Monthly Archives: September 2011

Are You Taking Advantage of the Images in Your Own Back Yard?


It’s Tuesday, and that means time for another installment of our “Ads in the Wild Series”  from one of our PPC Hero Allies, Jeff Sexton of BoostCTR, where he dissects and analyzes ads he sees various places online. This series gives an in-depth look at the philosophy and strategy behind these ads and provides actionable advice for anyone looking to improve their ad copy.

So what’s the problem with this Facebook Ad?

iphone Facebook PPC ad

Frankly, if you have an iPhone 4, it’s kind of a compelling message: get mega protection without settling for a mega-bulky case.

But the picture is something of a fail.

It looks like just one more “win an iPhone” pics. You have to look at it pretty hard to see the “threat” to the phone symbolized by the coffee-looking liquid splashing up, as if the phone had been dropped into a mud puddle or something.

Now look at this picture (and ignore the “play” button on the image):

PPC Image Ad

Granted, at Facebook Ad Image size, it’s hard to get an immediate read on it, but clearly, someone is holding an iPhone with winter gloves on, and it looks like snow is covering the phone.

It also looks true to life, with a cinéma vérité sort of authenticity to it.  And the incongruence of a snow covered iphone with the red riding hood figure in the background give it definite story appeal.

The point?  This photo was taken from the LifeProof’s Website.  They had access to this and could easily test it. And they should test it because more people are likely interested in this product than are currently, actively looking at the ad, and a better picture could best fix the biggest hole in their ad performance funnel.

If you look for pictures with an eye towards “Story Appeal” you might just be surprised at what you can find on your (or your client’s) own Website.

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9/11 – We Remember


All of us here at PPC Hero remember where we were 10 years ago on September 11th. And today, on the 10th anniversary of that tragic day, we recall – how we remember it, what we thought, how we felt. We extend our sincerest gratitude to all those who have fought tirelessly before, during, and since that day for our continued safety and freedom. And we extend our condolences to all those who lost a loved one that day.



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adCenter 101: Capitalizing On Consumer Queries


This series is designed to help provide you with a better understanding of the true potential behind Microsoft adCenter’s paid search interface. Last month, I wrote about Campaign Analytics in adCenter. This month, I will talk about adCenter’s revamped search query performance reports and the benefits you can now take away from them.


Up until recently, I found little use from adCenter’s search query reports (SQRs). I’m sure we can all remember being frustrated over the fact that conversion data was not included in the reports, but fortunately those days are over. Now you can include conversion data in your SQRs!

If you are managing campaigns in adCenter, SQRs now unlock a whole new level of opportunity to optimize your keyword inventory. Not only will this strategy save on unnecessary click costs, but these reports will also help increase your overall marketing efficiency and accuracy as well. There are two things we can take away from the awesome new conversion data that is now available via adCenter SQRs …


Keyword Expansion

Expanding upon your keyword foundation is an essential component of managing a PPC campaign. This tactic allows you to more easily adapt your campaigns to current search trends and ultimately increase your overall marketing efficiency. Aside from free research tools, SQRs provide an excellent source of profitable keywords that you can incorporate into your account. As PPC practitioners, it is crucial that we capitalize on these, or else you will miss out on those visitors that could have become customers.

Now that we finally have access to conversion data in adCenter’s search query performance reports, you can look at which specific consumer queries are converting and add them to your account as exact, phrase or even broad match keywords. That way, you will have a keyword in your account to cater directly to that query in the future. Studies have revealed that 20-25% of search queries each day have never even been made before, which means that there will always be room for improvement.

By analyzing your consumer queries, you are basically letting your consumers do the keyword research for you. This way, you can be sure that you aren’t missing out on any high-performing and profitable keyword opportunities. Here’s what you will want to do:

  1. Login to your adCenter account and click on the Reports tab.
  2. Click Create new report and select Search query performance from the report drop-down menu.
  3. Specify your date range and report scope (i.e. the accounts, campaigns, and ad groups you want the report to include), the click on the link that says Change columns and layout. At this point, your screen should look like this:
  4. Check the boxes to add a Conversions column to your SQR, and then click the button at the bottom of the page that says Create new report so the system compiles your data.

Once your report is generated, you will want to filter your report for consumer search queries that resulted in one or more conversion(s). Then, compare those search queries to the respective keywords that triggered them. The keyword and query will be different, so then it becomes your job to act on the data. Are the queries already keywords in your account? If so, this could indicate a structural issue. If not, add them to the appropriate ad group as exact match keywords. Just be careful not to add duplicates.

It is important to make sure you are bidding on broad and/or phrase match keywords when utilizing this strategy. It will not work if you only have exact match keywords in your account. Unlike broad and phrase match, exact match keywords will only trigger from queries that are exactly the same as that keyword. Therefore, this would only be reiterating the keywords that are already included in your account and render this strategy useless.


Traffic Control

Traffic control is another thing you can take away from your SQR data. Packed with consumer queries, your SQRs are a great resource for negative keywords to include in your account. Just as dams around the world keep large amounts of water at bay, you should be doing the same with your PPC traffic with negative keywords.

Essentially, you want to repeat the steps that I outlined above for the Keyword Expansion section to generate an SQR report. Then, I sort the consumer queries alphabetically and look for patterns. Based off of the query patterns and one-off searches, I analyze the queries based on search intent and simply apply the irrelevant queries as negatives.

Let’s say I’m a sporting goods retailer and bidding on the broad match keyword football. From my SQR, I see that football cleats, footballs, and football schedule were all triggered from my keyword. Considering the fact that I’m trying to target people interested in purchasing football equipment, it should be obvious that I am not targeting fans looking for their favorites teams game schedule. Therefore, I would want to add schedule to my list of negative keywords in my adCenter account.

In adCenter, you currently have the option to place negative keywords at the campaign, ad group, and keyword levels. After attending a recent adCenter conference in Chicago, it’s been rumored that there is a change coming down the pipeline that would combine these three divisions into a single negative keyword list for each campaign. Therefore, it’s recommended that negative keywords be added at the campaign-level to avoid complications in the future.



Although SQRs with conversion data have been around in AdWords for a while now, we can finally access that same information in adCenter as well. Hopefully you’re as excited as I am to add this to my PPC management arsenal, because this strategy can save you unnecessary click costs, help increase your overall ROI, and improve the accuracy of your ad groups as well. For more info on this strategy, Chad Summerhill and Alan Mitchell have also written great posts. It is my hope that you will have taken something useful from this post to gain better insight into Microsoft adCenter. If you have any feedback, I would welcome any and all of your comments below!

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Shoestringin’ It: 3 Strategies for Campaigns on Smaller Budgets


Everybody is looking for a way to cut costs and stay within budget these days, in all businesses. So, PPC is no different. Not everyone has a large budget to bid with, so it makes sense that there are other strategies to employ to be successful. So, without further ado, there are three strategies that you should try out in order to get the most out of your limited budget PPC campaigns.

1. Scheduling

Depending on your industry, you could have some pretty interesting patterns regarding your traffic and times of the day/ days of the week. So, check this information out in your Adwords interface by clicking “Segment” then any of the options that is pertinent to you (day of the week, year, quarter, month, week, etc). IF you find that you are getting irrelevant traffic on a certain day, decrease the budget for that day. This can potentially save you money, and allow you to spend your valuable budget on more relevant visitors to your site. This can be checked for any number of metrics, such as conversions, cost per conversion, click through rate, etc. So if you find one of your core metrics costing you money on a certain day, simply decrease the budget for that day. This also goes the other way—if a day is working well for your ads, boost the budget on that day.

2. Match Types and Long Tail

Each match type has its own benefit, but generally if you are wanting to keep your traffic highly relevant and cost effective, you want to stick more to phrase match and exact match. Broad match is great for getting your name out there, but you are going to rack up more impressions (especially without more specific targeting), which in turn may lower your quality score and negatively affect how much you pay for each click. So, to keep your traffic from negatively impacting your cost per click, it may be advisable to keep your keywords more specific. Which leads to my next point—long tail keywords. The competition for the industry bruisers is usually fierce for the more broad and simplistic keywords. So, in order to combat this phenomenon, keep an eye on your search query reports. Look for keyword combinations that are longer, and you may be able to find a more viable source of traffic. A longer, more specific keyword string is not only going to cost less, but you are going to get more qualified traffic, and more impact on your bottom line for each click.

3. Find what you’re good at, and get better.

Naturally, this sounds like a moot point. But, let me explain. Bigger budget campaigns can afford to test out several different campaigns, and can divide their budget in order to try their hand in several different markets. If you have a smaller budget, you do not have as much freedom to do this. So, initially, test to find what drives you the most traffic, or contributes best to your most important metric. Then attribute all of your resources that way. From personal experience with a client with a sub $500 a month spend, I can attest to this strategy. For a couple months, I tinkered with what keywords I could effectively bid on, and with the divided daily budgets and the extreme industry competition, I drove very little traffic. But, recently, I put all my eggs in one basket so to say, and the top two click generating campaigns were given the entire budget. I knew I couldn’t compete with the larger industry titans, and especially so with a divided budget. So, consolidating my budget with two successful campaigns has recently lead to a substantial increase in Google traffic, even with the extreme competition in the market. So in short, don’t divide yourself if you have meager funds. This will only lead to you getting less traffic.

So, implementing these strategies with a smaller budget can definitely help you to see the results you want. And with time, who knows, with what you save, you may be able to increase your budget.

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Our Greatest Hits for August 2011


The page views have spoken! Below we have gathered PPC Hero’s most visited, and hopefully most valuable articles from August. Whether you’re a new or long-time subscriber, you may have missed these insightful and helpful PPC management tips. Enjoy!

Bethany starts the month off with her Top 5 AdWords Filters for PPC Managers.  Get the download on those keywords that are spending your budget and not giving you any love back; keywords that are way too expensive for your client’s taste; keywords that impress but no one clicks them; and the low average position keywords with mucho potential.  Bethany also helps you find keywords that have a low CPL and are a PPC Manager’s dream!  Learn how to save time and sanity with these quick filter tips!

Suffer from test anxiety?  A lot of PPC Managers get that sick feeling in their stomach knowing they need to study for the Google AdWords exam.  Fear not, friends!  Bethany goes through everything you need to pass the Google Advertising Fundamentals Exam in this handy post.  Learn how to study for the exam, how to access it, as well as tips for passing.  So bite the bullet and take the test already – but visit here first to make sure you’re prepared!

Starting a new account from scratch?  There is a lot that goes into doing this – but we are here to help!  Felicia (that’s me!) provides best practices and tips for setting up a successful account structure in this post.  Read about choosing your campaigns, ad groups, how to silo your keywords/ad groups and picking the right settings for your account.  It’s definitely a must read to get back to the basics if I do say myself… and I am completely unbiased!

What’s your match type?  Bryan explores the What and Why of your favorite pay per click keyword match types in this post.  Make your match types work for you and not against you.  Learn how to use negatives – properly!  Bryan also explains Broad, Phrase and Exact’s friends Broad Modified and Embedded.  Embedded!?  Holy keyword – what is that!?  Now you have to read this one…

It wouldn’t be a greatest hits post without an appearance from Jessica C!  And here she is with a great post on Ad Writing Tips for a New Account.  Jessica, Bethany and I wrote a whole series on starting a PPC account from scratch this month and this post is the ultimate in ad writing best practices.  She outlines the importance of a great ad, the rules of the road, all the way through knowing your audience and products.  Want to win the PPC war of words? Read this post and get a winning strategy!

And that does it for August!  Make sure that you keep on keepin’ on with your comments and suggestions.  The only way to make your favorite articles show up in this post is to get your read on!!!  And it’s a nice way to expand your brain.  So, thanks, as always for reading PPC Hero!

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PPC Budgets: Optimizing Accounts with Budget Constraints


At some point in our account management adventures, we’ve all hit the point of needing to scale back our accounts’ budgets. Whether your account is large or small, it can be challenging to scale back your spend while maintaining an account’s performance. Whether your client has had to reduce their PPC budget, or you’re pulling back at the end of the month to stay under a pre-determined amount, here are some tips on the best ways to reduce your spend without sacrificing too much in terms of conversions/revenue:

Conduct a keyword bid audit. Look for keywords that currently have an average first position placement and see how far over your first page bid estimate you are. Usually can you can shave money off these bids and bring them down closer to their first page bid estimates without drastically effecting their average position or click-through rate. And, the easiest way to quickly save some money on keywords is to go through your account and pause all keywords that have a low click-through rate. You can also read more about reducing your spend with keyword bid changes in Rob’s post, Case Study: Bid Changes.

Adjust your campaign budgets. This one may sound incredibly obvious, but simply reducing your campaign budgets across the board will not be the most effective way to optimize your remaining account budget, unless all your campaigns are converting at an equal rate. I have yet to encounter a PPC account in which all campaigns were converting equally, so I’ll offer some suggestions:

  • Pause your campaigns that aren’t converting and let those that are carry the account. If you pause your under-performing campaigns you might even have extra money to put into your converting campaigns, which is a win-win situation.
  • Make sure you’re not only looking at your campaign budget amounts, but how much your campaigns are ACTUALLY spending. Just because your campaign budget is high doesn’t mean the campaign is spending that amount daily, so you might reduce a budget thinking you’re saving yourself money, when in reality your budget is still above the campaign’s spend. If you truly want to reduce your campaign spend, look at your spend column and not your budget column. You might be surprised at the discrepancy.

View your network segmentation. Are your Display Network campaigns spending too much? Scroll down to the bottom of your AdWords Campaign report and find out easily. If your Display Network metrics indicate a lower ROI than your search network investment, pause your Display Network campaigns. Hopefully you’ve segmented your search and Display Network campaigns separately. And if not, read more about best practices in Felicia’s post.

Use the Opportunities tab. Of course, I’m referring to the Opportunities tab in your Google account. Sorry, MSN! Sometimes you can rack your brain for ways to reduce spend effectively and still need some additional ideas. If you’re in AdWords you can ask AdWords to tailor its suggested opportunities to “maintain or decrease cost.” Sounds easy enough, right?

When I did this for one of my accounts Google suggested I try enabling automatic bidding for several of my campaigns. This was useful because it wasn’t something I had considered on my own. Briefly, automatic bidding takes your daily budget and tries to get you the most clicks for that budget.

The benefit of automatic bidding is that AdWords automatically adjusts your max CPC for you. This can make your keywords more elastic in not being married to the same CPC all day long. The downside is that you have less control over your bids, and ultimately over the daily shelf life of your ads is Google spends your budget early in the day. You might inadvertently further decrease your ad’s visibility if you use automatic bidding and have set a max CPC for your campaign, so you’ll want to monitor your ads closely if you try out this setting.

I hope this helps you reduce your account spend in an effective and methodical way if the need arises. Do you have some more suggestions to reduce an account’s spend in effective ways? Let us know in the comments below!

For additional information on reducing your spend, be sure to check out Jen’s post on ten tactics you can employ when you’re projected to be over budget.


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Google AdWords—Applying Ad Review to Paused Ads


Google has made yet another announcement for a feature change in the AdWords interface. As of yesterday, Google will now be proactively reviewing not only your enabled ads, but your paused ones as well.

According to Google’s Lauren Barbato, a crew member for the Inside AdWords blog, this change will make managing AdWords accounts that much easier for users as it further shortens any delay in getting your ads approved, despite their status.

At the core, this means PPC account managers with AdWords accounts can now write ads they may be interested in running or testing, upload them to the interface from the Editor (or within the interface itself) and leave them paused until approved. This may not seem like too big a deal, except in the instances where ads are permitted to run for a certain amount of time and are then disapproved and shut off. At that point you’ve wasted time and money collecting data on an ad that now has to be paused completely or changed (beware: changing an already existing ad will automatically reset all your data for that ad back to zero! If your ad does get disapproved, make an exact duplicate and make the necessary changes to the duplicate, NOT the original. That way you’ll preserve your data, no matter how little there may be, forever!). This new feature addition could cut down on some of those frustrations, and trust me, it’s happened in some of the Hanapin team’s accounts and it is not a good time. Kind of leaves you feeling like this little guy:

Angry Kitten in Fruit Helmet

What do you think? Will you use the paused ad preview to your benefit to be sure of ad approval going live with a particular ad? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!

For further information about this topic, check out the following links:

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more news updates from PPC Hero!

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Whaddya’know Wednesdays: 5 Tips to Bring Down CPL


On this week’s Whaddya’know Wednesdays, our weekly expert, Amanda West-Bookwalter, tells you 5 ways to bring down that out of control CPL. You’ve got everything structured right, you’ve explored all the awesome things Google offers like topics targeting and remarketing, but now your CPL is out of control! Well, here’s five easy ways to start bringing down that number back to within goals. Continue reading

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Ads in the Wild: Words as Pictures


This is the seventh in a weekly series of posts from one of our PPC Hero Allies, Jeff Sexton of BoostCTR, where he dissects and analyzes ads he sees various places online. Jeff’s “Ads In The Wild” series will give an in-depth look at the philosophy and strategy behind these ads and will provide actionable advice for anyone looking to improve their ad copy.

Facebook ads allow for wonderful targeting control, but pretty much zero typographical control.  You don’t get to

  • Pick the font,
  • Control the font size,
  • Change the font color
  • Add in white space,
  • Use bullet points,
  • Or otherwise control the ad layout, unless…

You do so within the ad image.  And in some cases, where the headline or call-to-action prove so tribal in nature and galvanizing, it makes sense to forego pictures in favor of a bold headline in a big-a** font, featuring prominent, attention grabbing colors.

Here are some examples of ads that do just that:

Facebook PPC AdsNotice some similarities between these?

Well, most of them definitely take advantage of colors – either with bold black backgrounds, punctuated by reverse font and highlighted with screaming reds, or with the even more direct approach of super-saturated magenta.

But the real similarities has to do with the headlines.  First they’re all extremely short, with a maximum of 4 words/symbols.  This allows for larger font and a quick-scan comprehension, both of which are maximally important if you’re getting your words to replace an image.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, they are all extremely tribal in nature: they’re calling out to members, immediately attracting like minds and getting discarded by others.

In half a second you’ve figured out either that you’re interested in baking or not, want to publicly declare your desire to smack congress or not, or if you’re the kind of mom that wants to join the “I heart my kids” group.

So should you consider using your image space as a large-text billboard rather than an opportunity to grab eyeballs with striking images?

The short answer: Test It!

The longer answer: only consider testing it if you:

  • Can boil down your call-out to 4-5 words
  • Are advertising an inherently tribal product or service, meaning one that impacts people’s self-identity.
  • Or, if there really aren’t any suitable images.

On that last point, here’s a pretty good example of an ad where I think most of us would be hard pressed to come up with a striking, alternative image, and where the large-font call-out works just fine as a substitute:

Facebook Google PPC Ad

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