Technology, an increasing demand to squeeze the most out of every minute, and the desire to objectively present information are driving our world to become ever more visual. Whether in news media, on social, or in daily business reports, there exists a need for detailed information to be presented and understood quickly.
You probably deal with mounds of data every week, but it’s often hard to sort through what really matters, and when it does, how to effectively tell a story with the numbers. No doubt you’ve come across a graphic before that either didn’t make any sense or did little to present information in a way that illustrated a point. Visualizing data isn’t always necessary, but when used correctly at the right time, can be crucial in getting your point across.
Reasons To Use Data Visuals In PPC Reports
Popping a graphic or two into a report can give it a professional look and save space where’d you otherwise need to use a bunch of text, but before you go drawing up a complicated line graph, make sure there’s a valid reason for the graphic. A few of the more obvious include:
- Presenting and understanding complicated info quickly – Your client just sent a request for week over week CTR data for each active social platform going back 6 months. Instead of dumping it all into an Excel sheet and leaving them to decipher it, a simple graph can tell a story that might otherwise need a thousand words.
- Highlight emerging trends – Laying all the data out in a visual manner is often the easiest way to predict where certain trends are headed. If you’re seeing a bump on a piece of creative featuring a certain style of your retail client’s denim, you could use a data visual to help them see why another look at their website promotions and store layout could be an effort with a huge payoff.
- Spot overlaps and patterns – Let’s say you’ve been A/B testing creative and you want to show your client why they should funnel their budget into creative A, even though they love creative B. A line graph could help show the disparity between the two pieces, and the power of reallocating the budget to the winning creative.
You don’t want to spend time on a meaningless graph, but you also don’t want to miss the opportunity to include valuable information that tells a powerful story. Make sure there’s a compelling reason to visualize a chunk of data and it’ll be a natural part of your report.
When To Use Certain Visuals
Pie charts, line graphs, bar graphs, Venn diagrams. Just hearing that list can bring back middle school memories of math class. Sometimes it’s obvious which chart type is most appropriate, but other times – not so much. Figure out what the goal of your chart is, and you can easily discern between which to use.
If you have many key players referring to the data, and each will be interested in his or her own piece, a table or metric is a good call. In this example from the NY Times, a table is used to show how common certain birthdays are, based on how many babies were born on that date between 1973 and 1999.
While it’s interesting to see how your birthday might compare to another one, you’re likely only looking for information that pertains to you and then moving on. One thing to note is that unlike other data visualization options, a table won’t bring your audience to an immediate conclusion, rather it will simply organize and present the information for reference.
The very structure of a line graph is set up for data to be shown over time. In this interactive chart from USA Today, four bar charts show why Apple recently cut the price of the iPad – starting with declining market share, then slipping quarterly sales, declining tablet shipments, and finally a comparison to other tablet manufacturers. The first three graphs are shown on a year over year scale, helping highlight the iPad’s rise, plateau, and decline – a strong indication it’s time for Apple to make decisions to reverse the drop in sales.
Depending on what you’re trying to present, a traditional chart might not do the job. If that’s the case, you have to get creative. Time does a great job categorizing and then visualizing the daily routines of famous creative people in this interactive chart.
How To Use Data Visualizations
No matter what type of data visualization you’re using, you must set the narrative. On a basic level, all graphics should be correctly titled, and all data clearly labeled. Providing the right context will help avoid misinterpretation of objective data.
AdStage’s Report product takes care of all of that for you, and helps you generate better PPC reports in minutes. As we highlighted in a previous post, the cross-channel dashboards in Report offer customizable widgets for advertisers to select the data set and the visual components of the dashboard, such as tables, metrics, graphs, and charts.
Managing a PPC campaign takes time. A big part of that time is taken by activities you repeat over and over, like scheduling ads, optimizing bids, and keyword management.
Some of the activities you do to manage your campaigns are small and may take you 10 minutes. But aggregate all those little tasks, and you will see you are losing many hours a month you could spend in higher-value activities.
In this article, you’ll learn how to use automation to save up to 10 hours a month when managing your PPC campaigns.
On Your Own: 6 hours per month
Optimizing a campaign is one of the most time consuming tasks of any PPC specialist. Tasks such as setting up new ads to test, changing bids to reflect a new tactic, and improving the ad copy of a set of ads take too much time. Most importantly, it can distract the specialist from the big picture of helping a business improve its leads and ROI.
With Automation: 2 hour per month
You can use automation to help you optimize a wide variety of basic optimization tasks, such as:
- Pause ad sets and ad groups which spend over their desired limits
- Pause low performing ad sets, ad groups, or specific ads
- Increase the spending of ad sets, ad groups, or specific ads based on their high performance
- Adjust the bids based on the impact (including ROAS and CPA)
- Run ad tests
Google AdWords already lets you set simple automate ad rules. You can also use scripts and other AdWords automation tools, which usually give you greater control and more automation options.
Facebook has also released automation rules in 2016, allowing advertisers to optimize campaigns in a similar fashion than to Google AdWords. Some of the automation rules Facebook offer include:
- Pause campaigns, ad sets or ads based on performance
- Increase or decrease campaign budgets based on performance
- Increase or decrease manual bids based on performance
- Receive email alerts based on ad performance
Even though Facebook’s automation rules are good enough for companies with smaller budgets and levels of complexities, they can be too restraining for larger business. With the help of a tool such as AdStage, you can automate your campaigns with greater flexibility.
For example, you can implement your automation rules across multiple campaigns and ad sets simultaneously. What’s more, AdStage allows you to apply as many rules as you wish, while Facebook only lets you set up to 100 automated rules per ad account.
On Your Own: 2 hours per month
Ads don’t last forever. PPC specialists know this very well when they try to scale an ad that is performing well but stops performing as it should. The reason why a well-performing ad stops bringing any meaningful results is due to a process known as “ad fatigue.” When a publisher hits an audience with an ad too many times in a short period of time, the audience’s attention to that ad drops, which lowers the CTR and, therefore, increases its costs.
To fight ad fatigue you can implement a tactic called “ad rotation.” This consists on manually creating a large number of ads within one ad group (or set), with their respective images and copy for each one. Then, you could set a schedule time for each one, run them, and after a certain time has passed by, compare the results.
The problem with this solution is you would need to keep a tight schedule on each ad running time as well as manually check when they are supposed to stop. Finally, you would need to stop the ad yourself, and activate a new one. Repeat that over a dozen times, and you can imagine you can end up wasting a lot of time (without counting the mental fatigue that can give you).
With Automation: 30 Minutes per month
Automating ad rotation would help you set all your ads at once (with their respective headlines, copy, and images), set up how often you want to run them (which could be hours, days, weeks, or even months), and let the ads rotate automatically the way you set them up. You can then set up an alert (which you will see later how to do) and check the results without having to check constantly how they are performing.
Google AdWords currently allows you to use automatic ad rotation. Google offers four options:
- Click optimization (the default option): With this option, Google would optimize your group to make it receive more impressions and clicks overall.
- Conversion optimization: When Google optimizes your ads for conversion, they deliver the ads that have converted better more often into the ad auction than other ads in the ad group.
- Even rotation: In this option, Google rotates your ads more evenly into the ad auction, helping your ads with low CTRs and conversion rates to show more often.
- Indefinite rotation: In this option, Google also delivers your ads more evenly into the ad auction, but does so for an indefinite amount of time and does not optimize.
Facebook Ads rotation works differently, as they set up their ads in a way that different ads within the same ad set compete against each other for delivery. That means they display all the ads in your ad set until it’s clear one is performing better. As soon as that happens, the highest-performance ad will be shown more prominently than the others. Because of the nature Facebook rotates their ads, if you would like to have your ads display more evenly over the lifetime of an ad set, you need to separate your ads into different ad sets. Even if this rotation is automatic, it still requires a lot of work.
To this end, AdStage can help you rotate your ads with a feature called Flighting, which allows you to cycle a selected set of Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Ads. Once the first group of ads meets the time condition selected, those will be paused and the next step will be enabled.
Ad Scheduling (aka. Dayparting)
On Your Own: 2 hours per month
Unless you run a local business, showing your ads to your prospects at the right time can be a tiresome process. The prospects who live in the East Coast may be receiving ads that aren’t relevant at their time zone, which means you end up wasting money on people who aren’t likely to convert.
In some cases, it’s easy to know when your ads are more likely to be effective. For example, if you run a business with limited service hours which will be closed at certain times, you probably want to restrict your ads to run only while your business is open. In this case, you can limit your ads to run from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday to Friday.
In many other cases (like in the case of an e-commerce store), it’s hard to tell beforehand when your ads will perform best. That’s where scheduling your ads to show at specific times, when they have proven to work best, can be a more efficient and time-saving process.
With Automation: 15 Minutes per month
Ad scheduling, also known as “dayparting”, show your ads to the right people at the right time. You can schedule your ads to show at specific hours and days of the week. Your ads will be served your audience’s time zone so you get the results you want.
Both Google AdWords and Facebook offer dayparting in their campaign managers. The problem is they don’t make it easy for you to turn off your campaigns.
AdStage Automate lets advertisers use dayparting through the campaign scheduler. Based on data taken from your previous campaigns, you can show your ads at specific times of the day or week when they have shown to be most effective. This helps you spend your budget as efficiently as possible. Scheduling your ads in Power Editor requires a lifetime budget. With AdStage, in contrast, advertisers have no restrictions on what budget types can be used for scheduling.
On Your Own: 3 hours per month
How many times have you run a campaign and feared it would end up spending more money than you desired? If you measured how much time you spent monitoring your accounts and campaigns, you’d probably gasp at the number. Whether you check in on a campaign’s spend, on your KPIs, or simply troubleshooting problems that show you, logging into accounts to look at the numbers is time-consuming.
With Automation: 15 Minutes
You can end all your worries by receiving a curated list of your accounts and campaigns straight to your inbox. With automation you can set a threshold in relation to a certain metric, and the threshold is hit, you immediately get an email or message. Alerts do all the work for you by sending updates as soon as you over or under spend, make specific adjustments, and anticipate problems before they happen.
Facebook currently doesn’t offer alerts, while Google Adwords does. Google Adwords lets you get the following email notifications:
- Billing alerts
- Campaign maintenance alerts
- Google market research
- Customized help and performance suggestions
- Disapproved ads and policy alerts
- Special offers
AdStage also allows you to create custom alerts to your inbox.
On Your Own: 2 Hours per month
Reporting is a common activity any PPC specialist spends a large deal of time on. The problem is, each time they need a report, they need to log in, pull all the necessary data, organize it, and export it. If they need the same report every a specific period of time, they can end up spending more time than necessary creating those reports.
With Automation: 20 minutes per month
Both Google Adwords and Facebook Ads lets you automate your report creation. The problem with their standard reports is you can’t customize it. For example, you can’t compare the performance of your AdWords and Facebook Ads campaigns. You can’t create standardized templates for reuse. This is not to mention how confusing and ineffective creating reports can be. Neither companies allow you to add graphics or tables. To do that, you you have to export your data and work it on Excel, which can be even more complicated and time-consuming.
AdStage allows you to create custom PPC report templates, and then schedule them as a recurring report (including daily, weekly, or monthly) straight to your inbox. You can also add your team members or clients with ease.
If you are a PPC specialist with too much work and not enough time, this article has shown you the power of automation. Throughout this article, you have seen how automating five tasks in your PPC management can help you save 10 hours (or even more).
This week on The PPC Show, Paul and JD break down the top news and trends in ad tech and digital marketing.
In this episode we breakdown Facebook’s new value-based lookalike audiences, Bing’s new In-Market and Custom Audiences Targeting features, Amazon’s Audience Match Tool, Twitter’s UI update, and the impact of Google’s Ad Rank update from May.
Tune in to the #PPCShow to get caught up on the top Ad Tech headlines!
Because so many people engage with ads across Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network, we’re uniquely able to determine whether a person is likely to take actions based on historical data and people with similar characteristics. Through App Event Optimization, advertisers can deliver ads to the people who are likely to take valuable actions within their apps.
Value optimization works by using the purchase values sent from the Facebook pixel to estimate how much a person may spend with your business over a seven-day period. The ad’s bid is then automatically adjusted based on this estimation, allowing campaigns to deliver ads to people likely to spend more with your business at a low cost.
Bing Ads is releasing two new features via a pilot program that are designed to help advertisers reach their ideal customers. The two new features include In-Market Audiences (US-only), and Custom Audiences (global).
In-Market Audiences are curated lists of individuals found to have purchase intent for a particular category of products or services. Purchase intent is determined based on user signals across Bing, MSN, and other Microsoft services.
These curated lists can be associated with specific ad groups, upon which you can target and modify bids for these audiences similar to Remarketing in Paid Search lists.
Unlike In-Market Audiences, Custom Audiences are remarketing lists generated using your own data. After connecting your data platform manager into Bing’s new Custom Audiences feature, you can import your Custom Audiences segments into Bing Ads for search remarketing.
What Amazon’s Audience Match Tool Means For Advertisers
Amazon on Monday quietly launched a self-serve platform called Advertiser Audiences, which lets advertisers upload their audience lists and CRM information, enabling tactics like audience matching and lookalike modeling.
Assessing the Impact of Google’s May Ad Rank Changes
brand cost-per-click (CPC) Y/Y change has been trending lower since early May, and it appears that advertisers have some reason to cheer Google’s update at this point.
Twitter’s Given their Apps a Major Overhaul – Here’s What’s Been Updated
the new layout will change the way your profile images look. Once you have access to the new layout (it’s being rolled out now), it’s worth taking a look at your Twitter profile to ensure it looks how you want it to in the new format, and that your visuals align with the rounded presentation.
On this episode Jason Wu, CTO and Co-Founder at AdStage, joins The PPC Show. Besides leading the engineering effort there, he also loves running and is constantly learning about new tech topics ranging from security to AI.
Listen to the full episode of The PPC Show as he talks about the early days of AdStage, machine learning, and the future of advertising.
Machine Learning Marketing Report
Machine learning. Is there anything marketers are more excited about right now? While machine learning marketing applications are still a rarity for businesses outside of the enterprise level, the folks over at Executive Consensus (EC) think that’s going to change in a big way over the next few years.
In their latest expert consensus, Machine Learning in Marketing – Expert Consensus of 51 Executives and Startups, they polled executives at more than 50 companies, specializing in the fields of both AI and marketing. Their goal was to “determine the applications of machine learning and AI that are driving strong business value now, as well as the applications that would make the biggest difference in the next five years.”
Most of the companies surveyed were small, with 70% clocking in at fewer than 50 employees, and primary company revenues between $0-$500k and $1-$5M. The main products and services these companies offer are analytics (26%) and targeting/segmentation (24%). And entry level price points for most respondents are under $999 (41%) or between $1k-$5k (27%).
EC also identified the primary business goals of participating companies. “Generating new revenue,” “retaining existing customers,” and “acquiring new customers” were the top three goals, leading EC to presume that that the participating companies were targeting marketing departments within their client companies. Additionally, 80% of sample companies focus on eCommerce and retail verticals, while 60% focus on online and social media companies.
Selling AI and Machine Learning
When asked about the challenges of selling AI marketing tech, respondents identified “demystifying the technology” as the biggest hurdle, garnering it almost as many responses as the next three challenges combined. “Low data quality” and “attribution is difficult” rounded out the top three here.
While EC acknowledged that “it’s hard to explain” could be viewed as an excuse for underdeveloped sales or marketing skill sets, they pointed out that AI is still viewed as something for “early adopters” and that explaining such advanced technologies is challenging for even the most experienced salespeople and marketers. As AI continues to grow in popularity and use, however, EC sees these conversations getting easier and less intimidating.
Current and Five-Year ROI
So what does the current and five-year ROI forecast look like? EC’s sample companies posture that the areas of opportunity for AI in marketing will not shift much. eCommerce and online/social media verticals maintained the top two spots, with direct-to-consumer industries benefiting the most from AI marketing.
When it comes to which businesses have the most potential for value with AI in marketing, digital media and eCommerce companies came in first, with SaaS and social media businesses closing in on third place. EC guesses that the latter two rank lower because “such businesses are less common than the first two.” Anyone can create an ad-driven site or an eCommerce store, but few people can do it successfully.
The research sample also showed a clear leaning towards businesses that “‘live and die’ quantifiable digital interactions.” Specifically those with the kind of data that can train machine learning models and improve performance over time. B2B physical businesses and service firms also ranked low, as they have much less quantifiable transaction data and their sales rely heavily on client interactions.
When it comes to current profit potential in AI marketing applications, “search” was voted the most profitable. And, interestingly enough, in a content-driven climate “segmentation/targeting” outranked “content generation” significantly in profit potential, though EC chalks this up to the fact that more of their sample companies were working on the former.
So what did the respondents think about the five-year profit potential of AI marketing applications? I thought you’d never ask. The responses for this section aligned with the value propositions given by the respondent companies. “Recommendation/personalization” took top honors, and ranked highly as a core value proposition.
However, while “analytics” was the number one value proposition reported, analytics-related apps like “decision support” and “forecasting” didn’t make their way onto the data chart. EC guesses that this is because the companies they surveyed are developing analytics technologies specific to their needs.
When Will Machine Learning Be a Crucial Part of Every Business?
Finally, the sample companies made their adoption predictions on when AI/ML would be necessary additions to companies of all sizes and verticals. 2020 was the year that 17 respondents chose for universal integration. Only time will tell, but until then, the results of this survey would encourage us all to brush up on emerging trends, adoption, and inevitable global takeover of machine learning.