On a regular basis I have seen marketers make the same tactical mistakes in running their PPC (pay-per-click) programs. Why?
This seems to occur…
- in the beginning due to inexperience or indifference
- after the account has grown substantially and becomes quickly out of control
- with too many cooks in kitchen adding junk and pushing buttons
- when people panic and start adding junk and pushing buttons, hoping this will improve performance
By identifying and correcting the problems, you should see immediate and positive changes.
Account creep: Recently observed: campaigns added upon campaigns, random keywords added, or text ads added in until there are half a dozen creative versions for one Adgroup.
Solution: with each addition to the account, you need to do an audit to find same or similar or complementary campaigns. Compare and contrast. Maybe the additions you need are simply an edit or enhancement to an existing campaign? For new ad texts, you really only need one or two versions unless you intend to test them. Delete the old ones when adding new.
Duplicate keywords: Have you heard: “Why is the wrong ad showing up when I type in ‘blah blah blah’?” Take a detailed look. Do you see keywords duplicated and all over the place? This can result in the incorrect ad showing up.
Solution: Understand each set of keywords should be associated with the exact ad you want to appear. Make sure the same keyword is not in multiple campaigns. Run a keyword report and sort to find any duplicates. Decide which ones are in the wrong place and delete ‘em!
Google says: “Avoid duplicate keywords across adgroups. Google shows only one ad per advertiser on a particular keyword, so there’s no need to include duplicate keywords in different adgroups or campaigns. Identical keywords compete against each other, and the better-performing keyword triggers your ad.”
This help file is excellent in demonstrating a simple account set up and how the keywords should look.
Keyword matching: The way keywords are matched up with search terms is extremely critical to performance. Recently, I witnessed an account capture 30% less traffic because the keyword match was changed from broad to phrase match in Google. Because phrase match is more targeted than broad match, the keywords were actually tightened up, thus limiting traffic. Google uses broad match and Yahoo uses standard match as the default.
Solution: Learn the details of how to make sense of keyword match types. Experiment in small amounts until you understand how your keywords will behave. Then expand.
Content and keyword campaigns combined: Even though this is the default setting for Google, you shouldn’t mix the two. The content campaigns will behave more like display ads with a lower click-through-rate than keyword triggered campaigns. This will skew the results and make it difficult to optimize.
Solution: In keyword campaigns, only select “Google search” and “search partners”. In content campaigns, do the opposite. See awesome illustration:
Have you made the same mistakes? Don’t panic. Kick the other cooks out of the kitchen and simply set a plan to make corrections and then it will be smooth sailing. For now…
Deal with it, advertisers. Interactive copywriting differs from traditional copywriting. But how?
First: Don’t throw out the baby with the soggy diaper. Declaring yourself an interactive copywriter requires you to master the skills of traditional copywriting. If you’re going to enjoy success in this business, you still must be able to:
- Concept with an interactive designer or art director
- Come up with 9,003 big ideas and executions
- Endure dirty looks from creative directors
- Come up with better big ideas and executions
- Write smart, compelling, conceptual copy
That’s hard. No matter what kind of copywriter you call yourself, chances are good you’ll need to attend an advertising portfolio school or take a concentrated, mentor-guided journey before landing that first job. Building up to interactive copywriting requires mastery of additional considerations:
1. Your audience cares. (Hallelujah!)
Because online and mobile initiatives require active participation, people reading your bullet points, listening to your podcast or watching your spot hold you to a higher standard. You must be able to answer their questions and make them smarter. This means you must be able to weave conceptual solutions with meaty, often expletory, content.
2. Your audience needs you to be good at Jenga.
Interactive copywriting is how we create choose-your-own adventure stories for corporate America. It doesn’t matter how well you can write. If you can’t create (or collaboratively understand) site maps and information architecture, you’re ignoring user experience. Your copy will fail. In other words, you’ve got to keep a beanie and a pocket protector in your soul.
3. Your audience wants to be told what to do.
Yes, traditional copywriting includes calls to action. But you’re not trying for a point-something percent response rate. Part trail guide and part waiter, you must eliminate guesswork and name action steps clearly and compellingly. Tell them to open the e-newsletter, download the widget or bookmark for a time when their boss isn’t peering over their shoulder.
4. But, your audience wants to tell you what to do.
As a wise mentor put it, interactive isn’t another media space for messages. It’s fundamentally changing the nature of branded conversation. Your audience wants to take part in your creations. Allow them to customize, personalize and navigate their own journey with your brand. Give them space to speak up.
5. Your audience is ready to run with the message.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the term viral marketing? Or social media? Meaning your boss wants you to crank out a blockbuster right now? In order for someone to pass along your message, you must make it compelling (hilarious, unusual or somehow otherwise relevant), customizable and somehow better when shared.
Interactive copywriting adds distinctly new skills to the traditional bread and rum butter of Mad Men-esque copywriting. That’s cool. After all, geek is the new glamorous.
I recently wrote a post about the great Google content network and the new super campaigns available for advertisers in Adwords. The new features, flexibility, and transparency are expected to make the content network much more efficient for advertisers.
Unfortunately, today I captured a screen shot of Google double serving image ads on the content network. Double serving is “Displaying more than one ad for the same company or person at a time”. Google has a policy against double serving Adwords ads.
How does this happen? I am told it can occur because of contextual targeting and site-targeting in one account. I’m surprised Google’s technology isn’t smart enough to recognize this and prevent it.
But on the other hand, if you wanted to do this yourself, it would be pretty simple to get double exposure? You would just have to set-up two different campaigns. One that is site-targeted, and one with keywords using the new placement feature to target the same sites. Right?
Well, enjoy the technical error folks.
The Online Marketing Mavens love content. There have been a lot of improvements lately on the Google content network. I can tell you from my recent experience, there appears to be some major glitches with Yahoo’s content network (for example, campaigns not even running).
Search engines are different from the content network. In search engines, the keywords we use indicate our intent- what we want to research or buy. In the content network, Google matches ads with the content on web pages. We’re reading the content, not actively searching for anything when we see the ads. This can be accomplished by (1) contextual targeting or (2) placement targeting.
(1) Contextually targeted ads are keyword triggered (it is the default automatic opt-in). Google will show your ads on web pages where the keywords appear on the page. This is not just a straight-up keyword match, but also based on fancy linguistic processing technology. For example, if you sell coffee, Google will match it to websites about drinking coffee and knows not to show it for the Java programming language.
(2) Placement targeting is much easier to grasp because you simply select specific sites you want your ad to run on. I want to run on nytimes.com or something. You can identify placements by domain name, demographics, topics, or categories.
Early in the content network there were several problems. We couldn’t tell what sites we were served on, and had little control. Consider the previous coffee example. Targeting the content network can be a problem if you didn’t want your ad along side an article about getting scalded by coffee. So this can be a problem for the sophisticated marketer.
Recent improvements have made the content network a much more viable option for advertisers. Now, we have more advanced options:
- placement reports lists the sites where the ads show up
- pricing options of CPC or CPM
- controls to exclude sites or categories (ie, exclude user generated content or parked domains).
Just when you thought it was heaven on Google Earth, along comes another new feature currently in testing. My Google rep calls it the “Super Campaign”. Now the worlds of keyword targeting and placement targeting combine. In the Super Campaign, you can target both placements and keywords in the same campaign. In a perfect application, you could target shopping sites and use keywords related to only to coffee. Only showing up for shopping content about coffee.
You can see in the screen shot how this looks within the Adwords interface. Can’t wait for his to be widely available to test on new campaigns!
The Super Campaign could obviously lead to an entirely new approach to content targeting. Think about targeting health sites, but only with keywords for exercise (not healthy foods). Or general news sites and targeting certain type of news with keywords, only content about “gas prices”.
The possibilities are endless…
UPDATE 7-21-08: The new option appears to be available to all advertisers now. It’s accessible by drilling down to the AdGroup level in Google Adwords.
I love algorithms: “Google has been developing a new algorithm for indexing textual content in Flash files of all kinds, from Flash menus, buttons and banners, to self-contained Flash websites. Recently, we’ve improved the performance of this Flash indexing algorithm by integrating Adobe’s Flash Player technology.”
Late yesterday Google and Adobe announced a collaboration to make dynamic web content more searchable. Finally, millions of sites that use Flash technology will be searchable without the need for companies to alter them.
Search engines currently index very limited data about Flash sites which has caused major challenges for designers in marrying creative, dynamic content, and searchability.
What will be indexed by Google? Google says all of the text that users can see in the Flash file will be indexed and can be used to match query terms in Google searches. If the Flash site contains only images, they will not recognize or index any text that may appear in those images. These elements will be invisible to Google. Although they will be able to better crawl links in the site, they won’t be able to read the anchor text for Flash buttons which target some URL, but which have no associated text.
How will this impact PPC paid search? Will Google use this new algorithm for the Google AdsBot? Since the AdsBot collects only landing page information to apply to quality scores, it makes sense this technology would eventually be used to read Flash landing pages. This would allow advertisers to offer a more customized and dynamic user experience and better meet the needs of searchers. Fer sur.
Yahoo also plans to support searchable SWF. Hurry up, Yahoo…