Blog categories

PPC Town Hall 31: Expectations for PPC in 2021

It’s 2021, and whether you’re a marketer or an agency, you would be preparing for yet another thrilling year of PPC. Right from the start, you need to be aware of the newest trends and features in paid marketing to leverage your PPC game. And that means you need to know of any curveballs that might come your way. In 2020, we saw experts deep-diving into topics like automation, privacy issues, and keywords, which we might be discussing more of the same this year as well.

To get a better perspective of what to expect in the coming months, we invited over some of the smartest minds of PPC and asked for their insights. Our panelists this week are some of your favorite experts from conferences like SMX, shedding light on what they expect from PPC in 2021.

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

Here are 5 insights on what to expect from PPC in 2021.

1. RSAs vs ETAs

Brad: According to our data, we’ve seen more people trying out RSAs than Optmyzr users. We also see that a lot of people who still have them, have shrunk their usage. I’ve done a little bit of segmentation (since we did our session at SMX) on spending and account size versus declining RSA usage. And it’s definitely the smaller accounts that have declined their usage much less than the larger ones. We have seen that those who spend half a million to a million, plus have decreased usage more than those who spent 10-20 thousand dollars a month.

For a lot of these people, it’s more about results than getting that control. They don’t care if you’re a lead gen company. You may spend 10 million a month but in the end, you care about results.

Ginny: My question on it comes back to what are ‘results’? If we’re strictly looking at conversion rate or cost per conversion, then I can see where ETAs are often going to win. I’m wondering if advertisers might be looking at RSAs to open themselves up for more impression inventory. So is that a factor where people are considering more exposure than focusing on conversion rate?

Matt: In a lot of cases, you actually don’t have enough data for RSA to really even get their wheels spinning. It’s a multivariate type of testing and so often times we see that decisions are being made too quickly on winners and losers.

2. Identifying your business signals

Ginny: Having your own business signals mixed in with data you provide to the machine is becoming really critical now. This is where the real leverage can come, particularly the competitive leverage over your competitive sets. In order for people and businesses to identify their own business signals, they need to do some real analysis and investment, which takes a lot of digging. And then being able to present this in a way that can actually be used.

So the real question is, do advertisers keep pushing businesses to give more inputs even when some might want to keep that data to themselves rather than sharing it with Google? If yes, can we anonymize it and ensure that those inputs work within the algorithms.

3. Giving Google the right data and goals

Matt: Instead of fighting Google, let’s focus on giving them the right goals. One of our focuses will be feeding the data to the machine. And I think we’re actually going back to really seminal work in the whole web UX and web design area. If you look at Google Analytics, it’s moving away from discrete real things to events and connections that sort of represent proxies like scroll time or time on page. What I’d like to see is combinatorial data that would allow us to combine scroll depth and time on page, multimodally. How do we build up signals from the site we’ve got and trigger events that we can feed back to our bidding?

Our goal this year is to take a look at how we can understand what behaviors on the site represent good proxies to the next sort of actions. We also want to give those signals a little bit more attention, feed them, and try to develop audiences out of them.

4. Importance of setting up clean conversion

Brad: This is more important now than in the past because with all the privacy things happening, you doing your own data or attribution modeling is going to be essential. Even from a basic standpoint of modeling, you need to get it right because the privacy changes are going to mess up the data inside some of your platforms. Just to do some basic analysis, you actually need to have it yourself now and can’t rely on the platforms to give it to you because they’re not gonna have all the data they had previously.

5. 2021 Predictions

Brad: I will argue that as soon as Google removes keywords, their revenues decline significantly. Out of every advertising method out there, the intent of a search for someone saying ‘I want this’ is the strongest signal in advertising. It’s better than any programmatic, any audience or any other advertising methods. If people don’t get to use keywords for targeting, they might think of going programmatic.

Matt: I think that while Google may never take away keywords, they’ll definitely stop paying attention to what we’re actually telling them with our match-types. And I think that if you look at the loss of search query data may be Google feeding its AI and learning on all of our dimes! And they’re saying we don’t care what we [advertisers] know, they’re going to let their machines run wild, and decide for themselves what’s working or not!

Ginny: We still have some agency in all of this. I think we need to start using the machines in ways that they were meant to help us. And while they aren’t going to get it right all the time, we should be present to guide it. This is where your own data is going to be helpful. If you come in with a campaign that has been a disaster, all that data is not useful. For example, if you’ve set your campaign on broad match and end up reaching attorneys in Palm Beach when you actually run a hair salon, that data is useless. All of this can be avoided if you educate yourself and be an invested marketer. So much about this year is still going to be based on fundamentals.

Conclusion

Let’s face it - doing PPC in any year is tricky.

What with Google introducing changes, paid marketers need to leverage on every new trend that comes their way. Working along with the machine, feeding it good usable data, and relying on automation to boost your business goals might go a long way for PPC pros in 2021. To set yourselves apart from your competitors, consistently optimize your campaigns, utilize new tools, and look to expert strategies by industry leaders to pave your way to success.

PPC Town Hall 29: Revamping Outdated PPC Strategies

One thing that we’ve learned about search in the past year is that we all need solid PPC strategies that account for all sorts of change. With all the automation that’s coming from Google, whether it’s smart shopping, smart bidding, or seasonality bid adjustments, it’s important to automate, optimize, and intervene our way to success. And what better way to understand the way forward than to ask some of the smartest minds of PPC.

Our panelists this week are among PPC Hero’s most influential paid search experts of 2020. and they shared their tips and experiences on working around outdated PPC strategies.

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

Here are 7 insights on revamping outdated PPC strategies.

1. Thoughts on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Aaron: On our side, we saw that Black Friday was bigger than usual while Cyber Monday was slower than usual. It logically makes sense as on Balck Friday, everybody has a need to go bargain hunting, and that pent-up demand has shifted to online this year. Everyone thought Cyber Monday was kind of quiet because it’s the same as it has always been.

Kirk: We saw the same thing as Aaron [in a higher volume Black Friday than Cyber Monday this year, but we’ve heard others saying things a bit differently. It makes a lot of sense that the past weekend was a bit quiet as a lot of people were running sales earlier than normal. They had a Black Friday week-long or even month-long sale in November. Because of the earlier sale season, we saw consumers buying earlier than usual. So in some way what we saw in our numbers was that Black Friday was the main event, and Cyber Monday less so.

One of the reasons for this earlier shopping season is concern over shipping and delays. Because of this earlier-extended shopping season, we saw more out-of-stock products, more sales that went quicker this year.

Joe: While Black Friday was definitely much bigger than Cyber Monday and much earlier. For us in general, Black Friday was lower than expected but the entire month of November was higher than expected. Some stuff was reactionary to competitors starting early which was in the first-second week of November.

2. An unusual year for PPC

Aaron: At Tinuiti, we tend to work with larger data sets to focus on larger enterprise clients. So Smart Bidding in general tended to work pretty well for us. But one of the things that I always pick on Smart Bidding for is that it has too short of a memory. This Holiday season was one of those scenarios where that’s really valuable because it didn’t try to base itself off of what happened last year. We used seasonality adjustments pretty religiously for most of our clients. For example, if noon was a really popular time, we’d start tweaking our seasonality adjustments leading up to it and down after.

3. Using different shopping strategies

Kirk: We try to use a combination of both Standard and Smart. We constantly test them, see what’s working and what’s not. I’m always trying to figure out a better strategy to work for both Standard and Smart. With Standard, you get more of that control where you can give the system-specific search terms, which we’re focused on (even if they’re not always converting) as valuable information for brands.

Sometimes, we’d duplicate products or try something with the feed to get stuff in the upper funnel queries that might not be specific to one product. Smart shopping is not just on search but display, Youtube, and all that, so rather than be frustrated that we can’t control the search terms, we’re trying to figure out a way to group products around the ad content itself to emphasize specific call-outs in those Smart Shopping Ads for that specific group of products.

Joe: As I said earlier, our Black Friday started earlier than normal and our seasonality bidding was kind of thrown out of the window of what we expected to do. Since I work with smaller clients with very niche products (sometimes higher-ticket type item products). We understand that those really aren’t necessarily impulse-buys. So, we’re looking at the time of day, understanding that it’s gonna take multiple touchpoints for a user to buy this product. If we hit them enough with discovery, Google, and social initially, then we’re seeing that they later go back (late night hours) to purchase. We’re seeing a better performance as we’re adjusting the different schedules and updating how we want to boost our bidding and performance.

4. Converting digital newbies & feeding data to the system

Aaron: Something we’ve seen in the last six or so months, I’ve somewhat abandoned call to action. But giving turn-by-turn directions to these people who aren’t digitally native seems to work. You can tell them where to click, enter their details, make the purchase and know when it’s gonna get delivered or opt to come and pick-up yourself.

When you have data like shipping or pick-up preferences, you’ve to use it sensibly. It varies a lot depending on clients because it partially depends on cost and revenue centres as well. So maybe the digital team isn’t incentivized to drive people to the store and so we want to discourage it. But for those clients who are a bit more holistic, we’d look into the feeds and coach the bid tools to do what we want. For example, we see that for a certain demographic, this particular set of terms or ads tends to convert better as in-store pick-ups rather than a standard e-com shipping. Then we’d take that group, pivot it, and tell Smart Bidding that we want more store visits to set that group. The rest can be taken towards the more conventional way.

5. Get your messaging right in Responsive Search Ads

Joe: We utilize the pin option just to make sure that certain elements of the messaging show. It’s something that we definitely consider when we’re mapping it out. We will show it in front of clients too. We ask them if it really helps to add all these variations if four of them pretty much say the same thing. Google’s definitely gonna flag it, prompting you to add more keywords into your headlines.

Honestly, we’ve played around with what actually makes sense and that’s where we kind of focus on value prop. Maybe I’ll pin the first keyword which made more sense to the product type and then look at testing the other ones. Slowly, I’ve come to like RSAs. While they didn’t really work for me that well in the beginning, the more I see them working they are getting better. We’ve seen RSAs work pretty well with grants accounts by boosting impressions quickly.

6. Looking towards automation

Kirk: We’re looking more and more into automation to solve our problems. The whole idea of Google leaning hard into automation can be quite frustrating for PPC marketers like us who have been running things for a while. I may have practiced and learned something for over a decade, and then due to a specific change, I can find myself at the same level as an intern in my knowledge of the thing that changed. But the flip side of this frustration is – there’s an evolution that needs to happen in PPCers, too. We need to adapt to the system. And with automation at ZATO, we’re trying to think of reinventing the way we think about campaign structure and other things.

Specifically in thinking about broad match keywords, we’ve started testing things giving Google control over Target ROAS bidding, few very tightly controlled broad match keywords where everything else is excluded. We’re treating this less in terms of ‘what we want to get from this campaign in specific tracked ROAS’ and more of giving Google guidelines and then freedom for reaching the upper-funnel.

7. How do we structure our campaigns?

Aaron: When we think of structuring our campaigns in the present scenario, we’ve to look at conversion runways. If you think about Smart Bidding on its most practical level, it largely looks at the expected conversion rate. The way forward should start with the question – what do we expect from this group of people to do.

Talking about Skags and keywords, if the intent is fundamentally different then we’ll split it out. If not we’ll compress. We all know how Google is pushing towards consolidation and we’re establishing runways for the automation to make the right decisions. So we essentially split the groups out based on audience, demographic, keyword, or interaction. You don’t want to shrink data to the point where you’re making bad assumptions.

Conclusion

While automation has helped PPCers focus more on the strategic part of marketing, it has left us with little to control. With Google constantly introducing changes in 2020, it might be time to recondition the earlier approaches to get an edge over the competition. This is where all the expert advice and recommendations come into play by supporting marketers to operate in the periphery of the system and still manage it for better results.

Now more than ever, PPC marketers and strategists need to come together to figure out how to advance in the paid search industry. It might not be a bad idea to make use of efficient software systems, like Optmyzr, to track, manage, and optimize your campaigns. Try and experience our capabilities yourself by signing up for our 14-day free trial. You get full access to all our features – credit card free!

PPC Town Hall 28: Optimizing Smart Bidding with Google

Over the past few years, marketers have seen Smart Bidding evolve with Google’s machine learning. In fact, it seems to be a way into the future of advertising by making the best use of AI and data to provide intelligent campaign adjustments. But while Smart Bidding does automate tedious tasks of PPC ad management and save time, it’s far from a ‘set it & forget it’ mentality. To make the most of it, advertisers need to monitor and optimize to get the best results for their campaigns.

So this week on Episode 28 of PPC Town Hall, we invited our friends from Google to discuss Smart Bidding campaigns and shed light on tactics for optimization.

Our panelists for the week:

You can receive the exclusive Smart Bidding guide from Optmyzr and Google by signing up here! You can also view previous editions of PPC Town Hall right here.

Without further delay, here are the 6 insights to understanding and optimizing Smart Bidding campaigns.

Emi: What we see today is really the evolution of machine learning. I think machine learning is getting smarter with people getting more comfortable using and leveraging it to the next level for better results. We search so differently compared to what we did three years ago. In fact, 15% of queries on google.com are new every day. That means there are tonnes of queries that Google misses as well. So, we really have to depend on Machine learning to capture maximum potential with search.

As machine learning gets smarter, the data that marketers provide is really going to be the key to be competitive and achieve your goals. Not from the CPA perspective, but broader profitability and customer lifetime value.

2. Analyzing Smart Bidding signals

Peter: Google looks at billions of signals to set the bid for every auction. We’re monitoring a bunch of different things more than just the signals, like the intersection of these signals. A lot of the things that we used to optimize manually like devices, day of week, time, location, all the different keywords, etc are now being taken care of for Smart Bidding. But there are some tactics which you can use to inform Smart Bidding what are the right ways you can treat some of these things.

Emi: So this is a recent performance review using selected US accounts. When we looked at the data, Smart Bidding outperformed Manual Bidding across most of the spend buckets on Optmyzr accounts.

A lot of people should take advantage of Smart Bidding regardless of the budgets (look at the right-hand side of the chart – ‘under 500 budget’). And we see significant performance even in smaller budgets as well as larger ones (above 50k).

3. Optimizing Discovery campaigns

Peter: I have seen some very strong results with Discovery campaigns for certain advertisers. For example, I worked with a real-estate partner who was seeing better results in Discovery campaigns than in Search!

If you’re having issues with the returns and getting conversions, make sure that you’re setting the CPAs properly. Setting up unrealistic CPAs that do not represent your goals can hamper your account health. And then there’s also the flipside. If you look at our audiences to whom we are comfortable suggesting Discovery Ads, you’ll see that the daily budget recommended is about 20 times the target CPA. So, if you have a tighter budget, I’d recommend maybe doing 10 times the target CPA.

That being said, I have seen success at a lower CPA. But if you have a smaller budget, I wouldn’t be actively recommending Discovery Ads to you. Layering on audience lists like remarketing and customer matching might help you see more successful results.

Emi: We have seen a pretty good performance in the use cases with Discovery campaigns, even for a first-time mid-sized account. So I would encourage marketers to keep looking into why they aren’t giving you a good performance. In terms of how long, usually we test for a week and then we regroup with the customers, and keep doing this. So one week at a time.

4. Common mistakes advertisers make with Smart Bidding

Start making sure what goals your Smart Bidding campaign will be optimizing and those goals align with what you’re trying to achieve. I have seen people set a Max Conversions strategy on a campaign that was spending half of its budget. We didn’t see any positive results CPA-wise as Max Conversions doesn’t necessarily focus on optimizing your CPA. It looks towards getting you as many conversions as possible within your budget. And if you’re spending only half of your budget, we don’t necessarily know whether that incremental conversion will come at a CPA that aligns with your historical ones.

The other thing is the target that we set. I would advise looking into your optimization score recommendations in the front-end to see what we are recommending there. You’ll probably want to start by setting a target in line with what you’re historically performing at. If you’re historically performing at a CPA of $100 and if you switch that down to $50, you can massively end up throttling the number of conversions and sales you were getting.

Just because we don’t want to necessarily start with Smart Bidding on the exact Target CPA, doesn’t mean we can’t get there. Start with where you’re historically performing at and slowly adjust to get where you want to be.

5. Structuring a Smart Bidding campaign with segmentation

Peter: When we segment our campaigns, Smart Bidding can actually take data and learn from the performance that’s happening throughout the account. While you don’t need to segment everything, if you do end up breaking up your campaigns, Smart Bidding will be able to learn from the performance of the campaigns. The only thing that I’ll caution about is to break down to the point where there isn’t a lot of conversion volume in each individual campaign. On top of that, if you have a Target ROAS or Target CPA that your campaigns aren’t able to meet, that’s something to watch out for.

If you put more constraints on the targets and segment the campaigns, you could end up throttling your campaigns altogether.

6. Marketing as a holistic approach

Emi: We think that a marketer can play a bigger role in PPC marketing than just making strategies or directing CPC. We look at a marketer as a growth engine for the company. Strategic points like profitability and value of customers can help bring value to your work and your business. I would really encourage everyone to think more than just PPC, think of how you can bring that value to your company and leverage for more growth.

Conclusion

Fred: When you start with something, like Smart Bidding, it’s better not to shock the system and be extremely aspirational. Machine learning functions on how things have worked consistently in the past. Even if you set up higher targets, it might take a while for the system to get you there. But at the end of the day, to achieve the target you really want, it all comes down to you, the advertiser, to set up the prerequisites and feed in impressionable data. You can add a lot of value to your ongoing campaigns by not taking bidding as something that just happens by itself.

Seasoned PPC professionals make use of efficient bid management tools, like Optmyzr, to keep their accounts top-notch and optimize your bids. Try and experience our capabilities yourself by signing up for our 14-day free trial.

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. 

PPC Town Hall 26: Foolproofing your Business with PPC Automation

Ever since Google introduced a whole bunch of changes, things have been changing very fast in PPC. Taking away search query data, making it harder to create expanded text ads, doing more and more automated bidding, etc., is only making us unsure of the future of search marketing. 

With the rising number of roadblocks that Google is putting in front of us, marketers need to be ready to overcome anything that the search giant throws at us. The question of the hour is: How much more can Google automate and change the way that we as PPC professionals go about business? 

So this week on Episode 26 of PPC Town Hall, I wanted to talk to two industry specialists who have worked with a lot of accounts and have faced the implications of the changes in search marketing and automation.

Our panelists for the week:

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

Here are the top 6 insights from this week’s PPC Town Hall on navigating the future of PPC automation.

1. How to optimize Google’s tax?

Martin:** __**Some countries have started to raise the Digital Services Tax from Google. Now, Google intends to pass that on to advertisers. For example, for ads being shown in Austria and Turkey Google will add 5% to your invoice. This is tricky because it won’t show up in any of your regular KPI’s. Your costs and CPC’s in the interface will seem unaffected. This makes it easy to miss – which is probably the intention.

There’s a reason why you’ve decided on a certain bid or budget. In order to account for the new tax, you’ll have to lower your bids or budget by about 5%. Then you’ll end up paying the same as before. Of course, Google would rather have you pay the same amount to them and then the additional 5% in taxes, which is probably why they have little incentive to help us with this.

2. Taxes and Geo locations

Martin: Digital services taxes depend on where the advertising cost occurs. For example, if someone in the UK clicks an ad, a 2% tax charge will be added to the cost of that click. The problem here is that there’s a difference between the location of interest and user location. If you target the U.S. then that can include people elsewhere if Google somehow identifies the U.S. as their location of interest.

There used to be an easy way to evaluate physical user locations. That has been removed. Standard location reports no longer include physical location. In fact, Google got rid of any mention that there might be a difference between physical location and location of interest.

You can still get the data, though – it’s just less convenient. Google also removed the pre-defined report from its report editor, but you can still create your own from scratch. So while the data is no longer present front-and-center, you can still get it.

Brady: Let’s take the example of businesses dealing with ‘New York Pizza’. This is a specific style of pizza that practically anyone can search about. While the local pizza shops of New York have been capturing people around the world looking up for New York Pizza, the location settings in the user interface don’t show this happening. As a result, a lot of these small pizza places now could gain a UK tax or something without any idea why.

To find this specific information about locations, go to

Reports → Custom and build your own report.

If you search ‘user locations’ in your report, you’ll find all of the user location option that you can place within the rows of your report.

3. Managing accounts with less search data

Brady: We’re seeing a struggle for low volume accounts. So for accounts where you can spend every day digging into the search term reports, read them, and make decisions based on your finding, we are seeing a lot of frustration. 

When it comes to high volume accounts, I think it makes things like n-grams even more relevant. With access to less data, n-gram reports can help you find trends within the data set you have and make decisions accordingly.

4. Functioning with Google ‘roadblocks’

Brady: I’m not fully against these changes. In a handful of our campaigns, we do full broad keyword targeting paired with Target CPA, and it does fairly well. Looking at our search terms, we see that some of them are non-branded solution-based terms, while some are comparing our solution vs other competitors, and some are comparing between other competitors altogether. But, at the end of the day, the cost per conversion, and MQL, are pretty good.

When it comes to B2B software marketing, we’re really looking at an LTV/ CAC model. So modeling that out for both Google Ads and other channels, and helping the clients on that level is something we’re moving towards. With a higher level of automation, we would have time to focus on stuff like landing pages optimization, A/B testing, new offers, and analyzing the competition.

5. Shifting agencies and business goals while working with the same black box by Google

Martin: With Google doing everything with these black box campaigns like smart shopping, discovery, or local campaigns, it becomes more and more important to make sure that their systems have the right data to go on. This is also an important field for agencies and advertisers to set themselves apart from the crowd.

One way to do that is to further evolve conversion tracking. For the last ten or so years, everyone has focused on revenue. Before that, it was about conversions. The future is about margins and profit instead of revenue. Beyond that, there’s customer lifetime value. And just as important is incrementality – although that is something that you probably can’t expect much help from the platforms.

Brady: When everyone is competing armed with the same black boxes and no levers like before, you should: 

6. Future of Google

Brady: If we think of what to expect from Google in 2021, I think we’re going back ourselves into something like DSA campaigns. While we will see some new features, it seems like we’re getting back to something that’s already existed – Google having control over the search terms, the ads, and the pages.

I think that the future of Google already exists. While I don’t think the changes will be extreme, we’ll be moving towards something that existed previously.

Conclusion

It’s no doubt that the world of PPC is going through some changes. With Google introducing new features every now and then, we marketers must be flexible with our strategies. One thing is clear: it’s going to be extremely tough to stand out when every PPC professional relies on the same black box by Google. To be on par with the search giants evolving practices, we need to rely on automation to some level. 

Automation is a great way to handle daily mundane tasks, but PPC professionals shouldn’t confuse it with ‘autopilot’. Though machines might be able to perform a high number of actions quickly and efficiently, they will still rely on us for timely inputs and tweaks.

So whether it’s now, or 5 years into the future, marketers will always have something to do for there is no replacement for human intellect, ingenuity, improvisation, and intuition.

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!

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.

Account Blueprints: Take greater control of PPC with workflow management

Step 1: Name your Blueprint

As one of the cornerstones of digital marketing, PPC has become important to all businesses.

But executing complex tactics calls for multi-taskers who are organized and quick. PPC marketers constantly need to track, optimize, and scale their work. And the first step of any strategy: understanding its scope.

At Optmyzr, we realized that PPC marketers were lacking a purpose-built workflow management tool; one that understood their pain and experiences.

Today, we’re proud to introduce Account Blueprints, a new feature designed to help you plan, standardize, and scale workflows across your accounts.

About Account Blueprints

Join Optmyzr’s CEO for an overview of Account Blueprints

Blueprints allows you to organize and track your team’s tasks as a scheduled workflow. It helps you design entire PPC plans with a high degree of customizability, from setting frequencies to task owners.

You can schedule both one-time or recurring events, and assign them to your teammates to clarify who’s responsible for what. Optmyzr alerts teammates when they get new assignments or when an existing one is nearly due.

Now you can easily standardize processes for any and all accounts, right on the same platform that helps you optimize those very accounts.

Blueprints lets you schedule and assign specific optimizations within Optmyzr, but you can also include tasks outside of the Optmyzr environment, such as client meetings or designing creative assets.

Best of all, setting up a Blueprint is a one-time process. We’ll keep track of your preferences until you change them, though depending on your goals, you’ll likely need to create separate Blueprints for different processes or accounts.

Business Impact

Step 2: Set up your first task

With Blueprints, you can architect more powerful PPC programs. Avoid overrun deadlines and missed tasks by streamlining your project management, and focusing on testing and refinement.

For accounts with multiple stakeholders, it can be tough to know where responsibilities are demarcated. Now you can help individual team members track their own group of tasks. Blueprints offers a flexible, way to keep entire teams on track without anyone feeling like their toes have been stepped on.

Additionally, Blueprints lets you create multiple templates, so you can create plans specific to an industry or vertical, a client tier or type, a specific strategy or outcome, and even for contingencies like needing to quickly onboard a new hire. 

Blueprints by Optmyzr also makes it easy to manage and re-assign tasks to help ensure all bases are covered when an employee is out sick, on vacation, leaves a team, or changes roles within your organization.

3 Blueprints Ideas to Get You Started

1. By Industry

Step 3: Apply your Blueprint to one or more accounts

If your business only covers one account or caters to a specific client vertical, there’s a chance you perform many of the same tasks on a regular basis.

An example is an in-house team that only does PPC for their own sports apparel products, or an agency that specializes in e-commerce or hospitality. In this scenario, you can build Blueprints specific to different stages or exercises, including:

But this is not an indication of any limit; even an agency that caters to clients from all walks of business can leverage Blueprints to build specific plans for industry types. You could build one Blueprint to optimize the feeds of new e-commerce clients, and another to deliver on seasonal bid adjustments for hospitality clients.

2. By Client Tier

Step 4: Assign owners for each task and account

If you have multiple clients, there’s a high chance that many of them pay at different scales. This might correlate to their spend, or it might be based on the level of service you provide. Whatever the case, no agency wants to be accused of preferential treatment that isn’t justified by billables.

Blueprints can help you prevent that. Use Blueprints to keep track of value-added tasks that your top-tier clients pay for, while also delivering a baseline level of service to those on lower billing plans.

3. For New Hires

Step 5: Apply changes immediately or set a start date

Onboarding new employees can be challenging, but it can make or break the success of your business like few other things. The whole process takes time, and the path to happy new hires is always dotted with mistakes and setbacks. In the midst of introducing your team and work culture, it’s easy to miss out on the day-to-day — or vice versa.   

With Blueprints, you can create a single plan for any new employee in a specific position (we still recommend separate plans for different positions). Your new hires can follow these tasks to quickly get accustomed to the way you conduct business, and your current team can lend support in their own areas of expertise.

Conclusion

Even in a normal business landscape, Blueprints is the answer if you need (or simply want) a workflow management tool that dovetails with the actual software you use to study PPC insights and apply optimization changes.

But given the importance of remote teams for the foreseeable future, Blueprints can be your ticket to helping your people win a very big part of the ‘work from home’ battle: staying on top of their responsibilities.

Set up your first Blueprint using our wizard to keep your team on top of things — and at the top of their game. If you don’t see or cannot access Blueprints, please write to support@optmyzr.com.

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!

Search Marketing Automation Pro Tips: How to Become a True PPC Hero

PPC Hero Summit is just around the corner, and I hope you take time to attend a webinar session I’m doing Feb. 12 with my good friend and fellow PPC veteran Jeff Baum of Hanapin Marketing. 

Jeff and I will help PPC pros decipher one of the most confusing (and sometimes feared) aspects of PPC in 2020: Automation and artificial intelligence. Our session is entitled “Beyond the Engines’ AI: Make Machine Learning Work for YOUR Brand.”  We will help PPC pros learn how they can outperform the competition as automation by Google and Bing threatens to make things easier – and more difficult at the same time. 

Pros and Cons of PPC Automation

Google and Bing know what they are doing. Billions upon billions of searches have provided unprecedented opportunity to understand the actual intent and needs of audiences in ways old school marketers could never dream. 

Over the last few years, in particular, the big engines have deployed powerful AI and machine learning to automate many core functions of PPC. On the upside, they’ve made it possible for pretty much anyone to set up and run good PPC. There are a lot of positives associated with automations now at search marketers’ collective fingertips – not the least of which is time savings. 

The automation of many aspects of core PPC is eliminating busy tasks that used to take up the lion’s share of time for even the most efficient marketers. 

However, with all of the greatness of automation, we see some big “cons” on the other side of the ledger, including a growing concern among search marketers that they may be automated into obsolescence. Let’s consider a few specific areas of concern, which we’ll cover in our PPC Hero Summit online session:

  1. Smart marketers are not 100% sold on the search engines’ machine learning features and settings. After all, the buck stops at the desk of the actual PPC pro when it comes to spending our own (or our clients’) budgets. Surrendering all control and decision making to Google and Bing automations isn’t wise. 
  2. If everyone uses the same automations in the same manner, PPC may well become overly commoditized. It could be akin to all teams in a sports league using the exact same playbook and strategy.
  3. Company A and Company B may be in the same industry selling similar products, but things that work well for one company or its customers may fail miserably for the other. 

Jeff and I will cover essentials of what’s working and what’s not when it comes to the big engines’ machine learning. More importantly, we’ll discuss many liberating and empowering reasons to use a third-party tool to help you leapfrog competitors, including:

Perhaps most valuable, we’ll help search marketers understand how to make a strong business case to their own bosses for a third-party resource. 

I encourage you to invest 30 minutes of time to participate in our February 12 session. Jeff and I know your time is valuable, so we’re planning a rapid-fire event that can make a tremendous difference in your future as a marketer – without a huge investment of your time. 

Register today and we look forward to this informative session.

Thinking Outside The Box #2 – Bid by Weather

You know that old saying “when it rains… apply bid changes”. Well, that’s not really how it goes, but it’s most definitely one thing you can do with our Rule Engine!

On our last “Thinking Outside The Box” post, we showed you how to create a date-driven automation to change your campaign status. And that’s just one example of the many different (and powerful) use cases we have for Rule Engine.

Now we’ll show you how Optmyzr can help you automatically bid by weather.  A similar case was also covered in the “Advanced Rule Engine Examples” video by our co-founder Frederick Vallaeys.

Step 1: Create the Recipe

For this example, we’ll create a recipe to modify bids at the ad group level using values such as “Current Temperature” or “Current Weather Condition”.

Keep in mind that this is just one of many use cases for the Rule Engine weather bid management. Among the possibilities you’ll find you can:

Step 2: Set up the spreadsheet

To set up the spreadsheet, you’ll need to make a copy of this Google Spreadsheet, and share it with rule-engine@optmyzr-automation.iam.gserviceaccount.com

You’ll need to generate your own API key here https://openweathermap.org/appid#get and follow the rest of the steps listed on the sheet “Instructions and Keys”.

Note: For the last step on the spreadsheet, you can download your list of campaigns from the “Connect External Data” section in the Rule Engine by clicking on “Get Sample Data For Your Account” and paste it exactly as it is on the “Paste CSV from RE here” sheet.

Step 3: Add the Zip Code

Now let’s add the corresponding City or ZIP Code to the campaigns. The spreadsheet has a couple of sheets to get weather data. Depending on which one you want to use, you’ll have to manually add the City or ZIP code to your list of campaigns.

For cities, please follow this format {city},{country code} (you can get a list of country codes here).

Note that if the country code is not specified, the OpenWeatherMap API might return data for the wrong city.

To link the spreadsheet to your recipe, you’ll need to paste the spreadsheet’s URL in the “Connect External Data” section. Make sure you specify the sheet from where the Rule Engine pulls weather data, and the correct column types (Current Temperature: Number|Current Weather Condition: Text).

Read further on “Connecting External Data in Rule Engine”

Step 5: Build the recipe

Let’s get down to business! Having completed these previous steps, you can now use any of the weather data from the spreadsheet to build your own custom optimization. Remember the spreadsheet has campaign data, so that’s the scope you should use when adding the conditions:

Let’s suppose that we have a couple of campaigns for “Sunglasses” in Madrid and “Shorts” in Toulouse. If temperatures start to rise, we might want to increase the bids for the ad groups in those campaigns accordingly.  The first rule does precisely this. If the temperature rises above 27ºC, and the weather condition is “clear sky” it applies two actions:

  1. We increase the bids for the ad groups in the campaign by 10%
  2. We label the ad groups (for the example we’ll use: Bid by High Temperature) – **This step is critical, as it helps to revert the changes with Rule-2.**

But what happens if the temperatures drop? The second rule reverses the changes applied by the first rule. To do this, we check all ad groups with the label “Bid by High Temperature” and apply two actions:

  1. Set the bids back to their previous value. We achieve this by using an expression where we divide the Current Bid by 1+(0.1) where 0.1 = 10% increase.
  2. We remove the labels “Bid by High Temperature”.

Note: In the same ****spreadsheet you can change the temperature units used (Instructions and Keys sheet – Step 4) and see a list of all weather conditions the Open Weather Map API can return (Descriptions sheet)

Step 6: Test, preview & automate 

All set! You can now preview the suggestions and if everything looks ok, you can go ahead and automate it to run on a daily basis.

Try it out! If you have any questions, or if you’d like us to have a look at your recipe before you start running it just email us: support@optmyzr.com – we’ll be glad to help you.

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.

Microsoft Advertising Automation Roadmap for 2019/2020

Microsoft product teams shed some light on their automation roadmap for the coming year.

Automation features in beta

Automation features coming soon

What role will people play when it’s all automated?

I asked the Microsoft team their thoughts on Smart campaigns and whether these would compete with the services an agency might offer their clients.

Right now their sentiment is that Smart campaigns are intended to help small direct advertisers who don’t know much about PPC and who don’t have the help from an agency or a tool like Optmyzr. It’s a way to bring more advertisers onto the Microsoft Advertising platform and help them see success. Sophisticated advertisers will still want to continue using the traditional campaign types where they have more controls.

Are Smart Display and Smart Shopping coming?

The Smart campaigns that are on the roadmap are only for search right now. Microsoft did not announce a timeline for Smart Display and Smart Shopping campaigns.

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>
            
            <div id="themify_builder_content-1807" data-postid="1807" class="themify_builder_content themify_builder_content-1807 themify_builder">
            </div>
            
            <!-- /themify_builder_content -->
    

    PPC in 2019: The Year YOU Reach Rockstar Status

    As an industry, we made huge strides in pay-per-click automation during 2018. It really was a transformational year for PPC pros, agencies and the brands we serve.

    There are tremendous opportunities on the horizon for PPC pros who are forward thinking and eager to recalibrate their own role and value in the PPC value chain. Yet many PPC pros today are perhaps a bit flummoxed about what the future holds for them, as Google and Bing are seemingly automating the PPC pro out of existence.

    The PPC pro’s rapidly shifting role will be a huge topic of discussion on this blog and other outlets as we move through 2019. Our team is in the trenches daily crafting functionality, scripts and concepts that will help you – the PPC pro – transform into a PPC rockstar due, in large part, to ongoing automation within the big engines.

    Building on Automation & Innovation in 2018

    Q1 of 2019 kicks off with amazing PPC automation momentum that welled up during 2018. A scan of 2018’s most-read Search Engine Land contributed posts shows extraordinary interest in automation and other new functionality designed to eliminate tasks associated with PPC. �

    Examples among the top posts include an interesting piece by Daniel Gilbert that showcases the power of scripts to automate ways to quickly fix low quality scores. (As you know, scripts are a key element of Optmyzr’s push to make the most out of automation.) While Google and Bing continue to automate so much of the upfront aspects of PPC, smart pros will take their script game to new heights in 2019. Scripts can be daunting if you haven’t dabbled in them before. But even for those versed in using scripts, they can almost certainly be used to an even greater degree to make the most of the daily advancements available natively in the engines as well as PPC management software like Optmyzr.

    We love seeing innovative script ideas from our peers in the industry. It keeps our script artisans on our toes to continually craft new and innovative scripts to crush tasks and foster greater strategic thinking among PPC practitioners. In fact, subscribers to Optmyzr have long had access to a script just like Daniel’s and now we’ve added a tool for pausing low QS keywords as a One-Click Optimization™ so it’s easier than ever to use.

    [Optmyzr Screen Cap][4]
    _Optmyzr subscribers can easily create custom rules or copy one of the many we’ve already created as instant recipes. This one identifies and pauses low quality score keywords that are not driving any conversions._

    Our team was pleased to see Optmyzr twice in the Top-10 SEL posts. We dove into some of the core things Google Ads can now do automatically and we examined close match variant changes that challenged and elevated capabilities for marketers and providers alike.

    Core in all of the discussions, whether about automation or other industry advancements, those of us writing about critical topics focused a lot of energy and attention on helping PPC pros view new dynamics as opportunity versus a threat to your long-term viability.

    Interestingly enough in 2018, some of the mainstream press started paying a _little _more attention and respect to the oft-misunderstood and underappreciated role of PPC. It was attention fueled, perhaps in part, by the significant role of buzzworthy concepts like AI and machine learning. Even Forbes included coverage this past year that started to unlock the mysteries of PPC and its potential to the broader business community. Writer Tom Chalmers took steps to help our business brethren connect dots between AI, automation and a more integrated view of marketing/content/PPC, in general. While not a deep piece, it was good to see PPC addressed in Forbes!

    Of course, the old school marketing/advertising media outlets like Ad Age and others still seem to view PPC as an odd, distant step-relative to old school marketing. A search of “PPC” on the Ad Age site yields a couple of results from two years ago. Such apathy within “mainstream” marketing underscores opportunity for smart PPC pros to elevate to rockstar status in 2019.

    Read on for a taste of what we’ll be talking about in the months ahead….

    Automation, AI/Machine Learning – Buzz or Brave New World?

    Some of the words we (our industry) use are perhaps beginning to take on very similar and sometimes diluted meanings in our space. To an extent, we’re all guilty of buzz-ifying our industry when we talk about concepts like AI and machine learning – and in the process, even the smartest of pros can struggle to figure out what these concepts really mean for our shared future.

    The reality, though, artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation dovetail in many ways to create unprecedented opportunity for PPC innovators. Few other marketers can quantify their impact on the business as a PPC expert. Few others are at the center of the storm where purchase-intent consumers are stampeding toward the bottom of the funnel, ready to convert. Few others can connect the dots between the content, words, images that people see in different channels and search for every day.

    As a result, the PPC rockstar in 2019 should earn a more commanding seat at the marketing leadership table!

    PPC rockstars can and should influence broader marketing strategies from the very beginning of the process. As automation frees us from the tasks of PPC, you can unearth significant opportunity to put your knowledge and analytic abilities to work in much more strategic fashion – for your PPC initiatives and help foster true integration of marketing. �

    2019 might well be the breakout year for PPC pros to go from “yeah…she does that pay-per-click Google stuff” (uttered with a slightly confused tone) to “she really transformed our marketing integration in amazing ways.”

    Sneak Peek: Big News Coming Soon

    Without giving away the farm, I’m looking forward to sharing news about a project that has been near and dear to my heart for the last several months. Look for an announcement soon about something I think will be really helpful for PPC pros to get your mindset in the right frame for 2019.

    Automation will rule the day in PPC in the months ahead. But that doesn’t mean automation should rule the PPC pro. On the contrary, I look forward to unveiling our latest project that will help PPC pros elevate their game to rockstar status by taking control of what, how, and when automation is deployed in search marketing to help you drive increasingly powerful results for the clients and brands you serve.

    In the meantime, keep studying. Keep reading. Keep learning. Embrace automation because it is your ticket to great things in 2019.

    Regular Pages

    PPC Town Hall 31: Expectations for PPC in 2021

    It’s 2021, and whether you’re a marketer or an agency, you would be preparing for yet another thrilling year of PPC. Right from the start, you need to be aware of the newest trends and features in paid marketing to leverage your PPC game. And that means you need to know of any curveballs that might come your way. In 2020, we saw experts deep-diving into topics like automation, privacy issues, and keywords, which we might be discussing more of the same this year as well.

    To get a better perspective of what to expect in the coming months, we invited over some of the smartest minds of PPC and asked for their insights. Our panelists this week are some of your favorite experts from conferences like SMX, shedding light on what they expect from PPC in 2021.

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

    Here are 5 insights on what to expect from PPC in 2021.

    1. RSAs vs ETAs

    Brad: According to our data, we’ve seen more people trying out RSAs than Optmyzr users. We also see that a lot of people who still have them, have shrunk their usage. I’ve done a little bit of segmentation (since we did our session at SMX) on spending and account size versus declining RSA usage. And it’s definitely the smaller accounts that have declined their usage much less than the larger ones. We have seen that those who spend half a million to a million, plus have decreased usage more than those who spent 10-20 thousand dollars a month.

    For a lot of these people, it’s more about results than getting that control. They don’t care if you’re a lead gen company. You may spend 10 million a month but in the end, you care about results.

    Ginny: My question on it comes back to what are ‘results’? If we’re strictly looking at conversion rate or cost per conversion, then I can see where ETAs are often going to win. I’m wondering if advertisers might be looking at RSAs to open themselves up for more impression inventory. So is that a factor where people are considering more exposure than focusing on conversion rate?

    Matt: In a lot of cases, you actually don’t have enough data for RSA to really even get their wheels spinning. It’s a multivariate type of testing and so often times we see that decisions are being made too quickly on winners and losers.

    2. Identifying your business signals

    Ginny: Having your own business signals mixed in with data you provide to the machine is becoming really critical now. This is where the real leverage can come, particularly the competitive leverage over your competitive sets. In order for people and businesses to identify their own business signals, they need to do some real analysis and investment, which takes a lot of digging. And then being able to present this in a way that can actually be used.

    So the real question is, do advertisers keep pushing businesses to give more inputs even when some might want to keep that data to themselves rather than sharing it with Google? If yes, can we anonymize it and ensure that those inputs work within the algorithms.

    3. Giving Google the right data and goals

    Matt: Instead of fighting Google, let’s focus on giving them the right goals. One of our focuses will be feeding the data to the machine. And I think we’re actually going back to really seminal work in the whole web UX and web design area. If you look at Google Analytics, it’s moving away from discrete real things to events and connections that sort of represent proxies like scroll time or time on page. What I’d like to see is combinatorial data that would allow us to combine scroll depth and time on page, multimodally. How do we build up signals from the site we’ve got and trigger events that we can feed back to our bidding?

    Our goal this year is to take a look at how we can understand what behaviors on the site represent good proxies to the next sort of actions. We also want to give those signals a little bit more attention, feed them, and try to develop audiences out of them.

    4. Importance of setting up clean conversion

    Brad: This is more important now than in the past because with all the privacy things happening, you doing your own data or attribution modeling is going to be essential. Even from a basic standpoint of modeling, you need to get it right because the privacy changes are going to mess up the data inside some of your platforms. Just to do some basic analysis, you actually need to have it yourself now and can’t rely on the platforms to give it to you because they’re not gonna have all the data they had previously.

    5. 2021 Predictions

    Brad: I will argue that as soon as Google removes keywords, their revenues decline significantly. Out of every advertising method out there, the intent of a search for someone saying ‘I want this’ is the strongest signal in advertising. It’s better than any programmatic, any audience or any other advertising methods. If people don’t get to use keywords for targeting, they might think of going programmatic.

    Matt: I think that while Google may never take away keywords, they’ll definitely stop paying attention to what we’re actually telling them with our match-types. And I think that if you look at the loss of search query data may be Google feeding its AI and learning on all of our dimes! And they’re saying we don’t care what we [advertisers] know, they’re going to let their machines run wild, and decide for themselves what’s working or not!

    Ginny: We still have some agency in all of this. I think we need to start using the machines in ways that they were meant to help us. And while they aren’t going to get it right all the time, we should be present to guide it. This is where your own data is going to be helpful. If you come in with a campaign that has been a disaster, all that data is not useful. For example, if you’ve set your campaign on broad match and end up reaching attorneys in Palm Beach when you actually run a hair salon, that data is useless. All of this can be avoided if you educate yourself and be an invested marketer. So much about this year is still going to be based on fundamentals.

    Conclusion

    Let’s face it - doing PPC in any year is tricky.

    What with Google introducing changes, paid marketers need to leverage on every new trend that comes their way. Working along with the machine, feeding it good usable data, and relying on automation to boost your business goals might go a long way for PPC pros in 2021. To set yourselves apart from your competitors, consistently optimize your campaigns, utilize new tools, and look to expert strategies by industry leaders to pave your way to success.

    PPC Town Hall 29: Revamping Outdated PPC Strategies

    One thing that we’ve learned about search in the past year is that we all need solid PPC strategies that account for all sorts of change. With all the automation that’s coming from Google, whether it’s smart shopping, smart bidding, or seasonality bid adjustments, it’s important to automate, optimize, and intervene our way to success. And what better way to understand the way forward than to ask some of the smartest minds of PPC.

    Our panelists this week are among PPC Hero’s most influential paid search experts of 2020. and they shared their tips and experiences on working around outdated PPC strategies.

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

    Here are 7 insights on revamping outdated PPC strategies.

    1. Thoughts on Black Friday & Cyber Monday

    Aaron: On our side, we saw that Black Friday was bigger than usual while Cyber Monday was slower than usual. It logically makes sense as on Balck Friday, everybody has a need to go bargain hunting, and that pent-up demand has shifted to online this year. Everyone thought Cyber Monday was kind of quiet because it’s the same as it has always been.

    Kirk: We saw the same thing as Aaron [in a higher volume Black Friday than Cyber Monday this year, but we’ve heard others saying things a bit differently. It makes a lot of sense that the past weekend was a bit quiet as a lot of people were running sales earlier than normal. They had a Black Friday week-long or even month-long sale in November. Because of the earlier sale season, we saw consumers buying earlier than usual. So in some way what we saw in our numbers was that Black Friday was the main event, and Cyber Monday less so.

    One of the reasons for this earlier shopping season is concern over shipping and delays. Because of this earlier-extended shopping season, we saw more out-of-stock products, more sales that went quicker this year.

    Joe: While Black Friday was definitely much bigger than Cyber Monday and much earlier. For us in general, Black Friday was lower than expected but the entire month of November was higher than expected. Some stuff was reactionary to competitors starting early which was in the first-second week of November.

    2. An unusual year for PPC

    Aaron: At Tinuiti, we tend to work with larger data sets to focus on larger enterprise clients. So Smart Bidding in general tended to work pretty well for us. But one of the things that I always pick on Smart Bidding for is that it has too short of a memory. This Holiday season was one of those scenarios where that’s really valuable because it didn’t try to base itself off of what happened last year. We used seasonality adjustments pretty religiously for most of our clients. For example, if noon was a really popular time, we’d start tweaking our seasonality adjustments leading up to it and down after.

    3. Using different shopping strategies

    Kirk: We try to use a combination of both Standard and Smart. We constantly test them, see what’s working and what’s not. I’m always trying to figure out a better strategy to work for both Standard and Smart. With Standard, you get more of that control where you can give the system-specific search terms, which we’re focused on (even if they’re not always converting) as valuable information for brands.

    Sometimes, we’d duplicate products or try something with the feed to get stuff in the upper funnel queries that might not be specific to one product. Smart shopping is not just on search but display, Youtube, and all that, so rather than be frustrated that we can’t control the search terms, we’re trying to figure out a way to group products around the ad content itself to emphasize specific call-outs in those Smart Shopping Ads for that specific group of products.

    Joe: As I said earlier, our Black Friday started earlier than normal and our seasonality bidding was kind of thrown out of the window of what we expected to do. Since I work with smaller clients with very niche products (sometimes higher-ticket type item products). We understand that those really aren’t necessarily impulse-buys. So, we’re looking at the time of day, understanding that it’s gonna take multiple touchpoints for a user to buy this product. If we hit them enough with discovery, Google, and social initially, then we’re seeing that they later go back (late night hours) to purchase. We’re seeing a better performance as we’re adjusting the different schedules and updating how we want to boost our bidding and performance.

    4. Converting digital newbies & feeding data to the system

    Aaron: Something we’ve seen in the last six or so months, I’ve somewhat abandoned call to action. But giving turn-by-turn directions to these people who aren’t digitally native seems to work. You can tell them where to click, enter their details, make the purchase and know when it’s gonna get delivered or opt to come and pick-up yourself.

    When you have data like shipping or pick-up preferences, you’ve to use it sensibly. It varies a lot depending on clients because it partially depends on cost and revenue centres as well. So maybe the digital team isn’t incentivized to drive people to the store and so we want to discourage it. But for those clients who are a bit more holistic, we’d look into the feeds and coach the bid tools to do what we want. For example, we see that for a certain demographic, this particular set of terms or ads tends to convert better as in-store pick-ups rather than a standard e-com shipping. Then we’d take that group, pivot it, and tell Smart Bidding that we want more store visits to set that group. The rest can be taken towards the more conventional way.

    5. Get your messaging right in Responsive Search Ads

    Joe: We utilize the pin option just to make sure that certain elements of the messaging show. It’s something that we definitely consider when we’re mapping it out. We will show it in front of clients too. We ask them if it really helps to add all these variations if four of them pretty much say the same thing. Google’s definitely gonna flag it, prompting you to add more keywords into your headlines.

    Honestly, we’ve played around with what actually makes sense and that’s where we kind of focus on value prop. Maybe I’ll pin the first keyword which made more sense to the product type and then look at testing the other ones. Slowly, I’ve come to like RSAs. While they didn’t really work for me that well in the beginning, the more I see them working they are getting better. We’ve seen RSAs work pretty well with grants accounts by boosting impressions quickly.

    6. Looking towards automation

    Kirk: We’re looking more and more into automation to solve our problems. The whole idea of Google leaning hard into automation can be quite frustrating for PPC marketers like us who have been running things for a while. I may have practiced and learned something for over a decade, and then due to a specific change, I can find myself at the same level as an intern in my knowledge of the thing that changed. But the flip side of this frustration is – there’s an evolution that needs to happen in PPCers, too. We need to adapt to the system. And with automation at ZATO, we’re trying to think of reinventing the way we think about campaign structure and other things.

    Specifically in thinking about broad match keywords, we’ve started testing things giving Google control over Target ROAS bidding, few very tightly controlled broad match keywords where everything else is excluded. We’re treating this less in terms of ‘what we want to get from this campaign in specific tracked ROAS’ and more of giving Google guidelines and then freedom for reaching the upper-funnel.

    7. How do we structure our campaigns?

    Aaron: When we think of structuring our campaigns in the present scenario, we’ve to look at conversion runways. If you think about Smart Bidding on its most practical level, it largely looks at the expected conversion rate. The way forward should start with the question – what do we expect from this group of people to do.

    Talking about Skags and keywords, if the intent is fundamentally different then we’ll split it out. If not we’ll compress. We all know how Google is pushing towards consolidation and we’re establishing runways for the automation to make the right decisions. So we essentially split the groups out based on audience, demographic, keyword, or interaction. You don’t want to shrink data to the point where you’re making bad assumptions.

    Conclusion

    While automation has helped PPCers focus more on the strategic part of marketing, it has left us with little to control. With Google constantly introducing changes in 2020, it might be time to recondition the earlier approaches to get an edge over the competition. This is where all the expert advice and recommendations come into play by supporting marketers to operate in the periphery of the system and still manage it for better results.

    Now more than ever, PPC marketers and strategists need to come together to figure out how to advance in the paid search industry. It might not be a bad idea to make use of efficient software systems, like Optmyzr, to track, manage, and optimize your campaigns. Try and experience our capabilities yourself by signing up for our 14-day free trial. You get full access to all our features – credit card free!

    PPC Town Hall 28: Optimizing Smart Bidding with Google

    Over the past few years, marketers have seen Smart Bidding evolve with Google’s machine learning. In fact, it seems to be a way into the future of advertising by making the best use of AI and data to provide intelligent campaign adjustments. But while Smart Bidding does automate tedious tasks of PPC ad management and save time, it’s far from a ‘set it & forget it’ mentality. To make the most of it, advertisers need to monitor and optimize to get the best results for their campaigns.

    So this week on Episode 28 of PPC Town Hall, we invited our friends from Google to discuss Smart Bidding campaigns and shed light on tactics for optimization.

    Our panelists for the week:

    You can receive the exclusive Smart Bidding guide from Optmyzr and Google by signing up here! You can also view previous editions of PPC Town Hall right here.

    Without further delay, here are the 6 insights to understanding and optimizing Smart Bidding campaigns.

    Emi: What we see today is really the evolution of machine learning. I think machine learning is getting smarter with people getting more comfortable using and leveraging it to the next level for better results. We search so differently compared to what we did three years ago. In fact, 15% of queries on google.com are new every day. That means there are tonnes of queries that Google misses as well. So, we really have to depend on Machine learning to capture maximum potential with search.

    As machine learning gets smarter, the data that marketers provide is really going to be the key to be competitive and achieve your goals. Not from the CPA perspective, but broader profitability and customer lifetime value.

    2. Analyzing Smart Bidding signals

    Peter: Google looks at billions of signals to set the bid for every auction. We’re monitoring a bunch of different things more than just the signals, like the intersection of these signals. A lot of the things that we used to optimize manually like devices, day of week, time, location, all the different keywords, etc are now being taken care of for Smart Bidding. But there are some tactics which you can use to inform Smart Bidding what are the right ways you can treat some of these things.

    Emi: So this is a recent performance review using selected US accounts. When we looked at the data, Smart Bidding outperformed Manual Bidding across most of the spend buckets on Optmyzr accounts.

    A lot of people should take advantage of Smart Bidding regardless of the budgets (look at the right-hand side of the chart – ‘under 500 budget’). And we see significant performance even in smaller budgets as well as larger ones (above 50k).

    3. Optimizing Discovery campaigns

    Peter: I have seen some very strong results with Discovery campaigns for certain advertisers. For example, I worked with a real-estate partner who was seeing better results in Discovery campaigns than in Search!

    If you’re having issues with the returns and getting conversions, make sure that you’re setting the CPAs properly. Setting up unrealistic CPAs that do not represent your goals can hamper your account health. And then there’s also the flipside. If you look at our audiences to whom we are comfortable suggesting Discovery Ads, you’ll see that the daily budget recommended is about 20 times the target CPA. So, if you have a tighter budget, I’d recommend maybe doing 10 times the target CPA.

    That being said, I have seen success at a lower CPA. But if you have a smaller budget, I wouldn’t be actively recommending Discovery Ads to you. Layering on audience lists like remarketing and customer matching might help you see more successful results.

    Emi: We have seen a pretty good performance in the use cases with Discovery campaigns, even for a first-time mid-sized account. So I would encourage marketers to keep looking into why they aren’t giving you a good performance. In terms of how long, usually we test for a week and then we regroup with the customers, and keep doing this. So one week at a time.

    4. Common mistakes advertisers make with Smart Bidding

    Start making sure what goals your Smart Bidding campaign will be optimizing and those goals align with what you’re trying to achieve. I have seen people set a Max Conversions strategy on a campaign that was spending half of its budget. We didn’t see any positive results CPA-wise as Max Conversions doesn’t necessarily focus on optimizing your CPA. It looks towards getting you as many conversions as possible within your budget. And if you’re spending only half of your budget, we don’t necessarily know whether that incremental conversion will come at a CPA that aligns with your historical ones.

    The other thing is the target that we set. I would advise looking into your optimization score recommendations in the front-end to see what we are recommending there. You’ll probably want to start by setting a target in line with what you’re historically performing at. If you’re historically performing at a CPA of $100 and if you switch that down to $50, you can massively end up throttling the number of conversions and sales you were getting.

    Just because we don’t want to necessarily start with Smart Bidding on the exact Target CPA, doesn’t mean we can’t get there. Start with where you’re historically performing at and slowly adjust to get where you want to be.

    5. Structuring a Smart Bidding campaign with segmentation

    Peter: When we segment our campaigns, Smart Bidding can actually take data and learn from the performance that’s happening throughout the account. While you don’t need to segment everything, if you do end up breaking up your campaigns, Smart Bidding will be able to learn from the performance of the campaigns. The only thing that I’ll caution about is to break down to the point where there isn’t a lot of conversion volume in each individual campaign. On top of that, if you have a Target ROAS or Target CPA that your campaigns aren’t able to meet, that’s something to watch out for.

    If you put more constraints on the targets and segment the campaigns, you could end up throttling your campaigns altogether.

    6. Marketing as a holistic approach

    Emi: We think that a marketer can play a bigger role in PPC marketing than just making strategies or directing CPC. We look at a marketer as a growth engine for the company. Strategic points like profitability and value of customers can help bring value to your work and your business. I would really encourage everyone to think more than just PPC, think of how you can bring that value to your company and leverage for more growth.

    Conclusion

    Fred: When you start with something, like Smart Bidding, it’s better not to shock the system and be extremely aspirational. Machine learning functions on how things have worked consistently in the past. Even if you set up higher targets, it might take a while for the system to get you there. But at the end of the day, to achieve the target you really want, it all comes down to you, the advertiser, to set up the prerequisites and feed in impressionable data. You can add a lot of value to your ongoing campaigns by not taking bidding as something that just happens by itself.

    Seasoned PPC professionals make use of efficient bid management tools, like Optmyzr, to keep their accounts top-notch and optimize your bids. Try and experience our capabilities yourself by signing up for our 14-day free trial.

    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. 

    PPC Town Hall 26: Foolproofing your Business with PPC Automation

    Ever since Google introduced a whole bunch of changes, things have been changing very fast in PPC. Taking away search query data, making it harder to create expanded text ads, doing more and more automated bidding, etc., is only making us unsure of the future of search marketing. 

    With the rising number of roadblocks that Google is putting in front of us, marketers need to be ready to overcome anything that the search giant throws at us. The question of the hour is: How much more can Google automate and change the way that we as PPC professionals go about business? 

    So this week on Episode 26 of PPC Town Hall, I wanted to talk to two industry specialists who have worked with a lot of accounts and have faced the implications of the changes in search marketing and automation.

    Our panelists for the week:

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

    Here are the top 6 insights from this week’s PPC Town Hall on navigating the future of PPC automation.

    1. How to optimize Google’s tax?

    Martin:** __**Some countries have started to raise the Digital Services Tax from Google. Now, Google intends to pass that on to advertisers. For example, for ads being shown in Austria and Turkey Google will add 5% to your invoice. This is tricky because it won’t show up in any of your regular KPI’s. Your costs and CPC’s in the interface will seem unaffected. This makes it easy to miss – which is probably the intention.

    There’s a reason why you’ve decided on a certain bid or budget. In order to account for the new tax, you’ll have to lower your bids or budget by about 5%. Then you’ll end up paying the same as before. Of course, Google would rather have you pay the same amount to them and then the additional 5% in taxes, which is probably why they have little incentive to help us with this.

    2. Taxes and Geo locations

    Martin: Digital services taxes depend on where the advertising cost occurs. For example, if someone in the UK clicks an ad, a 2% tax charge will be added to the cost of that click. The problem here is that there’s a difference between the location of interest and user location. If you target the U.S. then that can include people elsewhere if Google somehow identifies the U.S. as their location of interest.

    There used to be an easy way to evaluate physical user locations. That has been removed. Standard location reports no longer include physical location. In fact, Google got rid of any mention that there might be a difference between physical location and location of interest.

    You can still get the data, though – it’s just less convenient. Google also removed the pre-defined report from its report editor, but you can still create your own from scratch. So while the data is no longer present front-and-center, you can still get it.

    Brady: Let’s take the example of businesses dealing with ‘New York Pizza’. This is a specific style of pizza that practically anyone can search about. While the local pizza shops of New York have been capturing people around the world looking up for New York Pizza, the location settings in the user interface don’t show this happening. As a result, a lot of these small pizza places now could gain a UK tax or something without any idea why.

    To find this specific information about locations, go to

    Reports → Custom and build your own report.

    If you search ‘user locations’ in your report, you’ll find all of the user location option that you can place within the rows of your report.

    3. Managing accounts with less search data

    Brady: We’re seeing a struggle for low volume accounts. So for accounts where you can spend every day digging into the search term reports, read them, and make decisions based on your finding, we are seeing a lot of frustration. 

    When it comes to high volume accounts, I think it makes things like n-grams even more relevant. With access to less data, n-gram reports can help you find trends within the data set you have and make decisions accordingly.

    4. Functioning with Google ‘roadblocks’

    Brady: I’m not fully against these changes. In a handful of our campaigns, we do full broad keyword targeting paired with Target CPA, and it does fairly well. Looking at our search terms, we see that some of them are non-branded solution-based terms, while some are comparing our solution vs other competitors, and some are comparing between other competitors altogether. But, at the end of the day, the cost per conversion, and MQL, are pretty good.

    When it comes to B2B software marketing, we’re really looking at an LTV/ CAC model. So modeling that out for both Google Ads and other channels, and helping the clients on that level is something we’re moving towards. With a higher level of automation, we would have time to focus on stuff like landing pages optimization, A/B testing, new offers, and analyzing the competition.

    5. Shifting agencies and business goals while working with the same black box by Google

    Martin: With Google doing everything with these black box campaigns like smart shopping, discovery, or local campaigns, it becomes more and more important to make sure that their systems have the right data to go on. This is also an important field for agencies and advertisers to set themselves apart from the crowd.

    One way to do that is to further evolve conversion tracking. For the last ten or so years, everyone has focused on revenue. Before that, it was about conversions. The future is about margins and profit instead of revenue. Beyond that, there’s customer lifetime value. And just as important is incrementality – although that is something that you probably can’t expect much help from the platforms.

    Brady: When everyone is competing armed with the same black boxes and no levers like before, you should: 

    6. Future of Google

    Brady: If we think of what to expect from Google in 2021, I think we’re going back ourselves into something like DSA campaigns. While we will see some new features, it seems like we’re getting back to something that’s already existed – Google having control over the search terms, the ads, and the pages.

    I think that the future of Google already exists. While I don’t think the changes will be extreme, we’ll be moving towards something that existed previously.

    Conclusion

    It’s no doubt that the world of PPC is going through some changes. With Google introducing new features every now and then, we marketers must be flexible with our strategies. One thing is clear: it’s going to be extremely tough to stand out when every PPC professional relies on the same black box by Google. To be on par with the search giants evolving practices, we need to rely on automation to some level. 

    Automation is a great way to handle daily mundane tasks, but PPC professionals shouldn’t confuse it with ‘autopilot’. Though machines might be able to perform a high number of actions quickly and efficiently, they will still rely on us for timely inputs and tweaks.

    So whether it’s now, or 5 years into the future, marketers will always have something to do for there is no replacement for human intellect, ingenuity, improvisation, and intuition.

    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!

    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.

    Account Blueprints: Take greater control of PPC with workflow management

    Step 1: Name your Blueprint

    As one of the cornerstones of digital marketing, PPC has become important to all businesses.

    But executing complex tactics calls for multi-taskers who are organized and quick. PPC marketers constantly need to track, optimize, and scale their work. And the first step of any strategy: understanding its scope.

    At Optmyzr, we realized that PPC marketers were lacking a purpose-built workflow management tool; one that understood their pain and experiences.

    Today, we’re proud to introduce Account Blueprints, a new feature designed to help you plan, standardize, and scale workflows across your accounts.

    About Account Blueprints

    Join Optmyzr’s CEO for an overview of Account Blueprints

    Blueprints allows you to organize and track your team’s tasks as a scheduled workflow. It helps you design entire PPC plans with a high degree of customizability, from setting frequencies to task owners.

    You can schedule both one-time or recurring events, and assign them to your teammates to clarify who’s responsible for what. Optmyzr alerts teammates when they get new assignments or when an existing one is nearly due.

    Now you can easily standardize processes for any and all accounts, right on the same platform that helps you optimize those very accounts.

    Blueprints lets you schedule and assign specific optimizations within Optmyzr, but you can also include tasks outside of the Optmyzr environment, such as client meetings or designing creative assets.

    Best of all, setting up a Blueprint is a one-time process. We’ll keep track of your preferences until you change them, though depending on your goals, you’ll likely need to create separate Blueprints for different processes or accounts.

    Business Impact

    Step 2: Set up your first task

    With Blueprints, you can architect more powerful PPC programs. Avoid overrun deadlines and missed tasks by streamlining your project management, and focusing on testing and refinement.

    For accounts with multiple stakeholders, it can be tough to know where responsibilities are demarcated. Now you can help individual team members track their own group of tasks. Blueprints offers a flexible, way to keep entire teams on track without anyone feeling like their toes have been stepped on.

    Additionally, Blueprints lets you create multiple templates, so you can create plans specific to an industry or vertical, a client tier or type, a specific strategy or outcome, and even for contingencies like needing to quickly onboard a new hire. 

    Blueprints by Optmyzr also makes it easy to manage and re-assign tasks to help ensure all bases are covered when an employee is out sick, on vacation, leaves a team, or changes roles within your organization.

    3 Blueprints Ideas to Get You Started

    1. By Industry

    Step 3: Apply your Blueprint to one or more accounts

    If your business only covers one account or caters to a specific client vertical, there’s a chance you perform many of the same tasks on a regular basis.

    An example is an in-house team that only does PPC for their own sports apparel products, or an agency that specializes in e-commerce or hospitality. In this scenario, you can build Blueprints specific to different stages or exercises, including:

    But this is not an indication of any limit; even an agency that caters to clients from all walks of business can leverage Blueprints to build specific plans for industry types. You could build one Blueprint to optimize the feeds of new e-commerce clients, and another to deliver on seasonal bid adjustments for hospitality clients.

    2. By Client Tier

    Step 4: Assign owners for each task and account

    If you have multiple clients, there’s a high chance that many of them pay at different scales. This might correlate to their spend, or it might be based on the level of service you provide. Whatever the case, no agency wants to be accused of preferential treatment that isn’t justified by billables.

    Blueprints can help you prevent that. Use Blueprints to keep track of value-added tasks that your top-tier clients pay for, while also delivering a baseline level of service to those on lower billing plans.

    3. For New Hires

    Step 5: Apply changes immediately or set a start date

    Onboarding new employees can be challenging, but it can make or break the success of your business like few other things. The whole process takes time, and the path to happy new hires is always dotted with mistakes and setbacks. In the midst of introducing your team and work culture, it’s easy to miss out on the day-to-day — or vice versa.   

    With Blueprints, you can create a single plan for any new employee in a specific position (we still recommend separate plans for different positions). Your new hires can follow these tasks to quickly get accustomed to the way you conduct business, and your current team can lend support in their own areas of expertise.

    Conclusion

    Even in a normal business landscape, Blueprints is the answer if you need (or simply want) a workflow management tool that dovetails with the actual software you use to study PPC insights and apply optimization changes.

    But given the importance of remote teams for the foreseeable future, Blueprints can be your ticket to helping your people win a very big part of the ‘work from home’ battle: staying on top of their responsibilities.

    Set up your first Blueprint using our wizard to keep your team on top of things — and at the top of their game. If you don’t see or cannot access Blueprints, please write to support@optmyzr.com.

    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!

    Search Marketing Automation Pro Tips: How to Become a True PPC Hero

    PPC Hero Summit is just around the corner, and I hope you take time to attend a webinar session I’m doing Feb. 12 with my good friend and fellow PPC veteran Jeff Baum of Hanapin Marketing. 

    Jeff and I will help PPC pros decipher one of the most confusing (and sometimes feared) aspects of PPC in 2020: Automation and artificial intelligence. Our session is entitled “Beyond the Engines’ AI: Make Machine Learning Work for YOUR Brand.”  We will help PPC pros learn how they can outperform the competition as automation by Google and Bing threatens to make things easier – and more difficult at the same time. 

    Pros and Cons of PPC Automation

    Google and Bing know what they are doing. Billions upon billions of searches have provided unprecedented opportunity to understand the actual intent and needs of audiences in ways old school marketers could never dream. 

    Over the last few years, in particular, the big engines have deployed powerful AI and machine learning to automate many core functions of PPC. On the upside, they’ve made it possible for pretty much anyone to set up and run good PPC. There are a lot of positives associated with automations now at search marketers’ collective fingertips – not the least of which is time savings. 

    The automation of many aspects of core PPC is eliminating busy tasks that used to take up the lion’s share of time for even the most efficient marketers. 

    However, with all of the greatness of automation, we see some big “cons” on the other side of the ledger, including a growing concern among search marketers that they may be automated into obsolescence. Let’s consider a few specific areas of concern, which we’ll cover in our PPC Hero Summit online session:

    1. Smart marketers are not 100% sold on the search engines’ machine learning features and settings. After all, the buck stops at the desk of the actual PPC pro when it comes to spending our own (or our clients’) budgets. Surrendering all control and decision making to Google and Bing automations isn’t wise. 
    2. If everyone uses the same automations in the same manner, PPC may well become overly commoditized. It could be akin to all teams in a sports league using the exact same playbook and strategy.
    3. Company A and Company B may be in the same industry selling similar products, but things that work well for one company or its customers may fail miserably for the other. 

    Jeff and I will cover essentials of what’s working and what’s not when it comes to the big engines’ machine learning. More importantly, we’ll discuss many liberating and empowering reasons to use a third-party tool to help you leapfrog competitors, including:

    Perhaps most valuable, we’ll help search marketers understand how to make a strong business case to their own bosses for a third-party resource. 

    I encourage you to invest 30 minutes of time to participate in our February 12 session. Jeff and I know your time is valuable, so we’re planning a rapid-fire event that can make a tremendous difference in your future as a marketer – without a huge investment of your time. 

    Register today and we look forward to this informative session.

    Thinking Outside The Box #2 – Bid by Weather

    You know that old saying “when it rains… apply bid changes”. Well, that’s not really how it goes, but it’s most definitely one thing you can do with our Rule Engine!

    On our last “Thinking Outside The Box” post, we showed you how to create a date-driven automation to change your campaign status. And that’s just one example of the many different (and powerful) use cases we have for Rule Engine.

    Now we’ll show you how Optmyzr can help you automatically bid by weather.  A similar case was also covered in the “Advanced Rule Engine Examples” video by our co-founder Frederick Vallaeys.

    Step 1: Create the Recipe

    For this example, we’ll create a recipe to modify bids at the ad group level using values such as “Current Temperature” or “Current Weather Condition”.

    Keep in mind that this is just one of many use cases for the Rule Engine weather bid management. Among the possibilities you’ll find you can:

    Step 2: Set up the spreadsheet

    To set up the spreadsheet, you’ll need to make a copy of this Google Spreadsheet, and share it with rule-engine@optmyzr-automation.iam.gserviceaccount.com

    You’ll need to generate your own API key here https://openweathermap.org/appid#get and follow the rest of the steps listed on the sheet “Instructions and Keys”.

    Note: For the last step on the spreadsheet, you can download your list of campaigns from the “Connect External Data” section in the Rule Engine by clicking on “Get Sample Data For Your Account” and paste it exactly as it is on the “Paste CSV from RE here” sheet.

    Step 3: Add the Zip Code

    Now let’s add the corresponding City or ZIP Code to the campaigns. The spreadsheet has a couple of sheets to get weather data. Depending on which one you want to use, you’ll have to manually add the City or ZIP code to your list of campaigns.

    For cities, please follow this format {city},{country code} (you can get a list of country codes here).

    Note that if the country code is not specified, the OpenWeatherMap API might return data for the wrong city.

    To link the spreadsheet to your recipe, you’ll need to paste the spreadsheet’s URL in the “Connect External Data” section. Make sure you specify the sheet from where the Rule Engine pulls weather data, and the correct column types (Current Temperature: Number|Current Weather Condition: Text).

    Read further on “Connecting External Data in Rule Engine”

    Step 5: Build the recipe

    Let’s get down to business! Having completed these previous steps, you can now use any of the weather data from the spreadsheet to build your own custom optimization. Remember the spreadsheet has campaign data, so that’s the scope you should use when adding the conditions:

    Let’s suppose that we have a couple of campaigns for “Sunglasses” in Madrid and “Shorts” in Toulouse. If temperatures start to rise, we might want to increase the bids for the ad groups in those campaigns accordingly.  The first rule does precisely this. If the temperature rises above 27ºC, and the weather condition is “clear sky” it applies two actions:

    1. We increase the bids for the ad groups in the campaign by 10%
    2. We label the ad groups (for the example we’ll use: Bid by High Temperature) – **This step is critical, as it helps to revert the changes with Rule-2.**

    But what happens if the temperatures drop? The second rule reverses the changes applied by the first rule. To do this, we check all ad groups with the label “Bid by High Temperature” and apply two actions:

    1. Set the bids back to their previous value. We achieve this by using an expression where we divide the Current Bid by 1+(0.1) where 0.1 = 10% increase.
    2. We remove the labels “Bid by High Temperature”.

    Note: In the same ****spreadsheet you can change the temperature units used (Instructions and Keys sheet – Step 4) and see a list of all weather conditions the Open Weather Map API can return (Descriptions sheet)

    Step 6: Test, preview & automate 

    All set! You can now preview the suggestions and if everything looks ok, you can go ahead and automate it to run on a daily basis.

    Try it out! If you have any questions, or if you’d like us to have a look at your recipe before you start running it just email us: support@optmyzr.com – we’ll be glad to help you.

    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.

    Microsoft Advertising Automation Roadmap for 2019/2020

    Microsoft product teams shed some light on their automation roadmap for the coming year.

    Automation features in beta

    Automation features coming soon

    What role will people play when it’s all automated?

    I asked the Microsoft team their thoughts on Smart campaigns and whether these would compete with the services an agency might offer their clients.

    Right now their sentiment is that Smart campaigns are intended to help small direct advertisers who don’t know much about PPC and who don’t have the help from an agency or a tool like Optmyzr. It’s a way to bring more advertisers onto the Microsoft Advertising platform and help them see success. Sophisticated advertisers will still want to continue using the traditional campaign types where they have more controls.

    Are Smart Display and Smart Shopping coming?

    The Smart campaigns that are on the roadmap are only for search right now. Microsoft did not announce a timeline for Smart Display and Smart Shopping campaigns.

    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>
            
            <div id="themify_builder_content-1807" data-postid="1807" class="themify_builder_content themify_builder_content-1807 themify_builder">
            </div>
            
            <!-- /themify_builder_content -->
    

    PPC in 2019: The Year YOU Reach Rockstar Status

    As an industry, we made huge strides in pay-per-click automation during 2018. It really was a transformational year for PPC pros, agencies and the brands we serve.

    There are tremendous opportunities on the horizon for PPC pros who are forward thinking and eager to recalibrate their own role and value in the PPC value chain. Yet many PPC pros today are perhaps a bit flummoxed about what the future holds for them, as Google and Bing are seemingly automating the PPC pro out of existence.

    The PPC pro’s rapidly shifting role will be a huge topic of discussion on this blog and other outlets as we move through 2019. Our team is in the trenches daily crafting functionality, scripts and concepts that will help you – the PPC pro – transform into a PPC rockstar due, in large part, to ongoing automation within the big engines.

    Building on Automation & Innovation in 2018

    Q1 of 2019 kicks off with amazing PPC automation momentum that welled up during 2018. A scan of 2018’s most-read Search Engine Land contributed posts shows extraordinary interest in automation and other new functionality designed to eliminate tasks associated with PPC. �

    Examples among the top posts include an interesting piece by Daniel Gilbert that showcases the power of scripts to automate ways to quickly fix low quality scores. (As you know, scripts are a key element of Optmyzr’s push to make the most out of automation.) While Google and Bing continue to automate so much of the upfront aspects of PPC, smart pros will take their script game to new heights in 2019. Scripts can be daunting if you haven’t dabbled in them before. But even for those versed in using scripts, they can almost certainly be used to an even greater degree to make the most of the daily advancements available natively in the engines as well as PPC management software like Optmyzr.

    We love seeing innovative script ideas from our peers in the industry. It keeps our script artisans on our toes to continually craft new and innovative scripts to crush tasks and foster greater strategic thinking among PPC practitioners. In fact, subscribers to Optmyzr have long had access to a script just like Daniel’s and now we’ve added a tool for pausing low QS keywords as a One-Click Optimization™ so it’s easier than ever to use.

    [Optmyzr Screen Cap][4]
    _Optmyzr subscribers can easily create custom rules or copy one of the many we’ve already created as instant recipes. This one identifies and pauses low quality score keywords that are not driving any conversions._

    Our team was pleased to see Optmyzr twice in the Top-10 SEL posts. We dove into some of the core things Google Ads can now do automatically and we examined close match variant changes that challenged and elevated capabilities for marketers and providers alike.

    Core in all of the discussions, whether about automation or other industry advancements, those of us writing about critical topics focused a lot of energy and attention on helping PPC pros view new dynamics as opportunity versus a threat to your long-term viability.

    Interestingly enough in 2018, some of the mainstream press started paying a _little _more attention and respect to the oft-misunderstood and underappreciated role of PPC. It was attention fueled, perhaps in part, by the significant role of buzzworthy concepts like AI and machine learning. Even Forbes included coverage this past year that started to unlock the mysteries of PPC and its potential to the broader business community. Writer Tom Chalmers took steps to help our business brethren connect dots between AI, automation and a more integrated view of marketing/content/PPC, in general. While not a deep piece, it was good to see PPC addressed in Forbes!

    Of course, the old school marketing/advertising media outlets like Ad Age and others still seem to view PPC as an odd, distant step-relative to old school marketing. A search of “PPC” on the Ad Age site yields a couple of results from two years ago. Such apathy within “mainstream” marketing underscores opportunity for smart PPC pros to elevate to rockstar status in 2019.

    Read on for a taste of what we’ll be talking about in the months ahead….

    Automation, AI/Machine Learning – Buzz or Brave New World?

    Some of the words we (our industry) use are perhaps beginning to take on very similar and sometimes diluted meanings in our space. To an extent, we’re all guilty of buzz-ifying our industry when we talk about concepts like AI and machine learning – and in the process, even the smartest of pros can struggle to figure out what these concepts really mean for our shared future.

    The reality, though, artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation dovetail in many ways to create unprecedented opportunity for PPC innovators. Few other marketers can quantify their impact on the business as a PPC expert. Few others are at the center of the storm where purchase-intent consumers are stampeding toward the bottom of the funnel, ready to convert. Few others can connect the dots between the content, words, images that people see in different channels and search for every day.

    As a result, the PPC rockstar in 2019 should earn a more commanding seat at the marketing leadership table!

    PPC rockstars can and should influence broader marketing strategies from the very beginning of the process. As automation frees us from the tasks of PPC, you can unearth significant opportunity to put your knowledge and analytic abilities to work in much more strategic fashion – for your PPC initiatives and help foster true integration of marketing. �

    2019 might well be the breakout year for PPC pros to go from “yeah…she does that pay-per-click Google stuff” (uttered with a slightly confused tone) to “she really transformed our marketing integration in amazing ways.”

    Sneak Peek: Big News Coming Soon

    Without giving away the farm, I’m looking forward to sharing news about a project that has been near and dear to my heart for the last several months. Look for an announcement soon about something I think will be really helpful for PPC pros to get your mindset in the right frame for 2019.

    Automation will rule the day in PPC in the months ahead. But that doesn’t mean automation should rule the PPC pro. On the contrary, I look forward to unveiling our latest project that will help PPC pros elevate their game to rockstar status by taking control of what, how, and when automation is deployed in search marketing to help you drive increasingly powerful results for the clients and brands you serve.

    In the meantime, keep studying. Keep reading. Keep learning. Embrace automation because it is your ticket to great things in 2019.