5 Things I Learned About International PPC From HeroConf London

By Kirk Williams | @PPCKirk | Owner of ZATO

I am currently sitting on a plane bound for Minneapolis, which simply means I look like a deformed T-Rex as I attempt to pound out an economy-seat-semi-coherent-blogpost while the memory of Hero Conf in London is fresh in my mind.


flying to london
Flying over London


This conference was Hanapin’s first overseas conference and from my perspective it was really a smashing success. A combination of top notch speakers, great venues, and excited PPC conversations ensured a good time was had by all who attended. My plane flew out today which means I missed out on the workshops held at the stadium where Chelsea F.C. plays. Dang it.


I confess, I’m no world traveler. This is only the second time I’ve been outside of North America, and my first time in Europe. I am relatively travel naive. For instance, a few days into my stay, I discovered that the tip in a cafe is included on the bill or is relatively small… say, 10-12%. We had been eating breakfast at a local cafe each day, and I usually would toss a few (few = 3) £1 coins on the table after the meal… for the  £15 meal… our waitress always smiled widely when we walked in. I now know why she was so happy to see us, and it’s not because of our attractive personalities.


Kirk Speaking Hero Conf
Me speaking on B2B PPC

The single greatest victory I claim after this week is that I was only told “you are acting like such an American right now” one time. On the other hand, the renowned British politeness (of which I experienced plenty of this week) probably means the thought “you are acting like such an American right now” was pointed privately my way far more times than that. Perhaps then, the victory has less to do with my acting less “American-like” and more to do with English etiquette.


Regardless, it was a fantastic week. On the PPC side, I found it fascinating to discuss different markets and different strategies. When one comes from a certain culture, whatever that culture may be, one tends to be unaware of differences in practice and cultural subtleties that are taken for granted.


There were several things I learned about International PPC that I wanted to share with you. Perhaps you knew all of these and think I’m an international imbecile for not knowing them. If that’s the case, then feel free to roll your eyes and say “you’re talking like such an American right now.” I can take it.


(1) Currency Exchange Rate Fluctuations Influence Decisions


I was able to listen in on a conversation between two PPC software tool representatives and I was interested to hear about the impact fluctuating currency exchange rates has on PPC tools and agencies. This concern may be unnoticeable in more stable economies, but can mean certain international clients or customers experience drastic differences in pricing from month to month… even to the point of being unable to afford a tool or service.


Notice Larry Kim & Fred Vallaeys deep in conversation here at a HeroConf London lunch, discussing (not shockingly) Quality Score!


(2) Call Back Technology In Countries With Higher Cost Cellular Services Can Significantly Affect Revenue/Leads


Michael Schott discussed this around breakfast one morning. It makes sense, but was new information to me. Apparently in countries with by-the-minute cell services, “Click to Call” and Call Extensions/Ads are relatively unsuccessful. However, landing people on a page with a Call Back option can make a huge difference since those minutes do not cost the potential customer.


(3) Lower CPC Outside Of The US


From those I talked to (nothing scientific here, just conversations), US CPC prices are absolutely more expensive than international PPC. You may even see eyes widen when you talk about terms at £20 CPC. Heck, for more and more industries over here in the States, that’s not a very impressive number.


One individual I talked to is part of the international PPC arm of a US-based major ecommerce retailer. Comparing prices between the UK and US for instance, he told me that the UK is definitely a bit lower than US CPCs in his accounts.


I’ll let you argue about why this is in the comments.


brad geddes keynote at heroconf london
Brad Geddes opened up Hero Conf London with a great keynote.


(4) Europe Doesn’t Get The Cool Google Toys Because They Keep Suing Google


This news to me actually came from Brad Geddes’ keynote session (it’s the only one of these I didn’t get from basic networking, BTW… networking at these conferences is where the real insights lie!). Obviously, Google will test features in certain markets and others, but the EU loves to sue Google so much at the drop of a hat, that it’s not surprising Google sometimes just decides rather to push X fun thing live in other markets where they can make money without losing half of it to legal fees.


(5) Bing Is Seriously Underrated In Europe & They Are Seriously Invested In Changing This


This was one of the biggest takeaways I walked away with from this conference. If I was advertising in European markets, I would be sending every client an email Monday telling them they need to try Bing (or try it again). That’s not just because Frances brought me free coffee on Tuesday, that’s because the competition is ridiculously low. No, you don’t understand. RIDICULOUSLY LOW. At one point, I was in a room of 75 people and only 4-5 of us raised our hand to who is using Bing, 2 of the others were probably American. Obviously, there could be more who didn’t raise their hand, but conversations revealed this as well. Few advertisers have taken Bing seriously yet, and competition on basic terms is low.

Our Bing Ads dinner where we had the opportunity to provide feedback & learn more about Tor's rockstar husband.
Our Bing Ads dinner where we had the opportunity to provide feedback & learn more about Tor’s rockstar husband.


Now think about Windows 10. In her keynote, Tor from Microsoft, specifically stated that Bing was part of the planning for Windows 10. It wasn’t an afterthought. It wasn’t a “well, we need search on the operating system, let’s just be lazy and make it Bing too.” It was a specifically planned event. Microsoft, not just Bing, is serious about increasing its search share AS WELL AS its revenue (Search ads, duh).


I wasn’t told this so this is me surmising, but I’m guessing at some point in the last couple of years someone from Bing grabbed a Microsoft VP by the head and forced them to look at Google’s revenue columns and see the giant massive huge column with the 10 $0’s and the word “ads” in Row 1.


The result? “Huh, maybe we should just give this Operating System away, and work ads right into the interface for everyone, not just Bing users.” Ding Ding Ding. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. For us search marketers, that means expanded search share. I remember talking with John Gagnon about Windows 10 at Hero Conf before it came out. To be honest, I thought his insistence about it being a game-changer for Bing search share was overly-excited hype. I’m beginning to see what he means. If you are a European advertiser, I would suggest you hop on Bing ASAP.




Well, those are a few things I learned this week. What about you? Did you go to Hero Conf London? If so, anything new you picked up about International PPC? Or, any interesting tidbits you have in general about International PPC?


Heck, if you’re an International PPCer, was there anything interesting you picked up about the States and PPC this last week? Let’s continue learning and growing together in this amazingly artistic science!