PPC Reality Vs. PPC Theater

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

Disclosure: The idea for this post from Chiefmartec.com who gave a great argument against big fancy dashboards that pump data into your brain and for strategic data that helps you make good choices.

I see this type of PPC Theater when looking at reports from other agencies, when trying to peel back data I am sent from clients and even internally, at times, when we are talking through strategy on a client. And it drives me nuts.

It happens a little bit like this: as the presenter cycles through slides, all with graphs miraculously going up and to the right, they proclaim:

“CPC is lower!”

“CTR is higher!“

“Conversions are up 6.7%!”

“Look at all this traffic we are sending you, we’re pretty great, right?”

These are the obvious ones. There are also comments like, “we know that these big broad terms are good for you. Even though they don’t look like they convert, we know with absolute certainty that they lead to sales down the funnel so you have to keep bidding on them.”

These arguments fall apart once the C-level starts asking questions like, “how many of those leads started classes last week?” and “I understand what you are saying about attribution modeling, but have we ever paused those broad keywords to see if it actually lowers incremental sales or are your just trusting tracking pixels and fuzzy math?”


The PPC Reality Is:

There are tools that are useful in understanding the impact of broad match terms, there are tools within engine interfaces that are helpful in determining if a keyword helps down funnel activity, and there are benefits to lower CPC, CTR, etc. But the reality is these are leading indicators for the big fat lagging target of MORE PROFIT.

In PPC Theater the “strategy” is developed like this:

  • We got the impression, what do we do with it?
  • We got the click, what do we do with it?
  • We got the conversion, what do we do with it?

Usually the buck stops here with the result being, bid more on these keywords and less on others. But good agencies/in house managers continue the conversation to:

  • We got the appointment set, what do we do with it?
  • We got an enrollment!

At this point the strategy is, bid more on these keywords and less on others.

PPC Reality would develop strategy the exact opposite way.

  • Who is enrolling? (Enrollment data)
  • What do these kind folks have in common? (Appointment data)
  • What do these wonderful people want to have, today? (Conversions)
  • What do they want to learn more about (Clicks)
  • How do we show up where these people are? (Impressions)

It’s a small change in thinking with a big impact. Maybe these people are all on the display network? Maybe they are all searching for one thing but really want another so core keywords are actually going to be low quality score, because of low relevance, but the ROAS is going to be fantastic. By starting with the end you are not forcing what you already doing into the mold of your best leads but rather are taking your best leads and molding your marketing around them.

Additionally, this type of thinking allows you to be channel agnostic. Perhaps who and where your enrollments are is Facebook and not Google. Or maybe they are watching videos on YouTube instead of reading blogs.