Posts by Geordie:

PPC Copywriting

8 Comments Written on January 20th, 2010 by
Categories: Copywriting

There is a lot of nonsense written about copywriting.

The more prescriptive copy writing courses describe how to write copy, seemingly suitable for any PPC campaign, regardless of audience. “Use big hooks, create immediacy, use long sales copy, tell a story, start with “Dear Friend”.

There’s really no such thing as generic rules for copywriting.

In order to write copy that sells, a writer must make the right offer to the right audience. No matter how well copy is written, if the offer isn’t compelling to the target audience, then PPC campaigns won’t succeed.

Therefore, good PPC copywriting should start before a word hits the page. Good PPC copywriting starts with market analysis, observation and understanding people.

1. Compare Your Offer

The first step is to undertake market research. Compare your offer with those of your competitors.

Examine the existing PPC ads in your niche. Pay the most attention to the top three advertisers. If they keep advertising for any length of time, their offer is resulting in high enough click-thru rates, and return, to earn them those positions.

They most likely have the offer and wording right, or close enough.

Compare the top three ads with those ads lower down. Bid prices and other metrics aside, the top advertisers often use wording that is more compelling. Do you notice a marked difference in wording and the way the offer is presented? Are they giving something away for free? Are they promising something that sounds remarkably valuable?

Next, examine the advertisers landing pages using the same criteria. Take note of what they are asking the audience to do. Are they asking people to “Buy Now”? Are they merely asking them to give an email address? Are they giving away something for nothing? Are they putting fewer hurdles in the way of the visitor that their competitors?

Make sure your offer is at least as good as theirs. In fact, you should aim to beat their offer. When the competition is only a click away, it makes it very easy for people to compare offers.

Make sure your offer is the most compelling.

2. Understand Your Market

Who is your market?

Try to imagine the people who buy from you, as if they were walking into your shop or office. How old are they? What jobs do they have? How much money do they have? What do they need so badly that they will buy it from an anonymous supplier they have never heard of before until now? What will stop them buying from you, even if they need what you have? Why aren’t they going to a local brick-n-mortar supplier, or a major retailer, to buy your service or product?

You also need to know how they talk about their need.

Someone who has a sore ear might talk in terms of symptoms, or they may leap straight to diagnosis. They may worry they have something serious and simply be looking for reassurance from an authoritative source. Or they may describe their symptoms. They may have had the condition before and be in search of a new remedy. They may want to find out where to find a local doctor.

Same problem, much the same market, but different requirements.

By examining how people talk about their need, you’re more likely to be able to pitch an offer they want. If you’re selling remedies online, then most of these visitors aren’t people you should be targetting, at least not directly. This is what is known as market segmentation, or dividing the market into subgroups with similar motivations. Your offer should be pitched at the right subgroup, which will not only result in higher conversions, it will reduce your PPC spend.

By now, you may be thinking that this all sounds too hard. Isn’t this type of market research expensive and time consuming?

It can be, but there are a number of cheap and cheerful ways you can get such information.

Buy market research reports. It is reasonably cheap to obtain generic research reports. Whilst not as good as data gathering specifically for your purpose, they can provide valuable insights into market trends. For example, many people who seek medication on the internet worry about safety. Your copy may seek to ally such fears.

A/B testing. People engaged in PPC often use A/B testing, also known as split run testing. For those new to PPC, A/B testing is when you test one landing page against another. Each page will be different, featuring alternative wording and or layout. The page that results in the most sales, wins. Here’s a good overview of A/B testing.

Ask your customers. The best people to ask are the people who have bought from you. You can use simple surveys, and offer people rewards in exchange for their views. Why did they buy from you and not the others?

Ask your non-customers. The conversion percentage of most websites is low, around 3%-10%. That means over 90% of people aren’t interested in your offer. Why not? Is there a way you can capture this information before they leave? It might be as simple as prompting them with a dialogue box or chat box. You could ask them to sign up for a newsletter by giving them something of value, so you can extract this information at a latter date.

Facebook/Twitter/Social Networks – these can be great places to learn about your target demographic. Join groups relating to your niche and observe. Note the way they talk, the words they use to describe needs, the sites they recommend and their interests.

Aligning Your Copy With Your Market

By now, you have two very important pieces of information on which to base your copy. You understand something about your audience, and you understand the nature of the other offers they may be seeing.

Make a more compelling offer than your competitors. Make an offer that is closely aligned with the needs of your market, and phrased in their terminology. Cover the basics – create a message that has emotional appeal, is personal and conversational. Repeat the call to action clearly and often.

Above all else, keep it simple.

Even if your target audience is high-brow intellectual, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be pitched in such terms. The may require extensive detail, they may require obscure specifics, but it’s usually best to relegate such detail lower down the page, or off to a separate page. The thing they need to be crystal clear about is your offer and how it benefits them.

Whoever our audience, they most likely fall into one of four distinct groups:

The Unaware

They know they have a need, but they haven’t thought much beyond that point. This type of person requires a lot of education about the problem itself, then the solutions.

The Ambivalent

They have a problem, and they know something about the solutions, but they’re not sure they really need to solve the problem. At least not right now. Maybe tomorrow. You need to spend a lot of time focusing on the solution, the merits of the solution, and why acting sooner than later is in the buyers best interests.

The Hunter

They know they have a problem, and they know about the solutions, but they’re hunting around for the right deal. You have to convince them that your offer is the best one for them. Convince them that they are smart for deciding to go with you.

The Desperate

They must have what you’re selling. This is the dream buyer. They want to buy quickly, so get out of their way and enable them to do so. Use credibility markers and a clear, precise sales process.

I’m skating over the surface, as I’m sure these aspects aren’t new to you, but it’s a good idea to keep in mind what stage a buyer may be in the buy cycle. As you can see, it will change the emphasis of your pitch.

There’s one other important aspect to landing pages that is seldom, if ever, mentioned in traditional copywriting manuals.


The easiest thing for a consumer to do is click links and buttons. So offer them something to click. It’s an affirming action, so long as that click isn’t back!

This also serves to draw people deeper into your world. You can segment your visitors by offering them different click paths, and so craft the message specifically for that type of buyer over a series of pages. Different types of visitors will take different click paths.

You can also match up click paths with keyword terms, thus helping you improve your targeting in future. For example, you may find that people who searched on “ear infection” tended to opt for click paths that offered deeper, diagnostic information. In future, you may bring people who search on “ear infection” directly to a page oriented around diagnostic information.

Attention spans are getting shorter. Long sales copy pages, particularly when used as landing pages, are becoming less common than they were a few years ago.

A YouTube/FaceBook, brought up on on-demand media and instant gratification generation isn’t going to spend a lot of time reading long text blocks. An older audience may do so, yet another reason for understanding and segmenting your audience.

This is not to say long copy sales pitches do not work, but if you use them, be sure to “chunk it” i.e. regularly restate your offer, and offer the call to action, after making each point, or after every few paragraphs. This means visitors don’t need to read the whole thing in order to understand your offer.

We’re also seeing a lot of landing pages that offer video and audio, and very little in the way of text. The copywriter is not out of a job, however, as the script is just as important as the written word. We have the ability to make landing pages very rich and compelling, but the use of technology should never distract from the fundamental principles: make the right offer to the right audience.

A Final Note On Credibility

We live in a world where trust isn’t what it used to be.

In times past, people tended to place more trust in authority that they do now, including the claims made by advertisers who appeared in trustworthy magazines and newspapers. This is still the case, in some demographics – typically elderly – but generally speaking, we live in very cynical times.

And it’s no wonder. By the time a person reaches an age where they become an active consumer, they’ve been bombarded with millions of messages. Messages saturate every media, so in order to retain any sanity, people get very good at tuning most of them out.

Unless it relates directly to them.

Again, this is why focusing on people, their needs, and how they say things is crucial. In the 10’s, we need to speak the customers language more than ever. They have the back-click button. Those under 30 have most likely been brought up in a world where they are the center of the universe. It’s all about them. So credibility, in this day and age, is largely about holding up a mirror to the audience. If you appear to be like them, then they tend to trust you. There are many markers of trust, of course, but bear this point in mind, particularly for youth demographics. If your copy talks down to them, or assumes to be the voice of authority, you’ll likely lose them.

4 Ways to Leverage Adwords Search Query Reports

2 Comments Written on January 18th, 2010 by
Categories: Conversion, Google Adwords

For the longest time, Google kept searchers’ actual queries close to the vest. Their search term report lumped most actual user searches into “Other Queries”.

In early 2009, Google finally included the details of what make up these “Other Queries” instantly creating a number of highly useful data points.

How can you generate actionable data from Adwords Search Query Reports?

Here’s four quick points to start…

Capture New Keywords from Phrase Variants & Synonyms

See what ancillary terms are triggering your ads via broad and phrase matches. Where else can you get exact click-through and conversion data from phrase variations enabling you to isolate and target these terms more closely?

Look closely for new ideas:

  • Are your customers using acronyms or abbreviations you haven’t targeted yet?
  • Are they using spaces between initials and multiple-word keywords? (“jp morgan”, “jpmorgan”, and “j p morgan”are all different keywords)
  • Are they using navigational queries like domain names or URLs that you haven’t broken out yet?

Why target these individually if your broad matches are already catching them?

  • Well, how’s your quality score for that broad term? Could it improve?
  • Could you be over-paying for matches to these new keyword possibilities?
  • How targeted is your ad text to these new variants?  Could it be better, resulting in more visitors and conversions?

Uncover Missing Negatives

Seeing precisely how Google is matching your keywords, you may notice irrelevant searches seeping in.  These irrelevant terms are easy negatives to add.

Even if impression or click counts for these badly-matched searches are initially low, adding them as negatives immediately to your campaign-level negatives can help the Adwords system improve its matching accuracy:

You’re directly telling Google what’s NOT relevant to your particular campaign.  This saves ad spend and improves your CTR going forward.

Pump Your Keyword Quality Score

Use the Search Query Report to find high-volume variations of your broad keywords.

Next, isolate these keywords and create new, more tightly-knit adgroups consisting of these keywords only and ruthlessly fine-tune your ad text to more precisely match this reduced keyword list.

The result from doing this?  Increased CTR.

Your increased CTR will in turn raise your keyword relevance quality score, lowering your actual CPCs in the process.  Lowered actual CPCs leads to a little something all PPC advertisers want…

Boost Your Campaign’s ROI

Obviously, reduced actual-CPCs helps the pocket book, but the Search Query Report can tweak your ROI even further:

For instance, if you notice that a query variation doesn’t ever seem to convert, add that exact phrase as an exact-match campaign or adgroup-level negative, cutting that particular query while leaving everything else as-is.

There’s no sense beating a dead horse.  If a phrase or keyword just flat-out doesn’t work, dump it.

Anything you can cut without reducing conversions will net you a higher return on your spend.

A couple closing notes for the road: For any of the above to be truly effective, a decent amount of click data spread over a sufficient space of time is required.  Never cut without enough data to make an accurate judgment call.

What actionable metrics do you pull from your Adwords Search Query Reports?  Leave a Comment!

All Your Content Impressions Are Belong to Nexus One

Adwords content advertisers might be left wondering where all their impressions disappeared to today.  That impression vacuum?  It’s Google bogarting a large portion of their content network with Nexus One display ads.

This morning, Adsense publishers were reporting a dramatic drop in Adsense clicks and revenue.

Sadly, many of the sites brandishing Nexus ads weren’t exactly tech-related…

Have a cooking site?  Google thinks the Nexus One ads are a perfect fit for your visitors.  Soccer fan site?  Here’s some Nexus One for you too.

But if you’re a content advertiser looking to advertise pots and pans on cooking sites?  Sorry, no impressions left…

Obviously, search impressions are Google’s to do with what they please, but publisher inventory is a bit different.

Given Google’s big push towards making advertisers provide a more “magazine content-style landing experience”, it’s with keen interest that we examine Google’s Nexus One landing page:


10/10 Quality Score?  As we can see here, the user experience is nicely augmented here by the volumes of valuable ‘magazine-style’ content.

To be fair, Google has a nice little click-to-learn-more interface on the phone and a 3D tour to boot.  Hopefully they were just kidding about the amount of content and navigation they’ve been asking advertisers to incorporate on their landing pages at the expense of conversions.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Chrome ads are also around, but not in anywhere near the volume of the Nexus One units.

Some have also noted the mantra of the ‘clean Google search page’ has undergone some adjustment:


At least Adsense pubs can take solace in knowing that the ads are good enough for, so they should be good enough for them.

Hopefully this is just a one or two day push and when they’re done perhaps Google’s advertisers can have the content network back.

Two New Free PPC Keyword Tools: WordStream’s Free Keyword Niche Finder & Free Keyword Grouper

No Comments » Written on December 16th, 2009 by
Categories: PPC Tools

Guest post by Tom Demers

At WordStream, we just launched a couple of free tools I think paid search marketers can get a lot of utility out of. I’ll walk through how both of them work and what you might be able to use them for.

The first tool is something we’re calling The Free Keyword Niche Finder. Basically the premise is that rather than offering you single keyword suggestions we’re showing you the pockets of keywords (or “keyword niches”) that are the most popular.

This is valuable for a few reasons:

  1. Keyword Niches Versus Single Keywords – It helps you prioritize your content, keyword targeting, and campaign/AdGroup creation based on an entire “keyword universe” surrounding your topic. Many times you’ll find the most popular keyword you could target will have the “longest tail,” but not always.
  2. Suggested Keyword Variations – It shows you popular variations within a given keyword cluster, or niche – this helps you to vary page content and anchor text: something real SEOs advocate – and it helps you to structure comprehensive PPC campaigns or Ad Groups
  3. Campaign Structure Suggestions – It helps you to create a nice semantically-themed campaign and/or Ad Group structure for paid search account creation

I’ll walk through each of these advantages, and then introduce another tool we’re introducing called The Free Keyword Grouper.

1. “Keyword Niches“ Versus Single Keywords

It’s interesting to compare the results of a traditional keyword tool to The Free Keyword Niche Finder.

Here is the list of results from our Free Keyword Tool:
WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool

Now let’s look at the results for the same topic using The Free Keyword Niche Finder:
WordStream’s Free Keyword Niche Finder

The interesting thing here is in the difference between the two results, and the way that the two tools function. The Free Keyword Tool looks at the volume of results across a variety of sources (ISPs, search engines, and toolbars). The Free Keyword Niche Finder, meanwhile, takes the same data that The Free Keyword Tool is using (our own database) and then clusters that information semantically.

So what we’re seeing here is that some keywords have a longer or more substantial “tail”. Look:
A look at the difference between a single keyword and the keyword’s entire long tail

The aggregated keyword “niches” are more centered around brands. If we dig deeper into the refurbished laptops – ibm cluster we get a pretty good idea of why the tail for brands is longer:
Image depicting the keywords that may be hidden in the long tail of a word or phrase.

So while “used refurbished laptops” is a more popular single query than “refurbished laptops ibm”, the sum of the refurbished laptops keyword niche is actually greater, and it contains more specific, buy-focused terms.

By looking at the data side-by-side, it definitely appears that IBM refurbished laptops is a more profitable keyword niche to attack.

2. Suggested Keyword Variations Within a Group

The tool also shows you closely related variations, as you can see above, so that you can structure a single landing page and Ad Group/ad text to target a variety of phrases, allowing your campaigns to generate more ROI and to become more scalable.

3. PPC Campaign Structure Suggestions

One of the neatest things about this tool from a PPC standpoint is that if you’re starting a new paid search account or campaign, you can get some great suggestions for either high-level campaign ideas, or even for actionable Ad Groups (depending on the term you put in). Following our example from above, we might turn each of the top ten suggestions into high-level campaigns. From there, we could drill down to find specific Ad Groups for each of our campaigns. Let’s take one of the more popular niches, refurbished laptops – dell, and enter that keyword into the Niche Finder:
Using WordStream’s new free tools for a stronger PPC campaign structure.

Assuming were using Refurbished Dell Laptops as a campaign, these would make for a series of pretty tight Ad Groups, ranging from around 10 keywords to around 35, and allowing us to write a very targeted ad and create a very specific, compelling landing page for each group.

The Free Keyword Grouper – Finding Keyword Niches in Your Own Lists and Data

Our other free tool, The Free Keyword Grouper, offers pretty similar functionality, but instead of asking for a keyword as input, it groups your existing data (whether you generated a list from a keyword suggestion tool like the SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool or WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool), or allows you to export data from your analytics or a search query report, drop it into the tool, and then The Free Keyword Grouper segments that data for you:

An image of WordStream’s Free Keyword Grouper.

If you drop in a list of keywords, it’ll spit back a list of results similar to what you would find with The Free Keyword Niche Finder. This is a nice way to look at either a list you already have, or to examine historical data on a client site or an existing site you may be taking over. You can then leverage the same advantages The Free Keyword Niche Finder offers.

So What’s the Catch?

As with anything, our new free tools are imperfect. While they’re free, you do have to spend a few seconds creating a free WordStream account to use them, and once you do we’ll occasionally send you relevant Email communications about the tools themselves, or about some of our products you might be interested in.

The Free Keyword Niche Finder works off our own database, and as with any keyword tool, you have to be careful not to be over-reliant upon keyword suggestion data. That’s one of the neat things about The Free Keyword Grouper, though: you can take blended data from multiple tools, or even your own log file or analytic data (which you know to be accurate) and run the tool against that.

Finally: this is just a start. If you’re going to develop really effective paid search campaigns, you need to do a lot more work building out specific Ad Groups and then monitoring their performance to have a really effective paid search account structure. That said these tools are free and easy to use, and we think you’ll find a good deal of utility in them. If you have questions, feedback, or future feature requests, please leave them in the comments!

Building Ad Groups With Keywords From The Wonder Wheel

10 Comments Written on November 3rd, 2009 by
Categories: Contextual Advertising, Google Adwords

The Wonder Wheel is a great little free tool by Google.

You can use the Wonder Wheel to quickly build keyword lists and Adwords groups in a visual way. With this tool, Google shows you the terms that relate most closely to your chosen keyword terms.

What Is The Google Wonder Wheel?

The Google Wonder Wheel is an interactive graphical application that shows related keywords.

The wheel starts with your keyword in the center, and shows terms related to that keyword in the “spokes” surrounding your keyword “hub”. If you click on a related term, the wheel creates a new hub, revealing more related terms.

Here’s how to find it:

1. Search on a keyword term.

Google Wagon Wheel

2. Select “More Options…”


3. Click “Wonder Wheel”


Let’s say your main keyword area is “culinary schools”. The Google wheel suggests related keyword terms such as “culinary arts”, “pastry schools”, “le cordon bleu”, “top 10 culinary schools”, and so on.


These keywords become your Adwords groups. Next, click on each of those terms, and you get further terms that will make up each group.

Easy, huh.

You get Adwords groups built around related keywords, which come together to form a theme.

Themes And The Content Network

The theme is particularly powerful when it comes to the Google Content Network.

The Content Network is Google’s syndicated advertising network. You can choose to have your ad appear not just on Google search results, but also on sites across the Google’s Adsense partner network. This option is turned on by default whenever you create an Adwords campaign.

Traditionally, many Adwords advertisers have turned off the content network because of perceived abuse and junk traffic. However, attitudes are changing as the network matures and the bid prices on Google’s search engine head into the stratosphere. The ROI from the content network starts to look more appealing.

It all comes down to ROI. If it’s positive, run with it.

In Google’s whitepaper entitled “CPA Perfomance Trends on the Google Content Network“, Google found that:

…..half of the advertisers had a Content Network CPA at least 2.6% lower
than their average Search Network CPA. In total, 51.6% of advertisers analyzed had an average Content Network CPA equal to or better than their Search Network CPA

It has taken a while, but it looks like Google and advertisers may have got Google’s content network figured out. As the report suggests, it is important that the advertiser pay close attention to landing page optimization and site exclusion.

How does this all relate to the Wonder Wheel?

When Google looks to place your ad across the network, it does so based on themes.

If you use terms that are defined as being related in the Wonder Wheel throughout your text, particularly in your ad groups, you’re more likely to show up on relevant sites across the network.

Google describe this affect on their Adwords Agency blog:

One particularly useful application of the tool is to identify new ad group themes for content campaigns. Since your ads are matched to publisher pages at the ad group level, creating different ad group themes helps you target your ads more precisely on the Google content network…..

You can then use the Google keyword tool, and your other favorite research tools, to flesh these groups out further.

As the blog notes, this is no guarantee of better performance, however the Wonder Wheel is a great – and fun – place to start.

Other attempts at keyword clustering can also be useful for campaign creation. Such features are offered via search suggestions on major search services, via synonym search (using ~) on major search engines, and as keyword clusters on many meta search engines. Specialty search services like the Quintura keyword map, Microsoft Search Funnels, Google Sets, and Google Squared can further help you come up with relevant keyword ideas.

The Differences Between Countries Can Cost You

1 Comment » Written on October 30th, 2009 by
Categories: Geo Targeting, Landing Pages

Do you run your PPC ads in different countries? If so, do you change your ad copy and landing page copy when targeting those different markets?

For many years, global brands have altered their marketing campaigns to target different countries.

An advertisement for a food product running in Australia may be markedly different from an advertisement for the same food product in the USA.


Whilst we share a common language, cultural values and norms differ markedly from country to country, and even region to region.

For example, what is considered soft sell in the US is often considered hard sell in the UK due to differing acceptance of overt commercial activity in those two cultures.

There are many differences:

Viewed from commercial America, British advertising looks like something bent out of shape by a culture so consumed with embarrassment it can’t look a salesman in the eye when he’s making a pitch, particularly if that pitch is laden shoulder high with emotion – love of country, family or God. From a mainstream US perspective our quirky elliptical leave-them-guessing advertising approach is kind of charming, but kind of unworkable too in America, with its fragmented audiences and ethnicities, its raging sensitivities and, above all, its huge risks. American advertising is risk averse because there’s so much at stake with those huge clients and their mega-spends. It means everything is researched to death so all backs are covered.

If you’re running a PPC campaign in different geographic markets, then you’re running a global campaign. So, you need to think about approaching such a campaign as a global brand would do, and tailor your message accordingly.

Your competition – who may understand those local markets intimately, as they live and work in them – will be designing their pitch based on local norms, so too should you, if you want to convert.

Here are a few ideas on how to target different cultures effectively:

1. Watch What Others Do

Take a look at how your product or service is advertised in other media in your target country. What language do they use? What imagery do they use? How are they making the pitch? Is it subtle? Hard sell? Humorous?

Now evaluate the ad copy and landing pages of your PPC competitors. What similarities do they share to each other? To ads in other media? How do they differ from how you would advertise in your own local market?

2. Spelling

A PPC ad written using US spelling displayed in another country screams “not relevant to this market”, especially when surrounded by ads that use local spellings.

Use “s” instead of “z”, and watch those vowels! 🙂 Color becomes colour, center becomes centre and check becomes cheque.

Here’s a good reference guide to common differences.

3. No, They Don’t Think “Because It’s American, It’s Great”

Every culture thinks what they do is great, and what foreigners do is suspect.

Just as you don’t assume that something from Germany is great, Germans aren’t going to assume that something from America must be great. Some may even be hostile to the US – it just comes with the territory of being the new Roman Empire 🙂

It’s not that you have to cave to others demands, but it does pay to be aware of them. If you’re trying to convince someone to buy something, then you need to talk the customers language, on their terms, no matter if they live in New York or, well, York.

4. There Are Regional Differences

Just to complicate matters, there are significant differences between language in different regions in many countries, and particularly in the UK.

Just like there are differences between New Yorkers and Angelenos, there are differences between those in the north of England, and those in the South.

The South tend to think of themselves as intellectually and culturally superior to Northerners, and Northerners tend to think of Southerners as soft, fake and, well, elitist. These are generalisations, of course, but be aware that they exist, as these differences may alter your pitch.

5. Test

As always, test.

Change the language of your landing pages and ads depending on the accepted norms of local markets. Align your language and style with the most successful PPC ads targeting those markets.

Run with the winners and cut the losers.

Final Thoughts

The world is get smaller. The internet, and tech in general, is being driven from America. Naturally, it comes bundled with US cultural values.

This is leading to the Americanization of other countries and making boundaries, both physical and cultural, less of a block than they have been previously.

A pitch that works in America can translate into other cultures without change, but that won’t happen as a matter of course.

Think local.

Google’s Display Ad Strategy

1 Comment » Written on October 19th, 2009 by
Categories: Display Ads

AdAge highlighted Google’s Campaign Monitor, a display ad measurement tool which has been in beta for the last year:

With Campaign Insights, Google takes data from the advertiser’s server logs to determine who was shown an ad and when. Then compares that to web searches and site visits culled from data from the millions of Google toolbars on computer desktops. Those results are compared to a comparable group that didn’t see the ad.

Then Google measures the difference between the number of brand searches and site visits between the two groups. To filter out the impact of other media or influences, such as a TV campaign, Google compares the data to the two groups’ behavior before the campaign began. The incremental difference is attributable to the display-ad campaign.

So you have to give Google your server logs, and in return you get Google massaged data. Yet another form of market transparency through opacity.

Off the start I am sure it will be fairly accurate, but 3 years from now when…

  • the market is more mature
  • Google introduces quality scores and other such levers
  • Google is trying hard to hit the quarterly numbers

…I am not sure how much it would make sense to trust Google for these kinds of measurements. Of course opinion won’t matter if Google is the only game in town. It would benefit Microsoft and Yahoo! to push hard on this front because whoever gets the data partnerships locked up first will end up with a more efficient market and higher yields…eating market-share from other ad networks.

If they are honest with the data it might be a bit of an up hill fight. Even within the search channel the idea of attribution is iffy. Andrew Goodman wrote:

Problem: 74% of purchases can only be attributed to a single click anyway. By definition, that’s the last click. Attempt to “attribute” that purchase to prior clicks or other factors? Good luck.

So the next revelation: when you bucket keyword queries down into distinct types, only 7% of sales can attribute significant influence to some kind of click other than the last click.

And large advertisers, growing more aware of that lack of search buying funnel, are starting to spend more on longtail search keywords while avoiding bidding wars on top keywords, as reported in the WSJ:

Sprint is buying the top ads tied to phrases consumers tend to search for when they are close to making a purchase, such as “cellphone rate plans” and specific products like “Samsung Reclaim,” rather than more generic phrases they search for at the beginning of the shopping process, like “Sprint,” “AT&T” and “cellphone.” Pricing for the more-generic terms tends to be higher, yet less for important to driving sales, Mr. McPhillips says.

Of course if lots of big advertisers follow the same strategies they may leave holes in some markets. In a recent interview, researcher Jim Jansen claimed just the opposite…that the broad keywords were cheaper and provided more bang for the buck:

In terms of classifying queries in terms of what advertisers’ payoff is, I think the most interesting finding was that the purchase queries, the last stage of the buying funnel, were the most expensive and had no higher payoff than the awareness or the very broad, relatively cheaper queries. From talking to practitioners, that is a phenomena that they have noted also… which is why a lot of people bid still on very broad terms, to snatch these potential customers at an early stage.

My  SEO experience and PPC experience has been more inline with seeing great ROI on the longtail keywords. But with SEO for some really long-tail cases the page can be set up to pull in traffic that is so niched that it becomes harder to find relevant advertisements and offers to match up against the traffic stream. And of course the issue with longtail PPC is getting much volume.

What is the Best Google AdWords Ad Rank Position?

7 Comments Written on August 18th, 2009 by
Categories: Google Adwords

The Google AdWords blog shared some research on conversion rates by ad position:

We have used a statistical model to account for these effects and found that, on average, there is very little variation in conversion rates by position for the same ad. For example, for pages where 11 ads are shown the conversion rate varies by less than 5% across positions. In other words, an ad that had a 1.0% conversion rate in the best position, would have about a 0.95% conversion rate in the worst position, on average. Ads above the search results have a conversion rate within ±2% of right-hand side positions.

The bottom line: conversion rates don’t vary much by position.

I suspect in some instances the ad position may have a larger influence than others (areas with news spikes, lots of curiosity clicks, and broad matching that goes to broad). But its nice to get confirmation that in general the conversion rates are fairly flat by position in most cases.

New Pay Per Click Tools

11 Comments Written on January 5th, 2009 by
Categories: PPC Tools

A couple weeks back we created a few new tools that I think I forgot to mention here.

People also send us lots of links to new tools. A couple of them that were sent in recently are a French company’s ad copy brainstorming tool, a cool City Concatenator tool, and a cool neighborhood Concatenator tool.

Looking For Credit Cards? Google Creating New Search Inventory

6 Comments Written on November 29th, 2008 by
Categories: Contextual Advertising, Google Adwords

Search monetizes so well because there is so much implied intent in a search. But some have claimed slowing search volume and lowering ad costs.

The search box is perhaps the most profitable ad unit because consumers feel some level of control as they request ads about whatever topic they search for.

To offset slowing online adverting, Google is looking to “create” more search volume by using AdSense ad units to suggest consumers search for expensive keywords – like credit cards.

In the past Google has ran ads asking the consumer to “search for ads about ______” but this is the first Google ad unit that takes searchers directly off the publisher site and directly onto a Google search result with organic search results. It is one thing if Google asks for you to search for ads because they don’t understand the theme of a page, but it is quite another for them to have pre-made ads to siphon off the visitor to a Google search result without guaranteeing publisher payments (or is the first click paid, but at a heavily discounted rate?).

How much does Google pay AdSense publishers for this ad unit, when conversion happens after 2 clicks rather than 1? What percent of the end ad spend goes to the publisher when Google arbitrages the click through How does smart pricing come into play when Google discounts the original click and then marks up the second one?

This sort of advertising allows Google to water down their search traffic slightly, but without advertisers knowing how it got watered down, or why their conversion rates lowered slightly.