Counting Down to Sales in AdWords Ads Just Got Easier

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in How-Tos | No Comments
Counting Down to Sales in AdWords Ads Just Got Easier





Last week, I wrote about how to use scripts to make meaningful optimizations. One of the optimizations I listed was the sales countdown script. In September, Google announced ad customisers that included the sales countdown function, which was essentially a less intimidating way of using scripts for making ad optimizations.

Well, it seems like Google has just one upped me, making part of my last post somewhat obsolete…but either way, everyone wins! Google has integrated the ‘Countdown’ logic into its own ad creation with its countdown widget; which I have to say, is way easier to use than implementing a script or filling out a document with arguments and other criteria.

How To Set Up a Countdown

To get started, navigate to the AdWords interface and type “{=” into a description line in your text ad. This text will automatically trigger the new Countdown widget.

adwords countdown widget

Next, fill in the start and end dates for your countdown.

Advanced Options

You get the option to use the ad viewer’s time zone, or your account timezone to display the countdown, as well as the language you would like the countdown to display. The advanced options are nice because they give an extra layer of customization to agencies or those operating across multiple time zones and languages.

Countdown Examples

There are many different applications for ‘Countdowns,’ while most think of sales as the main use case. Here are a few other uses.

  • If you want to promote a timed event, such as webinars or live streams
  • If you want to encourage contest entries
  • Promoting a new store opening
  • Promoting a shipping date (ex: “Order within the next 3 hours to get same day shipping!”)
  • Call out a special occasion (ex: 3 days until Valentine’s day!)

Pro-tip: Create one or two ads for mobile only; you’ll want to be sure to put the countdown in the beginning of the ad so that the urgency is there on mobile devices.

Takeaway

Creating urgency in ad text is one of the best ways to engage customers, and Google’s countdown feature makes creating time-sensitive ads much easier. It will be interesting to see if other networks work this type of functionality into their own ad creation. I could see this feature doing very well in social advertising.  Finally, if you don’t have it in your account, be patient– according to Google, the feature will be rolled out over the next few weeks.  If you do have it, though, consider yourself lucky!

Have other great ideas for using the countdown in your ads? Post them in the comments!

How To Optimize Your Campaigns with AdWords Scripts

Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in How-Tos | 13 Comments
How To Optimize Your Campaigns with AdWords Scripts





There are many techniques that marketers use to optimize their AdWords accounts. Some choose a very manual approach using AdWords Editor to make bulk changes, some use 3rd Party bidding tools that use an algorithm to help achieve a desired goal, and some use both. In this post, I will offer an alternative route and show you how AdWords scripts can help make some really important optimizations that will take your campaigns to the next level.

The Dilemma

3rd Party Tools

The biggest problem I found with 3rd party tools is that they only show data from the past day and rely heavily on historical data.  This information is useful, but when increasing and decreasing bids based on conversion data, I prefer to also account for same day data. Having both helps ensure I’m making the right decision at the right time. Another issue is cost, because big enterprise tools are expensive and typically require a contractual obligation.

Manual Optimizations

The problem with manual optimizations is that they are time consuming, daunting when  working with large campaigns, and typically surface level optimizations (changing bids, re-writing ad copy, changing match types, etc.). While these optimizations are 100% necessary, I believe this process can be more efficient.

Wind up robots
Source: flickr.com/photos/51940189@N04

Enter AdWords Scripts

First, lets take a minute to understand what scripts are and what they can do. Scripts let you automate actions in your AdWords account by using JavaScript code. While scripts aren’t new by any means, they are often overlooked due to their complexity. Don’t panic, though–while they are crazy to look at if you are not a Software Engineer, theres plenty of code already created. All you need to do is change a few things in the script to tailor them to your account. What’s more, the pre-made scripts do a good job of telling you what to replace and how to implement the script. There are two great resources for discovering new scripts. You can check out, freeadwordsscripts.com, a terrific blog dedicated to sharing new scripts, and Google’s own developer documentation.

Why You Should Use Scripts

Scripts take a lot of the manual work out of simple optimizations and incorporate some pretty advanced optimizations to take your campaigns to the next level. Scripts can be created to run advanced reports, set up advanced bidding changes, customize ads and set-up alerts.

My Top 5 Favorite Scripts

  1. Bid to Position – For many advertisers, there is a sweet spot when it comes to position where they can get an optimal cost/conversion & desired conversion volume. This script is designed to increase bids for keywords below the optimal position and decrease bids for keywords above the optimal position, so long as the CTR is above 1%.
    Note: this script only works with accounts with 50,000 or less keywords. If you have an account with over 50,000 keywords, this script can still be implemented. However, only 50,000 bids will be increased and 50,000 will be decreased.
  1. Flexible Budgets – This script is great because it will dynamically change your budget each day until you reach a desired goal. When I was running campaigns, one of my biggest pain points was managing spend– especially in instances where clients wanted to spend an increased amount over a certain period, say during the holidays.  Depending on the industry, this isn’t always easy. With a flexible budget script, however, it makes it much easier to pace and manage spend.
  2. Sales Countdown – Probably my favorite of them all. The countdown script is designed to dynamically change your ad text to match the time left during a sale. As marketers, we always talk about creating urgency in ad text. This script is a great way to do that without creating a ton of ads and flipping them on and off, or setting up a bunch of rules to do it for you.
  3. Link Checker – There is nothing worse to a campaign manager than a broken URL; it creates a very poor experience, and takes some credibility from your business. Broken URL’s do happen for reason’s out of our control (a client makes a change to their site, server outages, etc.). This script will help prevent these potential errors, saving you hours clicking each URL to make sure they direct to the right pages.
  4. Bid By Weather – What a cool concept. For many advertises weather can have a big impact on business, this script is designed to adjust bids based on the weather. For example, if you are an electrician, you may want to increase bids during inclimate weather where power outages are more likely to occur.

Implementing Scripts

Initially, I was a little hesitant to create scripts that would affect my campaign performance. So I eased in by using the reporting scripts. These are simply used to push out reports to a ‘Drive’ document. So if you are new to scripts, I’d start here.

Note: Some scripts will require a separate spreadsheet to be created with inventory or other information in order for them to work. It will then call from that spreadsheet to run the script. For reporting, scripts often just need a place to spit the data out.

To implement a reporting script, do the following:

1. Scripts are located in the ‘Bulk operations’ section of AdWords

2. Click +Script to add a new script

3. When you create a new script, you’ll need to ‘Authorize’ Google to have access to your account. This permission allows them to pull data and make changes from the JavaScript code.

adwords script example authorization

4. Enter or paste your script in Google’s script builder . Then, you can preview it to ensure that you’ve created it properly. The logs will tell you if there are any errors and where they are located.

adwords script example log details

5. Once your script is checked and ready to go, you can schedule it to run once, hourly, daily, weekly or monthly.

adwords script schedule

Takeaways

There are a lot of great optimization tools, some of which are very pricey and some which are more advanced than others. I’m a firm believer in automating tedious processes and spending my time deep in the analytical parts of the optimization instead. Scripts are a great way to shift your focus from maintenance, to more rewarding tasks, like the deeper analysis and optimization of your accounts. So give scripts a try; they may be just what you need to make your optimizations more efficient and get the results you’ve been craving.

Have other tips about scripts? Share them in the comments below.

Planning A Knockout 2015 PPC Strategy [Webinar]

Posted by on Nov 26, 2014 in Advertising | No Comments
Planning A Knockout 2015 PPC Strategy [Webinar]





planning a knockout 2015 PPC strategyHave you begun planning your PPC strategy for 2015 yet?

Do you know what the future looks like for the digital ad space in the coming year?

In this webinar, experts will talk you through some of the most popular trends from this year, what predictions look like for 2015 and give you tips and tricks on why and how you should be analyzing the data for your PPC strategy.

Join the experts from AdStage and PPC Hero as they discuss the future of PPC and offer tips on how to formulate an all-around knockout PPC strategy for 2015.

You’ll get expert-level PPC tips like:

  • An inside look at what the future of PPC holds
  • How to analyze trends for an organized and lucrative strategy
  • What channels have grown and why they are important 

Webinar Recording

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Webinar Slides

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Planning A Knockout 2015 PPC Strategy [Webinar Announcement]

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Advertising | No Comments
Planning A Knockout 2015 PPC Strategy [Webinar Announcement]





Have you begun planning your PPC strategy for 2015 yet? Do you know what the future looks like for the digital ad space in the coming year? In this webinar, experts will talk you through some of the most popular trends from this year, what predictions look like for 2015 and give you tips and tricks on why and how you should be analyzing the data for your PPC strategy.

Join the experts from AdStage and PPC Hero as they discuss the future of PPC and offer tips on how to formulate an all-around knockout PPC strategy for 2015.

When: 10am – 11am PST on Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

planning a knockout 2015 ppc strategy

You’ll get expert-level PPC tips like:

  • An inside look at what the future of PPC holds
  • How to analyze trends for an organized and lucrative strategy
  • What channels have grown and why they are important

Save Your Seat

Why Google’s New Custom Affinity Audiences Matters to You

Posted by on Oct 17, 2014 in How-Tos | 4 Comments
Why Google’s New Custom Affinity Audiences Matters to You





Last week, Google announced that Custom Affinity Audiences is available for everyone on the Google Display Network. Google’s Custom Affinity Audiences gives advertisers more flexibility in how they target across the Display Network.  It’s been a busy few weeks for advertisers with the release of new targeting toys; In addition to Google’s announcement, Facebook also recently announced their Audience Network expansion. In this post, I will share my insights on how Custom Affinity Audiences will impact you as an advertiser.

What is it?

Custom Affinity Audiences allows advertisers to reach the exact people they are looking for as they create the audience parameters. This feature is the culmination of two years of Google launches, including affinity and in-market audiences.

  • Affinity – Someone with a strong history of viewing a subject, i.e. a technophile
  • In-market – Someone who is actively browsing, researching or comparing the types of products you sell, i.e. a new technology

Now, Google is providing advertisers with this information in a way that allows them the ability to define their audience with a combination of interests and sites.

What Are the Benefits?

  1. No longer dependent on Google’s pre-defined audiences
  2. Couple numerous ‘personas’ together to target an audience specific to your business
  3. More control of how you want to find customers online

How to Set It Up in Google AdWords

1. Create a new Ad Group within a AdWords display campaign

2. Select “+ Targeting” to add new targeting

adwords custom affinity audiences

3. Name your Ad Group

4. Choose “Interests & Remarketing” for targeting and select “Affinity” as the category

adwords custom affinity audiences category

5. Below the list of affinities, select “+ Custom”

adwords custom affinity audiences create

Now, you can start designing your Affinity.

  • Be sure to hit enter between each target. For placements, make sure it’s in URL form; if not, it will default to an Interest.
  • This screenshot below shows what it might look like if we wanted to target people for our blog.

adwords custom affinity audiences example

My Take on Custom Affinity Audiences

It’s interesting that this feature launch happened so soon after Facebook’s Atlas announcement and the aforementioned Audience Network expansion. It seems Google is getting closer and closer to “persona” targeting.

As an advertiser, I love the ability to hone in my audience as tight and specific as possible, so I can say firsthand that this  play is very appealing for anyone looking to create Display Campaigns.  I’ve always been a fan of the Google Display Network (GDN) and have seen some very good results from advertising on it. Google Display Network to many is like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks; hopefully, this new way of targeting will help alleviate some apprehension to advertise on the GDN. The GDN notoriously has been used as a way for companies to brand, and according to ComScore, it reaches 94% of the web in the U.S. and 89% of global users, so hopefully we’ll see more responsiveness from consumers in terms of conversions.

Custom Affinity Audience targeting gives advertisers an extra layer of targeting and customization, and rightfully so since Google took a lot of customization away with enhanced campaigns. It will be interesting to see how Google uses this data to form other targeting options, i.e. lookalike audiences. Have thoughts on Custom Affinity Targeting? Please share in the comments.

Analyze Your PPC Competition with AdWords Auction Insights

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in How-Tos | One Comment
Analyze Your PPC Competition with AdWords Auction Insights





who-am-i-competing-with-adwords

Have you ever searched Google to see which of your competitors also appear for the keywords you’re bidding on? You can get a much clearer picture of this data with the Auction insights report in Google AdWords. In this post, I’ll give you an overview of this report to help you understand your competitive landscape and optimize accordingly.

About the Auction Insights Report

The Auction insights report in Google AdWords lets you compare your auction performance with competitors who advertise across the same keywords. You’ll see see how often your ads outrank your competitors as well as how your share of voice compares with theirs.

adwords auction insights

While the report does show you some interesting high-level insights about your competitors, it won’t show you the details. You won’t see which keywords, bids or settings your competition is using. Neither will you see their account metrics, like CTR or Quality Score.

How To Generate The Report

To view your Auction insights report in AdWords:

  1. Drill down to the part of your account you want to analyze, or click on the appropriate tab (campaigns, ad groups or keywords) and select the appropriate rows.
  2. Click the details drop-down, and select “Auction insights.”
  3. View the report (and adjust the date range to see how the data changes over time).

adwords auction insights menu

Once you generate the report, you can also apply different segments (like time or device) to see how the landscape changes for these different scenarios.

adwords auction insights segments menuadwords auction insights segments

Report Metrics

Here’s an overview of the metrics the Auction insights report covers:

  • Display URL Domain - This is the URL your competitor is using in their ads. Use this to identify who your competition is.
  • Impression Share - This shows how often your competitor’s ad displayed in auctions you were also competing in. Use this to identify your most visible competitor.
  • Average Position - This shows the average position of your competitor’s ads on the search results page for auctions you were also competing in. Use this to approximate how aggressively your competitor is bidding.
  • Overlap Rate - This shows how often your competitor’s ad displayed alongside yours. Use this to understand how frequently you’re going head-to-head with your competitor.
  • Position Above Rate - This shows how often your competitor’s ad displayed higher than yours. Use this to understand how your ad rank compares with your competitor.
  • Top of Page Rate - This shows how often your competitor’s ad displayed at the top of the search results page for auctions you were also competing in. Use this to determine your most aggressive competitor.

Please note that this data only applies to the section of your account which you’re analyzing and doesn’t reveal your competitor’s overall advertising strategy.

Now armed with this data about your competition, you can modify your strategy to react to competitive threats and opportunities!

AdSense For Shopping: How To Organize Your Shopping Campaigns To Compete

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in How-Tos | One Comment
AdSense For Shopping: How To Organize Your Shopping Campaigns To Compete





Google just announced its expansion of Product Listing Ads into AdSense for shopping, allowing shopping ads to run next to content on retail sites, such as Walmart.com.

Here is an example.

Walmart AdWords PLAs

This expansion gives advertisers a whole new landscape to introduce their products to consumers, opening some interesting doors in the digital environment.  So what does that mean for you?  In this post, I will provide some insight into the future and guide you through ways to organize your Shopping Campaigns to help you succeed in this new environment.

Implications

First, let’s look at what this expansion means for advertisers.

  1. Unlike enhanced campaigns, for now anyway, advertisers can choose to opt in or out of these sites by opting shopping campaigns in or out of search partners.
  2. Advertisers will now be up against site content, leading to some very clear brand distinctions. See the stark differences in both product and price above.
  3. Space will become more competitive since these ads are now pitted against image ads, site content and partner content.
  4. Perfect competition (many buyers and sellers, prices reflect supply and demand) – By pairing a few ads next to an entire business’ site, the only way to compete is to be able to offer something very similar, or better in price.

How To Organize Your Shopping Campaigns

First, Clean Up Your Data Feed

  1. Get rid of anything that you do not want in there, such as expensive acquisition and low margin items.
  2. Correct any issues with products by looking in the Merchant Center; you can find this under Data Quality.
  3. Make sure your data feed is set up to automatically update; this will keep your data feed from expiring if you forget to manually upload it every month.

AdWords Shopping Feed Data Quality

Organize By Product Groups (Ad Groups)

Add these attributes to your data feed if you don’t already have them: id, condition, google product category, product type, brand and custom label. This will be crucial in organizing your campaign(s) in a way that will make data much easier to find and analyze. You will be able to create Product Groups (Ad Groups) in AdWords, based on these attributes.

Data Feed Example

  1. ID

    • You may need/want to re-organize this attribute for your products, but it will allow you to identify products easily in the group. For instance, all products with an Id 1-100 have free shipping. Now, you can easily promote free shipping in your ad. This capability will help you stand out against competitors on their sites.

    • You could also organize the id numbers by product. For instance, for a golf store, putters could have a product number ending in 01. If you can’t compete in some areas, you can exclude these product id’s from the campaign. This way, you will be able to focus on the products which stand a chance against your competitors. You can also easily turn product id’s back on if you are having a sale or clearance event.

  2. Condition

    • Very easy concept here, but really useful if you sell new, used and refurbished products. You can set up product groups to easily find these products.

    • This could be a particularly powerful group for some used or refurbished products. I could see it doing well on a site pitted against some new very expensive products; e.g., sporting equipment.

  3. Google Product Category

    • This attribute is one of the main drivers for Product Listing Ads. Nailing the category helps tremendously; organizing by category will allow you to position products next to similar products in the new AdSense for Shopping landscape.

    • You can also bid more aggressively or introduce more sales in these categories to help standout on a competitor’s site.

  4. Product Type

    • Similar to Google Product Categories; however, these are specific to your business and can be manipulated, so you can organize them in a way that will allow you to easily track and compete on competitor sites.

    • It will also help you bid more or less aggressively on products, and make better decisions on products as more data is available.

  5. Brand

    • Organizing by brand will help to ensure that you are competing aggressively on the brands that warrant the most return, and less on those that don’t– the goal being to maximize ROI.
    • It will also allow you to quickly change promotional text for when a specific manufacturer has a sale, or quickly exclude a brand that is not performing.
  6. Custom Labels

You can add up to 5 custom labels and only one value per label.

AdWords shopping custom labels

    • You will be able to use these labels to create product groups so you can customize bids and specialize promotions for these groups at any particular time (great for seasonal retailers).
    • Very useful to help identify products that produce very well or not so well for your company.
    • Also, it will help you exclude groups that you don’t want to run in a current campaign; for instance, if you are running a sale on specific items and you don’t want other items to run as well.
    • Labels are also nice if you work with a variety of products that are hard to define using Google Product Categories.

* Your definitions will not import into AdWords; they are there for your reference. However, you can utilize AdWords labels to help you stay organized and keep you from switching back and forth in AdWords and the Merchant Center.

Takeaways

Create campaigns with either the intent to include search partners, or not. This will give you the ability to manage your products more efficiently. Keep in mind that you are still running on search as well, so excluding content that you don’t want to run on AdSense For Shopping sites will help keep products off sites on which you can’t compete. Structure is going to be very important when competing on AdSense sites, it will help make optimizing and decision making much more manageable. Have other strategies for success with Product Listing Ads for AdSense for Shopping? Please leave your comments below.

The New Must-Have AdWords Extension: Callouts

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in News | 6 Comments
The New Must-Have AdWords Extension: Callouts





Move over, sitelinks. We have a new contender in the battle for AdWords extension prominence. In this post, I’ll show you what callouts are and help you make the most of them for your AdWords campaigns.

About Callouts

Just last week, Google announced the callouts extension as a way to highlight information about your products and services with your search ads.

Google AdWords Callout Extensions

Callouts are plain text, which may look boring on the surface, but it offers some compelling benefits:

  • Nearly doubles your ad copy
  • Helps draw attention to the most important benefits
  • Helps you present a more compelling offer
  • Helps potential customers make informed decisions
  • Helps position your offer above competitors
  • Improves Ad Rank

How Hilton Used Callouts

The use of callout extensions has meant we’ve been able to let our customers know how much more our hotels have to offer than just rooms. Spas, restaurants and meeting facilities are just a few of the attractive options our hotels have to offer, which may not be seen through a traditional revenue driving campaign. In just one month after implementing callout extensions, we’ve seen a 9% increase in conversion rate.

- James Harrower, Senior Search Manager, Hilton Worldwide

How To Create Callouts

adwords extensions tab callouts

  1. From the AdWords interface, click on the “Ad extensions” tab.
  2. From the “View” dropdown, select “Callout extensions.”
  3. Click the red “+Extension” button.
  4. Click the “+ New Callout” button.
  5. Enter the text of your first callout (there is a 25 character limit per callout).
  6. Save and repeat for all callouts.
  7. Select the callouts to include in the campaign. You can select many callouts, but a maximum of four can be displayed with your ad. Callouts can be added at the account, campaign or ad group level.

Create a Google AdWords Callout Extensions

Example Callouts to Get Inspired

  • 1 year warranty
  • 10% off site-wide
  • 24×7 customer service
  • AAA discounts available
  • BBB A+ Rated
  • Cancel anytime
  • Easy returns
  • Featured in TechCrunch
  • Free delivery
  • Free quote
  • Free shipping
  • Handmade
  • Instant download
  • Join free
  • Limited-time offer
  • Locally-sourced
  • Money-back guarantee
  • No contracts
  • No hidden fees
  • Official dealer
  • Order online
  • Pickup from store
  • Price matching
  • Trusted by professionals

Availability

Callouts have already begun rolling out to the native AdWords interface. Learn more in AdWords Help.

10 Things Every PPC Account Should Have [Webinar]

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Advertising | One Comment
10 Things Every PPC Account Should Have [Webinar]





Webinar host logos

Are you just starting out as an advertiser? Maybe you just need a refresher on things you should be doing? Do you have a clear vision of your goals and all the bells and whistles available, set-up for your account(s)? It’s easy to get wrapped up in big projects in your accounts and forget about the smaller, yet still very important, tasks that keep your account healthy and up to speed.

This new webinar from the experts at AdStage, PPC Hero and Hanapin Marketing, provides tips on building the structure and goals of your account and list out the daily tasks and extra opportunities available to optimize your account and boost performance.

Webinar Recording

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Webinar Slides

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10 Things Every PPC Account Should Have [Webinar Announcement]

Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Advertising | 2 Comments
10 Things Every PPC Account Should Have [Webinar Announcement]





Webinar host logos

Are you just starting out as an advertiser? Maybe you just need a refresher on things you should be doing? Do you have a clear vision of your goals and all the bells and whistles available, set-up for your account(s)? It’s easy to get wrapped up in big projects in your accounts and forget about the smaller, yet still very important, tasks that keep your account healthy and up to speed. Join the experts from AdStage, PPC Hero and Hanapin Marketing as we discuss the ten things your PPC account should definitely have.

This new webinar will give you tips on building the structure and goals of your account and list out the daily tasks and extra opportunities available to optimize your account and boost performance.

When: 9am – 10am PDT on Thursday, September 4th, 2014

You’ll get expert-level PPC tips like:

  • Defining your goals and audience and how to test for success
  • Easy and quick ways to boost CTRs and ROIs
  • How to identify opportunities for optimization and expansion

Register Now