Google Adwords

Oh, the Irony…

3 Comments Written on February 9th, 2011 by
Categories: Google Adwords

While researching where Google’s product review stars are pulled from I came across this little gem.

Who writes this stuff? Do they not see the blatant irony of Google telling business owners how to treat their customers while they pull every means of communication with their Adwords support teams, herding people into brain-dead support forums?

How can I improve my seller ratings and reviews?

The best way to improve your ratings is to make sure that your customers receive excellent customer service. Happy customers attract more happy customers who are willing to rate you well and tell others about your business or products.

Read the reviews about your business, and be proactive about resolving issues raised by your customers with a positive result that reasonably satisfies all parties, including you.

I’m speechless.


BREAKING: Keyword Research Shows You’re Probably Wrong

8 Comments Written on February 7th, 2011 by
Categories: Google Adwords, Keyword Research, Microsoft Adcenter

Note: This post is an abbreviated version of one of our PPCblog member’s training modules.  Not a member yet? Join Now and get instant access to reams of expert guidance and tips!

Get Ready for Some Humble Pie

Keyword research is as much about uncovering what you don’t know than reinforcing what you do.

Why is that?

Effective keyword research leads to really getting to know your prospects, which usually results in you completely throwing out your previous assumptions about what your customers want or think they want.

This can be a humbling experience as it can reveal holes in your PPC marketing strategy, both in your coverage of high-potential keywords and your landing pages.  Let’s dig into this a bit more deeply with a couple of examples…

Looking Beyond What “You” Would Do…

Many businesses approach Adwords with a pre-set list of keywords in mind, all of which are based on what they would look for if they were the customer.  The assumptions that come out of this approach can be incredibly limiting to the effectiveness and reach of an Adwords search campaign.

Why?  Because we typically jump to conclusions about whether a particular topic strain of keywords will be effective or not at bringing in paying customers.

Here’s some examples:

  • “Customers that are searching for a free product will never actually buy anything”
  • “My customers typically know my industry jargon”
  • “Customer with that particular type of problem won’t pay for a solution”
  • “My customers are well-spoken when searching online for my product”
  • “There’s nothing new in my industry that users would be looking for”

Let’s look at the first assumption: “Customers that are searching for a free product will never actually buy anything”.

Many advertisers shy away from bidding on keywords that include the term “free”, assuming the user will only accept a free solution, product, or advice.  This is typically not the case.  Searchers often start with a query or two including the word “free” even though they may be perfectly willing to accept an appropriate paid product or solution.

One of the biggest advantages of Adwords ads is their ability to redirect a searcher’s attention from organic, natural search results to an advertisement seamlessly.  This works well whether the user is searching for a competitor of yours or a free product.  Same difference.

Here’s an example:

The user may start out looking for a “free” software product, but may also very well end up clicking on and purchasing the IBM or Smartsheet products listed above the SERPs.

Actually, let’s be honest, the IBM ad sucks, so the Smartsheet ad deserves the click. The middle ad from Clarizen, highlights yet another strategy of using the word “free” but it’s a stretch given the fact that their actual landing page offer is a free trial only. One more thing to experiment with.

The big takeaway? Don’t be afraid to test out variants of your keywords that include the word “free”.

Industry Jargon & Buzzwords Are Your Friend

Next, reconsider the thinking that your customers somehow inherently know your industry’s buzzwords and jargon.  If you’re not in an ultra-specialized niche, it’s unlikely that they search for your product using the lingo you are most likely to use around the office.

Try to think past this assumption and envision the “dumbed-down” ways that your customers might be referring to your products or genre.  What would your mother call your niche or product? Stretch out and really think about how others who are not in your line of work would refer to your business, product or service.

The point here is that when you actually start digging into keyword possibilities using the tools out there right now- if you go beyond what you would personally look for- you’ll find amazing opportunities to reach customers who would have otherwise never found you.

Have you had any success testing your assumptions during keyword research? Share them in the comments!

Quickly Create & Tweak Country-Specific Adwords Campaigns

No Comments » Written on January 31st, 2011 by
Categories: Geo Targeting, Google Adwords

Not every Adwords campaign starts off with the geographic targeting perfectly dialed in.  Often, marketers start by lumping a scads of countries in together, ignoring language and currency as well as differences in conversion rates from country to country.

So how can you quickly segment out a country or group of countries that either need to have their bids customized (higher or lower), keywords tweaked, or daily budget settings adjusted?

The quickest way in my experience is to create a carbon-copy of your existing multi-country campaign and make a few quick changes.

Clone Your Existing Campaign

To create a carbon-copy of your Adwords campaign to customize, use Adwords Editor.

In Adwords Editor, click the “Campaigns” tab, and select the campaign you’d like to duplicate:

Do a CTRL-C to copy the campaign.

In the campaign tree on the left, select your account at the highest level of the tree.  Looking right to the campaign tab again, CTRL-V and paste in your copied campaign creating duplicate.  Change the name to something that makes sense:

In this case, we want to isolate Mexican traffic as we’ve found while it converts, the conversion rate isn’t high enough to sustain the same CPC bids as those used in the U.S., (about 50% lower in fact).

Change Your Geo Settings

Now that we have a cloned copy of our campaign to work with, we can edit the country settings and choose just Mexico:

*We could also change the language targeting to Spanish at this stage if we were going to translate all of the campaign elements.

Important: Don’t forget to go back and remove Mexico from your old original campaign!

Bulk-Change Your Bids & More

What we really need to do with this campaign however is to bulk-reduce the bids without going into each adgroup and making individual bid changes.

The easiest way to do this is to use the ad scheduling feature only available in the online Adwords UI.

(Before posting your new campaign to Adwords, you may want to set the campaign status to “Paused” until you’ve had a chance to tweak the settings online, at which point you can activate the campaign when you’re ready.)

Post your new campaign.

To lower our bids across the board in the newly uploaded campaign, go into the campaign and select the “Settings” tab, scrolling down to “Advanced Settings” and click “edit”:

On the screen that pops up select “bid adjustment” instead of “basic” and click on the box that shows “% of bid” to edit it.  You can now reduce your bids across the board and apply this reduction to all days of the week in one go:

We’ve now effectively reduced our bids by 50% for Mexican traffic only.

You can also make daily budget adjustments here to spend less budget on an ongoing basis.

Splitting out high-traffic countries into their own campaigns and localizing your settings can also improve your quality scores, both in the campaign you’ve removed the extra countries from as well as the newly targeted campaign as quality score can often have a strong regional component.

Did Google Just OK Adwords Arbitrage Again?

I feel like I’m in some kind of dream.

I don’t know how I missed it, but this was posted on the Google Adwords blog just last week:

Using Google Adsense to Complement Your Adwords Account

The post asks how, “since not every visit leads to a sale, wouldn’t it be great to have other ways of making money from those visits?”

Their suggested answer to this conundrum? Put Adsense on your site.


The post continues:

“ is an AdWords and AdSense client that has had great success using these two products together. offers premium designer clothes at affordable prices. They implemented AdSense for Content and AdSense for Search and specifically targeted certain pages within their site.”

The “CEO”/Webmaster guy then says, (get this):

“We have come to think of AdSense revenue as a partial but instant rebate on our AdWords investment,” said Dominic Ang, President of, the owner of “While we were initially concerned about potential cannibalization, we have found out that using certain spots for AdSense such as the end of a page or in exit pages can drive significant additional revenue with no loss in our core e-commerce revenue.”

You view it as what? “A rebate on your Adwords” clicks?”

But wait – It gets even better…  What kind of site is “”?

It’s a…wait for it….thin affiliate feed site. At least “” actually sold the products they promoted…

Go to this page on and check out what happens when you click on a product in their “store”.

The entire site is an affiliate ‘doorway’ page to other shops.  A year ago you would have been banished for life from Adwords for promoting a site like this via Google Ads.

Now, not only can you run ads to a door way like this, you can even run Adsense on it and arbitrage your “rebate” on Adwords clicks – And Google is SUGGESTING THAT YOU GO OUT AND DO IT!

In fairness, it doesn’t say they run Adsense ads on their individual Adwords landing pages however it doesn’t say they don’t. Again, I feel like I’m dreaming.  After several years of painfully culling the accounts of arbitragers, affiliates, and price/review aggregators, we have this?  Really?

Maybe now that Google has an affiliate network and their own in-house thin affiliate feed sites (shamelessly ripping off ShoeDazzle’s innovative style configurator), they’re ready to ease up a bit on their guidelines.

It looks like it’s ‘game-on’ again for arbitrage, they just blessed it.

10 Killer Adwords Strategies for Startups

Acquisitions aside, a big part of the reason Groupon is growing as fast as it is is because of their massive Adwords push, particularly on the Google display network.

Skillfully executed Adwords display and search campaigns can help your startup:

  • Maximize launch buzz and get people coming back to their new beta accounts
  • Help tweak and test new feature ideas
  • Tip you off when you need to pivot
  • Grab investors’ attention

Here are ten quick tips in three main areas detailing how startups can use PPC to boost their success rate pre-launch, during launch, and post-launch:

– Pre-Launch –

Capturing Investor Attention

Looking to catch some eyeballs on Sand Hill Road? Carpet-bomb your display ads across specific parts of the Silicon Valley (or anywhere you like really) using tight campaign geo-targeting.

Build custom banners specifically designed to speak directly to VCs as they browse their favourite blogs, many of which participate in the Adsense (or Doubleclick) content network.

Sites will often backfill inventory at pennies on the dollar via various ad exchanges like Doubleclick’s, giving you the chance to slip sideways into premium placements as other monthly direct-buy ad campaigns reach their caps. (See the below ideas on retargeting to make sure your ads ‘follow’ your potential investors.)

Testing New Feature Ideas

Wondering if adding a new feature to your product or service will really make a difference to sales? Try running Adwords traffic to a split test pitting your typical landing page against a variant that highlights the potential new feature. Next, measure the difference in Call-to-Action clicks: Did it move the needle? If not, the new feature might not have the draw you’re hoping for.

Naming Your Product

Tim Ferriss has been a huge proponent of testing everything from potential book titles to business and product names using Adwords. I completely concur.

Try creating multiple ads with different product names you’re considering and compare the various ad click-through-rates (and/or beta registration rates) to vet the catchiness of your company, product or feature names.

You can use the Adwords ad text display URL field to mix up the naming variables (eg,, or, or better yet, test using the ad headline to grab the results more quickly.

Crafting Your Pitch

Searching for the perfect brand or product tagline? Trying to accurately align your messaging with the most common customer pain points? Ad split testing and CTR evaluation can help you find the most attractive taglines.

Additionally, bidding on specific sets of keywords that reflect different ‘types’ of customer pain points and evaluating the click through interest and traffic for each keyword theme can help you quickly determine what pain points are worth hammering on in your marketing and messaging.

Be aware however that you might find that the types of customers you thought your service would appeal to don’t really have much interest in your pitch or your beta. It pays to listen to the market. If the interest doesn’t seem to be there, retest and see if you end up with the same results. If so, it may be time to consider a pivot.

Beta & Pre-launch Email List Building

Groupon used the Adwords display network in launch city after launch city to drum up a huge email list before they even had offers in those markets. How much would it rock to have a massive list of beta testers and potential launch customers ready waiting the minute you’re ready to drop?

– During Launch –

Combine Launch Buzz with Site Targeting to Generate Expanded Visibility

Adwords is also a great way to extend the your awareness and reach during your launch. Often, sites that would editorially cover your launch announcements also running some form of Google/Doubleclick-powered display ads on their sites.

Look up your PR-hitlist of sites ahead of time using the Google placement targeting tool and create placement-targeted display ad campaigns you can use to blanket these top sites with your ads right at launch time.

Additionally, create a keyword-targeted version (using your brand keywords) of your campaigns to reach sites you hadn’t thought would cover that ended up picking up your launch.

Stalking Hesitant Visitors

Use Adwords Retargeting feature (also called “remarketing”) to cookie users who check out your site at launch time but don’t sign up. Your display ads will follow them around the Adsense and Doubleclick banner network for weeks afterward, giving you a chance to change up your banners until you find something that finally convinces them to buy or sign up.

Pissing Off Your Competitors

Want to put your competitors on notice? Use Adwords to bid on their brand name and URL using a clever or striking ad that diverts their potential visitors’ attention your way.

As an added bonus, your competitors are likely to check out your site when you launch, so using retargeting you can cookie them and follow them around the internet as well, taunting them daily:)

– Post-Launch & Beyond –

Price Testing & Funnel Optimization

Use Adwords to send specific traffic streams to new checkout flows, different registration path tests and more. Adwords search traffic comes in through a pretty silo’d channel so you can try new things without rocking the boat with existing customers (especially helpful when price testing or including new bonus concepts etc…)

Regaining Post-Signup Mindshare

Often, getting free trial signups for your new service isn’t the hard part, it’s getting people to come back and actually use their new accounts, hopefully leading to a paid conversion. Cookie your new users via Adwords retargeting and create banners designed to lure them back to log into their accounts and actually use your service.

Final Note: Build Adwords Spend Into Your Funding Plan

All of this is wonderful if you’ve got the resources to be able to pay Google for traffic. A lot of startups recognize that SEO is an important part of their user acquisition strategy, but how many bake Pay Per Click into their plan right from the start?

How does it work in practice?  “Adwords was always part of our marketing plan from the beginning.  Bidding on tail terms worked extremely well for us in addition to using retargeting banners.  I can’t understate the importance of factoring in PPC to your launch.” – Jason Morehouse, founder of Checkfront Inc., a fast-growing online booking system.

If you’re raising funding, make sure allocate some budget for Adwords to make sure you can leverage all of these handy tactics to improve your product, snag early users, and pitch additional potential investors. SEO can seemingly take forever to move the traffic needle when you’re desperate to get traction with your launch. Adwords gives you traction right away, on-tap when you need it. Plan and budget for it, and you’ll be able to use PPC to seriously disrupt your market.

Sometimes Broader Can Be Cheaper

6 Comments Written on January 5th, 2011 by
Categories: Google Adwords, Keyword Research

Are you completely stuck trying to get profitable on your most-desired keywords?

PPC advertisers, just like everyone else, can be susceptible to a ‘herd mentality’.  Herd mentality with PPC tends to show up when you see everyone and their dog piling on to a few select keywords that they’re convinced are the closest match and highest-converting terms.

While it may be true that those keywords are a good fit logically and contextually, they often long ago ceased to be the most profitable now that every sheep has started bidding on them.  Typically, the end result is the only party making money on the keyword is Google.

When ‘More Targeted’ Equals More Competition

But aren’t you supposed to focus on tight, closely-related keywords that show the buyer is ready to convert?

Not at any cost.  What you really need to focus on are the keywords that bring you the optimal blend of volume and ROI to actually make you money.

In many cases, those highly-specific keyword phrases just aren’t worth it, and sometimes, if you actually go ‘broader’, (not in match type, but keyword length) you can net out with higher volumes at substantially lower actual CPCs.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say I sell accessories for HTC cell phones.

In Canada, the starting cost to bid on “HTC charger” is .92 CPC, with 4 competitors already there.

Alternatively, if I simply bid on “htc”, (using the same ad text specifically for people looking for chargers) there is only 1 competitor and the starting CPC is only .59.

‘But won’t I get a crappy CTR if I bid on the broader term?’

Not necessarily.  First of all, CTR is only relevant as it relates to the other keywords in the same auction you’re appearing in.  So as long as my CTR is as high or higher than that other advertiser hocking HTC screen replacements, it shouldn’t dramatically affect my Keyword Relevance quality score, which is heavily CTR-weighted.

Additionally, my broader keyword will place me in a number of auctions I might not otherwise have found on my own, potentially uncovering some huge winners.  As actual search term performance data is gathered, I can branch out new, longer-phrase keywords that I see converting given what Google has phrase matched me against thus far.  If these have lower CPCs and less competition than the competitively-intense keywords I used to have to bid on, it’s a net win.

What About Irrelevant Clicks?

Of course, most people searching for the keyword “HTC” alone aren’t all going to be looking for a charger, so how do you mitigate cost overruns due to poor clicks?

In a word: negatives.  Adding as many negatives at the adgroup level as possible up front can dramatically decrease your chances of irrelevant clicks.  We have a fantastic training module for our PPCblog members that covers unorthodox but effective ways to dig up negatives before you roll out broader keywords, but one simple way is to use the Google Keyword Tool with your ‘broadish’ keyword and sort the results by highest global monthly searches down to see if there are any ‘land mines’ you should avoid right out of the gate.

As an added bonus, the fact that your ad is specific to chargers will tend to self-filter people not specifically looking for chargers. Alternatively, you could go a bit broader if your product catalogue supports it and target “HTC Accessories” in your ad text to catch people looking for other related items.

Does Google Like It?

‘Google would never allow my ad to stick for that broad of a query would they?’  Surprisingly yes.  Google will pretty much allow you to advertise on any contextually-relevant keywords that your CTR indicates users find meaningful.  The only way to know is to try it and see how you do. Often other advertisers have never tried going this broad on brand terms and the like, or they simply assumed it’s too untargeted to actually work.  You can exploit this competitive deficit if your controlled experiment is successful.

Does this work in every case? No.  Sometimes the broader term is actually more expensive to bid on than the more descriptive term, or your just can’t get an ad to ‘click’ with users well enough to sustain your ad placement on the broader term.  That said, it’s a great technique to try if you’re banging your head against the wall competitively and need to get unstuck.

A Timely Reminder: Adwords Passwords & Security

3 Comments Written on December 13th, 2010 by
Categories: Business, Google Adwords, The World Around Me

Over the weekend Gawker Media’s site network including lifehacker, Jezebel, Gawker, Gizmodo and others was hacked, their entire site database packaged up, downloaded, and posted as a Torrent on the The Pirate Bay website.  Included in that site db were over 1.3m commentator usernames, emails and passwords…in plain text.

By far, the vast majority of the email addresses in the db were addresses, closely followed by @yahoo and @hotmail variations.

Wouldn’t you know it, a lot of people, and I mean A LOT of people, use the same password for nearly everything, from commenting on Gawker blogs to their Gmail accounts and beyond.  The instant this hit the web, hackers and curious programmers were writing scripts to try the hacked passwords in combination with the email addresses to gain access to users’ email and Twitter accounts and the like.  Many of them were successful, and gmail accounts were accessed.

This immediately made me think of Google Accounts, and the close tie-in between Google services like Adwords and more benign services like email.  Twitter fell face-first into a massive internal document leak when a hacker used social engineering methods to reset Twitter staff user gmail passwords, locking the staff users out of their own Google Accounts and giving the hacker access to all of Twitter’s internal documents (including strategy and HR documents) that were created using Google Docs.  (PS-If you were Twitter and Google was your competition, would you be using Google Docs?  Question for another time I guess…)

If you haven’t had a chance to read the background of how using Google Docs lead to Twitter’s hack, I highly recommend you read this backgrounder and see if you can spot any familiar points in your organization.

The same thing could happen to your Adwords account, particularly when there are a number of users with Admin-level access.

A friend of mine had his Adwords account compromised this way in 2007, with the hacker running up $160,000 in clicks in two days by bidding on “Pepsi” with a bunk ad, bidding $100 CPC.  Google was able to refund them, but the account had to be shut down completely for security reasons by Google, and he lost over four years of account history and had to start from scratch with a net-new Adwords account.

This whole Gawker fiasco is a good reminder that it’s essential to a) not use the same password over and over again on PPC platforms in particular, and b) rotate your passwords with complex variations that are less likely to be cracked using brute-force attempts.  Using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols all rolled up in the same password is the best way to prevent someone from cracking it using automated brute-force tools.  If you have a hard time remembering complex passwords, consider using 1Password (Mac & Windows) or a similar app to help via autofill.

Because Gmail is tied to nearly every Google Accounts service, the same complex password strategy should apply to your Adwords-connected Gmail or Google Apps accounts, both for yourself and anyone else who has been granted administrative access to your Adwords account.

When you consider the damage that someone could do to your credit card or agency account by running up fraudulent click charges or worse, direct-linking fake ads to sketchy, blacklisted or malware sites, it’s well worth the effort to take the time to update your Google password regimen right away.  The same goes for Facebook Ads, Adcenter or any other key platform that’s linked to your credit card.

Better safe than sorry…

Quality Score is Busted Again: Don’t Change Your Bids

8 Comments Written on November 23rd, 2010 by
Categories: Analytics, Google Adwords

UPDATE: Things appear to be returning to normal as of about 10am PDT today (Nov. 24th).  Our members are reporting that their scores and minimum bid amounts have gone from 3’s and 4’s to 7’s and 10’s sometime through the night.  Certainly a relief.  Hopefully the advertisers who jacked their bids as a result of this will bring them back down to earth soon and normalize the auction again.

This is getting kind of ridiculous:

Not only was the last Quality Score “malfunction” not completely fixed (going back all the way to October), but it’s happening all over again, and right before the busiest online sales weekend of the year. Add to that that this has been happening again for over 48 hours now.

Google’s channels for communicating with advertisers on these huge issues is also broken. Why not put an announcement in the Adwords UI? They’re simply tweeting (two days late) and posting randomly in their Adwords support forums, “Adwords Pros” are contradicting one another in the same threads, and then they come back and post stuff like this:

Adwords Pro:

Although I posted with essentially the same message yesterday, I think it’s best that I re-post now – as there have been many posts since then, and the message could be easily missed.

Bottom line, I do not yet have concrete information as to what is occurring, and I have learned never to make predictions or guesses as to what might be occurring, or regarding a time-to-resolution. Going even further, I will typically not say that something is resolved until many hours after I’ve heard a formal ‘all clear’ from the engineering teams.

With all that said, I would again advise everyone to focus on their core metrics (CTR, CPC, and etc) and to not make changes to their account based on an unexpected change to their quality score. In fact, as a general rule I’d say that core metrics are the single most accurate depiction of performance – and the first place one should look if they notice Quality Score changes.

I will certainly keep this thread updated when I have concrete information to report. And, again, I apologize on behalf of Google for the uncertainty and upset.



It might be true that quality score numbers aren’t the be-all/end-all, but minimum first page bid estimates are definitely a major decision point for most advertisers.

Add to that that you’d have no idea that this whole ‘malfunction’ wasn’t your fault and doesn’t demand your immediate action if you weren’t constantly trolling Google’s support forum for news.

Here’s the big problem though: For those who have no idea that this is a Google error, they WILL raise their bids and they WILL screw up the entire auction! Again: right before the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

So whether or not the “system” is serving ads normally, there’s a thousands and thousands of human beings bidding for placement that will most definitely change the reality of ad serving.

The damage is likely already done here, and once again Google ends up on the winning side with what will will amount to a nice bump in holiday PPC revenue.

Review: Google’s Beta Contextual Targeting Tool

Google’s new Contextual Targeting Tool (currently in beta, some accounts have it already, more will see it roll out shortly) is a fantastic way to build out quick and dirty display network campaigns.

Many advertisers build out their content campaigns using variations on the keywords used in their search campaigns, perhaps integrating a few other contextually-related keywords to round out the ‘theme’ of the adgroup, making it easier for Google to figure out where to put your ad, or simply start from scratch using Google’s keyword tool to throw together thematically-relevant keywords into new adgroups.

A Much Easier Approach For Creating Content Campaigns

Google’s new Contextual Targeting Tool however gives you an in-depth look at what types of terms Google thinks are semantically related to your core keywords and also shows you totally new branches of keywords that you might not have ever thought to look for on your own.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the tool allows you to see how Google thinks related terms should be grouped together to make successful content adgroups that they can ‘understand’ in order to place your ads on the right display network pages.

To use the tool, you select a geography and language, then pop in a few sample keywords that are most closely related to whatever it is that you’re selling on Adwords: (click images to enlarge)

The tool then returns a list of pre-made content adgroups and bid suggestions that you can add to your existing campaign, or use to create a new one:

By selecting any of the suggested adgroups, you can edit the keyword phrases Google comes up with: removing keywords that are too geo-specific, or not really relevant to the human eye, or add keywords of your own that you think would round out the adgroup even further.

For instance, in the below highlighted adgroup, you might choose to take out the references to specific states or just have one state mentioned per adgroup:

One of the most important features of this tool is that you can expand out any number of adgroups into an even deeper set of adgroups related to any of the initially-suggested groups.   (Mousing over any of the adgroups reveals an “Expand” button.)

For instance, if we ‘expand’ the initial “Cheap Car Insurance” adgroup, Google suggests a number of additional adgroups they think are deeper derivatives of “Cheap Car Insurance”:

They’ve come up with a number of great ways to expand on “cheap car insurance” including terms like “budget”, “cheap insurance forum”, “cheap auto insurance quotes” and more.  This is MUCH more easier than trying pluck these out of the standard Google keyword tool.

The Contextual Targeting Tool even shows you where, based on these new adgroups, your ads might show up, right down to the exact URL:

Seeing this in advance is equivalent to getting a sneak peek at your Campaign Placement Report before you put the campaign or adgrousp live.  What’s the value of this?  Well, first off you get to see what sites your ads could show on that are NOT appropriate, and should be added as campaign-wide negative site exclusions before these new adgroups are launched.  You may also notice some negative keywords creep in that could be added immediately as campaign-level negative keywords.

Given that we’re looking at car insurance-related adgroups you can likely spot a few sites here that don’t exactly match up to that theme:

So now we’ve got a list of nicely expanded adgroups, that can be exported directly from here into Adwords Editor where you can add text or image ads etc…

WARNING: This export to Adwords Editor feature is handy, but notice that the suggested bids from Google are also exported, and they might be a) higher than is really necessary and b) more than you’re able or willing to pay.  When you import these adgroups into Adwords Editor, be sure to go in and update the Max Content CPC you’re willing to pay so you don’t end up with a bigger than expected spend.

The Value for Search Campaigns, Quality Score & Ad Text

I’ve put together a completely new training module for our PPCblog community members that includes tips and examples on how to use this new Contextual Targeting Tool to expand search campaigns, pump up Keyword Relevance Quality Score, and tweak ad text for higher CTRs.

If you haven’t joined yet, what are you waiting for….?

Has Adwords Gotten Too Damn Complicated?

2 Comments Written on November 15th, 2010 by
Categories: Analytics, Google Adwords, Marketing

When I was speaking a couple of weeks ago at BlueGlass Florida, just out of curiosity I asked the audience of marketers and business leaders if how many used Adwords every day.  About half of the several hundred attendees put up their hands.  Then I asked how many felt that Adwords had gotten too complicated for its own good?  About 30% put up their hands…

Who Benefits From PPC Platform Complexity?

I’ve long wondered why Google keeps front-loading so many practically insignificant levels of feature complexity into the Adwords interface.  Granted, some of these are somewhat interesting to look at, but maybe one reason Google does this is to create so many comparison points as to ensure that you as an advertiser are less inclined to spend time and money on competing ad platforms that don’t have all of these features and data points.

Making competitors’ platforms (*cough*Adcenter*cough) look hopelessly behind means Google wins the ‘feature war’ by ensuring they end up with the lion’s share of advertisers’ attention and ad spend.

Another side benefit: Google’s competitors also spend more time chasing their tails to develop reports and functionality that really won’t make much difference to the lives of their clients, but will tick off a box in the feature-for-feature competition with Adwords.  While they’re spending time trying to match Adwords UI features instead of, for instance, growing their content network partnerships to increase marketshare, or something else that will actually make a difference for their advertisers, Google ‘drinks their milkshake’.

What About the Little Guy?

What about the flip side?  What about the small business that opens an Adwords account and tries to make a go of it?  They’re not professional marketers, nor do they have time to spend every waking hour servicing Adwords’ insatiable need for attention.  No matter how blogs or books they read or how many Google small business seminars they watch, they have no idea why they can’t just pay for their damn ad to show.  It’s almost as if Google is saying to them, “Hey, this is really complicated…just let us manage your bids and budgets for you.”  Oh, and remember:  If you’re having a problem getting Adwords to show your ads, the answer is always “increase your bid”.  Umhmm…

In the quest for the “beautiful” algorithms that will ensure they never have to actually talk to their customers in person, Google has created a monster.  A monster of complexity and “quality” that obfuscates the only data that really matters: “Is my damn ad being shown on to the customers I’m looking for, and am I making any money?”

Other less sophisticated ad platforms pretty much do just that:  take the money, show the ad,  kind of a refreshing idea.

Of course there are challenges with ad quality.  Of course there’s a lot of competition to manage, but quality score in particular is often unnecessarily harsh to honest advertisers who just want to show an ad to their potential customers.  They’re not running business scams, or promoting deceptive products, they just want to sell eaves troughs to people who need eaves troughs.

What’s All This Data Really Worth?

For Adwords professionals, the pertinent question is what metrics are worth poring over and which are simply distracting noise?  There’s no doubt that between Google Adwords and Google Analytics there are enough data and measurement points to keep you buried for eternity.  But there’s also the possibility that you start to lose sight of the forest for the trees…

Adwords isn’t going to get any less complex going forward.  In fact, it’s likely to get even ‘data-noisier’ as 2011 unfolds.  But it’s interesting that in the case of funnel analytics and split testing for instance, the data firehose of Google Analytics has opened up room for new companies such as KISSmetrics to differentiate their analytics offering by making things simpler.  Will the same thing happen to PPC advertising platforms in the future? Very possibly.  Facebook (Google’s biggest real competitor going forward) has shown some promise in this area conceptually, trying to help advertisers connect with actual people rather than just queries.

Times Are a’ Changin’

I think it’s ironic that while Microsoft spends their precious development resources trying to match Adwords feature for feature, Google is rushing to make their search engine look more and more like Bing.  If Microsoft can properly align Adcenter’s functionality with Bing’s future direction, they’ll have an opportunity to differentiate from Google instead of simply playing copycat.  Given Microsoft’s historical internal silo-like structure, this isn’t too likely unfortunately, but one can dream:)

The other day my eight-year-old asked me to “look up a video on”.  I asked him why he wanted to look at ‘’ instead of Youtube? He said he didn’t know, but he thought ‘Bing was newer’.

The next generation of searchers growing up now won’t have brand loyalty to Google alone. They’ll be using whatever’s new, neat, built into their favourite web service or social network site, or more likely, whatever is preset by their mobile device carrier.  No report in Adwords is going to show you that you should really be spending some time buying ads on other platforms.   In fact, Google will make sure you keep thinking the alternatives are simply too immature to be worthy of your ad dollars.

Smart marketers will keep their ears to the ground and ensure they’re looking at signal rather than noise, following their customers and not simply Google.