Getting Free Advertising on LinkedIn

Aiming Clear

Recently, I observed a LinkedIn ad placed by aimClearConsulting Services. All it said was:

 

Good calls to action give a concise value proposition, and use strong language with an attention-grabbing sense of urgency to earn a click. AimClear’s ad… doesn’t have a call to action.

Log into your LinkedIn account and look at the ads you are shown. Refresh a dozen times. How many don’t have a call to action? In all likelihood, none of them. So what’s going on here? Is this the worst ad ever?

Multipurpose

Quite the contrary. Let’s set aside clicks for a moment, and this of what this ad communicates. In 74 characters, aimClear:

– Establishes that they were present at SMX
– Indicates a deep familiarity with and connection to advanced Facebook marketing
– Offer a post-event, gratitude-oriented relationship with attendees
– Creates an intriguing ad that gets me talking about it here

And they can accomplish this without a single click. If this was a CPM display ad, then the cost would have been what it was. There’s actually no way to tell as a user, since pay-per-click and display ads are mixed. But what if it was a PPC ad?

On the Cheap

LinkedIn ads are relatively new, but they do already have a reputation for providing weak click-through rates and high cost per click rates. Instead of trying to fight through poor ad placement and scrounge for expensive clicks, what if – and this is speculative – aimClear aimed to brand, chose a PPC and, and have potentially the least click-worthy ad of all, meaning the least possible costs?

Yeah, they probably got some clicks, so their costs weren’t nil. But by framing it as a display ad with little click incentive, they could have saved a whack of money.

It Ain’t AdWords

The reason why this strategy doesn’t work in a platform like AdWords is because of an old grouchy friend we call quality score. If your pay-per-click does not perform, which in the case of pay-per-click ads means attracting clicks, then the advertising platform makes less money. That punishment translates into higher costs per click for poor performing advertisers to recoup the poor performance losses. Quality score incorporates numerous factors, but CTR is a big one.

But it isn’t clear that there is any direct equivalent to a quality score on LinkedIn DirectAds. No quality score means no punishment in costs. The publishment a person does get slapped with is lower impressions. But first of all, low impressions can be expected anyway in LinkedIn ads, so you might be able to get away with it for a while, and second of all, the advertising is still nearly free, apart from the $5 startup cost.

The Future

As the LinkedIn DirectAds system gets more advanced and explicit about their advancements, we may start to hear about a quality score equivalent. Or at least, some clear mechanism to address cases like this which essentially make them little money. Depending on how strict their performance measure, the results of this kind of scheme can be few enough impressions to be worth the time. Still, free advertising is free advertising, and if an ad can be like aimClear’s and communicate a lot without requiring a click, it may be a strategy worth considering, especially in a case like aimClear’s where a big campaign isn’t necessary anyway, given that it was a conference followup and necessarily temporary.

Time to test! We’ll share results when we have them.

edit: Made some tweaks! The first version worked within the knowledge that the overwhelming majority of LinkedIn ads are PPC, but didn’t acknowledge that display ads do exist on LinkedIn. The post is about turning PPC ads into display ads, but the fact that display ads do exist, however rarely used, should have been mentioned.

Exact, Broad, and Phrase: Matching Keywords to Your Needs

Google offers four primary “match types” for keywords you can bid on in their AdWords platform, reflecting different degrees of specificity in your targeting. Understanding how they work in a basic way is handy, but even with that knowledge, it’s not always completely clear which you should choose for your campaigns. Scroll to the strategies if you’re already familiar with the basics, but read on if you’re not.

First, That Basic Introduction to Match Types

Exact match represents bid for the exact phrase you want to bid on, your ad only triggering if the Google user searched specifically exactly those words in exactly that order. These keywords are typically represented in square brackets. So, you might bid on [womens leather jackets], and your ad would only be shown if that exact entire term was searched.

Phrase match gives you some exact control over the core of the keywords you want to bid for, but allows you to account for variations on the phrase that users may search. You specify a set of keywords you want to keep in their exact order, but are willing to have your add triggered even if extra words are included in the search before or after your chosen set. These phrase match keywords you bid on are typically represented in quotation marks. So, if you bid on “leather jackets”, your ad could be triggered for searches for leather jackets, womens leather jackets, mens leather jackets, leather jackets for purple ponies, and so on.

The third match type is more broad than the first two, and as such is called, as you might expect… broad match! This is used when you want Google to show your ad as long as there is a connection to at least one of the terms in your phrase. Word order is irrelevant, and you are giving Google the freedom to make much looser connections. Broad match keywords don’t use additional formatting to identify (like the square brackets or quotation marks of the other match types). So, bidding on leather jackets can show ads for searches for mens leather jackets, jacket for pony, leather coat, leather on the weekends, and any other loose connection for plural/singular distinctions and related terms.

As of last year, there is a way you can get more control of your broad match terms, using modified broad match. This allows a lot of the reaching flexibility of broad match, while allowing you to specify keywords that must be in the search query. To bid on a broad phrase but insist on a particular keyword’s inclusion, simply add a + before the keyword. So, bidding on leather +jackets will return the results that bidding on leather jacketswould bring, but only for queries containing the word jackets.

Here is a table that Google provided on their AdWords blog to summarize what I’ve written above (click to see full size):

 

The broader the search term, the greater the chance of you bidding on terms that are irrelevant to you. You can specify that you don’t want your ads shown for and queries containing terms you indicate as negative keywords. You specify negative keywords in exact, phrase, and broad terms, to control how you want the exclusion to play out.

The table below, also provided on the AdWords blog, will serve better than any written explanation:

 

Now, Which to Pick?

Now that we’re all on the same page, here are strategic concerns and considerations to help you actually decide which of these to pick. These are general guidelines that may have cases where you would consider acting differently, but should help with some issues.

JUST STARTING OUT WITH ONLY BROAD MATCH?

Don’t make the mistake of only using broad match, just because you’re not prepared to put the time into telling Google exactly what you want. Broad match has lower conversion rates, and needs to be supplemented with some specificity. Also, while broad match can be useful for higher traffic with a wider reach, you must be willing to put the time in to run query reports to identify keywords that have absolutely no business being there, and add words to your negative keywords list. Broad without negatives means burning money.

ANY HELP FOR NEGATIVE KEYWORDS?

The search query report will definitely highlight problem areas, but if you’re looking to highlight problem terms before you start, use the Google keyword tool and search for broad terms. You will, in most cases, find negative keywords in the suggested list.

LOOKING FOR A GENERAL STRATEGY FOR WHICH MATCH TYPE TO USE?

Use them all! Each match type has strengths in different ways, which may not be entirely apparent when you start. Try them all out, and see what performs and what doesn’t. Cut what doesn’t. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice too much of your budget on broad terms that are less relevant than your exact match terms which are much more likely to convert. Don’t be afraid to bid a bit more on exact terms to give a greater chance your money is spent there.

Exact match represents the bigger stones you put in the jar first that make sure you convert. Phrase match are the pebbles you use to fill out a bit more with a reasonable mass of performance. Broad match is the sand you use to fill the rest of the budget jar. The idea is that you don’t want to put too much sand in before you have your stones taken care of.

Note, you don’t need broad, phrase, and exact versions of every term in your list, but do make sure the highest volume key terms at least start at all three match types.

ONLY HAVE A SMALL BUDGET?

Don’t use it on broad match. Use it on the exact terms that are more likely to convert. Even if you spend more per click, the results will, in most cases, make the extra spend per click worth it.

MORE INTERESTED IN VOLUME AND BRANDING THAN CONVERSIONS?

That’s what broad match is really for. Rather than potentially spend more on exact terms, let broad match do what it’s meant to do, and just keep on top of your negative keywords to make sure you’re still bidding within reason.

IS PHRASE MATCH THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS?

Sometimes yes, but often it’s the worst of both worlds. You might end up spending more because you are reaching a wide audience, but converting less because your terms end up not specific enough. By all means, try it out, but keep a close eye on it.

SHOULD I BID ON MY BRAND? IF SO, HOW?

Bid on your brand or any key product with an exact match keyword.

Any other strategic questions regarding match types? Put them in the comments, and I’ll help!

The Self-Defeating Nature of Facebook Ads

The nature of the Facebook Ads system is such that numerous factors will inevitably lead to click-through rate decline. Unlike Google’s Quality Score, where CTR is a defined metric relating directly to impressions, Facebook does not give an indication of CTR’s effect on impressions – but we’ve seen its effects. It’s unclear whether or not bid costs go up, but certainly impressions go down, as they would; no point in showing ads people don’t click on.

Demographically-Driven

The advantage Facebook ads are meant to have over Google’s content network is the ability to highly target your ads using demographic information. In setting up an ad, you can target location to city granularity, age to the year, gender, relationship status, language, education, workplace, and a general keyword matched interest. Indeed, without a Quality Score connecting a search term to ad copy to a landing page, demographics are all you’ve got.

The thinking goes, by hitting an extremely targeted group of people, you will have the best possible click-through rate and ad performance. But the more specific you get, the smaller the group, and the greater your odds will be of a decreasing click through rate, and thus your impressions, and your total clicks. But if the targeting is specific, wouldn’t the opposite be expected?

Facebook Fatigue

The same ads are being shown again and again to the same people, selected based on demographics-driven targeting. This multiple display can bring about numerous situations:

– The user hasn’t clicked yet, but after enough hammering away at them, they eventually cave and check it out.
– The user hasn’t clicked, and never will.
– The user has clicked, and keeps getting shown the ad anyway.

Situation 1 is the only one worth paying for, and has to represent the minority of cases. Even then, it can turn into case 3.

The problem is, as a Facebook advertiser, you have no indication of when this saturation point has occurred, other than a dropping CTR. You have an idea at the beginning of roughly how many people you’re targeting with “estimated reach”, but you don’t really know who you’ve reached and how many times.

Out of 1000 that fit the demographic, what if 999 never even log in to Facebook, and the remaining person is a heavy user? This is an exaggerated case, but it makes the point; demographic reach gives no indication of the user behaviour of this “reached” audience. This information is extremely relevant to a CPC setup, even more to the CPM setup.

Google’s Content Contrast

Contrast this with keyword-matched search behaviour, where being on a particular page is indicative of intent, to the extent to which Google has done a effective job of pairing Google ads with the content.

Google’s content network isn’t flawless, and sometimes, in the effort to match ads to content, the similarity is strained. But this is a worst case scenario, where the best case is relevant for the given user and as such the click-through rate has a good chance of being reasonable. If the same ad is being shown to the same surfer again, the fact is that they are again surfing related content, and there’s reasonable demonstrated intent all over again.

Real-Time Solutions

“Likes” and current demographic data can potentially loosely match, but still have no mechanism of determining time-sensitive intent.

24: Jack (Kiefer Sutherland, R) and the team at CTU set a trap in order to capture the unsecured nuclear rods in the “1:00 – 2:00 AM” episode of 24 that aired Monday, March 1 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Kelsey McNeal/FOX

To creepify things a little, the best potential for time-sensitive demographic application and ad serving is based on real-time analysis of user statements. This is something Facebook has begun testing with a “small” pool of 6 million users. Such a method would be more effective than the current setup, but still not as representative of proactive, actionable intent, and not as much as content browsing.

The Core of the Problem

Back to fatigue. Once the pool is saturated, recognized only because your CTR has dropped, you have some options. You can try to re-make and jazz up the ad to something different, and we recommend doing so. You can also widen the demographic target – get less targeted – which will potentially increase your total volume of clicks and counteract fatigue, but the decrease in the specific targeting will result in, of course, lower click-through rates.

An alternative is to start wide and get more specific, so that you can benefit from the increase in CTR as you get more targeted. But there’s something rather counter-intuitive about having an ad system like Facebook’s and deliberately not being as targeted as possible!

More CTR Murder

For seasonal businesses, ads served by demographics alone are bound to provide a worse CTR during the low season compared to the high. While that may seem obvious, the fact is that keyword-driven navigation won’t have this problem, or nearly to the same extent.

With keyword searches, you serve up the ad with the matching content, and the targeting remains, even if at lower volumes. If the surfer is browsing content relating to the low season keyword, they get the relevant ad. If they’re not, they don’t. So, the while impressions and clicks may drop to match lower interest, the click-through rate will should not and you should suffer no penalty.

Remaining Questions

This has been a very complaint-filled post, raising questions and only sometimes providing answers. In many cases, perhaps the seasonal businesses case, there is no easy answer for Facebook because it is a consequence of the nature of the platform. It’s not their responsibility to be an optimal platform in all cases, and they should be able to just play to their strengths. If Google has them beat in some areas, it’s because Google Content Network ads are simply a different animal, and it’s up to the advertiser to be savvy enough to know the difference and act appropriately.

That concession made, there’s no excuse for the lack of tools provided for advertisers to help predict and avoid fatigue, including potentially refining “reach” to factor in or account for the varying degrees of use per user. Also useful would be some way of having an idea of how often your impressions are being seen by the same eyes, so you can make informed decisions. This mystery is likely good for Facebook’s bottom line, but it certainly doesn’t help yours.

Also missing is any real clarification of what Facebook’s equivalent of a Quality Score is or would be, and CTR’s role therein.

Or maybe I’m demanding too much out of my ad platform?

5 Alternative PPC Ad Networks

In my last post I explored 5 Social Media Ad Networks that might be worth investing in. But what about conventional PPC advertising?

Well if you’re a loyal PPC advertiser and you’re looking for places beyond AdWords and adCenter/Bing to invest some extra ad dollars, here are five options to consider.

5 Alternative PPC Ad Networks

There are a number of auction-based ad networks out there that let you buy ad space on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. Some are second-tier search engines while others are networks of content publishers. Of these, some are high profiles sites that you just can’t reach through Google or Bing.

Ask Sponsored Listings: this search engine isn’t anywhere near the size of Google or Bing, however, its focus on specific verticals makes it an opportune network for certain advertisers.

In March of 2010 Ask launched PureLeads. This technology is supposed to offer better results by putting traffic “through a series of tests and filters to ensure only the most qualified visitors are delivered to your website.” Its network also includes publishers such as CNet, Match.com, Evite, Excite, Mamma, and Dogpile.

Its search network claims a reach of more than 73 million unique users while its content networks boasts over 34 million unique users. Advertisers bid on ad placements using a CPC model.

AOL Advertising: This ad network (formerly known as Quigo AdSonar) seems to have come a long way since AOL took charge of it over two years ago. Most recently, it launched something called Project Devil to help its publishers produce better content and to better integrate ads with that content.

Here, advertising is sold on a contextual basis. Advertisers can reach audiences across 68 sites and target them with a number of targeting options including a variety of demographics. Widgets and rich media placements are also available.

Marchex Adhere: Through Marchex Adhere (formerly known as IndustryBrains) you can buy advertising on either a pay-per-call or cost-per-click basis. It also offers access to niche verticals including business, finance, real estate, IT, and HR.

With Marchex you can use site-specific placements to target ads on such publisher sites as BusinessWeek, The Motley Fool, and PCWorld. And while keyword-targeted placements might seem more appealing due to its familiarity with PPC advertisers, Marchex’s real strength lies with this site-specific targeting.

Pontiflex: This is more of a Cost Per Lead (CPL) marketplace than an ad network. Branded as a “social acquisitions platform”, it helps you aggregate actual user data and then follow up with those users via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Some of the higher profile publishers in the Pontiflex CPL network include BabyCenter, Monster, and Admob. Pontiflex advertising has been used by clients such as the Obama ‘08 campaign as well as UNICEF.

MIVA: Acquired by Adknowledge in March 2009, MIVA is a CPC network that offers placements through search, display advertising, and email marketing. Without setting up an account as an advertiser, however, it’s difficult to get much information on what verticals this network is strongest in, as well as the specific sites and publishers in the network.

Bidding on the Fringe

Search marketing is a good first step in online advertising because it can provide the volume you need to calculate your average cost per conversion. Without that baseline it can be difficult to calculate how much to invest in a given campaign or ad network.

Once you have that data, the next step is to test a few small campaigns before fully launching a campaign across a new channel. This will help you measure the value of the traffic, as well as optimize your campaigns around that traffic.

Overall, going beyond the big, mainstream ad networks should be a calculated risk. You should have an idea of what your average CPL/CPA is, and determine in advance how much it makes sense to invest in a test campaign (partly so that you don’t spend too much, but partly because you’ll want enough traffic to get enough data). So if you are considering going out into the fringe networks, just make sure you know how much traffic is worth to you and how much you expect to get back out of it.

5 Social Media Ad Networks

A fundamental tenet of customer acquisition is to not put all your eggs in one basket. After all, having one customer responsible for most of your sales puts you in a very precarious situation.

The same applies to your online ad spend. While one channel can, no doubt, drive the majority of conversions, it’s always good to have a few other sources of traffic. Basically, there are three incentives for running campaigns on a variety of networks:

  • First, you can reach new audiences, which might mean better targeting.
  • Second, running on many networks lets you target ads on a more niche-basis, which can offer lower costs-per-conversion.
  • Finally, you can get more out of each ad dollar by optimizing your ad campaigns on a network-by-network basis — i.e., you can determine which messages perform best with which audiences.

And, of course, when it comes to expanding online ad campaigns beyond Google Adwords, it’s hard to not consider different social media options. Here’s an overview of 5 of the larger social media options out there.

5 Social Ad Networks

The real value that social media offers advertisers is the ability to target ads with niche precision. Through social networks, users provide a wealth of data about themselves, including their interests, demographics, etc. Advertisers can then tap into these data sets and set-up campaigns which are targeted in a variety of ways. Let’s take a look at how some of the bigger social media ad networks let advertisers do this.

FACEBOOK ADS
Now, Facebook has been a media darling for both the mainstream media and media buyers. For instance, Facebook now accounts for 23% of all US ad impressions. More importantly, the average CPM on Facebook is well below industry standards, ranging from $2-$8, rather than the $15 that other premium media sites can charge.

One of the reasons that Facebook ads might be so cheap is because they are so targeted — i.e., you’re not paying for impressions you don’t want, so fewer of your ads go to waste. Advertising through Facebook Ads gives you the choice between buying ads on a CPM or CPC basis. You can target users with a variety of criteria, including age, location, gender, and education, as well as with targeted keywords. Facebook Ads are also text-based, have a maximum limit of 135 characters, and include a small image. Here are some tips on optimizing your Facebook ads.

LINKEDIN DIRECT ADS
LinkedIn offers an excellent platform for targeting business professionals. In fact, the LinkedIn network is particularly good for promoting B2B products.

Through LinkedIn Direct Ads, you can reach over 80 million professionals worldwide, and target them by criteria such as location, industry, job title, and company size. Advertisers may also choose between a CPC or CPM model.

You should be aware, however, that LinkedIn Direct Ads isn’t the most affordable network. For instance, CPMs in some categories can be as high as $50 or more. Also, even though rich media placements are available, they are restricted to advertisers with minimum budgets of $25,000.

STUMBLEUPON ADS
Through StumbleUpon, advertisers can target a pre-determined number of users by criteria such as personal interests, location, gender, and age. Essentially, StumbleUpon lets users discover new websites based on their own interests. Users hit a “stumble” button and are randomly shown sites that fall into a category of content they like. The user then gives the website a thumbs-up or -down, and an algorithm then tries to determine their personal taste. StumbleUpon allows advertisers to “buy” such stumbles for 5 cents apiece.

When advertising on StumbleUpon, though, you’ll want to make sure that you’re sending that traffic to a landing page that is appropriate for the targeted audience. If it’s not appropriate, enough users might vote it down so that you won’t end up getting your money’s worth in “stumbles.” To help you along in this task (and prevent you from spamming their users) StumbleUpon provides metrics on how many likes or dislikes your landing page received, as well as user reviews of that landing page. This way you can adjust campaigns to be more compatible with the StumbleUpon audience.

MYSPACE
Now, I don’t know if you remember, but MySpace recently relaunched as a music / entertainment-only hub. The point is that the site isn’t dead yet, and it still offers CPC banner advertising.

Through MySpace MyAds, you can “hyper-target” up to 15 million users. Hyper-targeting means that you use criteria such as gender, age, location, interests, hobbies, etc. Also, like Google Adwords, you can control your maximum bid. Finally, as part of the FOX Audience Network, MySpace MyAds also offers the option of taking your campaigns beyond MySpace and reach out to users on other Fox-owned sites.

SPONZAI
This is one of the several advertising products available from Izea, a social media marketing company. Sponzai differs from traditional media buying networks in that it lets you connect with a blogger’s audience by posting guest posts on their sites.

This is how it works: (1) you write a potential guest post, (2) you upload it to the Sponzai system and indicate how much you’re willing to pay to have it featured on a targeted blog, then (3) bloggers review your content and price, and decide whether or not they want to run your post.

The most interesting part about Sponzai is that you don’t just get the impressions, but the ability to actually interact with someone’s audience (as well as contextual backlinks).

Before You Jump Into Social Ads

All said, you have to remember that search marketing is an important first step of getting into online advertising since it can deliver sufficient volume to determine your average cost per conversion. Without that data, it can be hard to figure out whether a social media ad network is worth advertising on or calculate how much you should invest in a social media ad campaign.

But once you have the data you need to measure a campaign on a social ad network, you have to make sure that the network’s pricing model is compatible with your business model. Finally, once you go ahead with a social ad campaign, start by running a few small test campaigns before launching a fully comprehensive campaign across the network. This way, you can measure the value of the traffic and optimize your campaigns around that user-base before going all out.

PPC Management Tips from Noran El-Shinnawy

In this interview, we speak with Noran El-Shinnawy of Acquisio, a company that provides advanced PPC management software. Noran is a Marketing Manager there, and we caught up with her at SES Toronto 2010 and sat down to discuss some PPC management tactics and strategies.

Noran covered two main points. First, she discussed what she sees as some of the biggest challenges in managing multiple PPC campaigns across multiple search engines. Second, she shared some tips on how to get more our of your PPC campaigns, by doing less grunt work and focusing on actually adding value and meaning to your PPC campaigns

SES Toronto 2010 Live Blogging: Advanced Paid Search Tactics

Anne F. Kennedy, SES Advisory Board, International Search Strategist, Beyond Ink USA

Speakers:
Matt Rogers, Manager, Online Sales, Google
Andrew Goodman, SES Advisory Board & President, Page Zero Media
Jon Myers, SES Advisory Board & Head of Search/Associate Director, Mediavest
Jeff Lancaster, Managing Director, Outrider

First up Matt Rogers from Google

The next generation of adwords bidding – conversion optimizer is a new tool by Google Adwords. Matt feels the potential this tool has is really outstanding. It automatically manages your bids to increase conversion with a target CPA feature.

They’ve seen this tool increase conversions by 21% and decreased CPA by 14%

Like most predictive tools the more volume you push through it the better it will work. You set your target or maximum CPA, conversion optimizer analyzes each auction. The tool analyzes why users convert sometimes, and others don’t, including things like user location, browser operating system, time of day, and applies these metrics to refine your campaign.

for every auction it analyzes things like specific words in the query, broad vs exact match, historical performance, match quality between the ad and site content, current content on the site – all of these things together allow the tool to make fairly good predictive measures.

Of course it’s a free tool, because this is Google after all.

Quality Score

what do you not know?
quality score determines thee eligibitliyt of your ad for any auction, and position. It also determines if your ad is of high enough quality to show ad sitelinks – those ad sitelinks are a lot like organic search site links. Ads with a high quality score might get extra exposure via ad-sitelinks.

Obviously high qa reduces price, and allows you to get to the top spot, but also, you need to have a high quality score for dynamic keyword insertion to be enabled.

click through rate, other relevance factors and the landing page combine to produce your quality score. It’s better to focus your time on quality scores that are less than 7, and focus on getting them up to a 10 – he recommends not worrying about 8s and 9s.

Landing page quality is only really used to police serious offenders of landing page guidelines, but doesn’t help to boost your quality score.

Impression share reporting

impression share is a new adwords metric that represents how much your ad was shown of all impressions available for that keyword. You can improve your impression share by increasing budget, or improving quality, or refining targetting.

Next up is Andrew Goodman

Andrew says things are getting more complicated, and a lot of people are ‘underthinking’ things in PPC these days.

How to be smart vs just rational – it’s natrual for us to be as stupid as we can get away with. For example, trying to get to a target CPA, our first instinct may be to reduce our bid amount.  Rules or random? We create some basic mental rules, and naturally we don’t always follow the rules we set out for ourselves – so use software, he mentions Acquisio creating a bid management tool that lets you create your own rule sets. Rules based tools have evolved and allow things like simulations, and of course e-mail notification when your specific rule targets are met.

Quality score promotes relevance

  • ad position determined by AdRank
  • adrank = QS x max bid, by keyword
  • quality score recomuted each query, each auction
  • makes money for google
  • makes search users happy
  • new accounts need to establish history.

what google actually says – CTR is mentioned over and over again – landing pages are mentioned, but really landing page quality is not a factor for calculating a keywrod targetted ad position, it’s only a factor in extremes.

So why do we have low quality scores? Sometimes a 4 or a 5 seems endemic to an industry – looking at an example of a company bidding on anything to do with ’salary’, QS clearly shows the keywords that appeal to employees searching for information performing worse than those appealing to employers.

New accounts need care and feeding – new accounts are different. You have to really get granular, pause or just don’t launch the larger broader keywords at first, build up some history on the granular. Be very tight for new campaigns to get the QS ball rolling

Match types – new modified broad match allows you to require multiple individual keywords, so +candy +wholesalers will match for “candy cane wholesalers” and “rate candy toronto wholesalers” – this is often an easier way to get a better CPA, but unlike the old broad match it’s harder to discover terms and extend campaigns.

What makes ads work? Test ads against ads – you want ads to filter well, but you want a high CTR – this isn’t a natural match, so you really have to test test test your ads against one another to try and find the very few ads that can seem to do both, filter out the useless traffic but manage a good click through rate. This is a combination of testing ads against ads and being diligent with their match types.

Adcomparitor.co.uk provides a free tool to compare multiple ads against one another – Andrew recommends this tool.

Jon Myers is up next from MediaVest UK

Tip 1 – budget optimization

a useful process is to use something like a PPC decision tree, almost a flow chart – a paid search is either converting for you or not converting for you. Is it not converting, is it getting a lot of clicks? It’s really about how are my keywords working ofr me or how are they not working for me?

Tip  – google’s search query tool

search query reporting provide highlights of negative keywords you may want to apply – the way to get reach is to use broad match, but that can be detrimental. He likes to start with a lot of broad match in a campaign, then use the search query reports and start adding a lot of negative keywords, and pluck out a lot of exact matches. So it’s a transition from braod (with reach) to exact (with better CTR and QS)

The search based keyword tool can also be useful – it looks at your landing page, suggested search terms, suggested bids and a lot of other information that applies to paid search. It’s not just about keywords in the market, but a lot of specific information about your own site and setting up an effective campaign

Tip 3 – adgooroo by true visibility

Adgooroo is a tool that looks at what your competitors are doing in the marketplace – it fairly intuitively maps your efforts against the competitors. It’s a great way to see how, and what, your competitors are doing. It also allows you to do creative comparisons, again, against your competitors. Which ads are working best ofr your competitors? Good information.

it’s about fifty dollars a month and worth every penny. Google themselves have just released an ‘alayze your competition’ feature right within your Adwords account. This is a little bit like what adgooroo offers. It’s not specific, but they agregate data and let you compare your work against non-specific competitors

Tip 4 – site links

if your QS is high enough you’ll have an option in your account to enable or implement site links on your ads – they look a bit like organic site links, but of course if you’re lucky enough to be able to enable them, they certainly help CTR. One tip, you can’t differentiate the site links that you include, so slap on some tracking to the URLs you supply for your site links if you want to gain specific insight.

Sitelinks are just working on brands right now, but they’re definitely going to expand to non-brand related keywords in the very near future, so start bidding.

tip 5 – google ad planner and content network

ad planner allows you to

identify websites your target customers are likely to visit

define audience by demographics and interests

search for websites relevant to your target audience

access unique users, page view,s and other data for millions of websites

crete lists of website where you’d like to advertise

Ad planner’s best aspect is allowing you to sift through sites by demographic, look at a number of metrics abou the specific sites, and then directly import these sites into a targeted content network campaign in your adwords account. This includes things like placement targeting and ‘above the fold’ targeting, which is quite handy.

tip 5.5 – look at your change history – it shows you every little change that gets made to your campaign. If you don’t run it hands on yourself, you may gain a lot of insight into what exactly the managers of your campaign are doing day to day.

Jeff from Outcaster is up next

another 5 tips presentation

tip 1 – consider account restructuring – taking your top performers and creating ‘hero’ campaigns. A good approach is to take the best performing aspects of your campaign, and literally break them off into separate top-performing ‘hero’ campaigns. Give them their own ads, specific landing pages etc. For the most important keywords give them their own ad-groups for really granular control over things. SEO the heck out of the landing pages you’re using (a lot of classic SEO techniques apply to PPC landing pages).

Tip 2 – make adding negatives a regular part of your weekly routine

this may be a basic tip but it bears repetition – the search query report should be part of your weekly routine to find new negative keywords regularly. Intent might change as markets change, news and current events can cause account pollution – but if you’re consistently checking the query report, you’re in the best position to keep your campaigns lean and mean. Pretty soon there are going to be no restrictions on negative matching for Yahoo and Microsoft.

3 – Funnel reporting

Funnel reports only came out in march – they allow you to see which keywords had the most ‘assists’  (impressions, click through etc) further up the funnel, and what keywords might have affected a conversion beyond the ‘last click’ that result most directly in it. People don’t always convert the very first time they come across your site, so this tool lets you see the larger process of what happened, which can shed light on how your conversions are actually occurring.

Sometimes a very generic term can be the initial point of contact with a new surfer, and you wouldn’t realize that if they don’t convert until they come back and search for your brand name – so eliminating those generic terms could be a negative thing to do, but you wouldn’t  know it if you’re only ever looking at the last click before conversion. These ‘assist’ metrics can help you understand your larger campaign from a better perspective.

4 – Ad group transition path report

This is a report within funnel reporting called ‘top paths’. This needs to be linked to your Analytics account or you have to be using Adwords conversion tracking – it lets you basically get a sense of the paths that conversions are taking through your website. This provides opportunities to refine your landing pages – if you notice people who convert always clicking away from your initial landing page to a specific piece of information located elsewhere, it’s a good sign that you might want to include that information directly on the initial landing page they surfer is presented with.

5 – Test Facebook PPC ads

Facebook is almost an emerging content network – you can do ‘uber-targeted’ campaigns which combine geographic and interest targeting which sometimes works great for specific advertisers achieving a solid ROI. Engagement ads direve to fan pages, but standard ads can drive off network to your website – and a major bonus is that you can get tonnes of cheap impressions and spread awareness. It’s good for branding in other words. It doesn’t work for every advertiser, but every now and then you’ll find a sweet spot for a specific advertiser where Facebook is just the right network.

Jeff also has a slide on Adgooroo, and mentions that it’s a particularly good tool for Canadian advertisers, because they give CND specific stats and information. It’s got great regional perspective information, better than many US-centric tools and networks.

SES Toronto 2010 Live Blogging: Search Ads & Landing Page Clinic

Moderator: Bryan Eisenberg

Speakers:
Noran El-Shinnawy, Internet Marketing Manager Acquisio
Mona Elesseily, Dicrector of Marketing Strategy, Page Zero Media

The motto for the talk is PPC = Pay Per Conversation. This lecture is designed to troubleshoot problems members of the audience are having with their PPC ads & campaigns. The session has a pretty relaxed tone so I’ll try to just focus on key points that stand out and leave out the specific examples due to lack of illustration:

  • 1. Stay consistent between your ad text and the text on the landing page. Your landing page needs to have the same key phrases and keywords you use in your ad text so people know where to go next.
  • 2. White-spaces around the fold can lead users to believe there’s no content below
  • 3. Don’t have competing calls to action
  • 4. Use thank-you pages to upsell
  • 5. Security assurance. If you’re landing page has a form, make sure you can assure users that the information is secure and won’t be sold to a 3rd party.
  • 6. Make the point of focus on the landing page obvious.
  • 7. If your site is experiencing technical difficulties make sure you pause your campaigns to avoid wasting money
  • 8. Play to your strengths but don’t make the conversation all about yourself. Include the user in your ad text.
  • 9. Use specific terms. Broad superlative terms waste space and don’t actually tell the user about you. Terms like “best”, “extensive”, “amazing” etc.
  • 10. People who arrive to your landing page as a result of a local search can benefit from having local images and maps.
  • 11. If the landing page doesn’t look professional or the design doesn’t look current you’ll be negatively impacting your possibility for conversations.

Ken Jurina on Negative Keywords @ Pubcon 2009

This is a video interview with Ken Jurina, the President and CEO of Epiar, and SEM firm. We met up with Ken at Pubcon 2009, and decided to ask him about what’s going on in the world of PPC these days.

Ken discussed the importance of negative keywords, and how they’re integral to a well-managed PPC campaign. He also touched upon the emergence of Bing and how the new search engine can affect how PPC advertisers approach negative keywords in their campaigns running on Bing.

4 Musts for AdWords Optimization

Pay per click (PPC) advertising is no different than most other forms of advertising in that you have just fractions of a second to make your pitch. That isn’t much time to get your message across and sell your product, which is why you’ll need to make the most of those 130 characters in your PPC ad to get people clicking.

The following is a basic summary—and likely a reminder for many—of four guidelines for achieving high click through rates (CTR). While CTR in itself is not always the most useful measure of performance, it does impact important things like your AdWords Quality Score, which in turn influences things like your click costs.

Relevance

Keywords are the bedrock of your PPC campaigns. The best PPC ad relates directly to the keywords being searched. By selecting the right term and including it in your ad text, you’ve already gone a long way to capturing a searcher’s interest and, hopefully, their click.

AdWords offers advertisers a feature called keyword insertion, whereby a searcher’s query for a term on which you are bidding will automatically be inserted into your ad text. Depending upon how well organized and specific your ad groups are, you’ll often find that keyword insertion ads perform at higher CTRs than do regular, static ones.

Call to Action

The call to action is a tried and true marketing principle.  After stating your offer you’ll need to encourage searchers to click your ad by using engaging, action-oriented words and phrases. It can be as simple as using expressions like ’Order Now’, Join’, ‘Apply Now’, or whatever might seem most appropriate to your campaign and ad group.

For some ideas and to aid you in choosing effective calls to action, check out this document [starting from page 8] supplied by Microsoft AdCenter in 2006 which provides detail on what calls to action perform best for particular verticals.

In Context

The context in which your advertisement appears is just as important as what the ad itself looks like.  By default, Google will display your ad not only on its search result pages—i.e., the Search Network, which also includes the results pages of search partners like Ask.com—but also on pages within its Content Network that its system has identified as having content related to your ad and ad group. Ads on Google’s Content Network tend to get many more impressions than the same ads on the Search Network. CTRs on the Content Network are therefore much lower than on Search.

As a result, when evaluating the performance of your ads, it’s important that you keep the two networks separate. Create duplicate campaigns: one only for Search, the other only for Content. This setup also allows you to more easily manage things on the front-end by having, for example, different budgets and CPCs depending on the performance of each network.

Optimized

Another critical part of increasing your CTRs (and ultimately, conversion rates) is testing and fine-tuning your ads.  This is a topic of much discussion; however, by changing your ad text, testing multiple pieces of ad copy, experimenting with network targeting options, and adjusting other campaign and ad group factors in a controlled manner you can determine exactly what brings your ads higher CTRs.