The Top 10 Most Valuable AdWords Features for PPC Managers

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Advertising | No Comments
The Top 10 Most Valuable AdWords Features for PPC Managers

We are teaming up with Hanapin Marketing to host a webinar that will cover The Most Valuable Google AdWords Features For The PPC Account Manager. As you know, AdWords has tons of reports, targeting options, and optimization tools. But how do you allocate your time to make sure you’re getting the most value from these features?

Register for this webinar to learn expert tips like:

  • Using Auction Insights to find competitors to use outrank bidding strategies on
  • How to receive the ideal conversion volume and cost/converted click at positions 1-3 or lower
  • Utilizing Dynamic Search Ads as a keyword mining tool
  • Increasing bids on qualified, previous site visitors

Join us and our AdWords experts who will walk through their top 10 most valuable AdWords features.

Michael McEuen

Michael McEuen, Director of Demand Generation at AdStage

Amanda West-Bookwalter

Amanda West-Bookwalter, Senior Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

The webinar is on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 9am Pacific Time. To guarantee a seat in this webinar, register today.

Register Today

Facebook Bulk Ad Creation, Google Analytics Insights, New Metrics, and More Come to AdStage

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in News | No Comments
Facebook Bulk Ad Creation, Google Analytics Insights, New Metrics, and More Come to AdStage

This month in AdStage: Create Facebook Ads in bulk, view Google Analytics Insights, measure cost per result on Twitter Ads, and more!

Facebook Bulk Ad Creation

Facebook Bulk Ad Creation

Quickly create and test dozens of Facebook Ads by combining alternate ad text and images in bulk. You can even customize multiple URLs at once for easy tracking. Bulk ad creation is also available for Twitter and LinkedIn Ads. Try it today.

Google Analytics Insights

Google Analytics Insights

You never need to leave the platform to view and analyze your Google Analytics Insights data. Save time comparing your ad spend to conversions by linking your Google Analytics account in AdStage.

Twitter Delivery Optimization and New Metrics

Twitter Optimized Delivery

Let Twitter optimize the delivery of your ads for campaigns with the Website Clicks or Conversions campaign objective. We also support reporting for your campaign objectives with the addition of Results and Cost Per Results metrics. Try it now.

New AdWords Metrics and Final URL Support

AdWords final URLs

We’ve rolled out support for even more Google AdWords metrics. This includes Total Conversion Value, Phone Call Conversions, Search Impression Share, and more. In addition, AdStage supports full campaign creation with Final URL Support on Google AdWords. Try it today.

How To Use SEMrush for PLA Keyword Research

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Advertising, How-Tos | 3 Comments
How To Use SEMrush for PLA Keyword Research

This is a guest post by Marta Dalton, Manager of Web Marketing at ANSYS & Phillip Brooks, Content Marketing Manager at SEMrush.


Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are image-based paid advertisements for specific products (or SKUs) that appear in the SERPs triggered by searches for related keywords. The Google Shopping platform allows e-commerce vendors to build a database of hundreds, even thousands, of individual products within their Google Account and target ads based on a myriad of criteria, such as: keyword, demographics and geographic location, season and amount of inventory. As with Google AdWords, an inefficient PLA strategy can be costly for any online business. Moreover, a successful strategy for either platform requires regular re-assessment of performance and goals in order to maximize performance. Successful digital marketing cannot rely upon a “set it and forget it” strategy.

Competitive Analysis

We’re going to show you how to use SEMrush to perform a competitive analysis using our PLA tool that will identify keywords in three capacities:

  • Keywords unique to your domain
  • Keywords unique to your competitor/s domain/s
  • Keywords shared by both your domain/s and that of your competitor/s

Each of these data sets can provide you with different kinds of actionable information. For example, keywords unique to your domain may be indicative of keywords for which you need bid defensively, as this represents an opportunity for your competitors. Alternatively, keywords that are shared by both you and a competitor may demonstrate opportunities for growth for either side. This would allow you to check which ads are appearing for that keyword and which aren’t. This gap analysis shows conversion opportunities you might be missing out upon. Finally keywords that are unique to a competitor could show you which keywords represent an opportunity for you.

I want to stress that this is only a snapshot for a particular timeframe and this kind of analysis should be repeated on a regular basis to ensure your strategy remains viable.

SEMrush PLA Tool

It stands to reason that if we’re going to be performing competitive analysis, we must first identify just who our competition is. SEMrush has a feature within the tool that can help us do this quickly and efficiently. Our PLA Tool is a relatively recent addition, but it’s rapidly become very popular with our community.

Let’s look at the video game retailer, With all the news coming out of E3 last week, there should be some pretty healthy levels of traffic going both to their domain as well as the domains of their biggest competitors. Search volume for individual titles/products/SKUs carried by these retailers will also be robust as users search for the best places to buy from.

PLA Research

Within the PLA Research Tool, enter the domain, and select “PLA Competitors” and SEMrush will deliver a list of competing domains sortable by competition level, common keywords and other metrics.

Here we see those results for

Gamestop PLA Competitors

SEMrush scales and sorts competitors using two parameters:

One is the number of common keywords–that is, the number of keywords for which both domains/advertisers appear in the same PLA block.

The other factor is the number of uncommon keywords. These factors are designed to ensure that competitors listed fall within the same industry.

For example, one site may have fewer common keywords but be listed as more competitive because it has fewer keywords in total–meaning that the majority of its business competes directly with the site being queried.

With this data we can not only can see what sites are competing with Gamestop, we can also extrapolate the domains competing with its competitors by feeding those domains into SEMrush for further analysis.

Competitive Analysis Using PLA Positions report

Product Listing Ads Positions

  1. Use PLA Positions
  2. Filter by the brand or the product category to ensure the CSV download is both manageable and usable.
    NOTE: in some cases you might want to start with a broad term and filter in Excel, or you might want to focus on a specific sub-category
  3. Hit apply and export to CSV
  4. Check out the URL structure and see if you can extrapolate category and/or item model number from there. Some competitors make it nice and easy, like so:Gamestop URL structures
  5. In this case we can get category and brand from the URL. Copy the “URL” column data to a new column, then use Excel’s “Text to Columns” tool to delineate the data based on how they’re separated (sometimes it’s a hyphen, in this case it’s a slash).URL Text to Columns
  6. Now we’ve got both “manufacturer” and “category” in separate columns–for the most part, anyway. (It seems that “accessories” here doesn’t follow the format, so we can isolate that manufacturer and then just move them over to the right by one column so that “accessories” lines up with the other categories.)Games Categories
  7. With both “manufacturer” and “category” (maybe sub-category and the product too) off by themselves, we can filter and see what keywords are being targeted by this competitor in these areas.

Keyword Positions Chart


Bonus Hack #1

Sometimes the URL’s aren’t that pretty and they’re just words separated by hyphens in no particular order (or the order changes based on SEO or the title). This is where the 80/20 Rule comes into play. We will focus on the categories or products that are most important to us and pull them out using the Find and Replace tool.

Copy the URL to a new field and label it “categories,” “sub-category,” “manufacturer,” etc. Create a heading for whatever data you want to separate out.

In this case, we’ve made a field to show “sub-category” which will extrapolate “Xbox,” Playstation,” “Nintendo,” and their model type. From this, we can pick the top 10-20 items we want to find and use wildcard characters in front of the text to grab them (in this case, we noticed that the syntax uses hyphens so we could search for “xbox-one,” “xbox-360,” “ps4,” etc.)

We can apply this search parameter to the data, which results in the nicely filtered result you can see on the image to the right:

Sub-category filtered results

From here we can copy the URL to a new column to pull out manufacturer and repeat other data from the URL using the same method.

Bonus Hack #2

Now that we have stand-alone fields separated using Bonus Hack #1, add-in the data from the “manufacturers” and “categories” headings of your other competitors (we also added a new column for the “competitor company” name,) we can use Excel’s PivotTable feature to see how many keywords our competitors are using in each category. If our competitors have a lot of PLA keywords in a category that is strategically important, or in which we have a lot of stock, we might want to revisit our strategy for those terms.

PLA Pivot Table

Bonus Hack #3

With this hack, we’re able to pull a manufacturer product code/model number from the URL. We can then see what prices our competitors are charging for the items in question and adjust our pricing and sales promotion strategies accordingly.

Now we just need to make sure we have active PLA’s running on those items and enough stock to meet the increased demand!

Bonus Hack #4

Once we have the data sorted by “category” and “manufacturer,” we can use Excel’s VLOOKUP function to check against our product list to see what we have in these categories that our competitors are NOT advertising on. If VLOOKUP returns “#N/A,” we know we’ve got a winner that they don’t have.

Using the data we’ve already gotten from the PLA Competitor tool, we want to examine PLA Keywords/Product Names that your site shares with competing domains.

We can accomplish this via a side-by-side comparison between our performance on Google Shopping and that of our competition.

Go to SEMrush → Tools → Domain vs. Domain, enter the domain and up to five competitors’ domains into the input fields, select “Keyword Type” option, “PLA” and press “Go.”


Domain vs. Domain Chart

With this data, we can:

  • See whether or not those domains compete in paid search results for your keywords and compare their PLAs’ rankings for each search term.
  • Generate reports for your domain’s unique keywords (excluding common keywords) to see search terms for which you are an uncontested leader.
  • View competitors’ unique keywords to understand the opportunity that you may be missing; and get ideas for improving your product feed in order to appear in paid search results for more queries.

Keyword research

So now we know who our competitors are. It’s time to identify where our opportunities lie. This is where keyword research comes into play.

From the Domain vs. Domain report we ran above, we can look at which keywords we share in common with a given domain, but we can also look at those keywords which are unique to each domain as well. These often represent opportunities that we can target.

We can use filters to pull out the headings that we want to focus upon. Then sort that data by “competitor position” or by “search volume” to find potential add-ins for your PLA’s.

Competitor Positions Chart

PLA Copies Report

We can also use the Find and Replace method (from Bonus Hack #1) on the export from the PLA Copies Report to roll up keyword totals by heading (like we did in Bonus Hack #2.)


PLA Copies Report Export

This report is particularly handy for creating a “hot list” of items. If we know we have overstock on a specific set of items (talk to your merchandising or purchasing team to see what you have a lot of and/or what stock is about to be written off because it’s aging) we can see what keywords our competitors are going after for those specific item(s.)

PLA Hot List

Are you using PLAs as part of your overarching digital marketing strategy? If so, what other methods are you using to identify keywords that correspond to products that your site carries?

We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

About the Authors

Marta’s background is an eclectic mix of technology and marketing, and she considers herself fluent in translating “techie” to English and vice-versa.  Her background includes a B.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering and an MBA, both from Carnegie Mellon University, and a winding path that’s seen her lead digital initiatives under both CIOs and CMOs.

Phillip Brooks is the Content Marketing Manager for SEMrush, the leading competitive intelligence tool for digital marketing. He is a prolific content creator who has worked on campaigns for companies both large and small, including Electronic Arts and Turner Networks.

Inflow Chooses AdStage for Automated PPC Rules and Grows Client Revenue by 23%

Posted by on Jun 24, 2015 in Advertising | No Comments
Inflow Chooses AdStage for Automated PPC Rules and Grows Client Revenue by 23%


inflow logoBased in Denver, Inflow is an inbound agency that provides complete digital marketing services to global clients. One of the world’s largest event management companies chose Inflow to manage its global online advertising efforts across its audiences in Australia, Dubai, Germany, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States. The paid team is primarily responsible for promoting nearly 1,000 regional conferences annually with Google AdWords, Bing Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads, and Twitter Ads.

Inflow previously used a solution that supported Google AdWords optimization. However, the paid team at Inflow quickly realized that it was far too inefficient to continue using that platform. As more events required promotion, the amount of reporting for each office quickly became extremely time consuming. Because of the magnitude of this account, Inflow needed a solution that would not only centralize all of the client’s ad accounts, but also streamline organization, workflows, and reporting.


adstage case studyInflow selects AdStage to manage, optimize, and report on all of the global ad accounts for its client, the leading event management company. Because the client has a global presence, its six offices each had separate ad accounts on different time zones. Because the native networks did not offer a simple solution to accommodate the time zone variances, the Automated Rules in AdStage made it extremely easy for the team to set-up dayparting on AdWords, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

When measuring the performance of the campaigns in AdStage, Inflow was able to easily create, customize, and schedule reports across all five networks in AdStage. The AdStage Global Dashboard provided the agency a stunning birdseye view of cross-network campaign performance that could be easily customized and instantly saved as a PDF file for the stakeholders to review.


With AdStage, Inflow experienced a significant time savings, which allowed them to focus on growing their client’s account.

adstage for agencies

  • Setting up dayparting with Automated Rules on AdStage saved the agency 5 hours per week from having to manually login to each network, pause, and unpause each campaign. Showing ads only during peak hours led to a 28% increase in conversion rates and a 31% decrease in CPA.
  • The AdStage Global Dashboard was easy to customize and showed cross-network performance, which saved the team 4-6 hours per week of aggregating the reports from 5 different networks across 6 separate offices.
  • With the extra time saved, Inflow was freed up to analyze more campaigns for the numerous events that were being promoted. This ultimately grew client account revenue by 23% in just three months.

“Any time savings we can get is profit for us, especially with reporting. If we can spend 5 hours instead of 8 hours on the same task, this is a win for us.”

— JD Prater, Sr. Paid Search Strategist, Inflow


To learn more about AdStage and start your free trial, visit

Nursing Your Paid Search Campaigns Back to Health

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Advertising | No Comments
Nursing Your Paid Search Campaigns Back to Health

These days, the competition for paid search advertising is fierce. If you’re not continuously optimizing your campaigns, it’s difficult to stay at the top. Throwing more money on your bids won’t help – you’re going to need to take some serious care of your campaigns in order to nurse them back to health.

Are you seeing a slow decline in click-through rate (CTR) or a steady increase in cost-per-acquisition (CPA)? Your campaign problems might be the result of several different factors. In the post, you’ll learn what optimization strategies you can apply with AdWords to nurture your paid search campaigns back to health.

Get a Bandage

Review your keyword performance report and search query report from the last 60 days. Pausing keywords that have a high CPA, lots of clicks with zero conversions, or an extremely low CTR (< .10%) and no conversions should lower your cost-per-click to start.



Stop the Bleeding

In your search query report, you can see all the keywords you purchased. If there are irrelevant terms that are costing you cash, stop the bleeding and add these as negative keywords.

Run Some Tests

Always testing your ad copy. With only one ad variant, you’re missing out on the opportunity to test messaging. Two to four active ads per ad group will add some lift to your campaigns. Just don’t forget to pause the losing ad as soon as you have enough data to identify it.

Use Segmentation Therapy

I’ve commonly seen campaigns grouped together for network, device, and location targeting. However, organizing campaigns this way actually makes it very difficult to optimize your ads for the particular device, audience, and network. By creating separate campaigns for devices, networks (search and display), and locations, you can optimize each campaign separately.

Don’t Overmedicate

Having too many keywords in a single ad group could be detrimental to campaign health, as some of those terms could be highly irrelevant. Additionally, if you’re only targeting broad- or phrase-match keywords, your ads could appear for very irrelevant search queries. To fix this issue, try using exact-match keywords, especially if they are able to drive enough volume. For ad groups that have more than 25 keywords, break those out into more smaller ad groups that target a single concept.

Take Preventative Measures

Make sure to include ad extensions whenever relevant. Ad extensions give searchers more information up front, taking up more real estate on the search page. You can use Sitelink Extensions, Call Extensions, Product Extensions, and Location Extensions to increase CTR and conversions.

In the example below, the  ad with extensions occupies a larger space in the search engine results.


Looking for more strategies for nursing your campaigns back to health? Enter your email address below to subscribe to our blog! You’ll receive regular emails that cover best practices and news for your PPC campaigns.

Top 5 Excel Features for PPC

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Advertising | 2 Comments
Top 5 Excel Features for PPC

There’s probably no tool more dear to a digital marketer’s heart than Microsoft Excel. It’s the must-have data analysis program that helps turn raw numbers into actionable insights. Here are five of my favorite Excel features that I’ve learned to love over the years.

5. Table Formatting

Difficulty: Beginner

Table Formatting lets you apply a beautiful table style to your raw PPC data quickly.

Excel Table Formatting

For example, you can use it to convert your plain AdWords campaign performance report to a presentation-ready table.

How to set it up:

  1. Remove any extra title and total rows
  2. In the Table ribbon, select a predefined table style
  3. Your table will now feature clear formatting and filterable headers

Learn more about table formatting for PPC.

4. Macros

Difficulty: Intermediate

Macros let you automate repetitive tasks in Excel by recording your manual actions so you can replay them in future worksheets later with a single keystroke.

record excel macro

For example, you can create a macro that removes title and total rows from your AdWords spreadsheets for easy analysis with pivot tables.

How to set it up:

  1. Download and open an AdWords campaign performance report in Excel
  2. From the Developer ribbon, click Record
    1. Assign a keyboard shortcut (e.g., Opt+Cmd+S)
    2. Store the macro in your Personal Macro Workbook
  3. Begin performing the manual tasks you’d like to repeat automatically in the future
    1. Delete the first row in your table (the AdWords report title)
    2. Delete the last 4 rows in your table (the AdWords total rows)
  4. Click Stop to conclude recording
  5. You can now strip the title and total rows quickly by running this macro

Learn more about Macros for PPC.

3. Text to Columns

Difficulty: Intermediate

Text to Columns lets you parse through the data from one column and distribute it into multiple columns.

excel text to columns

For example, you could use Text to Columns to remove UTM tracking parameters from your destination URLs. This would make it easy for you to analyze landing page performance in a Pivot Table.

How to set it up:

  1. Download and open an AdWords ad performance report in Excel
  2. Select your Destination URL column, and launch Text to Columns (Data > Text to Columns)
    1. Leave your data set to Delimited, and click Next
    2. In the Delimiters section, type “?” into the Other field, and click Next
    3. In the Data preview section, select the new column (with your tracking parameters)
    4. In the Column data format section, select “Do not import column (Skip)” and click Finish
  3. Your Destination URLs no longer contain any of your tracking parameters after the “?” and are ready to be analyzed with a Pivot Table.

Learn more about Text to Columns for PPC.

2. Pivot Tables

Difficulty: Intermediate

Pivot Tables make it easy to summarize, analyze, explore, and present large sets of data. It’s a great way to reformat your raw data into interactive tables.

excel pivot table

For example, you can use a Pivot Table with the Ad Performance Report from AdWords to quickly discover the best-performing headline of your ads.

How to set it up:

  1. Download and open your AdWords ad performance report in Excel
  2. Prepare the table by deleting first row (the report title) and the last 4 rows (the totals)
  3. Highlight the table, and insert the Pivot Table (Data > Pivot Table)
  4. Use the Pivot Table builder to dynamically structure the new table
    • Segment performance by campaign and headline by dragging “Campaign” and “Ad” into the “Row labels” field
    • View relevant performance metrics by dragging “Clicks,” “Impressions,” and “Converted Clicks” into the “Values” field

Learn more about Pivot Tables for PPC.

1. Formulas

Difficulty: Beginner

Finally, we get to the most beloved Excel feature of all: Formulas. Formulas allow you to perform calculations and take actions on data in your worksheet. There’s a myriad of formulas that you can combine to make incredibly powerful spreadsheets.

excel formulas

For example, you can use the simple LEN formula to count the number of characters in a cell. This formula is especially useful when writing ad headlines and descriptions.

How to set it up:

  1. In a cell, type =LEN(
  2. Then type the reference of the cell you’d like to count (e.g., your ad headline in A2)
  3. Now, you’ll have a real-time count of the length of your cell

Learn more easy Excel formulas for PPC.

Share Your Favorites

Did I miss your favorite Excel feature? Share yours in the comments below!

5 Ways to Optimize AdWords Campaigns for Mobile

Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in How-Tos | 3 Comments
5 Ways to Optimize AdWords Campaigns for Mobile

Every year, groups of very smart advertisers are asked to give their prediction for the future of digital advertising. For the past 3-4 years, the answer was an overwhelming “shift to mobile.” So what will the predictions for 2015 be? You guessed it, mobile!  So it should be no secret to anyone in this industry that mobile advertising is becoming increasingly competitive. In this post, I will show you some ways to make sure you set yourself up for success on mobile platforms.

While the focus is primarily on AdWords, many of these tactics should be considered when optimizing other networks, and certainly your message should be consistent across your channels.

1. Mobile Landing Pages

Having a mobile-friendly landing page will do wonders for your conversion rates. It makes the user experience less frustrating and makes finding necessary information easy.

Here are two ways to make your landing page mobile friendly:

  1. Use a mobile responsive website – With a responsive website, your site layout and images will automatically adjust to the screen size of the device it’s displayed on. This typically requires an overhaul of your design, but it’s the optimal method and future-proofs your site.
  2. Create a mobile landing page – With a dedicated mobile landing page, you can create a high-converting page that renders well on mobile, without changing your existing website. You can create one in minutes with tools like Lander or Unbounce.

2. Call Extensions

Call extensions simply add a phone number to your ad to help encourage people to call your business.

Which type to use:

  • Just the phone number – only populates a phone number when clicked; customers are unable to click through to the site.
    • If your website is not mobile friendly, or hard to read.
    • If someone will actually answer the phone.
    • If you do most of your business via phone.
    • If there is value for a person to call; e.g. free consult, place an order or book an appointment.
  • Both phone number and clicks to website – if a person clicks on the ad headline, they will be allowed to go to your website; if they click anywhere else, a number will populate to call.
    • If your website is mobile responsive.
    • If your business is hard to understand and more information is needed.
    • If someone will answer the phone.
    • If your website brings value to your business; e.g. you offer a lot specials, typical questions can be answered on your site and information is easy to find.

3. Mobile Optimized Ads

Creating dedicated ads for mobile devices will make testing much easier, and it will help you segment data so you can make more important decisions.

  • Put your specials first –  People’s attention spans on mobile are very short– they are likely on the go or simply don’t have time to research heavily. So put the meat out first, and let them get the potatoes on their own.
  • Use shorter keywords in ad text – mobile searches tend to be shorter, and we know that Google bolds the ad text if it’s part of the search. With that knowledge, if you couple keyword insertion with some carefully placed keywords in the description, you’ll have a pretty bold ad.
  • Use callout extensions – Callouts are a great way to list specials in a short, easy to find place. Learn how callouts can strengthen your offer here.

4. Mobile Bid Modifiers

You can also use bid modifiers allow you to adjust your bids on mobile devices by a percentage of your desktop bid.

There are several rules of thought here. Mobile ads used to be considered a cheaper click than a desktop bid, but since enhanced campaigns, that no longer seems to be the case. However, I usually just keep bid aounts the same until I can get some data to make a decision. You can find that data by segmenting your campaigns by device:

segment by device

5. Be Aware of the Display Network

Let me be blunt– the display network for mobile devices is terrible. You will likely spend most of your time trying to figure out how to exclude all the Mobile Apps. That said, the cpc’s do seem to be pretty low on the GDN. If you want to try and make it work, I would suggest using very specific targeting and placements.

Bonus Tips

Test Everything

Once you’ve gotten a solid mobile strategy in place, TEST! Just because your website looks great on mobile doesn’t mean it’s conversion friendly, nor does it mean your customers will see it the same as you. Test your specials, ad text, landing pages, etc. Remember that any good test has a control and a variable. Once you choose a winner, iterate and test again.

Mobile Only Campaign Test

Since the launch of enhanced campaigns, mobile campaign customization is virtually impossible. However, I’ve heard of some people placing conversion codes on your mobile landing page; then once you’ve gotten enough conversions, changing your bidding strategy to Conversion Optimizer. Google’s algorithm should recognize that mobile is getting all your conversions and start to shift all your impressions to mobile. You will want to make two conversion codes to track the real conversions if you do this. I have not tried this strategy myself, so proceed at your own will. I did think it was a clever concept, though, so I figured it would be worthwhile to share it with you.


Mobile devices can be a valuable tool for driving customers to businesses. Carefully planning your strategy will help ensure you advertise on mobile more efficiently. Test your strategies, and throw your ego aside, letting the data lead your decisions.

Have other mobile optimization strategies? Please post your comments below!

Use AdWords Callout Extensions to Strengthen Your Offer

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in How-Tos | 2 Comments
Use AdWords Callout Extensions to Strengthen Your Offer

Savvy advertisers know that highlighting perks like “free shipping” and “price matching” can strengthen their offer and improve the performance of their ads. But it can be difficult to feature these benefits when space in the ad description is limited. To make it easier to reveal important features in your ads, AdWords offers callout extensions: additional text that displays with your ads to highlight key information about what you have to offer. In this post, I’ll show you how you can use callout extension to strengthen your ads in Google AdWords.

google adwords callout extension example adstage

Set Yourself Apart from the Competition

Callouts let you craft a more compelling offer by including additional snippets of copy with your Search ads. It’s a simple and effective way to draw attention to unique features that may be missing from the competition. For example, if your ad includes a callout that specifies “free shipping,” customers can easily recognize your value over your competitors. By including distinctive features in callouts, customers will have a better understanding of what sets you apart before they decide to click through to your landing page.

Leverage Callouts on Mobile

Callouts offer the flexibility needed for cross-device marketing and can be tailored specifically for mobile devices. If there are features relevant to mobile users, you can create mobile-optimized callouts that will show on mobile devices exclusively. For example, a car insurance broker can create a callout for a “quick mobile quote” to encourage mobile users to click through. Alternatively, if there are features that are only applicable to desktop users, you can disable those specific callouts from displaying on mobile. With this level of versatility, you’ll want to create callouts for every device.

adowrds mobile callouts

Combine Ad Extensions for the Greatest Impact

Callouts also work well when combined with other ad extensions. For example, if you have a sitelink for “Christmas Gifts,” you can give last-minute shoppers peace of mind by creating a callout for “free overnight shipping.” Or, if you’ve set up a location extension to display your restaurant’s address, you can reach a broader audience by creating a callout for “free delivery.” As with other ad extensions, callouts make your ads more useful and improve your Ad Rank. This enhancement also improves your ad position, which can place your ad above the competition in search results.

Create and Optimize Callouts for the Highest ROI

Getting started with callouts is easy. You can create, manage and report on them from the Ad extensions tab. Like sitelinks, you can either create general callouts that span across your entire account, or create tailored and highly relevant callouts on the campaign or ad group level. For example, an advertiser can create callouts on the account level for site-wide features like “free shipping,” while category-specific features like “30% off sunglasses” can be created in the “sunglasses” ad group. Because reporting is available for individual callouts, it’s easy to find opportunities for optimization so you can ensure that every callout has the highest ROI.

google adwords callout reporting


Callouts are incredibly flexible, and creative marketers like you and I can consider them a blank canvas. For help getting started with callouts, read The New Must-Have AdWords Extension: Callouts. See how you can leverage them to improve your ads by creating your first callout today!

Have any tips or tricks to leveraging AdWords the callout extension? Share them in the comments below.

Counting Down to Sales in AdWords Ads Just Got Easier

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in How-Tos | One Comment
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 customizers 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.


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 | 14 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

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,, 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


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.