How to Use Bing Ads to Reach New Customers

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Advertising, Search
How to Use Bing Ads to Reach New Customers

Don’t Overlook Bing Ads

It’s been seven years since Windows unveiled Bing, and since then, the search engine and the teams behind it, have made strides to catch up with the behemoth, otherwise known as Google.

Just in the past few months, new features have included a ‘Popular Content’ section showing you the most visited content sections from a website or web page, completely redesigning the Android version of its search app and including augmented reality, and even adding Game of Thrones content in preparation for the season 7 premiere. Perhaps even Windows 10 could have had a big effect since Bing is now integrated throughout the entire desktop OS.

Little by little, those efforts are bumping Bing’s numbers up. In comScore’s latest rankings for search on desktop, Google slipped .3 points while Microsoft (Bing) rose by .2%. In an amended deal struck in mid-2015, 51% of Yahoo’s desktop search traffic has to carry Bing ads, giving the search engine even more clout.

Of course, there’s still a huge difference between Bing and Google’s overall share of search, but Bing’s influence is larger than most people think.

comScore’s latest rankings for search on desktop

While the majority of people are hanging out on Google for their searches, being among the crowd isn’t always the best bet for marketers. In fact, Bing offers many advantages over Google.

The Power of Bing Over Google

Bing has less competition and cheaper PPCs

Using an example from digital marketing agency ymarketing, keywords “mens boardshorts” gave them a CPC of $0.48 on Bing compared to $1.35 on Google, for a cost savings of 64%. Fewer people to go up against means lower costs for marketers. You’re also more likely to get better placement since not many marketers are including Bing on their media mix currently.

Bing gives you more control and flexibility at the ad group level

When setting up an AdWords campaign, Google locks you into network, location, ad scheduling, language, and rotation settings at a campaign level, and ad groups are held to those restrictions. The only way to get around that is to set up a new campaign with different parameters so that you can extend the filters to ad groups. Bing allows you to adjust all those same options at any level, as well as assign different campaigns time zones, which could be a crucial factor for global clients.

Bing allows transparent access to search partner targeting

Bing’s got nothing to hide when it comes to search partner targeting. Not only can you target just Bing & Yahoo, just search partners, or both, but you can also see who the search partners are and drop any partner who’s not giving you the numbers you want. Google, on the other hand, lets you target just Google, or Google and search partners, and refuses to pull back the curtain to let you see who the partners are, let alone adjust bids or exclude anyone.

Bing gives context with social extensions

In the first quarter of 2016, Bing announced Social Extensions, which are “placed under your ad copy that direct potential customers into social conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Tumblr. Searchers click on the extension and are directed to the associated social account or social post.” Bing also shows participating advertisers’ Twitter followers in ads to give additional validity to a business with which a customer might not be familiar.

bing ads social extensions

Bing lets you use demographics in search

In AdWords, you can set demographic targeting on the Google Display Network, but that control doesn’t extend to search. With Bing Ads, you can set the gender and age of who you want to see your search ads.

Now that you’ve seen the ways advertising on Bing can be beneficial over going the traditional Google route, hopefully, any skepticism about the underdog search engine has dissipated. Now let’s take a look at Bing’s targeting capabilities and how you can use them to your benefit.

Bing Ads Targeting Capabilities

According to Microsoft, Bing Ads and the Bing Network reaches 167 million unique users who spend 26% more online than the average internet searcher. Those are some pretty enticing numbers considering you can get much lower PPCs, too. Bing’s targeting capabilities aren’t drastically different from what Google offers, but they’re still worth taking a look at to fully understand them and determine how to use them to shape your campaigns.

1) Keywords

Bing provides a Keyword Planner (you’ll need to have a Bing Ads account and be signed in) that suggests keywords based on insights from historical trends and marketplace competition. You’ll need to start with your own seed list of keywords that you’ll input into the planner, as well as the URL of your website or a page on your website, and a category relevant to your product or service, then you’ll get a list of suggested keywords from Bing. From there, you’ll also see a bid landscape for each keyword where you can make decisions on what to go after.

2) Location

With Bing, not only can you show a store address in your search ad, but you can also specify a radius within a city or U.S. ZIP code in which to target your ad. This capability lets you focus your ads on search users who live close to your store. Bing gives another example of location-based targeting using the keywords “Seahawks jerseys.” As you can see in the graph below, it’s no surprise the most search traffic comes from Seattle, followed by California and Oregon. With this data, you can make sure you’re targeting these areas exclusively, or bid appropriately to ensure you’ve always got ads up in your strongest regions.

bing ads keyword insights

Once you have enough historical data through your campaigns, Bing will show you location based bid adjustments which are suggestions on how to tweak your account to get more from the locations that are responding best.

3) Language

Bing will do all the translating for you. When setting up a campaign, all you have to do is select the most common language in the region you’re targeting, and Bing will make sure your ads correlate to the language of the end-user’s web browser settings.

4) Scheduling

With Bing’s scheduling tool, you can parse ads out in 15-minute increments. If your campaign is focused on getting customers into a brick & mortar door, you can also set ads to run only when your store is open. Bing averaged its user data to come up with helpful trend charts showing volume by hour and days per device.

bing ads relative volume by day of the week

5) Device

You can limit where you want your ad to be seen – mobile, tablet, or PC. Bing has another helpful interactive graph that shows click-through rate, cost per click, and volume by device type and industry. It’s a great way to get a glimpse at what competitors are doing, and also set your own bar.

6) Demographics

In addition to the default HHI, education, and marital status, you can also target demographics like age and gender, which can offer some tailored opportunities when it comes to your ad creative.

7) Remarketing

Don’t miss out on interested customers. Bing lets you remarket to customers who have visited your site but may not have converted.


We’ve preached before (and we’ll do it again) about the importance of varying your media mix. Bing, with its large, engaged audience and low PPCs offers a great opportunity to experiment with a search engine you may have previously overlooked.

Gmail Ads Tactics To Improve CTR

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Search
Gmail Ads Tactics To Improve  CTR

Any idea how much time you spend on email per day? Per week? In a lifetime? The Washington Post has a fun, or perhaps dispiriting, calculator to help you determine those numbers.

According to the article, the average office worker spends just over 4 hours checking work email each day. Do the math, and you’ll see that’s 20.5 hours each week, and more than 47,000 hours over a career.

And that’s just work email. While that might be a little alarming for some of us, those figures scream opportunity to marketers.

We covered how to create Gmail Ads in AdWords when it was first made available to all advertisers, but as more marketers catch on, the need to stand out from the competition becomes even more crucial.

Below are some tried and true tactics to ensure your gmail ads are making the most impact.

Ensure The Right People See Your Gmail Ads

In other words, make sure your targeting is correct. To do that, ensure that you have a complete understanding of the capabilities Gmail Ads provides:

  • Keywords: much like SEO – use specific words someone has searched for that are relevant to your product or service
  • Affinity audiences: reach niche audiences using free form interests entered as keywords and/or URLs as a proxy for interest bundles
  • In-market audiences: target customers who are “in the market,” meaning currently searching for products or services similar to those you offer
  • Demographics: use traditional demographics like age, income, education, location, to reach relevant customers
  • Topics: target customers who are talking about certain subjects related to your product or service
  • Customer Match: reach current customers and people who are similar to them.

One important point to note is Google’s recent announcement that it will soon stop scanning emails to individual users for advertising purposes. However, as The Verge points out, “Google can still parse search histories, YouTube browsing, and other Chrome activity as long as you’re signed into your Gmail account.” So marketers won’t completely lose valuable customer data with this upcoming change.

Hook People ASAP

You have even less space in a collapsed Gmail Ad than you do on Twitter – about 40 characters. So make sure you get to the point immediately and put the most enticing information upfront. If you can get someone to click the ad, it opens up to a full page layout with tons more real estate, but that’s the catch – you have to be intriguing enough to get the click.

gmail ads example

Gmail Ads Example

Aside from leading with strong messaging (and we can’t stress enough – Test! Test! Test!), experiment with other ways to visually draw people in with the text. That includes using different characters or even emojis, as long as it doesn’t feel off-brand.

Research & Use Competitor Keywords

You likely have a list of keywords that you use for other marketing channels. Add to this list by taking a look at what your competitors are using, or words that are directly related to your competitors. Check out our post on using social research to find out more about specific companies for tips on how to dig up every bit of information possible.

Use Gmail’s Ready-Made Ad Templates

You are not cheating or cutting corners by using what’s already available to you. Gmail’s provided templates are already mobile-optimized and often perform better than custom HTML templates (the last part according to Google). Don’t go spending time or money on a developer before you test the templates. Gmail offers four templates outside of uploading your own custom HTML template.

Here’s how Google describes each:

  • Single image ad: a single image fills the body of the expanded ad
  • Single product promotion: an image or video with text advertises a single product or service
  • Multi-product promotion: several images with text advertise multiple products or services, each with a call-to-action button
  • Catalog creative: features more descriptive text than the multi-product promotion, to create an almost magazine-like experience with multiple call-to-action buttons

gmail ads templates

Once someone clicks on the collapsed ad and it expands to a full page, landing page best practices can be applied. Read through our 5 Easy Ways To Boost PPC Landing Pages post before creating your next ad to make sure you’re accounting for the most important elements. Just because one template was supposedly created for a specific purpose (the multi-product promotion ad is a natural choice for retailers), with enough creativity, you can come up with innovative ways to make the templates work for your goals.

Measure and Interpret Results

Finally, you’ll never know if something’s working, or how to change course to make a campaign work, unless you’re paying attention to performance. Use the following four tips to make sure you’re recording and understanding results correctly.

Google doesn’t automatically capture all the information you’ll need. You need to “opt-in,” or rather, set up your reporting table to record the relevant results.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. While signed in to your account, go to your Reporting tab
  2. Click Modify columns in the toolbar above your statistics table
  3. Select Gmail metrics under “Select metrics”
  4. Click Add all columns
  5. Click Apply

gmail ads reporting in adwords

Tip #1 – Calculate your external Gmail CTR by dividing “Gmail clicks to website” by “clicks.” That will help you determine if your full-page layout is working. A high volume of clicks to expand, but a low volume of clicks to website means your headline is compelling, but you have some work to do on your full-page ad.

Tip #2 – Take a look at your display impression share. If your share is low but you’re driving strong performance, consider raising your bids to increase impressions.

Tip #3 – The reach estimates widget lets you see an estimate of impressions available per week on the Google Display Network for your ad group, based on your targeting. If your possible impressions seem low, adjust your targeting.


Take advantage of the 4+ hours per day potential customers are spending in their inboxes with these Gmail Ads tactics. That’s more attention than you’d get from nearly every other marketing channel, and if executed correctly, will give you an unbelievably low cpc.

Is SEM An Effective Growth Channel For Startups?

Posted by on Jun 21, 2017 in Agency, Search
Is SEM An Effective Growth Channel For Startups?

SEM is undoubtedly one of the most effective digital marketing channels that exist. When the right elements come together – a great product with good unit economics, relatively few competitors, and high search volumes – paid search scales very nicely.

But startups rarely have all these elements working in their favor at once, and they usually face a set of unique challenges when trying to build out SEM as a scalable channel. As a digital marketing agency that has worked with more than 100 startups of all shapes and sizes on SEM, we have seen and navigated these issues and want to share some insights about how to overcome them.

The Challenges

Startups have a set of unique challenges above and beyond the typical challenges faced by companies advertising on paid search channels like Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

The first big challenge is that many startups have unknown or unproven customer LTVs (lifetime values). Knowing your LTVs is the most important first step when considering doing any kind of paid advertising. If you don’t know how much money you’re making from a customer over their lifetime, you won’t know how much you can afford to spend to acquire them.

But for startups with relatively little operating history and low customer volumes, it becomes very difficult to accurately project LTV. A lack of LTV data is a bit of a chicken and an egg problem, since LTV can only be established once you have acquired customers. You have to expend some combination of time, effort, and money to acquire customers from any channel.

This is very important to understand – SEM can be used to help validate or establish LTVs, but if this is your goal then make sure you are clear on what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes a startup thinks they are trying to see if SEM is scalable for their business, but they realize they don’t have the right LTV data to assess the efficiency of the channel in the first place. It’s an important distinction that will change the approach and the resources needed to manage your SEM accounts.

One way to get around this catch-22 is to get industry comparisons by talking to VCs or people at similar companies who can augment any customer data you have. While customer LTVs for other companies will likely differ from yours, it’s a relatively good measure that can at minimum help you establish a benchmark for developing a target CPA.

How much you can afford to spend to acquire a customer (called a target CPA) is directly related to how much scale you can achieve from SEM. The higher your target CPA, the more scale you can achieve.The reason for this is diminishing returns. As you start increasing your SEM spend, CPAs also increase as you saturate the low-hanging, high-intent keywords that typically convert well and you reach for new keyword opportunities. Eventually your actual CPA will start bumping up against your CPA target and you will be forced to stop scaling spend until either you determine you can afford to pay a higher CPA or you are able to achieve lower CPAs with optimization.

Another challenge for startups using paid search is heavy competition from established companies. Because these incumbents know their LTVs and also typically have much larger budgets to work with, they can afford to be more aggressive with their bids on SEM and this can squeeze out startups trying to break in. In addition, sometimes these companies ensure they show up in a certain position – regardless of how inefficient it may be. This can make it very difficult for scrappy, unit-economics-driven startups to compete. This can be exacerbated for high-funnel keywords that are already very expensive and have relatively low conversions rates.

For an eCommerce startup selling subscription clothing boxes, a generic high-funnel keyword like “mens jackets” is unlikely to back out to a target CPA that’s based on their average customer LTV. However, when searching for this term you’ll notice Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom, and Michael Kors bidding aggressively:

mens jackets search example

Even for these companies, it’s unlikely that the CPA from these keywords backs out for them directly, but they continue to spend millions of dollars per year to show up in the top positions for these keywords. Such companies may be bidding on the belief that the brand exposure they receive from showing up for generic keywords makes up for CPA inefficiency, or they may be bidding on these keywords purely due to a fear of missing out since their competitors are bidding on them. Regardless, this is not a battle that a startup is going to win unless their LTV, and thus target CPA, allows them to compete.

The best way to get around this is to bid on a variety of long-tail keywords, which will have lower competition and likely higher intent, but will also be cheaper. The more extensive your list of long-tail generic keywords, the more traffic you can drive without relying on competitive, generic keywords. Google’s Keyword Planner and third-party tools like SpyFu can help you find long-tail keywords with low competition that are relevant to your business.

Another common obstacle for startups looking to leverage paid search is that they’re often operating in nascent or emerging markets, leading to low search interest. This can limit the amount of relevant search volume available, which is a critical aspect to scaling paid search.

People have to know something exists before they can search for it, or at least something closely related to it. If a startup is selling a whole new class of product or service, this poses a challenge. For example, in the early days of Uber and Lyft, no one knew what on-demand ride sharing was, so no one was searching for it. Only as the market matured did search interest start to skyrocket, as shown below:

Historical interest in “ride sharing” via Google Trends

Historical interest in “ride sharing” via Google Trends

How can you access search volume at scale when your industry is so new that people don’t even know it exists yet? This can be a daunting obstacle, and it takes some creativity to get past it.

Targeting competitor keywords and tangential products is one way to do this. For example, in the early days Uber could have bid on competitor keywords like “avis car rental” and “yellow cab taxi”, or tangential products like “quick transportation” and “call a taxi” to build awareness of its product and drive conversions via SEM.

However, the relevancy of a keyword to the product at hand will determine the conversion rate and so again it comes down to what CPA you can afford to pay for these keywords. Waiting for your market to develop is sometimes necessary in order to truly achieve scale from SEM while hitting your CPA target.

The Advantages

We’ve addressed the challenges in making paid search a profitable and scalable channel for startups, but what about the light at the end of the tunnel for those companies that are able to overcome those challenges?

The most obvious and most important advantage of paid search is the value of intent. Users are telling you exactly what they’re looking for when they type in a search term, which usually indicate higher levels of purchase intent than indirect signals like audience targeting that are available for other paid acquisition channels. As a result, no paid advertising channels come close to paid search conversion rates.

Intent-based search ads allow you to capture the low hanging fruit. Someone searching for “ride sharing app” is already generally aware of your product and is probably deep enough in the marketing funnel to download the app and use it. Search ads let you maximize demand capture.

But intent is also valuable for capturing higher-funnel interest. Someone searching for “quick transportation” is sending a direct signal that they’re looking for a fast way to get around, even if they’re not aware of the existence of ride sharing. This goes to show that you can find conversion volume from keywords that are not directly related to your product or service offering, assuming the unit-economics work out when comparing LTV to CPA.

Brand keyword coverage plays an important role in all SEM programs, but it’s especially critical for startups who should be capturing everyone searching for them. All the effort and resources expended driving awareness of a startup can be wasted if a potential customer searches for your brand on Google and gets poached by a competitor’s search ad. Branded search ads can help you protect your investment in other channels.

Given how valuable these earned branded search queries are, it should come as no surprise that bidding on competitors’ keywords can be a very effective way to reach potential customers at the bottom of the funnel who are ready to make a decision. This can be especially beneficial for startups who are in markets with well-known incumbents (i.e. lots of customers searching for their branded keywords).

While established companies may have larger budgets and more brand name recognition working in their favor, startups also have some things working in their favor.

For one, startups are able to move very fast and learn quickly due to their small size and lack of red tape, allowing for high-tempo testing and optimization, which is for scaling a paid search program. For another, startups can prioritize growth over profitability in pursuit of capturing a market, allowing them to better compete with established companies in ad auctions.

Finally, startups tend to have new and refined product offerings compared to their older competitors, creating the potential for higher conversion rates and customer LTVs. This can make it easier to compete with established competitors.

A Word to the Wise – Don’t Ignore Paid Search

Startups eventually have to acquire new customers efficiently and at scale in order to become mainstay businesses. In the early days that’s no easy task, as even defining efficiency goals based on LTV benchmarks can be arduous. Succeeding with SEM as a startup requires being nimble with testing and learning, and it sometimes necessitates sacrificing short-term efficiency in favor of long-term growth.

There will always be established competitors with much larger budgets trying to box out startups trying to break into their market, but there’s a huge opportunity for the startups that are able to successfully overcome the challenges associated with SEM. People expressing their intent through a search query is arguably the most powerful marketing signal that exists. And tapping into that signal using paid search engine marketing can be the source of a highly scalable customer acquisition channel.


What Does the 2017 State of Digital Marketing Have in Common with the Doors of a Billionaire?

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Advertising, Search, Social
What Does the 2017 State of Digital Marketing Have in Common with the Doors of a Billionaire?

… they’re both all about being mobile. That’s what Marin Software found (more or less) when they surveyed 500 digital marketing managers from the world’s top agencies and brands. In their 2017 State of Digital Advertising report, Marin asked these marketers what trends, opportunities, and challenges they face in 2017.

From mobile ad spend to lags in expertise and what the future of digital marketing holds, they uncovered insights that are sure to drive the field forward (and up, like a billionaire’s car doors) this year and beyond.

Budgets Migrating to Mobile

Did you know that the average mobile user unlocks their phone 150 times every day? Marin reports that 70% of respondents are actively advertising on search and social, and budgets are shifting to meet that demand.

Screen Shot 2017 06 02 at 10.16.36 AM

43% of their surveyed marketers indicated that they believe their mobile budgets around search marketing investment will increase between 10% and 30% in 2017. An additional 34% of marketers plan to increase their mobile budgets by more than 30%. And when it comes to social, 70% of marketers plan to increase their advertising budget. Not a huge surprise, says Marin, given that Facebook eclipsed Google in gross traffic for the first time ever in 2016.

Lack of Expertise

Because search and social are experiencing such growth and change, marketers indicated that it’s tough to stay at the top of their game. When asked to list the biggest challenges associated with delivering ROI from paid search, respondents listed: 1. Difficulty replicating campaigns across Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search providers (37%), 2. Lack of support for investing in paid search (31%), and 3. Lower conversion rates compared to other forms of advertising (25%).

Screen Shot 2017 06 02 at 10.18.10 AM

Marin addressed a few solutions for those top challenges. For “difficulty replicating campaigns,” they suggested investing in tools that import and continually sync Google AdWords campaigns. Regarding “lack of support for investing in paid search,” they recommended highlighting strong returns with limited risk, using past data to prove that customers use search engines to find your product. And finally, for “low conversion rates,” Marin made the case for pre-click optimization to keep the focus on the continual testing of your targeting, message, and advertising bids.

What’s Hot in 2017 and Beyond?

Are we really surprised that high-quality content was listed as homecoming queen here? In Marin’s survey, 42% of marketers said “content marketing” was their top priority in 2017. Closing out the top three were “search marketing,” with 39% of the vote, and “social media,” with 30%.

Screen Shot 2017 06 02 at 10.20.26 AM 1

The ability of consumers to price-check whenever they wish, ship items home, and more reveal the direct need for marketers to provide consumers with the right content at the right time. Marin notes this as a double-edged sword for marketers who find equal footing on mobile, while confronting increased competition to create rich content for consumers.

Still Too New

Surveyed marketers called voice search and virtual reality still too new to be a real priority in 2017. However, with Search Engine Land stating that “60% of smartphone users who use voice search have begun using it within the past year,” Marin suggests paying close attention to the impact these new technologies are having on the digital landscape.

3 Big Google Shopping Campaign Mistakes That Are Costing You Money

Posted by on May 23, 2017 in Search
3 Big Google Shopping Campaign Mistakes That Are Costing You Money

Here at we’ve reviewed over 100 Google Shopping campaigns over the years. In that time, we’ve seen pretty much every money-wasting mistake that it’s possible to make in Shopping. Some of these are rare, one-time-only type errors. But some of these are surprisingly common. And, in fact, there are 3 mistakes in particular that we see being made in almost every account we review.

With this in mind, there is both good and bad news for Shopping advertisers. The bad news is that these mistakes are common and probably costing you money. The good news is, these mistakes are quick to fix.

A few clicks here, some minor adjustments there and presto! You should have a more profitable Shopping campaign in less than half a day’s work. So, let’s dig into each of the mistakes and the solutions for them.

Mistake 1: Not Bidding Per Product / Item ID

When we take over Shopping campaigns that have previously been run in-house, this is by far the most common type of error we see:


Not Bidding Per Product / Item ID


What we’re seeing here is one of the main ad groups within this client’s Shopping campaign, before we came along and optimised it. Within the ad group we have the product group. Bids are controlled at the product group level and you can split out your feed however you want. You could have all products in your feed in one product group, or you could have one product group per category, one product group per item, etc.

The mistake we often see, the one you’re seeing in the above image, is having the product groups split out into any level higher than the single product / item ID / SKU level. In the above example we see that all products are in one big product group for the whole account. Another common error we see is having one product group per category.

Whenever you are lumping lots of different products into the same product group you reduce your ability to bid optimally per product. CPC bids are controlled at the product group level. This means that if you have 1 product group with 84 products in it, you only have 1 CPC bid for those 84 products.

Your products will all tend to have different prices, conversion rates, click-through rates, and margins. Each one will thus have its own unique ideal CPC bid, and this ideal bid will change over time as the competitive landscape shifts and search volumes naturally fluctuate.

So, don’t limit yourself to only 1 CPC bid to cover multiple products. Split out your product groups as finely as possible: right down to the individual item level. This way, you can give each product the individually customised CPC bid that it needs and deserves.

The Solution

The criminal part of all this is that the one-product-per-product-group structure is REALLY easy to set up. You just need to subdivide your product group:

subdivide google shopping product group

And then select Item ID as the option to subdivide by:

subdivide shopping products - big flare


This would give you a very simple structure of having 1 ad group with all your products in it, and each product having its own product group. There are many other ways of structuring your ad groups and this is just one of them, the simplest one. What we’ll show next is the next level of ad group / product organisation, the SPAG.

Taking This 1 Step Further: The SPAG

SPAG stands for Single Product Ad Groups. This is taking the one-product-per-ad-group structure even further and splitting it out so we have one product in each ad group. If you have more than a few products in your feed, this is going to take a while to do, so I’d recommend using a tool such as or to help you do this quickly.

The main benefit of splitting out your Shopping campaign into SPAGs is a highly increased ability to “funnel” search terms using negative keywords.

Let’s say, for example, you have two products, product A and product B, that would match the query “blue trainers”. Product A is low margin and less profitable, product B is a bestseller with high margins and conversion rates. Of course, if someone searches “blue trainers” you would prefer them to see Product B’s ad, not product A.

Without a SPAG structure you could try to do this by setting bids appropriately, but it’s never going to be foolproof. With a SPAG structure you can now create a negative keyword in A’s ad group for “blue trainers” and all the traffic for that keyword will now correctly be funneled to product B. If you don’t split out into SPAGs, you lose the ability to do this, as negative keywords are controlled at the ad group level, not the product group.

Mistake 2: Not Splitting out Brand vs Non-Brand

You’re already splitting out your brand traffic from your non-brand traffic in your Search campaigns, right? Please tell me you are! Brand traffic is an entirely different beast to non-brand traffic. It consists of people who already know your brand and want to come directly to your site and (hopefully) buy something. Non-brand traffic will contain a much higher proportion of new vs returning visitors, and thus it needs to be treated differently to Brand, different targets, different bids, etc.

So that’s why every search marketer worth their salt is already splitting out brand vs non-brand traffic in Search. Why isn’t everyone also doing it in Shopping? I think the answer is that, because Shopping does not have keyword targeting, most Shopping advertisers do not even realise that splitting out brand vs non-brand traffic is even an option. But it is!

The Solution

Using a clever campaign priority strategy combined with the correct negative keywords, you can indeed split out Shopping into brand vs non-brand searches. Here’s how:

1. Create Your Brand Campaign

This is going to be an exact duplicate of your normal “Generics” or “Non-Brand” campaign. Set this campaign to medium priority level in the campaign settings.

2. Set Priorities For Non-Brand

Now that you have your brand campaign set up, head over to the settings for your non-brand campaign. Make sure to set the priority level to high. Well, really the important thing is that non-brand has a higher priority than brand. So another perfectly viable option is to have brand set to low priority, and non-brand set to medium or high priority. This might all sound a bit confusing so far, why would non-brand be higher priority than Brand? Well, wait for it, this next step explains all…

3. Add Brand Keywords As Negative Match to Non-Brand

Go into your non-brand campaign and add in your brand terms and all associated keywords (plurals, misspellings, etc) into the negative keyword list for the whole campaign.

And there you have it! You now have a fully functioning brand / non-brand split in your Shopping campaigns. When someone searches for a brand term that triggers Shopping ads, they will not see the non-brand ads because those terms have been negative matched from your non-brand campaign. When someone searches for a non-brand term that triggers Shopping ads, the higher priority on the non-brand campaign will kick in and ensure they see the non-brand ad not the brand one.

Now you’ll be able to set specific bids for brand Shopping and split it out accurately on your reporting, just like in standard Search campaigns.

Mistake 3: Insufficient/Infrequent Bid Optimisation

How often are you currently updating the CPC bids on your Shopping ads? If you are like most advertisers whose accounts we review, the answer is, “Oooh maybe once a month, at most, but often a lot less than that.” This attitude towards bid optimisation, and a poor strategy behind bid optimisation, is probably the main reason why we see client Shopping campaigns underperforming versus their targets.

The Search advertising marketplace for your products is shifting, dynamically, ALL THE TIME. Competitor’s are adjusting their prices and releasing new products or updates. Search volumes are going up and down. Conversion rates are twitching according to time of day, day or week, and season.

Uncountable other factors are influencing consumers to buy more of or less of your products. This is happening in real-time, potentially thousands of times per day. With this in mind, you can’t really expect to have ideal CPC bids in Shopping if you only update them once per month, right?

There’s a challenge here, of course. We’d all like to have CPC bids updated in real-time to maximise our profit or ROI goals. But, what if you have thousands of products listed? How are you going to optimise so many bids with the frequency of updates required for optimal profitability?

The Solution

The answer is, trust in the machine. Automated bid management by Google and by third-parties has gotten really good over the past few years. We are at a point now where, assuming you have enough conversions (about 30-50 conversions per performance group or portfolio will normally do it), an automated bid management system can do a very good job of dynamically updating bids and hitting your performance targets. The only remaining challenge now is setting the right Adwords goals (ROAS, CPA, Clicks, etc) to match your overall business goals (profit, revenue, growth, etc).

At Big Flare we’re a big fan of Adspert’s bid management tool. Despite not having access to as much data as Google’s free built-in bid optimisation tool, Adspert has often outperformed Google in many of our tests. However, as with any third-party tool worth using, Adspert is not free. Google also has it’s built in bid management algorithms that you can use for free and that do a pretty good job as well.

Whatever the tool or algorithm you use, we recommend you get on one right away. Shift your bid management system from checking once in awhile and updating manually, to setting up automated bid management and then checking on the results once per week to make sure your Adwords bidding goals and results are delivering the business goals you are trying to achieve.

To set up an automated bid strategy with Google, simply head over to: Shared library > Bid Strategies and create a new strategy.

create a bid ROAS strategy - Big Flare


For Shopping campaigns, and for eCommerce PPC in general, Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) based bid strategies are recommended. Out of the bid strategies available on Adwords, only ROAS can bid based on the actual return you are receiving, rather than just on the number of conversions or clicks.

set a 300% ROAS bid strategy - big flare

Name your bid strategy something meaningful. If this is going to be a Shopping only bid strategy, then name it with “Shopping” at the start then add your performance goal too. Select which campaigns you want to include. This can also be done via campaign settings. Set your performance target (in the example above, a ROAS target of 300% was set) and then click save.

There is the advanced option available to set a minimum or maximum bid, but for most advertisers this is not recommended. Simply let Google bid whatever it needs in order to achieve the target you set. As long as your performance target is being met, who cares what maximum or minimum CPC bid is being used? Click save and you are good to go.

A Note on Not Panicking

AdWords bid strategies take time to learn and adapt. Do not just switch it off in a panic after two days if it hasn’t met your goals yet! Depending on how many conversions you have, the bid strategy could take anywhere from 1-4 weeks to reach optimal performance. When you start out, be patient and wait for it to dial in your bids. If you drill down into the bid strategy, you’ll be able to check the progress of its learning curve.

progress of its learning curve


And there you have it. The three most common AdWords Shopping campaign problems we see in client accounts, and the exact solutions for them. There are, of course, plenty of other common problems that we see coming up in more than a few Shopping campaigns, so this is not the be all and end all of Shopping campaign improvement. But, if you are currently running Shopping ads in-house, it’s likely that the three above items are three things you could be doing better with only a minimal investment of your time and effort.

Are you making any of these mistakes and did this article help? Are there other challenges you are having with Shopping? Feel free to share in the comments below!

5 Reasons to Write Different Ad Copy for Facebook & AdWords

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Search, Social
5 Reasons to Write Different Ad Copy for Facebook & AdWords

You adjust copy when you’re running ad testing. You change social media copy based on the platform it’s running on. And I’m guessing you switch up the copy for various customer profiles when you’re running a new nurture campaign. But are you writing different ad copy for AdWords and Facebook?

The goals of each platform are very different. We’ll take a deep dive into those differences below, but here’s a high level overview (for the skimmers among us). Ads on Google are meant to target those with strong intent to purchase, while, more often than not, the goal of Facebook ads is to bring about awareness, rather than a concrete purchase.

Still not convinced it’s worth the extra time? Allow me to persuade you …

1. Intent

With AdWords, you’re reaching people who have exhibited a strong intent to purchase. This means you’re a little more inside their head. It also means your copy can and should be more direct. Don’t introduce the pain point that your product or service solves for. Your audience already knows what their pain points are because they’re searching for a solution. All you need to do is tell them how you can solve that problem for them.

Intent Ideo AdWords

Facebook ads, on the other hand, should be viewed as a way to raise awareness for your brand. While the goal of an ad on AdWords is to trigger a specific action you know your consumer is ready to make, Facebook ads may be the first introduction a consumer has to your brand or the pain point your brand solves for.

Intent Ideo Facebook

Most consumers aren’t heading to Facebook to search. So the key here becomes targeting the right audience on Facebook. Putting the right message in front of them. And doing it all at the right time.

2. Engagement

Your goals for engagement on each of these platforms will be different as well. AdWords engagement goals are generally measured in clicks, impressions, and CTR while Facebook ads have variety of engagement metrics that have nothing to do with the number of click throughs or conversions a single ad receives. For AdWords, you’ll want to communicate your message as quickly and meaningfully as you can with the limited character count your alloted. Communicate your solution or offer in a way that entices qualified clicks, and hopefully, conversions.

Datorama AdWords Ad

As previously mentioned, however, the customer seeing your Facebook ad may not have known you existed five minutes ago, so a brisk call to purchase (or even click your ad) may not be realistic or appropriate. This means how you measure engagement will be different for these ads.

Datorama Facebook

Instead of “buy now,” your CTA may shift to “like if you agree,” “share with a friend,” or “click to learn more.” Your engagement goal may just be to hear from your audience on the ad. Asking them a question, interacting with them, or asking for their feedback is something you would never do on AdWords, but it’s a great way to build trust and value with a new audience, and lay a foundation for a purchase later on.

3. Images

Your AdWords mantra? “Tell, don’t show.” Ad copy in AdWords deserves the bulk of your brainpower. You don’t have images or every marketer’s new best friend, video, to set your brand apart from the crowd. Offer a clear, targeted solution and lead with your strongest tagline as your headline.

While AdWords may be black and white, everything’s technicolor over on Facebook. This doesn’t give you a hall pass to write lackluster copy, but you should let your image do the heavy lifting. Swap your mantra to “show, don’t tell” and let your copy act as a complement to strong imagery.

pipedrive facebook

While stock photos are better than no photos, try producing or sourcing imagery that tells a story to your customer. Images can say just as much as copy, so make sure they say the right thing, and fill in the gaps with your words.

4. Targeting

Facebook ads allow you to create copy for specific audience behaviors and interests that align with your business or campaign goals. This means that you can get equally as targeted with your ad copy.

Would users interested in PowerPoint also be interested in what your company has to offer? Write ads that call out that interest and tell your audience how well your software pairs with Adobe Creative Cloud. Facebook

AdWords offers you a more specific type of targeting, keywords. We’ve already outlined that this audience is more ready to make a purchase, so this makes things a little easier for you. You’re audience is already pretty targeted, so your copy should also be targeted towards a specific action, instead of an interest. adwords ad

If you know that people searching for this particular keyword are ready to buy, put ad copy in front of them that pushes them to purchase. If your keyword indicates early-stage research, pull out your most persuasive argument in 30 characters or less.

5. Keywords

Ah, the magic keyword. It rules supreme in the world of AdWords and needs to feature prominently in your ad copy while maintaining a conversational tone. Write copy that meets the pain points of your target audience and you’ll set your ad apart from other brands targeting the same keyword or using dynamic keyword insertion.

The Economist AdWords Ad


Facebook is free from the shackles of the keyword, but your ad copy should still be focused on one goal or a main point that acts as a kind of keyword. Identify this word or phrase before writing your ad to ensure that your message remains clear, concise, and valuable to your audience.

Economist Facebook Ad

The Key Takeaway Here? Don’t Be Lazy

Yes, writing two versions of copy means more time, but the payoff will be worth the extra effort. Like ads themselves, the more targeted you can get with your message, the better the results. In a marketing landscape where competition has never been so fierce, it’s crucial to give your customer the best experience possible, and that starts by tailoring your copy to every stage of the buyer journey on every platform.


How to Set Up LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms and Sync Your CRM via


6 Advanced Techniques to Boost Your AdWords Performance

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Advertising, Search
6 Advanced Techniques to Boost Your AdWords Performance

In some cases, PPC doesn’t pay off from the very beginning! Don’t just give up without giving it another try. Follow these simple yet powerful tips to improve your AdWords performance.

1. Use Conditional Keywords

Are you using carefully selected keywords but they are not performing well? You need to switch your keywords strategy right away. Sometimes even targeted keywords don’t convert (for multiple reasons). For example, information seekers search the same keywords and buyers, but are not ready to buy.

Let’s suppose you are a house removal company in New York and targeting the following keywords…

  • house removals
  • house movers
  • moving companies
  • removals company

They are your main targeted keywords and are eating your most of the budget.  Pause them! Instead use conditional keywords where the user is looking exactly for the service you are offering but with a solid and well defined condition. For example:

  • international removals
  • interstate moving companies
  • furniture removalists
  • nationwide moving companies
  • apartment movers
  • office relocation
  • local moving services

In my experience, these types of users are most likely to convert at higher conversion rates. It will lift up your conversions and decrease your costs.

2. Use Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are another great way to optimize your AdWords account performance. Don’t confuse them with ‘conditional keywords’.

As I said earlier, conditional keywords have clear and solid condition attached to the search query, whereas long tail keywords don’t necessarily need to have one.

For example, for removal companies, long tail keywords might be:

  • best house removal companies
  • cheap house movers in new york
  • where can I find moving companies

To get even better results, use long tail conditional keywords which in this case could be:

  • long distance interstate moving companies
  • discount interstate moving companies
  • best interstate moving companies nyc
  • moving companies for interstate moves
  • full service interstate moving companies
  • interstate moving companies near me

One conditional keyword will have several long tail keywords so there is a solid chance that you get good conversions from such keywords.

3. Create “Near Me” Campaign

This is, perhaps, the most neglected technique for getting more conversions and improving account performance. People are getting more localized day by day in this mobile world.

More than 50% of traffic is already on mobile and they are well aware of the fact that Google knows their location already. I know if I type “near me” next to my search query, this will bring up much more localized service providers.

But there is a catch. In this scenario, you are targeting entire New York and in such big cities, not everyone is close enough to visit your business. Even if they see your ad, they are least likely to convert. You need to target those who are physically close to your business location when make a search online.

Here is how you do it—create a separate campaign for “Near Me” searchers. Let’s suppose you are based in Long Island. Go to you campaign’s setting tab and then location. Click on “Add Location” and then select “Near Me” campaign. Search for “Long Island” and add it.

long island

Now you are targeting people physically located in Long Island (add as many nearby areas as you want). Add all relevant keywords. Few examples are below…

  • house movers near me
  • house removals nearby
  • closest house movers
  • local house removal companies

If, in some cases, you don’t find your area in the AdWords location targeting interface, try your zip code instead, and if doesn’t work either, target by “Radius”.

You can even target generic and broad keywords in this campaign with even less fear of losing money. Here are a few more tips to consider:

  • Add localized messaging in your ad copy
  • Use the location extension
  • Enable the phone calls extension

There is another way to target visitors near your location. You must have your business registered with Google My Business. The next step is to link your “My Business” location with AdWords account. Read this Google guide for further instructions on how to link it.

After it’s done, heads toward the advanced location targeting window and click on “location groups” tab and select My Locations from the dropdown as shown in the image below. Select the radius you want to target, let’s say 2 miles and click on Add.

location groups

This is a convenient way to target users near your business location especially when you have multiple business locations. This targeting technique will apply to all business locations you have in your Google My Business account.

That’s how your ad will look like on mobile.

local ad

(Image courtesy of Google)

At this point you may want to add multiple radius targets to single campaign to find the best radius that works for you. Let’s suppose you targeted 2 miles initially. Now repeat the whole process again and target 4 miles, then 7 and 10 (or what makes sense to you). In this way, you can learn about the impact of distance from your business location and later set your bids accordingly.

You should also check the ‘distance report’ more frequently to see how far the customer was when she saw your ad. This can be found under the “Dimension” tab. Choose ‘Distance’ from the ‘View’ drop down.

multiple location groups

(Image courtesy of Google)


If a user happens to be in the area close to your multiple business locations, he will see all of them in the ad and can  choose one which suits him best.

local ad multi locations

(Image courtesy of Google)


Tip: Schedule your “Near Me” campaign to run during your operating hours.

Note: This technique is applicable to all other campaigns in your account as well and works perfectly fine for the visitors physically close to your location. 

4. Enable Mobile Click-to-Call

This is most important and least used feature by AdWords advertisers in this mobile world. Please note that I am not talking about the “phone calls extension,” I am not even talking about the “calls from website.” I am specifically talking about “phone number click” on your mobile site.

There are 3 types of call conversions you can track from within AdWords interface. If you have a phone number displayed on your website and are not tracking all three of them, your stats are not accurate (especially when you have to report to client about AdWords performance).

call conversions adwords

i) Call Extension

Majority of the advertisers are well aware of this feature known as “Call Extensions”. Visitors see “call” button next to your ads on mobiles or your “phone number” on desktop devices.

call extension

(Image courtesy of Google)


ii) Calls from website

In this type of conversion, Google displays a dynamically-generated forwarding number when someone visits your website after clicking your ad. Your own phone number will be replaced by this forwarding number, so you can measure how many people called you after landing on your website either on mobile or desktop.

calls from website

 (Image courtesy of Google)

Fewer AdWords advertisers are taking advantage of this feature as compare to call extensions. 

iii) Phone click on mobile site

This is perhaps the most important call tracking source. It will turn your dead phone number on your mobile site into live clickable phone number. Here is how Google describes it…

“When someone visits your mobile website after clicking one of your AdWords ads, conversion tracking can help you identify clicks on your phone number. Unlike website call conversions, this feature only tracks clicks on your phone number, not actual phone calls. You’ll see click data instead of call data (such as call length) in your conversion reports.You can measure clicks on a text link, image, or button.”

mobile click to call

(Image courtesy of Google)

You can read more about adding this tracking to your mobile site on this Google support link. Check out this guide if you’re interested in tracking conversions with Google Analytics.

When visitors land on your mobile website after clicking your ad and decide to call instead of signup, they have to manually dial your number. Giving them the option to click to call will definitely increase your conversion rate.

On a side note, I checked ten different websites currently running paid campaigns in New York for “house removals” related keywords and found the following worrisome facts…

  • 3 out of 10 companies don’t even have a phone number displayed on their websites
  • 4 out of 10 websites are not even responsive (mobile-friendly)
  • 10 out of 10 are not tracking phone number clicks on mobile devices
  • 9 out of 10 websites aren’t tracking calls from website
  • 8 out of 10 haven’t enabled click to call function for organic users on mobiles
  • 2 out of 10 don’t have Google Analytics installed on the websites
  • 9 out of 10 don’t have AdWords conversion tracking installed on their websites

Let me remind you once again, all these 10 websites are currently running paid campaigns on AdWords.

5. Find & Use a Winning Landing Page

Easier said than done, right? Give me few moments and I’ll show you how easy it is to implement a winning landing page on your website especially for paid campaigns right from the beginning.

The best practice to be always testing your landing pages and ultimately find best performer. But it’s time consuming and can cost you good amount of money if you are running paid campaigns so where should you start?

Start from spying on your competitors, we need to take help from a PPC spying tool here. Let me give you an example of SpyFu which is very useful to look at the ad history of our competitors and for how long they are using the current landing page.

Enter a domain of your well established competitor and look back into history for how long they are using the current landing page, also check their ad copy, call to action, display URL, landing page content and If the competitor is using the same landing page for several weeks or months then you find yourself a winner.

ad history

6. Bid on Competitors

This might be the most effective and cheapest way to get more conversions. Most of the advertisers are aware of this technique and they are bidding on the brand names of their competitors but you know what?

They are bidding on their online competitors, what they are not doing is considering the offline competitors into online landscape.

Every business has offline competitors spending heavily on TV, print, or radio advertisement and you know what the interesting part is? They don’t even have a websites!

This is a huge opportunity for you to bring their customers to your own website.

Let’s suppose you just find out that you need a plumber and at that exact moment, you watch a compelling TV ad about “Acme Plumbing Company,” after the ad is gone, you don’t remember the phone number they shown on TV or the address, what you remember is—the company name.

So what the next thing will you do? You’ll search for them online.

I am getting 400 leads a month for one of my client by using this technique and these 400 leads are coming from a single competitor who is advertising heavily on TV and print but doesn’t have a website. I am just bidding on their brand name and you can imagine the cost/conversions, right? It’s less than 20% of avg. cost/conversion of that account.

Now it’s up to you!

Let me know in comments which technique you are NOT using yet?


AdStage PPC Reporting


23 Demand Gen Podcasts That Will Make You a Better Marketer

Posted by on Apr 17, 2017 in Search, Social
23 Demand Gen Podcasts That Will Make You a Better Marketer

One thing most of us don’t have enough of? Time. Something we probably all have too much of? A commute. In fact, recent Census data shows that about 143 million Americans commute to work each day. That’s about 45% of the population spending an average of 25.4 minutes commuting each way. So what does this have to do with demand gen podcasts?

Well, think about how you’re spending those nine days of commute time every year. Instead of endlessly refreshing your Facebook and Twitter feeds on the train ride in, give your mind something to chew on, slowly wake up the analytical side of your brain, and start using your commute for career development with a few demand gen podcasts!

Wondering where to begin? We’ve gathered 23 of the hottest demand gen podcasts below. Find a few that are right for your interests and career goals and plug in for a better commute.


Start Your Monday with Some General Marketing

23 demand gen podcasts that will make you a better marketer via

1. Marketing Smarts (MarketingProfs)

Like the MarketingProfs blog, this weekly podcast highlights interviews with marketers in an array of specialties. Marketed to their audience as a companion to the content on, you’ll find interviews about branding, email marketing techniques, gated content, and more on this all-bases-covered-podcast. Oh, and true to its word, it pairs best with your morning coffee and a side of the MarketingProfs blog.

Most popular episode: Revitalizing a 150-Year-Old Brand: Simon Perkins of The Orvis Company on Marketing Smarts

2. Duct Tape Marketing (John Jantsch)

Duct Tape Marketing is a weekly, 30-minute podcast hosted by author and marketing consultant John Jantsch. Each week he shares interviews with authors, experts, and thought leaders in the marketing industry. Expect to find tips and resources you can take into your daily work and watercooler chats.

Most popular episode: How to Produce Content with a Limited Budget

3. Marketing Over Coffee (John Wall and Christopher Penn)

This podcast is hosted by John Wall and Christopher Penn. It’s described as the intersection between marketing and technology, and it covers both classic and new marketing techniques. The hosts pride themselves on offering the type of marketing tips “you can only get from casual conversation outside the office.” So you can expect honest discussions about a smattering of topics, from SEO to email marketing and beyond. Oh, and each 20-minute episode is recorded in a local Boston-area coffee shop!

Most popular episode: The World’s Best Negotiator

4. PNR: This Old Marketing (Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose)

The podcast that needs no introduction? Maybe. Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose are content marketing giants. Their weekly show highlights content marketing trends as well as how businesses can use content to attract and retain customers. Each episode also features a “This Old Marketing” example from the past. Give this podcast your ear for an hour every week and it will give you valuable industry knowledge in return.

Most popular episode: More Big Companies Investing in Original Content


Get Digital on Tuesdays

23 demand gen podcasts that will make you a better marketer via

5. Edge of the Web Radio (Erin Sparks, Douglas Karm, Tom Brodbeck)

Erin Sparks, Douglas Karr, and Tom Brodbeck host Edge of the Web, a weekly SEO podcast that covers SEO, social media, content marketing, and digital marketing. From industry trend forecasts to digital marketing interviews, this podcast is a great way to get your weekly digital marketing dish.

Most popular episode: Educating Today’s Digital Marketer with Jeff Sauer

6. Six Pixels of Separation (Mitch Joel)

Mitch Joel, president of global digital marketing agency Mirum, runs this weekly podcast. He presents digital marketing news and trends — all through the perspective of agency life. Expect digital marketing news with a healthy dose of branding best practices, all delivered through the guests Joel interviews each week. It’s another great way to view marketing through a lens that might not align with your job description.

Most popular episode: Reengineering Retail with Doug Stephens

7. Social Pros Podcast (Jay Baer, Adam Brown)

Recently named “Best Podcast” by the Content Marketing Awards, Convince & Convert’s Jay Baer and Saleforce’s Adam Brown have hit on podcast gold with their weekly episodes. You’ll learn about social media practitioners doing real work for real companies including Ford, Dell, and ESPN. The showrunners also share insights on current trends and ideas in social media. Plus, it’s great to listen to Baer and Brown discuss (and sometimes debunk) the hottest topics in the industry.

Most popular episode: How to Combine Brand Journalism and Social Media

8. Search Talk Live (Search Talk Live, Robert O’Haver, Matt Weber)

SEO and digital marketing veterans Robert O’Haver and Matt Weber share tips and techniques from their years of first-hand experience in the industry. Each hour-long episode seeks to help you run better online marketing campaigns. Their mantra is “SEO experts are made from their failures, not just their triumphs,” and those battle scars serve as educational and entertaining lessons for their listeners.

Most popular episode: SEO Expert Upasna Discusses Semantic Search

9. Experts on the Wire (Dan Shure)

From Rand Fishkin to Annie Cushing and Everette Taylor, host Dan Shure has an all-star roster of past guests on his weekly digital marketing podcast. He aims to uncover new trends, tactics, tools, people, and businesses doing the remarkable in this industry — all while giving his audience tangible takeaways from each episode.

Most popular episode: 0 to 100,000 Monthly Visitors (In One Year) with Tyler Hakes

10. Digital Marketing Radio (David Bain)

The first thing you’ll notice about the landing page for David Bain’s weekly podcast is the list of names he’s interviewed. From John Lee Dumas to Amy Schmittauer, Bain spends his time interviewing niche online marketing experts on their specialties. He also gathers their opinions on current marketing news and includes a fixed 15-minute segment in which he asks about the best advice they’ve ever received, software they couldn’t live without, and more. He covers PPC, SEO, blogging, e-book marketing, and more. If you’re interested in it, you can probably find an episode, or five, about it here.

Most popular episode: Video Advertising on Facebook — Matt Johnson

11. Social Media Marketing Podcast with Michael Stelzner (Social Media Examiner)

You’re probably familiar with the folks over at Social Media Examiner, but are you familiar with their podcast? Hosted by SMM’s founder Michael Stelzner, each week focuses on SMM’s own success stories along with interviews from social media experts including Alex Khan and Sue B. Zimmerman. And because it’s structured around actionable tips to improve your social media marketing efforts, adding SMM’s show to your weekly rotation of demand gen podcasts is a no brainer.  

Most popular episode: Live Video: Tips and Techniques for Creating Great Content

12. The Agents of Change (Rich Brooks)

Want to increase online visibility? How about driving more qualified traffic to your site? And most of all, wouldn’t it be nice to convert that traffic into leads? Flyte new media founder Rich Brooks promises you the strategies you need to turn those wishes into reality. In Brooks’ weekly podcast, you’ll hear from marketers around the globe and get the SEO, social media, and mobile marketing advice you need to make an impact on your business.

Most popular episode: Do You Know Why Your Customers Chose YOU? With Liston Witherill

13. Social Media Pubcast (Jon Loomer)

Can’t wait for your next demand gen meetup? Now you don’t have to! Marketing expert Jon Loomer invites industry experts to discuss Facebook marketing, blogging, and SEO tips over cold pints. So queue up this podcast after work, crack a beer, and enjoy listening to marketing nerds chat about the latest and greatest in their field.  

Most popular episode: PUBCAST: First Impressions


Turn Hump Day into “Paid” Day

23 demand gen podcasts that will make you a better marketer via

14. PPC Rockstars (David Szetela)

Online advertising guru and FMB Media founder David Szetela hosts this bi-weekly, 30-minute podcast packed with tips, tactics, and techniques on everything PPC. David tackles both search and social landscapes, dabbles in retargeting and third party data audience modeling, and features interviews boasting PPC heroes and their best practices. On a list of demand gen podcasts, we’d call this a staple. 

Most popular episode: Creating Comprehensive Reports for Clients

15. Perpetual Traffic (Digital Marketer)

This weekly podcast is hosted by Keith Krance and Ralph Burns of Dominate Web Media, and Molly Pittman of Digital Marketer. The trio aim to give their listener actionable paid traffic strategies through the lens of digital marketing and online advertising. From Facebook and YouTube, to Adwords and LinkedIn, this podcast covers the gambit of how to implement the right paid advertising strategies for your business.

Most popular episode: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Website Conversion Campaigns

16. The PPC Show (AdStage)

Are you a PPC purist? You’ve found your home. This AdStage-produced podcast shares industry news, trends, and tips from the best in PPC. Learn about your quality score with former Googler Frederick Vallaeys, get AdWords RLSA best practices with Gil Hong, or snag excel hacks from Hanapin Marketing’s Rachael Law, all in an hour or less.

Most popular episode: When Not to Test — with Caitlin Halpert of 3Q Digital

17. The Art of Paid Traffic (Rick Mulready)

Facebook ads expert Rick Mulready shares paid traffic strategies for generating leads and sales for your business. With a focus on making the most of your budget, Mulready’s weekly podcast divulges tips on automating your leads and sales with help from experts in paid traffic on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Adwords, LinkedIn, and more. Want to know where your next lead is going to come from? This podcast aims to give you those answers.

Most popular episode: How to Scale Your Facebook Ads (Without Ruining Your Results)


Make Thursdays All About Growth

23 demand gen podcasts that will make you a better marketer via

18. SAASTR (Saastr, Jason Lemkin, Harry Stebbings)

If interviews with renowned operators and investors in the “fiercely competitive world of Saas” gets you too excited for your morning commute, don’t worry, there’s always the ride home. Learn what it takes to scale your SaaS successfully, discover hiring best practices, and find out what metrics investors are looking at when examining SaaS businesses. Hosted by The Twenty Minute VC’s Harry Stebbings and SAASTR found Jason Lemkin, this is a weekly power-hour podcast packed into 30 minutes or less.

Most popular episode: How to Build & Scale A Customer Success Team & Why You Must Hire Full Stack Engineers with Dan Burkhard, Founder & CEO of Recurly

19. The Growth Show (Hubspot)

Each week, the hosts of “The Growth Show” interview executives and entrepreneurs about “what it’s really like to grow a business, a movement, and idea, or a team.” This Hubspot-hosted podcast takes a deep dive into how exactly that growth was achieved and how you can achieve it too. It might not be an obvious pick on a list of demand gen podcasts, but it’s a crucial one, no less. 

Most popular episode: The Myth of Machine Learning & Building a Data Science Team that Works


On Fridays, Expand Your Horizons

23 demand gen podcasts that will make you a better marketer via

20. Manly Pinterest Tips (Jeff Sieh)

Surprised to find this on a list of demand gen podcasts? Host Jeff Sieh aims to prove it’s earned its spot. His podcast was created to help its audience succeed on Pinterest. Arguably the podcast’s second goal is to prove that there’s just no other social media platform quite like Pinterest. You’ll learn how to create viral images, get more from your Pinterest marketing dollars, and run a successful business account, all while becoming a Pinterest evangelist (hopefully).

Most popular episode: Instagram Tools and Tactics with Peg Fitzpatrick

21. Mobile Presence (Peggy Anne Salz)

Is your motto this year “mobile first?” Well then, you may want to consider tuning into Peggy Anne Salz’s weekly podcast. It promises to show you how to drive engagement, connect you with your customers, and increase revenue, all through a better mobile presence. Get insights on hot trends like VR and mobile ad fraud, as well as strategies you can use on your own campaigns.

Most popular episode: Engagement Benchmarks: How Much Should You Pay for Users Who Really Use Your App?

22. Digital Analytics Power Hour (Michael Helbling and Tim Wilson)

This podcast was born out of several after parties at an eMetrics conference. Michael Helbling, Tim Wilson, and co-host emeritus Jim Cain found themselves several pints in and raucously discussing digital analytics (as one does). They decided to turn their bar-side discussions into a podcast for the people. What resulted was a show with a closed topic and an open forum. Today, Michael and Tim share their thoughts and experiences for their audience to take to work with them the next day.

Most popular episode: The People and Personality Side of Analytics

23. Call to Action (Unbounce)

Custom landing page platform Unbounce runs this aptly named podcast. Every two weeks, they’ll share an online marketing success story and discuss how you can apply their lessons to your own marketing campaigns. Expect some tie-ins to the Unbounce blog, exclusive product offers for their platform, and industry news that spans CRO, PPC, A/B testing, and beyond.

Most popular episode: Drift’s Marketing Manifesto & Why They Killed the Lead Gen Form

Give Yourself an Edge with These Demand Gen Podcasts

So, what now? We’ve given you quite a few podcasts to keep up with. Start by subscribing to your three favorites this week. Need a little incentive to keep listening? Start a podcast club at work or open a Slack channel at work just for chatting about daily or weekly podcast insights. You could even invent a hashtag to tweet about episode takeaways with interested marketers.

You’ll get the most from each listening session if you’re sharing and receiving insights from your friends and colleagues. After a few weeks, you’ll also feel more plugged into your industry, the work you’re doing, and your career. Did we forget any of your favorite demand gen podcasts? Let us know in the comments section below!

Have PPC expertise to share? Join us for a guest post!

Have PPC expertise to share? Join us for a guest post!

Write for The AdStage Blog

Have an opinion about Facebook’s newest feature release? Want to share your tips on managing Demand Gen teams in modern agencies? Think you have a game-changing hack for optimizing your AdWords campaigns? Then we’d love to have you write a guest post for our blog. We’re always looking for fresh perspectives from the sharpest minds in search and social digital advertising to provide our audience with actionable, in-depth content that helps them better plan, execute, optimize, and report on their PPC campaigns.

A few of our favorite guest posts to date include:

How to Write an AdStage Guest Post

  • Submit your contact information and your blog post idea in this Google Form. Please allow us 7 business days to get back to you.
  • Next, once we give the go-ahead, send us a full draft of the post in google doc format. Include images! Please allow us 7 business days to review and provide edits/feedback.
  • Include a bio (50 words max), include 150 x 150 high-res photo of yourself.
  • After final edits are made and the post is approved, we will queue it up in our content schedule.
  • Lastly, we will let you know the publish date and time so you can co-promote on the launch date.

Who are our ideal guest post authors?

We accept pitches from PPC marketers of all stripes. Whether you’re working in an in-house, agency, or consultant role, everyone brings unique perspectives that are valuable to our audience.

You should have at least a couple years of experience in the PPC world. Previous pieces in published on other high-authority blogs are a plus.

Which Topics Do We Cover?

Our audience consists of data-driven marketing directors, in-house PPC managers/specialists, and PPC agency marketers from around the world. The types of articles that do well with our readers include:

  • Anything to do with planning, organizing, or executing PPC campaigns or accounts.
  • Specific Ad Network features digital advertisers can take advantage of to get the most bang for their buck (top Ad Networks include Facebook, Instagram, AdWords, LinkedIn, Bing, and Twitter).
  • How-to guides for medium to advanced PPC professionals.
  • Bonus points for focusing on PPC reporting or automation!
  • Tips for PPC Reporting for Agencies, A/B testing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Automation, B2B Lead Generation, PPC Landing Pages, Ad Creative, Re-Targeting–if it’s PPC, are all great topics!

Guest Post Requirements

  • Your post must be at least 1,000 words.
  • You must propose a target keyword.
  • We request that you use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to come up with your headline, and submit one with a score of at least 65.
  • Your post must be original content.
  • If your post is published, we’ll ask that you respond to all comments for the first seven days after it’s posted.

What’s in it for you?

  • Exposure to our ever-growing audience of PPC experts
  • A potential feature in our weekly newsletter
  • Shoutouts from AdStage social media accounts
  • A chance to share your expertise and build your reputation as a PPC thought leader

We look forward to hearing from you!

Have PPC expertise to share? Join us for a guest post! via


Experts Weigh in on Google’s Exact Match Targeting Update

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in PPC News, Search
Experts Weigh in on Google’s Exact Match Targeting Update

Last week, Google announced a new change that will affect exact match keyword targeting. In the past, exact match meant exact match. Then, in 2012, Google announced a fuzzy match algorithm called “close variants,” which was supposed to capture plurals, misspellings, typos, and other versions of exact and phrase match keywords. With their latest update, the exact match targeting is getting bundled with the close variant targeting algorithm, which now ignores word order and function order. In this post, we’ll cover exactly what’s changing with the switch from exact match targeting, what you can do to mitigate any surprises on your end, and what experts are saying this means for the PPC world.

What’s Changing

Rewording and reordering from close variant targeting will now include exact match targeting in AdWords. Close variant targeting not only ignores plurals, typos, abbreviations, and adverbs, but will also be broadened to ignore word order and function words. This means ads may be delivered when queries use a different word order or function words. Sadly, this limits the amount of control advertisers have over ad delivery, and further dilutes exact match targeting.

How this Update Affects Advertisers

The Google philosophy is as follows: capture as much traffic as possible with a wider net, then filter out what you don’t want, rather than building a smaller net that might not be big enough to catch everything you want. They’d prefer you spend money on some bad keywords than risk missing out on some potentially good ones.

Because of this, Google removed the ability for advertisers to opt out out of close variants in 2014. This means advertisers are being forced to place more trust on Google’s machine learning algorithms. This is obviously a smart way for Google to make more ad revenue, as they’ve claimed that early tests show advertisers could see an average of 3 percent more exact match clicks while maintaining similar click-through and conversion rates.

Below we’ll walk you through how the close variants are changing:

Function Words Could Be Ignored, Changed, or Added

Function words are essentially words that don’t have meaning on their own within a search query. Google defines function words as prepositions (in, to), conjunctions (for, but), articles (a, the) and other words that usually do not change the intent of a query. With this update, exact match could ignore, add, or change these function words to match with similar queries.
However, Google specifically states that the function words will only be ignored from the query when it does not change the meaning of the keyword. For example, “hotels in new york” can safely ignore the function word “in” because it doesn’t change the meaning. However, in the keyword “flights to new york” the function word “to” would not be ignored, because a “flight from new york” is not the same as a “flight to new york.”

Below are more examples from Google:

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

Word Reordering

In some cases, two keywords can share the same meaning, and when they do, Google may reorder the keyword in order to deliver your ad. It’s important to note that word reordering will never add words to your keywords or the search query. For example, “buy new cars” and “new cars buy” likely mean the same thing from an intent standpoint. Exact match will use that same logic to match ads with reordered variations of your keyword.

However, similar to the function words exception, Google claims your keywords will not be reordered to match with a query if it changes the original meaning of those keywords. For example, the keyword [SFO to JFK] will not match to the query “JFK to SFO” because the destination and search intent is different. Below are a few more examples of how words can be reordered when using exact match with close variants.

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

How to Reduce the Impact From These Updates

Let’s face it. There’s no way around this global change and you’re not going to stop advertising on Google because of it. Because this update puts the onus on advertisers to explicitly state what queries they don’t want their ads to show up on rather than the ones they do want, it is important that advertisers be more diligent than ever about digging through search query reports and thinking ahead to prevent unintended consequences when word order matters.

As the exact match targeting update is rolling out over the coming months, here are a few things you can do in that timeframe to reduce the impact these changes have on your campaigns:

  • Update your scripts. If you are using a script like the one from BrainLabs to make exact match exact, it will need to be updated as so.
  • Review all your existing exact match queries and determine if the loss of function words or a reordering of the words changes the meaning. If so, you’ll want to add those variations as negative keywords in your campaigns.
  • Review close variants in your Search Query Reports to see if other variations are currently being triggered that could be affected with the update, and add those as negative keywords.
  • Going forward, schedule more time in your day to mine through your Search Query Reports, especially for close variants (screenshot below)

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via


Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

The Expert Take

It’s been a week now since the announcement and the PPC community has been buzzing with feedback about the exact match targeting update. We asked some of the leaders in the search world for their thoughts:

Gil Hong

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

“As control freaks, this update spells doom and gloom to our tidy and structured accounts. But as marketers, this could mean additional query growth and less “Low Search Volume” keyword status.

We all survived the mandatory opt-in of close variants back in 2014 and this update only strengthens the point that no keyword structure can lead to success without active management. In the meanwhile I plan to schedule out some more SQRs.”

Julie Bacchini

Experts Weigh in on Google’s Exact Match Targeting Update via

“This change seems to be less about “increasing reach” and more about herding advertisers down the path toward keywords as a lower level targeting layer. You can’t accidentally add exact match terms to your account, you have to do it deliberately. And, what the change actually does is already covered in AdWords by using the broad match modified match type for target keywords. It’s clear that Google is viewing related queries (or “close variants”) as fully interchangeable, so if that does not work in your particular situation, it is going to require more vigilance and work to try to keep the majority of queries matching for your preferred phrasing.”

Brad Geddes

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via
Most accounts: Accounts that use combinations of exact and modified broad won’t see any more impressions. Their biggest issue will be year over year bidding or traffic moving from one ad group to another one in trending data.

The rare word order account: When word order or word variations matter, either in meaning or click values, then you need to watch the changes closely. If Google gets it right, then it might not be worth the effort to manage this closely. If Google gets the meaning wrong, then you will need to do a lot of work in order to properly manage which ad groups are receiving the clicks and their associated bids.

Small accounts using mostly exact match: These accounts are going to see the largest impact. If you are mostly relying on exact match with very little modified or broad; you will see an increase in impressions. Make sure these additional impressions are converting at the same rate as your previous ones.”

Duane Brown

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

“At first I’m thinking this gives us less control. Google simply wants to push out more ads to make more money. When you dig into their statement around machine learning and think about all the data they have on how we search. I start to think if anyone can pull this off, it’s Google. The big “what about when” around this is how does this machine take into account sentiment and the true context of what someone searches. 20% of searches every day have never been done before and if that stat is still true…. what would the machine do in those cases? It has no reference for something that hasn’t happened yet.”

Joe Martinez

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

“Inexperienced businesses will be hurt the most because they don’t know all the intricacies of AdWords. But if you have an established account, with a long history of appropriate negatives, I believe you won’t see a huge impact unless word order matters. If I’m a Wisconsin company selling a cheese head, I don’t want to show up when someone is searching for head cheese. Look it up. Two WAY different products.”

Matt Umbro

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

“I’m not too concerned about the AdWords exact match update. For years, Google has been allowing close variants to show. As long as PPC Specialists have tightly themed ad groups and constantly review search query reports, these close variants can help efficiency. I don’t see the mentality changing with how exact match will now be triggered. As long as advertisers remain steadfast reviewing their queries, there shouldn’t be major issues.”

Luke Alley

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

“With changes like this sometimes there’s a “the sky is falling” response and in the end it doesn’t turn out as bad as everyone thought. It’s still unclear how exactly it will affect performance, but it’s making us rethink some of our fundamental strategies around keyword, adgroup and campaign structure. I’m less confident in exact match campaigns and adgroups and more worried about what I’ll find in the search query report for exact match terms.  The “golden years” of true exact match ended with close variants a couple years ago, and while this continues the trend of less control, there are still many many levers we can pull to optimize and improve our digital campaigns. I’m still optimistic about the PPC future.”

Kirk Williams

Experts Weigh in on Google's Exact Match Targeting Update via

“I understand the reasoning for Google’s changes in AdWords, and think this is simply a logical progression from their previous close variants change in the Exact Match Type. Google is trying to make it easier for higher-intent terms to be bid on in advertisers’ accounts who haven’t taken the time to find and add every possible query into their account. Makes sense, right?

On the other hand, frankly, I and many others were already ensuring this was happening by including tightly controlled Broad Match Modified and/or Phrase keywords in our accounts to pick up these “exact close variants”. Thus for us, the change is redundant and unnecessary in our accounts (though admittedly it can now force these exact close variant matches out of lower bid BMM keywords and potentially provide better immediate bidding accuracy on those semantically matched terms in the future – as I have written here: Match Type Segmentation Wins with Google’s Exact March Matchness Update).

My thoughts are that this change will not kill the majority of accounts (I believe some high CPC, probably B2B, terms that have multiple meanings will be hit hard with this), I just think it’s one of those unnecessary changes that further dilutes the original purpose of the Exact Match Type. Exact means, well, “exactly the same” and this new change strips away that meaning even further.”

Have additional thoughts to share on the Exact Match Targeting update? Leave a comment below!