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">This offer from Google seems geared more toward those in PPC who perhaps lack the time, knowledge and experiences to strategically run PPC programs. We recommend you keep the reigns for now. Let others commoditize their PPC. You have even greater opportunity to stand out as the PPC rockstar that you are. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></p> 
          
          <p>
            </span></li> </ol> 
            
            <p>
              <span style="font-weight: 400;">We do see Google’s offer as legitimate and well-intended. In fact, it may be just the ticket for lesser PPC pros to help them get through their day. As you’ll hear from us throughout 2019, though, the AI- and machine learning-driven automation we’re seeing from Google (and Bing) are really about removing tasks and simplifying processes. All of that is great for really smart PPC pros to spend more energy and time on strategy, creative and other critical elements to blast past competitors. </span>
            </p>
            
            <p>
              &nbsp;
            </p>
            
            <p>
              <span style="font-weight: 400;">Keep your PPC programs in your control. Use the tools at your disposal, but be the one to lead your PPC initiatives to new heights in 2019. Keep this all in mind if you get the offer for complimentary campaign support. </span>
            </p>
            
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    Improve your Shopping Campaign’s performance by leveraging Campaign Priorities

    Shopping campaigns are managed very differently from Search and Display campaigns. � In this series of posts, we’ll address some of the most important differences and share best-practice strategies based on what we’ve heard from our customers.

    One of these strategies is to set Campaign Priorities, to prioritize the products you want to highlight or sell more of.

    What are Campaign Priorities?

    Campaign priorities in Google Ads are used to select the bid when a product is advertised through multiple campaigns. Though every new shopping campaign is automatically created on “low priority” as a default setting, you can modify this and set your campaigns to either high, medium or low priority.

    Keep in mind that campaign priorities are not the same as using negatives, as you aren’t driving or excluding traffic, but rather giving first or second priority for participation in auctions.

    Priority levels outweigh the bid amount at auction time, so if a campaign on high priority has a lower bid than a campaign on medium priority, the high priority campaign’s bid will be used. In another case, if multiple campaigns have the same priority, then the campaign with highest bid is the one that will be used in the auction.

    Note that budget issues can cause the priorities to be ignored. For example, if the highest priority campaign runs out of budget, then the bid from the runner-up in terms of priority levels will be used.

    Campaign priorities are mostly useful when you’re advertising the same product, for the same country, in multiple Shopping campaigns.

    Strategies Using Campaign Priorities

    Prioritize Best Sellers for Generic Searches

    Campaign priorities can be used to give first participation in auction for a campaign with your best sellers, or a campaign with the products you want to prioritize or highlight in appearing.

    To avoid your shopping ads showing up for unqualified searches you can make your campaigns “compete smarter”, as detailed on this CPC Strategy article. �

    As an example, let’s say your inventory contains a variety of wireless speakers. You have different brands and models, but the Bose Minilink II and the JBL Flip speakers are your best-selling items. And as best sellers, you want to make sure that they have first participation in auction upon a generic “wireless speakers” search.

    The way to do this would be to create a campaign for best-sellers and include the Bose Minilink II and the JBL Flip speakers, and then set the priority of this campaign to “High Priority”. This doesn’t exclude any campaigns from participating, it just helps you define where you first want to place the bid from.

    Prioritize Flighted Budgets

    Another case would be to use campaign priorities to spend flighted or seasonal budgets before spending evergreen budgets. Say you are creating a winter campaign which runs on a specific budget and focuses on winter clothing items only. One of the products in this campaign is a jacket, which is also included in the outdoor apparel campaign that runs year-round.

    Considering the winter campaign has its own specific budget, you can make sure that budget is used first, before that of the outdoor apparel campaign. To do this, you’d set the winter campaign on a high priority, and the outdoor apparel campaign with a medium or low priority.

    Bid Less for Generic Searches and More for Product Searches

    Somewhat counterintuitively, CPCs for generic queries tend to run higher than those for specific product searches. Here’s an illustration of that effect from Andreas Reiffen and Crealytics:

    The higher the bid, the more one word (generic) queries the ad is shown for.

    This is generally bad because generic searches tend to happen long before the conversion. The more specific, multi-word queries tend to immediately precede the sale. So ROAS focused advertisers will want to bid more for specific queries and less for generic queries but that’s the opposite of what happens when you have just one campaign for your products.

    A strategy that lets you bid more for specific product searches involves a mix of campaign priorities, different bids, and different negative keywords. Kirk Williams wrote a detailed step-by-step article on the benefits of setting up an SKU-level shopping strategy.

    This strategy was pioneered by Martin Roettgerding. Here’s how it works:

    So for the Generic Campaign, the one that is supposed to attract clicks for the most generic queries related to what you sell, you set a high priority, low bids and add negative keywords for the brands and product names. Now if a branded search happens, the high priority campaign is skipped because it has a negative brand keyword so the medium campaign will pick up the traffic with a reasonable bid.

    If you’ve tried some of these techniques or explored others that leverage shopping campaign priorities, let us know. We’d love to feature your story in an upcoming blog post.

    How Keyword Match Types Work With Close Variants (2018)

    Keyword match types have long existed as a way for advertisers on Google and Bing to define how closely a user’s query has to match a keyword before it can trigger an ad to show.

    Match types allow advertisers to either tightly control exactly what searches their ads may appear for (through exact match keywords) or to give a lot of control to Google’s Machine Learning to decide when the ad might be relevant to a search, even if it doesn’t contain any of the words in the keyword (through broad match keywords).

    Because Google says that approximately 15% of searches that happen every day are unique (i.e. that same query has not been seen in the past 90 days), they believe that advertisers who restrict their keywords too much will miss out on a lot of relevant traffic. Their point is valid.

    At the same time, broad match has a reputation for sometimes being a bit too quick to show ads and causing irrelevant clicks and that has led some advertisers to stop using broad match all together. While they’re more in control, they miss significant opportunities, and Google is missing the opportunity to monetize.

    Close Variants

    So Google started to look for a solution and in 2014� they introduced the notion of ‘close variants’. In a 2017� update, ‘close variants’ were updated and by then could encompass plurals, singulars, misspellings, stemmings, or the addition or removal of function words.

    Keywords of ANY match type can be mutated through the ‘close variant’ algorithm. Through this change, advertisers can benefit from a tightly controlled exact match keyword without needing to add additional exact match keywords for very minor variations, i.e. close variants.

    2018 Close Variant Update

    In the most recent 2018 update, close variants were again redefined and they can now behave in one of 2 ways depending on the match type:

    For any positive keyword type, except ‘exact’, a close variant can be:

    1. A typo
    2. The plural or singular
    3. A stemming
    4. The word with function words added or removed

    For exact match keywords, close variants can be all the above PLUS one more:

    1. A string that indicates the same intent

    Think of a close variant as the ability for Google to take any string of words in your keyword and replace it with one of the variations described above. If that new keyword is eligible to show an ad in the match type chosen by the advertiser, the keyword will enter the ad auction.

    There is one further change that is worth noting. The word order in exact match keywords used to matter. In the 2017 close variant update, word order for exact matches could be changed.

    Because match types are more complicated to understand due to the existence of close variants, we’ve created a table to explain how match types work as of the launch of the October 2018 close variant update.

    Close Variant AdWords Script

    We’ve also created a free AdWords Script that will help you do an analysis of how close variants are impacting your account. Simply copy-and-paste this into a single account’s AdWords Scripts section and run it to get a Google Sheet showing how your keywords have been changed by close variants.

    Get the script here:

    Watch our instruction video on how to use the script:

    Close Variant Automated Rule

    Subscribers of Optmyzr can also try our Predefined Recipe in the Rule Engine called “Close Variant Performance for Exact Match Keywords” to get a similar report. This predefined recipe can easily be updated to automatically add negative keywords if the query proves to be significantly underperforming the underlying keyword.

    Google Marketing Live: Automation & AI = Smarter/Easier Google Advertising

    Google Marketing Live just wrapped up this week in San Jose, clearly laying out the path for search marketers and business owners alike. Now in its fifth year, Google Marketing Live has grown in size and sophistication. It’s essential that search marketers pay close attention to what happens at Live.

    I had the great opportunity to spend time at the epicenter of the event, alongside friends and former colleagues from my days at Google. Reconnecting with so many amazing Googlers is always an invigorating time, professionally and personally. Google upped the game with an on-site experience on par with, or better than, major network TV events, including a slick live video stream for those attending online.

    [Google Marketing Live prep][1]
    Prepping with Ali for live post-keynote analysis

    My main takeaways from Live 2018 – machine learning, AI and automation continue to be among the most powerful forces simplifying search marketing today. On the surface, search marketers could understandably fear being automated right into unemployment, but the advancements occurring in this space actually open new opportunities for advanced marketers IF they stay ahead of the game.

    Advertising that works for everyone

    Marketing Live keynoter,� Google’s SVP for Ads Sridhar Ramaswamy, cemented the theme “advertising that works for everyone” by spelling out core opportunities and challenges for businesses. Today’s reality, people want help in the moment, where they are and on their terms. Search makes it possible for them to find answers to immediate questions or needs, 1:1, no matter where they are.

    But search advertising also has to work for the advertisers. Solving problems is a two-way street. People need assistance in the moment. Advertisers can remedy those problems and drive new business for themselves. During Marketing Live, it was clear that Sridhar and the rest of the Google team continue to work toward ensuring that advertising works for everyone.

    Three critical things stood out to me during Marketing Live this week:

    I encourage you to invest 90 minutes this week to watch the entire keynote along with post-keynote analysis featuring Google experts Matt Lawson, VP of Ads Marketing, and Ali Miller, Group Product Manager for Video Ads, and me. We dug deep into the keynote to help the livestream audience get even more value out of the event. I think you’ll find it of great interest as we move through 2018 and start seeing Google’s latest innovations come to life.

    [][3]
    Google Marketing Live demo hall

    In the meantime, here are a few key takeaways that really stood out to me after spending 2+ days at the event. Context for PPC experts like you, continually adapting to a shifting playing field:

    Automation is good

    There’s no way to stop the innovation we are seeing today. Automation is not futuristic anymore. It’s here and it IS happening. Smart PPC experts (like you) see opportunity instead of threat. Automation is happening most profoundly at the solution level to eliminate tasks and process. The PPC experts who will lead in this new era are those who will invest time to stay on top of the latest innovations and learn how to put them together to create great campaigns.

    We will always need people with smarts & intellect to visualize, strategize, run tests, think through the nuances, and make amazing things happen in PPC and search overall.

    Final note: AdWords is dead

    Okay, that subhead is the storytelling equivalent to clickbait. The statement is true, though, because we all need to purge “AdWords” from our vocabulary. Sridhar talked about it during his keynote, as did other Googlers during Marketing Live. Google AdWords is now officially known more simply as “Google Ads.”

    After spending time at Google Marketing Live, it’s clear the search giant is making great strides unifying its advertising offerings as a cohesive set of channels. Google Ads becomes the umbrella for search, display, YouTube – with structure and services that allow a more integrated approach and helping advertisers become more of an assistant to the user.

    Consider the theme for this week’s event, “advertising that works for everyone.” Customers, businesses, agencies alike. We all benefit when we (PPC pros and search marketers) get it right. So immerse yourself in the new innovations from Google. Doing so will help you maintain relevance for a long time to come.

    What is the new Cross-Network in AdWords?

    AdWords recently introduced a new type of shopping campaign – Goal-based Shopping Campaigns. These are similar to Universal App campaigns and are completely automated. To start a goal-based shopping campaign, all you need to do is link your merchant center account, set a budget, upload products, and let Google know your country of sale. You don’t have any control over the bids or the campaign structure. Google will show shopping ads across networks based on your goal. With this new shopping campaign type, Google snuck in a new type of network which shows up as cross-network in reports.

    Goal-based shopping campaigns show product shopping ads on Google as well as on display. The campaign also includes remarketing ads and ads to similar audiences. Ads from these campaigns are eligible to appear on Google Search, Display, Gmail, and YouTube.

    Cross-Network in AdWords

    When you segment data by networks in AdWords, you’ll see a new network type called cross-network. This will only have data if you’re running the new goal-based shopping campaigns. As of today, if you’re not running goal-based shopping campaigns, you won’t see data under this network. However, this may change if Google introduces additional campaign types that are fully automated. In all there are now six different network types available in AdWords. Based on the kind of campaign you’re running, you can get traffic from one or more networks.

    Networks vs. Campaign Types

    AdWords segments data in two ways – Advertising Channel/Campaign Type (Search, Shopping, Display, Video, App) and Networks (Google Search, Search Partners, Google Display Network, YouTube Search, YouTube Videos, Cross-network). There is some overlap between the two which sometimes causes confusion. The biggest difference between networks and channels is that networks are the mediums or properties on which ads are shown whereas, campaign types or channels refer to the type of ads that are shown.

    One campaign type can show ads across different networks. For example, search is an advertising channel as well as a network. However, when you look at Google search as a network, it includes data from both regular search campaigns and shopping campaigns because ads from both campaign types can show on the search network. When you select search as a campaign type/channel (All campaigns) from the left menu in your AdWords account you’ll see data for multiple networks. This is because ads from search campaigns can show on Google Search, Search Partners, and YouTube search. They can also show on the Google Display Network if you’re running search display select campaigns.

    In AdWords, when you select a campaign type on the left (Search, Shopping, Display…) it selects the advertising channel/campaign type and not the network. Understanding the difference between networks and channels becomes important when you’re running different types of campaigns.

     

    Are you using AdWords Broad Match Modifier in the right way?

    Broad match modifier (BMM): This match type is a relatively new entrant and lies in between broad and phrase match. It gives more control than broad match and more freedom than phrase match. It works by adding a ‘+’ sign in front of words in a keyword phrase when the match type is selected as broad. For the keyword to match, the words that have the ‘+’ sign in front of them should be present in the search query. The order of the keywords doesn’t matter. Unlike broad match, modified broad match won’t show your ad for synonyms or related searches which gives a higher level of control. Also, unlike phrase match the order of the words in the search query is not important which gives more flexibility. For example, if your keyword is +women’s +shoes it’ll match women’s shoes, women’s black shoes and buy women’s red shoes. However, it will not match ladies shoes because the word women’s is missing from the search query.

    How should you use it?

    Put the ‘+’ sign only in front of the words that are important and define your product. If your keyword phrase has 3+ words in it and each of them has a ‘+’ sign in front of it then it is as good as phrase match. For example, if your keyword is buy strappy black women’s shoes, the words that are important are black women’s shoes so the BMM keyword would be buy strappy +black +women’s +shoes. If you put a ‘+’ sign in front of all the words +buy +strappy +black +women’s +shoes it’ll mean that all the five words need to be present in the search query for the keyword to match which makes it as good as a phrase match keyword. The probability that someone will search for all these five words in a single search query is quite low which restricts traffic.