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Becoming an online marketer

Hi there, My name is Clark. I'm a Sales guy looking to take on marketing. Specifically I'm going to work on paid user acquisition. With this blog, I'll be sharing my experiences building and optimizing our ad campaigns here at AdStage. I hope that sharing my experiences will help all new online advertisers. You'll see my process, mistakes, and anything I learn along the way, which should help you build and succeed with your own campaigns.

I'll initially break this series into three manageable parts, since we have a lot to go through.

1- My initial questions, predictions, and the difference between Search & Social ads

2- Setting up first Google AdWords and Facebook Ads campaigns

3-Tracking my ad campaign success using Google Analytics and AdStage

(tl;dr - main points in bold)

Throughout this process, I'm going to use our AdStage dashboard. Here's a quick look at a dashboard complete with data:

The dashboard provides me one place to see all of my current ad campaign activities - an overview of key ad performance metrics and budget recommendations, a graph comparison of metrics, network performance with target demographics, social audience targeting, and trending keywords, and lastly insights such as click stream data, geo-targeting, high-performing ads, and similar companies.

I'll also be using the native network interfaces and Google Analytics. Using my AdStage dashboard along with these tools will give me complete control over monitoring and editing my campaigns.

Let's get started

How should I go about documenting this ad experiment and assessing my progress? There are many ways to do it, but I decided to use a simple method of asking questions, making predictions, and testing. I'll follow this process and answer different questions each week until we know it all! This week I have several questions to get started with.

How do I setup and launch my first Campaigns?

This question is really a container for many questions. Any advertiser needs to consider - Where should I spend my budget? How much do I spend? And why? We decided to launch campaigns on AdWords, BingAds, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This will let me cover the full spread of people who may be interested in AdStage. Setting up campaigns is pretty straightforward. The hard part of paid user acquisition is building quality campaigns.

So how much should I spend and why? In my first week, I don't know the best way to budget my campaigns. I'm learning just like any new advertiser. I wanted to spend a small amount and I wanted to start gathering real data. I decided on a budget of $5/day per network (though LinkedIn requires $10/day). I will learn the best way to budget as I go, but initially I needed enough to gather initial data to work with.


In this first week, the predictions will also include the few things I already know about advertising and the differences in the ad networks. A big difference is in targeting. Search networks capitalize on what you search for: keywords. Social networks capitalize on who you are - groups you're part of, your interests, etc.

This means that search engines are direct intent networks and social networks are indirect intent networks. If I search on Google for "Nike shoes", I'm very likely looking to purchase Nike shoes. Contrast this with Facebook. Facebook advertising makes assumptions about what ads relate to me, but my intent in browsing Facebook is rarely specific purchasing. Similarly, I don't go on LinkedIn for direct purchases. I go there to check out work stuff - who's working where, connect with someone I met recently, maybe I'll see job opportunities, or maybe I'll see a tool that will help with my job. LinkedIn advertising makes assumptions based on this and shows me related ads.

Take a look:

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Effective campaigns should take note of these differences. The ultimate goal of ad campaigns is conversions. Conversions can be defined as anything, but some examples of conversions would be user sign ups, purchases, or newsletter sign ups.

I started this post by asking some questions. Then, I made some predictions and identified some of the differences in Search and Social ad networks. Now it's time to test. This is the fun part - next I'll be launching actual ad campaigns.

Part 2 - Setting up first Google AdWords and Facebook Ads campaigns

If you have any questions or need any help with your campaigns, please let me know. You can reach me at with anything on your mind - questions, comments, critiques, suggestions for future posts, or just to say hi.

In the last post I asked some important questions. Then I made some predictions and identified what I know. Now it's time to launch actual ad campaigns. I'll start by setting up a campaign on Facebook and a campaign on AdWords.

First, Go to (assuming you have a Facebook account) and fill a destination site.

I want to setup specific destination urls for each network with custom UTMs (this is simply a string of text appended to a site's url) that lets me know where traffic to our site comes from. Google provides a great free tool to build urls with custom UTM information here.

Now I can build my first ad with a headline, text, and a photo. The goal of these characteristic is to attract and grab a user's attention. This week, I created a variety of ads with different images, headlines, and ad text to compare what did well and what ads were served in higher volume.

Here's a good point to discuss some basic ad terminology. To start with, there are three key terms that are fairly self explanatory - an impression is simply someone seeing your ad, clicks occur when someone clicks on your ad, and a conversion is when someone performs a set of actions defined by the advertiser.

Connected to these terms are CPM, CPC, and CPA. CPM refers to cost per mille or cost per 1000 impressions, CPC refers to cost per click, and CPA refers to cost per acquisition. One most networks CPM and CPC are the common budget methods.

Creating similar campaigns across a few networks (ie. LinkedIn, BingAds, & AdWords) will let me compare network performance with some control. Each week, I'll tweak my campaigns. The different audiences, different character counts, and different targeting options all give me ways to optimize my campaigns as I learn more. This leads me to an important discussion of some network differences.

Differences between the networks

Facebook and LinkedIn's network targeting differences that are worth pointing out. Facebook can target precise interests that users have identified like marketing or advertising, broad categories like small business owners, social connections, workplace, education, relationship status, etc. LinkedIn similarly targets people, but with much more focus on business data like job title or function and skills.

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Networks also differ in the amount of characters they allow. It may seem insignificant, but it is good to be aware. Both Facebook and LinkedIn, let you can use 25 characters in the title. In ad text, LinkedIn allows 75 characters, while Facebook allows 90 characters. This may lead you to customize your Facebook ads using that extra space. On AdWords and BingAds share the same character count limits.

AdWords and BingAds targeting are similar, but with a few exceptions. Both have simple targeting options like the device you want to target (ie. only laptops), location, and language. On BingAds, you have the additional ability to increase or decrease keyword bids (how much you're willing to pay for a given keyword) depending on age and gender of the person searching.

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Now, I'll walk through the process of building an AdWords campaign.

Head to and select the campaigns tab on the top left.

On the next page, you should see a New Campaigns button. You'll see the option to make your campaign Search only, Search & Display, or Display only. I started with just search network.

AdWords gives you options for several types of ads and targeting, but I am building a standard search text ad for people within the United States using laptops or desktop computers. This is also where you decide your bid and budget. You can adjust these settings to fit your company best. (bidding can also be done automatically by Google)

Next, I build my first AdWords ads. I need to create an ad group, and from the same screen I can setup my first ad and keywords I would like to bid on.

If you have no idea what a good ad is, there are a few good ways to start. Search Google for your competitors or keywords that fit your company and take a look at those ads as a first step. Your ads will get better over time as you iterate on what you find.

A couple other quick tips:

  • Fill your ads with keywords you'll be targeting
  • Have a clear, simple call to action
  • Try things like "Sign up Today" or "Free" - clear incentives will improve your click through

Once I set my bid, I'm taken to a view of my ad group where I can see my ads, settings, I can enable or disable my ad group, change my default bid, etc.

Now I've taken you through the process of setting up a social campaign and a search campaign. They are slightly different, but with the Facebook and AdWords examples you can replicate the process through BingAds and LinkedIn as you wish. The best way to get a feel for setting up campaigns is to simply explore the interfaces yourself.

How do I hook up Google Analytics?

Now, I want to hook up Google Analytics. It can be a bit tricky, but it's worth it. (Note: You will need access to your site to add Google's code snippet required to collect the necessary data) Go to the admin tab on the homepage. Next click the tracking info tab and you'll see this:

Once you've added the code to your site you can define goals. Conversions are your overall goals for those who click on your ads - ask yourself "what do you want someone that sees your ad to do?" You can then define your answer to that question as your conversion. For AdStage, I call a conversion someone coming to the site and completing our beta sign up form. Here's how I setup goals:

Go to admin on the Google Analytics homepage (set up an account if you haven't already)Click your profile name.Now click the Goals tab. Finally, the next page gives you goal configuration options.

How do I build an AdStage dashboard?

Google Analytics is a great tool, but it has some limitations. For features like intelligent insights, easy viewing of high and low performing ads, and much more, I'm going to setup my AdStage dashboard. Sign up for the beta here and we'll set you up for access. Once I have access, I fill out 10 keywords related to my company and a short blurb about my site. Then I can link my accounts using my network credentials. After I have picked my desired campaigns, my dashboard will be ready for viewing in minutes.

And I'm done for this week! I've skipped over some details like: what's an ad group, how many ads should I have, what are negative keywords, etc. One, because I don't know all the answers yet. And two, because I have already covered lots of material for this first post.

I'll discuss many new questions in future posts. Next time, I'll report my first week's result and plans for optimizing my campaign performance.

Thanks for reading and check out AdStage if you would like a great, simple way to compare your campaigns and get insights to improve your campaigns in one, well designed dashboard.

If you have any questions or need any help with your campaigns, please let me know. You can reach me at with anything on your mind - questions, comments, critiques, suggestions for future posts, or just to say hi.

AdStage Team