The Secret to Success May Lie in Your Settings
September 10, 2007
Today’s topic: The Secret. Ok, so I’m not going to start rattling off the hidden truths to eternal happiness. But I may just provide a tiny bit of relief for you and your PPC campaigns! In continuation of our goal to “Revitalize Your PPC Campaign in 5 Days,” today I’m going to concentrate on account settings.
Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and MSN adCenter all have very important settings that can either hold your pay-per-click project together or bring it crashing to the ground with an “E” for “effort.” If your PPC campaign isn’t going so well, and you need to figure out where things fell apart – check these settings first:
Whether you’re discussing account or campaign level budgets, paying attention to the dollars and cents will go a long way. If you find yourself reaching the 3rd week of the month and suddenly running out of money, you’re probably missing a step somewhere. Implementing daily budgets can help advertisers to strategically plan their spending to remain competitive for the entire month (or any span of an advertising budget).
On the flip side, budgets can be prohibiting. By setting a budget too small, you may well find that your ads are being turned off halfway through the morning completely missing the busiest time of the day! In this instance you need to increase your budgets (or decrease your bids) to maximize your exposure. There are many alternatives to toying with budgets when controlling your spend day to day, week to week. When you decide that increasing or decreasing your budgets no longer affects your bottom line try looking into ad scheduling, delivery settings or limiting how many PPC search engines you employ.
Geo-targeting is one of the greatest weapons in a search marketer’s arsenal. Advertising by location just adds one more layer of relevancy! The problem is, all of the PPC interfaces have different methods for targeting and can be potentially confusing. I work with a few clients that have campaigns targeted at single cities. When I reach a point where things simply aren’t working, I revisit my settings. Am I targeting the right country/state/city? Have I closed the “noose” too tight and blocked out potential customers?
In Google, verify that you’re using the correct language for your location(s) and if you may need to customize your targeting. With Yahoo!, verify if the DMA (Designated Market Area) is relevant to the location you’ve chosen. Is it over-stretching your boundaries? Limit the selection to specific cities instead. Why won’t my settings work for the entire campaign in MSN? That’s because geo-targeting is controlled at the ad group level in adCenter!
To optimize or not to optimize, that is the question. Google and Yahoo! both offer the ability to optimize your ads on the basis of a better performing click-through-rate. This would be great if we all lived in a “set it and forget it” world. The advertising landscape is ever changing, and we deal with living breathing competitors every day. Leaving the split testing to an automated system is a bit too much for me.
That being said, if your ad’s percent served stats start drifting away from an even 50/50 split you know something’s amiss. In Google it’s called Ad Serving and you can choose between Optimize (automated, CTR based) or Rotate. Rotate will display your ads evenly for a statistically valid test. In Yahoo! it’s called Ad Optimizer and you can simply choose “Yes” or “No” to automate.
If you get stuck with your PPC campaign, one place you may look to make some waves is with your distribution settings. Are you running on the Search Network only? Do you have the Content Network activated? In situations where you are only advertising on the search network, there’s a very good chance that you’re missing out on a great deal of impression share and click traffic. Utilizing the content networks on any of the “big 3” search engines will help to greatly increase your overall traffic.
In Google, ensure that you have enabled the separation of content bids. This will give you the greatest level of control when advertising with content. In Yahoo! you need to verify that content is turned “On” or “Off” at all three levels of account management: account, campaign and ad group.
With MSN, you may need to see if you are even advertising on the new content network! This is a new service offered through adCenter and the opt-in to the network is automatic. If you’ve seen a recent uptick in impressions or clicks, this may be your culprit.
One for Google, One for Yahoo!
Seeing as all PPC search engines and advertising platforms are not created equal, it is only fitting that some of the settings differ and require separate thought! Every interface has a myriad of settings to keep track of, but both Google and Yahoo! have a special setting to keep an eye on.
In Google, you have the option to set your Ad Delivery to Standard or Accelerated. Standard delivery spaces your ads evenly over the course of the day so that you do not meet your daily budget too soon. Accelerated delivery displays your ad as quickly as possible until the daily budget is met. This is an advantage as it allows your ad to be displayed 100% of the time given that there is enough money available. Refer back to the section on budgets if you have any more questions.
With Yahoo!, the matter of Match Types can be fairly tricky. A few months ago, the team here at PPC Hero discovered one of our clients had been running on Standard Match. Why that is significant is that at the account level, Advanced Match was the primary selection. We discovered that much like distribution tactics, match types are set at all three levels of account management (account, campaign, ad group). If you find that a particular ad group in your Yahoo! account is continuously under-performing, double check that it is set to Advanced Match across the board!
So, the next time you encounter a potential disaster in your PPC campaign and need an answer fast, don’t panic. Check your settings. Time after time I surprise myself in finding that a setting was incorrect or not what I had intended it to be. These settings tips listed here can be “easy” fixes and can save you hours of research and frustration.
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