Peeling Back The Layers of Google’s Pay-Per-Action Beta Test

By John Lee | @Hanapin

This past week I finally jumped on the Pay-Per-Action (PPA) bandwagon and started a campaign for one of my clients. Despite having read through the official documentation and a very helpful step-by-step guide to setting up campaigns, once I actually delved into the process I quickly realized that I had completely missed the point. Initially, I saw this beta test as just another AdWords campaign with a varied payment structure. Honestly, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Since the PPA ads can and will only be distributed on the content network, your mindset needs to shift. These ads will not be included on the network ad hoc like content ads in typical campaigns. All of the thought processes involved for advertisers need to be focused on attracting AdSense publishers. Without whom your ads will receive nary an impression, let alone that coveted conversion to pay for!

Let’s start at the beginning of the set up process and detail which sections are ‘publisher-centric’ and require special attention. The first piece of the puzzle is to offer up a “Product Description.” This is what AdSense publishers will see first. At 100 characters, this description should be attractive but brief. The second piece is an optional “Short Description” that allows up to 200 characters to further entice publishers. Following this are the obligatory URL and Logo (optional) that will offer the publisher visual proof of your web-existence. At this point you must enter keywords that describe your product or service. Once again, this needs to be zeroed-in on the publisher. These keywords will allow you to be visible to publishers when they are searching for new ads to display. IMHO, this is where most advertisers will get hung up. This isn’t like creating a keyword list for a-typical search ads.

Focus your efforts on attracting publishers. Use general, high traffic keywords in addition to your niche-specific keywords. The more visible you are, the more likely it is that publishers will display your ads.

What confused me the most was that all of this product description stuff was actually for the first ad group created within the PPA campaign. Each time another ad group is added, a new product description will have to be created. This means that the first time you begin setting up your campaign, only include descriptions/keywords that will relate to your specific ad group. Otherwise you’ll end up making a lot of editorial changes later. To compliment all of the other descriptive devices used in attracting publishers, Google allows the use of text ads, text links and image ads for the PPA campaigns. If at all possible, utilize all three to make it as easy as possible for AdSense publishers to pick you up.

The first results that have come in on the performance of this beta test have been less than stellar. Most of the complaints have centered on the lack of impressions and subsequent clicks. If you bring this issue up with a trusty Google rep, you’ll get the same answer I did: Focus your efforts on attracting publishers. Use general, high traffic keywords in addition to your niche-specific keywords. The more visible you are, the more likely it is that publishers will display your ads. Recognize a theme here?

Has anyone else learned any other helpful tidbits worth sharing from their PPA experiences? In addition, has anyone found a balance of being ‘publisher-centric’ that is providing results?

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