The Big YouTube Problem [Podcast]

The Big YouTube Problem [Podcast]

Welcome to episode #78 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by John Belcher, Teacher at AdSkills.

Some advertisers getting maxed out and priced out on Facebook and are trying to scale your efforts to YouTube. But they are severely disappointed with performance after a week or so.

If that sounds familiar then you want to tune as John, Former Googler and Teacher at AdSkills, talks about YouTube Ads.

Stay tuned to learn:

  • Where most advertisers are failing with YouTube campaigns
  • How to create experiments to set yourself up for success
  • How to utilize different CTAs that get you around the whole YouTube Partner Program requirements

Listen to the Episode

John Belcher

I get to wake up every day and do what I love…teach people how to be more effective with their advertising so they can serve the customers they care about.

If you’d like to improve your results, make sure to check out AdSkills. You can connect with John on LinkedIn.

Transcript and Show Notes

JD Prater:                     John, welcome to the PPC show.

John Belcher:               Hey, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

JD Prater:                     Yes man. So we’re going to be talking about the big YouTube problem. Which I am extremely excited about. But before we get started, this is John Belcher, he’s a teacher at AdSkills. John, why don’t you go ahead and give us a quick intro?

John Belcher:               Yes, so I think recently probably you’ve listened to my business partner Justin Brooke, AKA the traffic guy that billionaires trust. So Justin and I have teamed up. I’m a former Googler. Worked on the AdWords team at Google. And so saw what Justin was doing, have a lot of opportunity to help educate between AdWords, all the traffic sources, so search, display, YouTube, Gmail, analytics, tag manager.

We’ve been able to go through and really compile a course list that covers Facebook, all of the Google network, Twitter, a lot of the big traffic sources to help companies really be able to scale. We talk about the big problem right now. People are trying to diversify off Facebook. And so it’s really teaching the right way to go through and do media buying.

It’s really easy to buy ads online, but it’s not easy to do it the right way. We really try and start with that step one approach to help people be really consistent with ad buying. So if you’re trying to diversify off Facebook and you really want to know how to succeed, come check out We love doing what we do every day. We’ve got tons of videos on our YouTube channel.

Justin puts out a daily newsletter called the Daily Edge. And then we’ve got our entire course library and a forum where you can talk with all of us in there called ProLeague.

JD Prater:                     Nice, man. I appreciate that and what you guys are doing. We’ll be linking to Justin as he was on a PPC Show right about six months ago. And I’ll make sure to include that in the show notes. But we’re going to be talking about this YouTube problem. And I love that you kinda preface it with diversifying your media stand, that media mix, whatever you’re thinking about it.

I think we were going so heavy on AdWords and then we swung over to Facebook and now with the algorithm changes and these higher prices people are now like, “Okay, I need to get off of this addiction of AdWords and Facebook and where are some other different channels?” So that’s a really good way to kinda get us started, get us figured out.

But let’s get started man. Like what are some things you guys got going on? What do you think about scaling efforts on YouTube. And then we’ll just kind of walk through a list here.

John Belcher:               Yes. And I think the best place to start is the problem a lot of companies are having. So we just got back from traffic conversion 2018. And the topic was diversification. People are super overloaded onto Facebook, as you said, the trend before that was to be on AdWords doing search ads. And so people kind of flocked to whatever’s working best, as they should.

ROI was great on Facebook. But now we call it the max ad load age has been reached. And so the prices are going up. And people are trying to figure out where they can diversify their acquisition sources. And ironically the biggest counterpart to Facebook is YouTube. It’s one of those things that’s a social platform, people are engaging on there.

So what’s been working for people on Facebook, especially if they have video content, is they go over and say let’s go try out YouTube. And they start spending, and they spend two or three days on there. And then they just feel like the results are awful. And I see it every single time. People are like “Well we try to spend on YouTube, it failed miserably.”

And I kind of ask the question, “Why is that?” And they’re like, “Well our cost per views are a lot higher and our cost per clicks.” And so it’s kind framing this piece of okay, I totally understand why you’re doing that. But I always tell people Facebook and YouTube are not apples versus oranges. It’s like comparing apples with Japanese. It’s two very, very different networks.

And so understanding the two reasons that people fail is they’ve got poor expectations when they go to YouTube and they’re not understanding where to look when they’re measuring their results. Those are the two biggest problems that I see.

So when we talk about proper expectations, YouTube does not produce the cheap cost per views, the cheap CPMs, the low level cost per leads, cost per sales. That’s typically not what YouTube does well. It’s going to be more expensive than Facebook. But the other part that comes with that is the lifetime value of your customers are typically a lot higher. You get very quality users because if they came from YouTube …  YouTube is an intense platform.

People aren’t going and thumbing through their YouTube feeds like they’re doing on Facebook. They’re going to YouTube to watch something. And that’s typically two things. Either to be educated or to be entertained. So a lot of times when we’re talking about what Facebook is, we compare Facebook to a newspaper because you’re just kind of flipping through the stories and something has to really catch your eye for you to take interest.

With YouTube, it’s more like radio. And it’s one of those things that up until recently, YouTube was the biggest streaming platform. It was bigger than all the other streaming platforms combined for music. That’s recently changed with some platforms that are really growing fast. But YouTube, people are going there to consume, to be educated, or to be entertained. And so it’s definitely one of those pieces where it’s a different type of attribution. It’s a different type of experience.

The average person is spending 40 minutes on a YouTube session. So they’re deeply engaged. They are on there for a reason. And so if they see your ad and they like what you’re doing and decide to leave that intent based session, that means they’re really quality prospect. And so that’s the biggest thing, when we talk about expectations, yes prices are going to be different but a view on Facebook is a three or 10 cent view.

A view on YouTube is 30 full seconds. If they decide to hit that skip button, you’re not paying for it. So it’s a really different expectation. Your cost for leads are gonna be higher, but your lifetime value, your value of your leads, is going to be a lot higher too. And I think that’s really important and something people haven’t grasped. Was all of that clear?

JD Prater:                     Yes, man I just hold on … I’m 40 minutes per session. Whenever I’ve seen the stats it’s like 40 minutes per month on Facebook or like sorry, like per day on Facebook. Whenever I’m thinking wait, this is per session, I might have multiple sessions, is that … I mean that is nuts.

John Belcher:               Absolutely, people are spending a ton of time consuming on YouTube. If they were … they’re going down the rabbit hole and it’s one of those things … you like to watch, my wife likes to watch French bulldog video. We like to watch those together, we’re looking for a puppy. All of a sudden, I look up and it’s two hours later. We’ve just watched these videos. I think that’s a piece of … if you’re going through and you’re looking at this, there’s 300 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every single minute. The inventory is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

It’s everything from small influencers to big brands. People are putting in a ton of contents. At AdSkills we try and put out five to 10 videos a week. Our users have helpful tutorials to go through and buy media better. That’s a lot of time spent on YouTube. There’s a bunch of inventory but the other nice piece about Google that doesn’t exist on Facebook is its kind of intent targeting. That’s what’s really great about it.

My favorite thing what we do is whether it’d be search display or YouTube is in the market targeting. Since Google is the number one search engine and YouTube is the number two search engine. They are both owned by the same company. They got all this data about what people are searching for and there’s a couple types it’s targeting on YouTube. There’s YouTube affinity audiences, which means here’s what you like to do so I love football, I play football in college. I’m a big football fan so I fall into that audience because I’m always looking at football stuff.

If I break that habit and start looking at cars, Google knows that I’m in the market for cars and so that’s what’s really cool, is you got all this inventory on YouTube but you can start serving your ad strategically at people who are looking for … if you sell Hondas in Chicago, you can target people who are in the market for cars in Chicago and put your ads in front of them. That’s just something that I think is amazing that Facebook doesn’t have that type of targeting capability and that’s what makes the Google network so useful.

I could go on and on about opportunities I mean it’s really cool but I think the really important piece here is when we talk about how you’re serving your ads, we’ve got now the idea that it’s a different platform than Facebook but really understanding how you measure is really what makes the difference with YouTube. What’s great and what we all love about Facebook or the Google Display Network or AdWords is people are clicking on your ads.

You’ve got that ability to track, we talk about dynamic tracking, on Google its value track parameters. The ability to pull and all this quick context information. Excuse me, makes it super valuable. You can see exactly where people are coming from and go back and focus on the ad sets that are producing the highest level. That doesn’t exist with YouTube, at least not to the same extent because like I said if people are on YouTube, they’re there for a reason. They’re watching, they want to be entertained or educated.

Typically, what happens, is they’re going to open up a new tab and search for the name of your product or your business. So, Dollar Shave Club is the example that everybody knows about. When Dollar Shave Club started running their ads, they didn’t see a bunch of clicks through to the website, they saw their organic traffic have this huge spike because they ran the ad, people were searching for it. I think they sold out something in like 48 hours all of their inventory.

That’s the concept of how this works and so oftentimes when someone says they ran YouTube traffic, they were trying to come over from Facebook and it didn’t work. I’ll go audit their Google Analytics account and you’ll see this big bump in organic traffic that comes back down once they stop spending and they didn’t realize that, that was where they should be looking. I think that’s really important and that’s why I love your product so much.

AdStage integrates with Google Analytics, it allows you to build reports when you start YouTube campaigns and you can see, here’s what our organic traffic looks like, here’s what our direct traffic looks like and then here’s what our YouTube spend is. When we pair those up to each other you should see a big camel hump for the days that you’re spending. If you don’t see that, your ad is not producing the right message.

I see that as long as we produce a good message, we see that big bump in organic traffic and then we go through and we see our conversions from that route. I mean it’s just some really incredible stuff as long as you know where you’re looking, does that make sense?

JD Prater:                     Yes, man so let’s break that down with some of this attribution stuff and the measurement piece because I’m sure there’s a lot of performance marketers and like no, I must have like low cost per lead or something, right. One thing that you said earlier was looking further down the funnel, understanding LTV and then also looking at how it’s impacting other channels like organic, right? Is that correct so far?

John Belcher:               Absolutely.

JD Prater:                     Cool, so whenever you guys are out there and you’re running your YouTube campaigns, it’s really important we go that far. Whenever you’re looking around attribution and you’re … by saying Google Analytics, you’re comparing organic but even for the campaign level, let’s say like B to B, right. I always like it because its way harder than like B to C and you’re looking at your lifetime value of your … of YouTube. Is that something that you’re tracking through with like CRM and you’re just really trying to figure out where this person is coming from, how long does it take and that’s kind of how you’re thinking about that funnel?

John Belcher:               Yes, so typically what we do whenever we’re looking and we use tools like weekly reports. It allows you to look long term over the campaign perspective and so the thing that’s really important about this is cohort analysis. A lot of times … this is the piece that people … I know that the traditional direct marketers are really angry.

I always tell them, I know that you hate me because I’m telling you to try to have a little bit of faith it what we’re talking about here and so some of my biggest clients have been to a piece of like, we got to have faith, I’m asking you for three days of faith to trust me that I know what I’m doing to push this the right direction.

It’s really hard to do but it’s really cool when you see, if their sales cycle is three days or seven days or 14 days. You run those campaigns long enough for one sales cycle. They’ll see we had this huge rise in organic traffic and then once we look in our CRMs, our organic cohorts are really producing at a high level during those times.

It’s one of those pieces where that’s a difficult piece for them to hop onboard with but once they can see those kind of results … here’s the top of funnel, we see this big increase in top of funnel, then middle funnel, then bottom funnel. As I see that cohort producing and moving through that’s the way that we talk about that. Does all of that make sense?

JD Prater:                     Yes, I really like that one. It’s a really good piece of advice for all those listening. It’s understanding the cohorts but then also understanding how long to run that experiment, which I think is a great next thing we should get into.

Running YouTube ads for as long as a sales cycle and then do you have any advice for like a budget you know when you’re going out, let’s say, I’m running hot on Facebook, I’m running really good on AdWords, how do you position that conversation to say, “Hey trust me, I need X amount of budget to test for X amount of days?”

John Belcher:               Beautiful question, that leads right into my next point. When people are going through and testing this, if you’ve got a new business or you really just only been marketing on YouTube, it’s really easy to go through because you’re going to … you don’t have a ton of volume traffic coming through in order to … you can see that organic and direct traffic lift really with any budget.

I always tell people, don’t go less than $50 a day but if you have traffic, if you’ve got a good Facebook presence or AdWords and you’ve got this … you’re driving hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands of visitors a day, you’re going to have to spend so much on YouTube to see a big bump. It really doesn’t make sense and that’s why we talk about … we developed something call isolation experiments.

Basically, what that is, is taking a funnel and you move it to its own URL that you’re only going to promote on YouTube. I do this with a lot of clients, we just basically duplicate their clip funnels, move it over to a new URL and just promote that URL or if we just have a different name of the product, we just go through and strategically flip that so the only thing pushing there is going to be from YouTube.

That allows us to isolate that traffic and quantify it from there. I can give you the best example of this, Soda Stream was trying to figure out how to quantify YouTube spend … well, know this is like four or five years ago before they really started using it heavily. Their idea, they created this fake brand called heavy bubbles and they got the guy who was the mountain in the Game of Thrones.

He’s the world’s strongest man to go through and basically these are like dumbbells with carbonated water. People are going and they watch the ad, they thought this was really interesting. They would type in heavy bubbles, like I said organically research go over there and actually start the checkout process and when it said, buy now it popped up and said like this is fake, are you serious? Who would make this thing?

Come check out Soda Stream. What that allowed them to do is go through and isolate that YouTube traffic, figure out how much it costs somebody to come to the site, their cost for each of the steps in their funnel and then to roll that back into their main sites because they have millions of people visiting this website on a daily basis.

That allowed them to develop a level of trust with that traffic source and really be able to utilize it in a way that they understood and really believe in, does that makes sense?

JD Prater:                     Yes, that’s a really great experiment. I love that one. For all of you guys out there I mean go out there like he said. I think something easily tangible that we can all start to do is just create a new URL that you’re going to be promoting and the only traffic going to that one is going to be from YouTube If you’re looking to quantify.

I think that’s a great piece of advice, any other advice you have for creating different types of experiments that are going to lead advertisers to success?

John Belcher:               Yes, I think the biggest thing is going through … a lot of marketers talk about splintering up your offers. If you’ve got a main offer of a product and you can just take a portion of that and promote it by itself. Whether that be elite magnet or a small dollar sale. So something like Coopery, they did a great job on YouTube but if they want to just promote a specific piece of their product.

So if it was just one type or if they had a new scent coming out or whatever that was. If it was “Smells like roses,” if that was the name of the particular scent they were doing, they could go through and promote just that little sliver of their product line in order to say, “Okay, great this is our normal products, our normal website but if we create one just for this product, that will allow us to focus on once again our core offering without having to do a whole lot of extra work.” Does that make sense? Does that example make sense to you?

JD Prater:                     Yes, that’s a good one and plus Coopery is just really … they killed it a couple years ago with just and the most amazing video ad I’ve ever seen.

John Belcher:               Absolutely, and I’ll give you an example from our business. We’ve got a course called traffic traps, Justin and I have spent about 17 years and 20 million dollars on ad spend working on this … on paid traffic. Having the opportunity to go through and promote that course. It’s the seven lessons where most people mess up with traffic and so we offer that as a very early … we just want people to understand what it takes to be successful.

We could go off and create a specific URL for traffic traps and just promote that one course, create a YouTube ad and talk about, here’s the seven biggest problems that people have when advertising whether on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube or wherever. That’s something we can isolate that particular product, promoted it over there and really get people to come through and see the experience with our business. That’s how we would look to do that with our own business.

JD Prater:                     Nice, as we get into this like CTA aspect, there’s something I’ve always find fascinating with YouTube videos. Is like you really have to have a strong thumbnail. You really have to have a great description, title like the SEO side to … YouTube has always been really fascinating to me. What are some things that you found around … utilizing difference CTAs?

John Belcher:               Absolutely, so the CTA side with YouTube as far as the ads go, the YouTube Partner Program has made it a lot more difficult to have clickable things on your video ads. It used to be able to have cards and end screens but now you have to have a 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of consumption the last 12 months in order to be able to put any clickable CTA on your videos. Which makes … not a lot of channels really qualify for that.

When it comes down to clickable things, there’s something called the CTA overlay. That’s the best option, it works across desktop and mobile. I was chatting with Tom Breeze about this at trafficking conversion, Tom is another big YouTube guy. We like to see here overlay and YouTube actually just created a new conversion optimizer that’s actually getting people to focus on it more. They’ve got some new betas rolling out.

They’re making it look nicer. They’re working on the click ability aspect but overall, like I said if you’re trying to compare cost per click from Facebook to YouTube, like YouTube is going to lose every single time. It’s that piece of, what else did you do from the CTA perspective to really try and either quantify or make sure that you’re capturing people’s intent and in a way that works and so my favorite thing recently we’ve started using little text updates.

If you like the copy of whatever text AdStage to 4422. Having that the ability … whether you’re watching TV or something on your desktop or something on your phone, your phone’s always right next to you. Someone really wants it, all we’re doing is have them text that number and then there are some companies are going to have them send their email back to opt-in, we just send them the link directly.

We’ve got GTM tags, we know what the opt in page is, so we’ll just say, “You know this came from YouTube, this is the video,” and so if you’ve got five different creative, you can create different upfront text for each one, split test your ads that way. The other thing that was really bright that we were talking about at traffic and conversion and this is something I’m going to start working on, is a lot of people are using Facebook Messenger box.

I like Messenger box. I think it’s something’s going to get really burned out really quickly. We as marketers tend to abuse stuff. I’ve already just had something today where the email side you can ignore the email but you can’t ignore messenger. It’s something where it’s like, where we’re going to use messenger for is quick delivery.

What I want to do is try and push more people from YouTube over to Facebook messenger so if we can deliver whatever that piece of content that we’re promising over to messenger, now we’ve got them tracked both on YouTube and Facebook. What we’ve been doing historically is actually pushing from the people from Facebook to YouTube playlist, that works really well so that way we can have them pixelled on both networks and be able to re-target and to make sure you’re staying in front of people. Did all that make sense?

JD Prater:                     Yes, we’re going to have to unload a lot of the stuff, this is some good stuff.

John Belcher:               It’s pretty exciting.

JD Prater:                     I know, again, that’s why I love the PPC Show mostly because I’m selfish and I love to geek out on this stuff. I find it absolutely fascinating what other people are doing in the industry. I love this idea of texting because I think about it my own personal use of YouTube. Yes, I like doing work hours probably on a desktop but when I’m at home I’m probably watching YouTube videos on my phone.

The ability to text is actually a really great idea. Do you have any recommended providers that you’re doing now with to say, “Hey, text AdStage at this number and it ops you in?”

John Belcher:               Yes, if you’re using one of the standard landing page tools, so click funnels has a text opt in, lead pages. I bought lead pages way back in the day. I’ve got lead digits for it and just super simple. I would say the biggest thing with that is, I’ve hacked the responder, you’re supposed to be asking for an e-mail opt-in personally, I don’t like that.

I don’t like asking someone for their email over text. It just to me doesn’t seem like that’s not where I would want to give my email address. Some people have had a lot of success with that, that’s just not something I’m particularly interested in. I just hacked it rather than asking for their email address I just sent them the link right there.

They can click and go through the process and answer it the way that they desire. Once again it’s all about how you feel about things but that’s how I’ve just taken the existing technology and morphed it to what works for me. Both of those providers do a great job with that.

JD Prater:                     That’s really cool. The other part I want to break down to talk about different like ad creative within the YouTube video. How are you guys thinking about ad creative when it comes to YouTube? I know it’s something that we talk a lot about for Facebook. I know it’s coming to YouTube and it’s just not a lot of people really discussing how to run experiments as far as the thumbnail image or how to get people to even click. How do you think about?

John Belcher:               That’s one of the things … YouTube’s coming out with a tool that will allow you to actually create thousands of different pieces and more or less piece together video ads. We’ll see … I’m not particularly excited about it I think it’s something that could be really cool. I just think the ability to produce video is something that’s a little bit more difficult for the average business especially highly produced video.

What I found, I always highly recommend the teaching videos. My clients really work with the whiteboard or the easel to be like, I just want to teach you something, let me give you value upfront and then talk about where else I can lead you. You don’t have to have a ton of high production value. We have an ad that we spent almost $2 million on, and it cost them like 30 bucks to make it.

It was just something where we literally had to go buy a whiteboard, a couple pens and something to stick it to the wall and it’s made the company millions and millions of dollars. It’s one of those things that when you talk about setting up your experiments, one of the things that we teach that AdSkills is what we call the five by three method. Five ad groups, three ads within each ad group.

I’m sure Justin talked about that a lot on his shows I won’t beat it to death. I just think it’s one of those things of, when you can go through and split tests if you can make three ads whether it be a different beginning what’s really important with YouTube are the first five seconds.

If you don’t make it through those five seconds, a lot of people are going to click that skip button, which is fine because if they skip it, you don’t have to pay for it. What’s really important is making sure if you lead into a video, you are really capturing in a very quick way, what it is that’s so important to that person. What’s their pain or their gain?

That’s the kind of stuff that we talk a lot about in one of our research courses, is figuring out what someone’s heaven and what’s their hell and where they currently at. If you can figure out what that Hell is, how they can get to where they want to go and call that out the first five seconds, it makes a really big difference as far as getting someone to watch.

You can do that with curiosity, you can do that with direct call outs, there’s a million different ways to do that but the skip button there is your friend and your enemy and it really just comes down to what message is really going to resonate with your audience. After that doesn’t have to be this big production, it’s just something as far as telling a story or teaching a lesson.

JD Prater:                     Nice, really good strategy tips there. That’s the kind of thought process that will never be automated whenever we think about where automation is going. Yes, YouTube might be able to create thousands of different ads for us but they can’t think through the heaven and the hell and how I’m going to put those together and the putting together the first five second. Fantastic advice there.

The last one I want to just pick your brain around is even like AdStage, we don’t have a thousand subscribers. Do you have any tips, advice for the brands that are under a 1000 subscribers with this new change of how can we get there, what are some ways that you think we should think about for 2018?

John Belcher:               Absolutely, there is a couple things that we’re doing with our business. Number one, we use a tool called verified giveaways that you can go through and say, “Hey, we’re doing a contest this month for Amazon gift card for $100. All you have to use click here, sign up, subscribe to our channel.” There’s one thing … just to give you an insider tip with this is, your giveaways automatically promoted to everybody in the world.

Sometimes there’s just … at least whoever is visiting the site, and sometimes it’s those people that go through and click on that. We asked them to remove it from the recommended once and only the things that we promoted to. We know there are subscribers and not a bunch of junk. That’s one of the ways we’re doing.

Honestly, what I did, I went through and created a YouTube video that’s just me sitting in front of it and I wrote down, I came up with 300 YouTube videos that I was going to produce this year. My goal is to get our channel to 500 by the end of the year.

I wrote them all down and then I sat there and held them up in front of the screen and said I’m going to be producing all of these videos and I made it so that targeting is people who’ve watched one of our videos but are not subscribe to our channel. You have the ability to go through it and segment that way say and so I said but the big problem is that you are not subscribed to our channel.

We just run that as retargeting all day, we spend $2 a day and we typically see 10 to 15 people subscribe. You’re getting an amazing cost per subscriber. It’s people who are already consuming your content. Just getting that subscription piece in place isn’t something a lot of people do, they don’t necessarily have that call out.

Just running that as a retargeting ad, we use an end screen its super simple, you just click a button in the middle of the screen and people can subscribe to your channel. We’ve been getting like three or eight cent subscribers consistently day over day and this channel started with practically nothing. It’s something that’s worked pretty well for us.

JD Prater:                     Nice, you think about three days cents and you multiply that out to get to 1000 and you realize, “Hey, it’s just a couple hundred bucks and you’re there,” cool stuff man. That’s an excellent place. I’ve got no more other questions. The only … actually, I take that back. I do have one more question. My last question is really how you guys think about this cross-channel, like promotion of each other?

A lot of times again, performance marketers I’m so focused on leads, lead quality that I don’t do a good job of really pushing people to other channels. You were saying that you WEre using Facebook to push people to YouTube. Tell me how you think about that and how you quantify those numbers?

John Belcher:               This is one of those things that once again little bit of a faith play. It’s really hard for direct response marketers to go with. I would never consider myself a brand a marketer sometimes we tease people that we do brand marketing. The big piece here is that in the B-to-B world, so you brought  B-to-B sales. I used to sell medical equipment, I know all about the B-to-B sale process.

The thing is that 70% of people, they’ve done 70% of their research before they’ve ever talked to a sales person. We’re just taking that and making that the same opportunity out on internet marketing, is let’s just educate people. Educate, educate, educate. If you can do that across multiple channels they’re going to see you’re putting so much value out there.

If you can get someone’s pixels on Facebook and YouTube or any display Google network, you’re covering about 95% of the world as far as retargeting goes. You can get concept back in front of them. If you continue to educate them and build back good will. If you do that and you show that you just have better information than other people, they’re going to become a customer.

That piece that we have faith in our process that we’re putting out great stuff we really care about our customer’s results. At the end of the day, it’s one of those pieces that if you’ve got a hard core VSL on a single product, it’s a little bit harder to buy into that. If we have a business that’s really focused on educating our customers and moving them forward.

I’m really only able to answer that particular question from my vantage point. If you got any other clarifier I’m happy to take it but that’s how we approach it.

JD Prater:                     No, it’s the typical digital marketer answer of “It depends” as we like to say. That’s a really good answer and it’s something that even makes me think and challenges my own assumptions a lot of times of what I’m trying to accomplish on certain channels and a lot of times thinking more holistically if I can cover over 90% of the Internet in getting people on different channels and on channels that they want to engage with.

We’re talking 40-minute sessions between when you think about Facebook, you think about YouTube and creating that content. Cool man. That’s a fantastic episode. I’ve learned so much today even just from different tools, talking about different funnels, different attribution, looking at different channels to measure success. John, thank you so much man for coming on the show and sharing all of your YouTube knowledge with us.

John Belcher:               Awesome. Thanks so much for having me and looking forward if you’ve got questions come check us out at AdSkills we’d love to help out.

JD Prater:                     Yes, where can people find you on Twitter or LinkedIn? How do people connect with you?

John Belcher:               They can connect with me on LinkedIn that’s kind of where I spend a majority of my time but if you come in to AdSkills like I said if you’ve got questions about your specific campaigns, there’s a product that we’ve got called Prolyl which is a forum where people come and ask Justin and me questions about their campaigns. We look at loom videos a lot all day, people ask you specifically just write up somebody debug writing a script.

It’s just that the ability to come in and chat with us directly about paid advertising is probably that’s something that we love to do. We’ve got to a point that our customers get so much value out of it. If you want to talk about page traffic and really how to improve your campaigns, we’re available all time.

JD Prater:                     I’ll make sure to put a link in there for anyone who wants to follow up.

John Belcher:               Cool.

JD Prater:                     Thanks again man.

John Belcher:               Awesome. Thanks again.

JD Prater:                     See you.


The Price of AdWords Branded Traffic Increased & How to Combat It [PODCAST]

The Price of AdWords Branded Traffic Increased & How to Combat It [PODCAST]

Welcome to episode #77 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by Andy Taylor, Associate Director of Research at Merkle.

Brands may be at Google’s mercy when it comes to the price of branded traffic, but Andy outlines steps they can take to reduce their CPC pain.

Stay tuned to learn about:

  • AdWords brand CPCs up in Q4
  • Google’s history of algorithm adjustments as corrections
  • And some actionable tips on what you can do to combat the increase

Listen to the Episode


Andy Taylor

Andy Taylor is a Senior Research Analyst at RKG, responsible for analyzing trends across the digital marketing spectrum for best practices and industry commentary. A primary contributor to the Merkle | RKG Blog, Dossier, and quarterly Digital Marketing Report, his 4+ years of experience have seen him master and provide valuable insights into topics that extend across paid search, comparison shopping engines, display advertising, SEO, and social media.

Prior to coming to RKG, Andy worked as an event organizer for a political campaign and dabbled in freelance writing. A graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Economics, he likes to spend his free time watching documentaries and selling homemade ice cream sandwiches at farmer’s markets with his wife.


JD Prater:                     Andy, welcome to the PPC Show.

Andy Taylor:                 Thanks, JD. Glad to be here.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, man. I’m pretty stoked to have you on to be talking about some of the reports that Merkle has been putting out, as you are kind of the guy writing them all up on Search Engine Land and on the blogs, so for those listening, why don’t you tell us who you are and what you’ve been up to?

Andy Taylor:                 Sure, yeah. I’m Andy Taylor, Associate Director of Research at Merkle, and so in that role I’m primarily focused on looking at how different trends are taking hold of the channels that we manage. My main focus is on paid search, but I also dabble a bit in paid social, display advertising, SEO, Amazon ads, all of that good stuff, and so I usually package that stuff, like JD said, into blog posts and then also speak at a few conferences here and there, just to give the industry an idea of what we’re seeing. We have a pretty large data set that we can play with, and it’s pretty easily accessible for us, so I like to slice and dice it and see what’s causing the different trends that we’re seeing for our brands.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, and if you guys haven’t ever seen a Merkle digital marketing report, you really got to. I’ll make sure to link it in the show notes, but these reports are fantastic. I know, I’ve been keeping track of all your write-ups and all of your posts now for quite awhile now and I’ve always used these, whether for benchmarking, but also just kind of seeing the change that we’re maybe experiencing across the industry, so thank you guys for putting those out.

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah. Thanks for reading. That’s what we’re hoping for.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Well, let’s get into this one. You recently published an article on Search Engine Land called What’s Going on With Google Brand CPCs? Why don’t you give us a quick summary of what you found?

Andy Taylor:                 Sure, so we saw a pretty big shift in Q4 in how much our advertisers were having to pay for traffic to their own brand keywords, so these are our advertisers’ own trademarks, and what we found is that while we were seeing a decline in Q3, we actually saw brand CPC go up pretty meaningfully in Q4, up 23% year over year, compared to a 13% decline in Q3, and so typically, particularly with brand keywords, the price that you end up paying is more a result of the Google algorithm than it is a result of the competition for most of the brands that we deal with. I mean, certainly there are brands that have competitive brand keywords and who are jostling for position on the page, but the vast majority of the brands we work with, typically the price they pay is as a result of whatever Ad Rank Google has assigned their brand keyword, and then the corresponding CPC that goes with that.

What makes this increase interesting is that, so with the decline in brand CPC that we saw in Q3, it seemed to be aligned pretty well with a May change that Google made to AdRank, in which it came out and said that they were making adjustments to how they calculated both first page and top of page minimum Ad Ranks, so the Ad Ranks that brands are required to reach in order to show either on the first page or at the top of the page above organic results, and so at the same time they also said that they would, in some cases, be taking the bid into account more for some queries, “depending on the meaning of the query.”

It was a pretty vague update, but what ended up happening is that we actually found that our … Right after that update we found that our brand first page and top of page minimum bid estimates went down pretty meaningfully and that seemed to align with that CPC decline, and throughout Q4 we actually saw those minimums decline even further, and so we’ve been databasing this information for a few years, so we have a pretty massive sample set. We don’t think it’s the result of any kind of outliers or a specific client. Pretty much across the board we’re seeing much lower first page and top of page minimum bids for brand keywords, but our brand CPC was up pretty meaningfully in Q4, so kind of running counter to what those kind of directional signals would indicate from those minimums. But certainly not the first time that Google has had stuff like this happen.

You know, like I was talking about in the post, back in the year 2011, we actually found that brand CPC started declining pretty quickly, and by mid-2012, they were 30 to 40% lower than what they had been at the beginning of 2011, and so at that time we actually saw CPC then rebound pretty quickly. When we reached out to our reps and asked them about it, they were pretty straightforward and said, “Yeah, well if you actually look at it over a longer timeframe, you’ll see that your CPCs have been declining over the past couple of years, and that’s because basically we’ve rolled out all of these ad extensions, including enhanced site links and other options that advertisers could utilize to increase their click through rate.”

But they hadn’t on the back end really adjusted how they were calculating Ad Rank for the algorithm, and so what happened was that they were receiving a lower CPC because their assessment of quality was going up because it wasn’t baking in the impact of those ad extensions that had been loaded. I think this might be kind of a similar situation, in which perhaps Google may not have intended for CPC to decline at quite the rate we were seeing following those AdRank changes, and that something was adjusted in Q4 which caused them to rebound. However, it is certainly weird that the minimums kept going down even though the CPC went back up. I just word vomited a lot. Any thoughts on any pieces of that or any questions?

JD Prater:                     Yeah, man. Let’s break it down. That’s a lot of information that you just gave us there. I mean, super valuable information. Let’s start with maybe even just methodology. I’m sure … We get a lot of questions even around our AdStage reports. I’m sure you guys get a lot of questions too. How do you guys determine brand versus non-brand? Is this something that account managers are doing with maybe their campaign names, or are they using tags?

Andy Taylor:                 Sure, so we actually assign it at the keyword level within our database, and so each of our keywords is denoted being brand or non-brand, and so we can pull it directly from our proprietary system. When we’re pulling out information directly from the UI, then we really on the campaign name, which does have denotations to signify which campaigns are brand versus non-brand, and then we aggregate that data across a fairly large set of brands that have been with us long enough that we can report on their results for the past couple of years.

JD Prater:                     Got you, so I mean, really pretty interesting stuff there too. We could definitely dive into how do you make sure that everyone is labeling their campaigns correctly? But that’s always a problem coming from an agency side, but so now that you have all this information, it’s in your database, what does that process look like whenever you’re trying to figure out these changes? Is this something that you guys just have up, maybe in a real time-ish dashboard, or just something you guys are diving into and then finding this conclusion?

Andy Taylor:                 A lot of this stuff is really just the result of kind of one-off investigations. We really started to pay attention, particularly to the first page and top of page minimum bids back at the end of 2014. We had been databasing that information for awhile, but what happened at the end of 2014 is that we saw … Kind of similar to Q4 we saw a really huge increase in brand CPC, and at the same time also an increase in non-brand CPC, and click growth kind of bottomed out at the beginning of 2015, and so we were kind of paying a lot of attention to how our ads … Our position on the page, which actually moved further up the page.

We were paying attention to impression growth, because impression growth actually fell off a cliff, and at the same time first page and top of page minimum bids skyrocketed, and so basically we deduced that Google had updated their algorithm to actually feature fewer ads per page because our average position was going up the page. We were getting fewer impressions. All of these minimums were going up, so basically we just use these bid estimates as a signal for what’s going on in the universe. It’s not a perfect signal, as obviously the continued downward trend of brand minimums indicates. It’s not a perfect one to one, this is what you can expect. But yeah, we usually, we just try to segment it as best we can and try to figure out what variable’s causing the drop.

JD Prater:                     Nice, and within your current role, so within your own title, it’s Associate Director of Research, how much time do you spend putting together these type of reports, going through the actual research versus maybe like hands-on management?

Andy Taylor:                 Sure, so for me, in terms of handling management, I do basically none of that anymore. I’m more called in on one-off projects and help our specific client teams with particular questions or problems they might have, but realistically I’d say I spend probably about 75, 80% of my time really just poking around in stuff like this and trying to figure stuff out, and then turning that into content.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Yeah, so now let’s get into the fun stuff. Let’s get into maybe some of the methodology. Whenever you put out these type of reports, I don’t think a lot of people realize how much time, effort, analysis, weird questions you end up asking yourself happens, right? I notice, for example, you guys use median, right? I think a lot of times we want to, as PPC people, think about averages. Maybe talk to us about why you use median versus an average.

Andy Taylor:                 Sure. For our larger statistics like Google spend growth or something like that, we tend to use aggregate but for a very curated sample set for brands that we can feel very confident haven’t meaningfully changed their goals over the past couple of years, who aren’t massive outliers that are throwing the figure five or 10 percentage points by themselves, so when we do use aggregate we use a very curated sample set and I got to give a shout out to Mark Ballard, who does a lot of that good work, figuring out what the best client sample sets are, and is also a huge part of the DMR. But then when we use median, it’s more to try to get at what your standard advertiser is seeing, and you know, it kind of prevents one or two advertisers from throwing the sample just by being large.

Certainly some of those bigger brands can spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and that could totally dominate a sample set, but if you’re looking at median that basically makes those large advertisers just one data point in the set, and lines it up with smaller advertisers on an even playing field, so especially with faster analyses that we’re trying to just churn out and figure out quickly, then we’ll probably lean on median. But when we’re looking at those big, overarching themes like how much advertiser spend is spent on Google, that’s when we turn to more of a curative sample set and do use aggregate.

JD Prater:                     Nice. That’s a really good explanation for all of you guys listening that can’t remember the difference between average and median. You should go Google it because … I know for AdStage, for 2018, our benchmark report, we’re going to be switching over to median actually. Our product analyst who kind of helps me run these benchmark reports and helps put them all together, he’s really been taking a lot more of these data science classes and so he’s like, “Yeah, you know, we need to get a real sample set. We need to make sure we get rid of outliers. We need to make sure that we have median, and if we do get rid of outliers, when do we do it? When do we not do it?” For me, I’m just like, “Yeah, sure man. Whatever works.”

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah, and that’s the funny part. I mean, really at the end of the day it does just come down to making some of those judgment calls and going with what seems correct and what seems to be the most honest approach at looking at the numbers, and so as a data scientist, you can make the numbers look however you want to make them look, but at the end of the day we’re just trying to be as accurate as we can. That’s really our goal for the most part.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I think that’s what he is … Josh, you know, hats off to him too, right? He is really just trying to be as honest as possible, right? You know, for me the advertiser’s like, “Look man, I’m not going to second guess that, so just throw it out there,” you know? That’s why we’ve, in our benchmark reports, we’ve been showing more histograms lately, is to really show where you line up, if you’re in the median, if you’re a top advertiser, you’re maybe in the lower end.

Andy Taylor:                 We have actually really considered using histograms in the past just for that reason, because it carries such a good range and gives people a better idea of where they fall, but somehow we haven’t actually made it into the DMR yet, but yeah. We should probably consider something similar.

JD Prater:                     Well, nice. Yeah. You know, again, for me, it was our compromise.

Andy Taylor:                 Sure.

JD Prater:                     But anyway, we continue to get better and I’m sure you guys will continue to get better with yours, so whenever you’re kind of pulling out that data, something that I’ve wondered for you, so why publish this information, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love it. I love seeing the information as an advertiser, as someone in the industry, but whenever you’re thinking about maybe competitive advantage, do you think this is highlighting your skill set, or do you think maybe you’re giving away too much?

Andy Taylor:                 Sure. There is that fine line. I would say, especially for the stuff that we include in the DMR, we really just try to keep it to what our advertiser’s seeing, and so that can be helpful if you’re talking to a brand that’s not growing quite as quickly as their peer set, just trying to get to the bottom of why they might be lagging, and so it can be helpful in that sense, in talking to prospective clients or in terms of current clients, just giving them a benchmark to go off of.

But the magic bullet that’s going to keep your brand CPC from going up, we’re really just trying to tell the story of what’s happening to most brands. I’d say it goes back to just trying to be honest as opposed to good or bad. That said, I do think the way that we end up curating our sample probably does have a positive impact on how the numbers end up showing, because obviously if these brands have stuck with us for a couple years, then they’ve likely been doing fairly well with us, so obviously that does have some bias inherent in it. But hard to avoid that when you’re just trying to trend stuff over time.

JD Prater:                     I can tell you, as someone who’s worked in an agency world, I see you guys putting out these reports and all I do is get really jealous. I’m like, “Holy cow. These guys are able to pull these kind of reports, and they’re able to get this kind of insight.” I can tell you beyond … Against you, it’s like, “Wow. These guys are way better than us.”

Andy Taylor:                 It all goes back to really we came from a legacy agency called RKG, and back when we were setting that up, our founders had a really good, clear vision of what they wanted our database to look like and how accessible it needed to be, and so they kind of set us up for success for a long time just by sucking a lot of the stuff into our database and making it really easy to pull this stuff.

JD Prater:                     I know. It’s one of those things where the word database now is getting more popular, but when you guys were doing this years ago, it wasn’t as popular, so hats off, again, to those guys for being really forward thinking and understanding that realistically data is going to be the champion moving forward.

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah, for sure, much smarter guys than me, for sure.

JD Prater:                     Cool. Well, let’s move on. One of the things I thought was really fascinating with this article was whenever you guys published this, so kind of in the vein of releasing this data, you guys put out a blog, and it was highlighting this increase in phone brand CPCs, and quickly, like after you guys published that blog, there was a huge decrease in brand CPCs. Talk to me about that.

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah. You know, with anything like this, Google is never going to come out and be like, “Yes, you found a problem and we fixed it because of you.” But in this case, we’re pretty sure that that might have been the case, particularly because it took about two days really for the CPC to start dropping as soon as we released a blog post on it. Then further into the following week, we actually had reps reaching out to us, trying to reimburse clients for spend that happened as a result of that increase.

Especially for me, as someone who’s more in the weeds in the background looking at a bunch of numbers, sometimes I don’t have a massive impact on our accounts day to day, so it’s kind of nice to see that we can, even when it’s just reporting on the trends and keeping people abreast of everything that’s happening, you know, it can induce change from the search engines if you can give them a good story and explain what you’re seeing, so yeah. I’m pretty comfortable saying that we caused it to go back down, but I mean, I’m sure Google would deny it.

JD Prater:                     Again, signals, signals.

Andy Taylor:                 Exactly, exactly. Directionality.

JD Prater:                     No, I think it’s really good. I mean, talk about powerful reporting. Whenever you’re able to … This goes back to the database, having things in a database, being able to surface these type of insights and then being able to publish them in way that tells a story, that shows clear trends one way or the other, I think is just absolutely fascinating, so hats off to you guys for being able to put all that together, and then ultimately I get to feel the impact with brand CPCs coming down, so thank you guys.

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah, totally, yeah. Hopefully it helped everyone.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. A question for you that I had was within your database, so this is getting kind of more on your tech stack here. What do you guys use to kind of visualize your database? Are you guys using mode or something like that?

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah, so we have some automated dashboards created off of R and a couple other reporting possibilities, but most of the stuff that we put together is actually pulled using old-fashioned SQL commands. A lot of it’s … Particularly when we’re trying to figure out what’s going wrong with a specific segment that we haven’t really dove into for awhile, a lot of it’s very one-off, specifically looking at particular slices. While we do have a lot of it kind of automated for our analysts to quickly pull reports for clients on a day to day level, when it comes to really looking at these weird trends that pop up from time to time, there’s just no way to automate the reports ahead of time because they’re so … It can pop up anywhere, and it’s just not something we’re looking at day to day, so a lot of one-off stuff as well.

JD Prater:                     Nice. You mentioned two things that are on my bucket list for 2018, and that is to get better at SQL and to learn R.

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah. I do not know R, so yeah, I’m right there with you. I think it’s a really good skill to have in the quiver.

JD Prater:                     It’s one of those skill sets, you know, where you … As we kind of talk about this rise of the paid marketer, or the rise of the technical paid marketer, and really understanding the value that someone like an analyst can bring, where before they’ve always just kind of been in the background, but now you’re able to bring them to the front with all of these insights and their ability to query a database and then maybe use R for statistical modeling or something like that is absolutely invaluable. I’m super jealous of those skills.

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah. I’m super glad that when I came on board, that SQL was already a big part of their training, because it was just a great skill to learn early on, and I think moving forward, that’s only going to become more important. Like you said, it’s just nice to have people who can do both, who can model the data, create it, and then tell the story.

JD Prater:                     All right, Andy, so let’s wrap up here. In conclusion, right, with all of these reports that you guys put out within the Search Engine Land blog, wrap it up for us. What are some of the things that we should be looking forward to?

Andy Taylor:                 Sure. I think, especially for the first half of 2018, I think CPCs are going to continue to be up year over year, particularly for brand but also for non-brand. We saw those start to go up following the May AdRank change. The good news for advertisers is that we also saw a corresponding increase in the value that brands were getting, so it seemed like Google may have pulled some levers that actually resulted in better ads being shown to users, which is a good thing. It means that brands are getting a corresponding value for their increase in cost per click. At the same time, certainly be looking to figure out how you can limit the increase as much as possible, particularly on the brand side.

Most advertisers are pretty willing to just eat the increase in cost because they want to control that messaging and ensure they’re getting as much traffic on their brand ads as possible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play around with bids, try stepping down here and there to see if you really need to be bidding as much as you are, or if you can get most of the traffic for a lower CPC. Then at the same time, just I feel like … We talk about all the new bells and whistles and the new trends and everything, but realistically, paid search management is pretty similar today as it was a few years ago. Just be churning through the different segments, making sure you’re using the proper negatives, targeting the right keywords, using the right match types, all of that good stuff, is still super important.

JD Prater:                     All right. Well, Andy, thanks again, man, for coming on, talking to us about what you guys found with brand CPCs. Absolutely fascinating report, and I look forward to seeing more reports like this come out in 2018.

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah. Thanks so much, JD.

JD Prater:                     All right, everyone. That was Andy Taylor of Merkle talking to us about their latest report about brand CPCs on Google declining, so go in, check it out. I’ll link to it in the show notes and we’ll see you next week.


This Week In Ad Tech Headlines Mar 5-9th [Podcast]

This Week In Ad Tech Headlines Mar 5-9th [Podcast]

This week on The PPC Show, Paul Wicker and JD Prater break down the top six headlines in ad tech and digital advertising for the week of Mar 5-9th.

Tune in as they cover the latest on Facebook Travel Ads, Radio Ads Returns $12 In Purchase Activity, Twitter Tests Integration With Outside Buying Platforms, Quora’s Ad Pixel Now Supports Multi-Event Conversion Tracking, and more!



Facebook Unveils Trip Consideration For Travel Advertisers

Facebook announced a new optimization option called Trip Consideration, which will target users in the early stages of considering a trip. Unlike Facebook’s retargeting options for travel, Trip Consideration aims to reach people based on their behaviors on Facebook or Instagram.

Study Shows That Every $1 Spent on Radio Ads Returns $12 In Purchase Activity

Westwood One, the largest radio network in the United States, makes a bold guarantee: deliver ROI for all advertisers — or run ads for free. “Now is the time to prove and guarantee impact,” said Westwood’s chief insights officer.

Twitter Tests Integration With Outside Buying Platforms

Adage says that Twitter is planning to make its ad inventory available in a truly programmatic way. They’re testing the programmatic offering with agencies and brands, according to advertisers familiar with the process.

“From an advertiser perspective, why it’s exciting is that it’s the first social platform that would allow us to buy an audience programmatically,” LIES. FB did this.

Quora’s Ad Pixel Now Supports Multi-Event Conversion Tracking

Quora announced the release of multi-event conversion tracking, view-through attribution and an update to its reporting interface. Using Quora’s tracking pixel, advertisers can now track and optimize against more than one conversion event — for example, Add to Cart, Add Payment Info, and Purchase.

Quora’s view-through attribution has a 24-hour window between the time an ad impression is served and the time a user converts.
Advertisers can now toggle metrics on and off in their dashboard reports in Ads Manager.

Introducing Custom Ads on Yelp

Yelp announced “custom ads” for small businesses. Advertisers can now select a desired review and image to appear in their ads. “Based on our initial tests, business owners and marketers are loving the increased controls of Custom Ads,” Yelp’s product manager said in the official announcement.

Honda Shifts Its Media Buying To Pay Only For In-store Visits

Honda is paying for mobile ads that drive people into showrooms rather than impressions or clicks, Digiday reported. In its latest mobile campaign, Honda will only pay for the ads that drive people into showrooms within 14 days of being seen. Honda’s marketing communications manager said that cost per visit could become the metric of choice when trying to drive in-store traffic.

What is ROI and How to Calculate it [Podcast]

What is ROI and How to Calculate it [Podcast]

Welcome to episode #76 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by Andrew Breen, the President at Outshine.

In this episode, Andrew discusses what ROI means, how to calculate it, and how to focus your time on the tasks that impact revenue.

Stay tuned as he covers:

  1. Defining ROI and the tools you need to find it
  2. How to calculate ROI
  3. Our job is to let platform do it’s job
  4. Finding the biggest levers to pull that will drive business results

Listen to the Episode

Who is Andrew Breen

Andrew Breen is the President of Outshine, a consultancy that helps B2B companies generate top-line revenue with advertising, analytics and automation.

From start-ups to billion dollar brands, Andrew has spent over a decade working in digital advertising. He helps clients navigate the complexity of the modern advertising and marketing technology landscape, but still loves to roll up his sleeves and build enterprise AdWords accounts from the ground up.

He has been featured in outlets around the world including B2B Growth podcast, PPC Hero, iPullRank and more. Andrew is an AdWords Certified Professional and a Google All-Stars 2015 & 2016 winner, helping Outshine garner its Google Premier Partner status.

Show Notes and Transcript

JD Prater:                     Andrew, welcome to the PPC Show.

Andrew Breen:             Well, thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, man. Well, I know we’re gonna be tackling this fantastic issue of what is ROI, but before we do it Andrew Breen from Outshine, why don’t you go ahead and give us a quick overview of who you are and what is Outshine all about.

Andrew Breen:             Yeah. Thank you so much. So, I think a lot of your listeners, I started by this kind of being in the trenched day-to-day in search query reports, in ad works, in Facebook really looking for opportunities to increase the ROI for my clients. And my clients when I started out were other ad agencies because I had a lot of agency connections, but not a lot of business connections. So, when I started Outshine most of what we were doing was running campaigns for other clients. I’m sorry, for other agencies. So, that was fascinating in that I got to understand at a broad level how do other agencies run adverts and paid media. How do they think about it? How do they track it? And how does it work and how does it not work?

So, for years I was behind the scenes in the trenches day-to-day optimizing campaigns. And thankfully I was smart enough to bring a business partner on who was smart enough to tell me that was a terrible business model. And he was 100% right. So, in the last three years we’ve gotten really client-facing going after our own clients and really focusing on the B2B stats market. A, really it comes down to them knowing their numbers and that we love clients who know the value that we can provide. And B2B stats, they know all the numbers, the LTB, the cap, all that sort of stuff. So, they really know when we’re driving an eagle download or a demo request, how that’s helping move the needle for their business. And that’s what really resonates with me.

I find it hard to get excited when I’m doing … We don’t do a lot of B2C, but if we’re buying Impressions, for example, it just doesn’t get me excited, but conversions in ROI and revenue, that gets me excited. So, I’m happy we’re talking about this.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Me too. For anyone that’s been following AdStage you can see that we really have focused a lot on the close loop reporting and really showing advertisers basically from click to customer in one report. So, I’m with you man. I love B2B stats. I love ROI. Yeah man.

Andrew Breen:             Awesome.

JD Prater:                     With some of your customers you’re talking B2B. What is ROI to some of them? I know before the show we were talking it’s different for some different companies. Let’s jump into it.

What is ROI in B2B SaaS?

Andrew Breen:             Yeah, absolutely. So, I think it’s really important when you’re starting out with a client and usually multiple stakeholders who might be an executive sponsor, the person you’re working with day-to-day, and maybe their boss. And ROI unfortunately often means different things to different people because it’s not just one set in stone thing of what does ROI mean in an organization. So, for example, someone you see doing traditional advertising, maybe ROI to them is CTRs, is click through rate because to them that’s what’s important. That’s the metric of advertisement quality, but really it shouldn’t be. It should be as close to revenue as you possibly get in our opinion. Now, of course, you can’t always do that perfectly.

So, sometimes you have to use proxies. I think that e-com is a great industry to be in because you live and die by your numbers there, but often time let’s say you’re doing B2B stats and you have a long sales cycle. It’s six to 12 months. Well, it’s not so easy to tie everything back to a hard revenue number and that’s when you come up with these proxies. So, maybe it’s a form fill load is worth X and a demo request is worth Y. Maybe we can’t nail it perfectly. You should try to get as close to the truth as possible, whatever that truth is in your organization. And I think the mistake that people make is that they set a number and they set a goal and they never revisit it. And really the way that you’re tracking it is, unless you’re in e-com and you’re doing revenue, keep coming back to your model and your assumptions and make sure that they’re as close to the truth as possible. And if not, get them closer to the truth.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Yeah. Well, we’re gonna definitely dive into source of truth and what that looks like and how you guys are calculating it, but I want to back up before we get into it. And so, we’re talking about different lead generators and understanding that conversion rate. Whenever you are working with your clients are you guys working with them on so we know our conversion rate for this lead form? And now what is that conversion rate to that next step? Or how far down the funnel are you guys working with them?

How Far Do you Track Metrics Down the Funnel?

Andrew Breen:             Right. So, a lot of times the customers will have that data, but not know how to get it. So, we help them bubble up the truth, but we’re going as far as we can. So, we’re tying in Salesforce data, market data, Bizible data, visible data and really trying to get as close to actual closed one revenue as possible, but a lot of times it isn’t possible. It’s always challenging despite sometimes what thought leaders will say on LinkedIn. This is really hard stuff. And that’s why we have good job security I think because as long as it’s hard trying to get to the truth there will always be a market for that. So, let’s say for a net new client let’s say they don’t know any of these numbers. Well, what we would do is we say “Okay. How many close one opportunities did you have last year? And how many SQLs did you have from that? And how many MQLs?” So, we kind of reverse engineer it.

“How many lead forms did that take? How many people clicking on your ads did that take? How many,” I hate Impression, but “How many Impressions on ads did that take?” So, we try to look back at the model as far as we can. We document what our assumptions are. And then we create a model. And it’s never a perfect model. I don’t negate. And the really valuable thing of capturing that model and the assumptions is that you get the client on board with “Here’s what I think is gonna happen, but I don’t know.” Instead of trying to come in and say “Oh, I can get you an MQL for $100.” Well, what happens if you don’t? You predicted it and you were wrong, but if you come together and you build a model together and you say “Well, I think my conversion rate will be three percent based on the last six months of data and Google Analytics,” that seems like a more informed approach. So, that’s the approach that we try to take with clients.

JD Prater:                     Nice. It kind of reminds me of there’s a quote from Wil Reynolds, the president of Seer. And you’d be amazed at how presenting directional data to clients, how happy they would be with that. I think too many time like you were saying in the beginning, like we’re in the trenches and it’s like “Oh, I can’t say it unless I’m 100% sure.” But, it’s like “Hey, directionally this is what’s gonna happen. If we increase impressions this is what’s gonna happen down funnel.” And I think that’s something we all have to think through and it’s one of those nervous things, but directional data I’m with you on man whenever I’m thinking through ROI.

Andrew Breen:             Yeah. Just the other day I was putting together a model and I had to come up with what I thought the average cost per click would be across all of our stuff. So, I built a weighted model based on some of it was predictions and the average tool, but sometimes I know the tool just isn’t right or my gut tells me this doesn’t line up with my experience. So, you have to be willing to deviate from what the tools might be telling you, but again, tell the client that, if you say “You know what? I think my gut is telling me based on my experience our cost per click is gonna be eight dollar,” they’re gonna be fine with it, but if you don’t say how you got that number and then you prove to be wrong they’ll start questioning you. So, I think the more that you can be upfront about where this number is coming from and why you feel that way, the more buying you get from the clients.

And the buying you get from the clients in the kickoff of the project is so incredibly valuable because one thing that I’ve really learned over the course of my career is that unfortunately being really good at doing paid media often times doesn’t necessarily matter a lot to the client. It’s about how you communicate, how you set expectations, how you respond, how you report. So, being good at paid media is table stakes for what we do. And where you really excel is in the other stuff.

JD Prater:                     100% agree with that one. And I saw that one come really full force with a friend and a previous guest Matt Umbro who’s at Hanapin. And if you ever read any of Matt’s stuff, Matt will always be talking about account management and really the client services side. What makes him such an effective account manager is he is really good with clients, he’s really good at telling it how it is, but also just following it up. So, I couldn’t agree more with that after seeing that in action with Matt.

Andrew Breen:             Yeah. And that was a mistake that I made being behind the scenes for so long was that I thought just being good at paid media meant that I would be a great consultant. And as I got in front and dealing with clients and working with clients I realized “Wait. I was the one who was wrong this whole time. It’s important to be good at your job of course, but there’s so much more to it than just search query reports and bit optimization.”

JD Prater:                     Yeah. That’s for sure. So, whenever you’re … I wanna dive into that. So, let’s talk about different stakeholders and presenting different ROI to different stakeholders. So, whenever you’re going into these meeting how do you position that report or the way that you’re gonna be talking to them? So, maybe a manager versus a director versus VP, CMO kind of level. Do you adjust how you’re gonna go into that meeting?

How Do You Change Reports Based on the Stakeholder

Andrew Breen:             Yeah, absolutely. So, I think, again, the closer you can get to the revenue the more buy in you’ll get, especially the further up you go in the corporate ladder. So, ultimately a CRO or a CMO or a CEO, if they’re using Salesforce they only really care about Salesforce numbers. They don’t care about what Google analytics says. That was another blow to our ego of “Oh, but Google analytics.” They don’t really care. It’s like what does Salesforce tell them. And if Salesforce says this and the analytics says this, Salesforce wins every time. So, you better get good at getting your data into Salesforce so you can take credit for your win ’cause otherwise to them you’re not winning. So, yeah. For the C levels it’s really like “Heres what we spent. Here are the leads. Heres the opportunities or the revenue,” or whatever is important to them.

But, as you get further into the weeds, let’s say you’re working with a digital manager or someone who’s more hands-on keyboard, we’ll get way more into the weeds of Brand Search did this. Competitor Search did this generic remarketing. And that serves them. So, we’ll break it down to the level of interest of the client really ’cause another thing that we’ve made a mistake on in the past is over-reporting. Just pages and pages and pages, stuff that nobody cares about or looks at when really all they want to know is “Should I put more money in Facebook or Ad Words? Or did my new e-book work?”

So, I think the mistake sometimes that we make as marketers is we report on things that matter to us and not the client. So, we’ll have often multiple clients that go one pager to the C level and then for the content team it might be 15 pages of really granular GA data, but you have to know the audience and you have to tailor it appropriately. And the further up the ladder you go, the more concern with revenue it becomes.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, man. Spot on. I love … I’ve done that so many times. I’ve made these mistakes in the agency world of I build up this amazing report just to show that I’ve been effective and that I’m really good at my job and they’re like you’re in this meeting, especially in person, and you get stopped in the middle of a meeting and they’re like “I don’t really care. Can you just tell me this,” but it’s not in your report and you’re just like “Oh, dammit.” Lesson learned. And so, again, you make that mistake once and you learn it for the rest of your life, but whenever you’re bringing it back into ROI I’d love for you to break down the different platforms for us. So, before the show we were really talking about letting the platforms do their work. So, how do you fold in automation into your work so you can really focus on that ROI?

How Do You Fold in Automation into Your Work So You Can Really Focus on that ROI?

Andrew Breen:             Yeah. I think this podcast could probably be labeled mistakes Andrews made over his career. And this is really one of them is we’re talking about letting the platforms of their job and letting them excel. And this was a hard learned lesson for me because I was like an old school Ad Words and old school Ad Words guys as we’re talking about, they just segment everything to hell. And it’s just single key word ad groups broken up my mash types. There’s a time and a place where that made sense and that was successful, but we’re not in that era anymore. And I have realized that and I’ve been switching everything over the last 18 months, but if you’re not there yet and you’re still thinking that you can outsmart Google bit algorithms, you can’t and you will lose that battle. So, what I’ve really seen is that our job as digital marketers is allowing the platforms to do their job when it’s the right time and place.

And I’ll give you an example. The dynamic search campaigns can work really well. They can also waste all of your budget. And knowing when they’re effective and when they’re not is part of our job. And you can test and you can learn over time, but don’t be married to your old school approach because that’s what you were doing before. So, Ad Words it really means switching how you’re doing your ad group structures to go a little more broadly. Putting in more ads is a major change that we see in the last two or three months is it used to be AB test ad one versus ad two and now it’s like well, no. Google can pick what ad is more appropriate based on 3,000 different signals. Put a bunch of different offers in there and let it auto-optimize.

And I only learned that reading other people doing it and we have done it and I can say conclusively that is more successful. It’s working a lot better for us, which is fascinating. On Facebook it’s building conversion campaigns, letting go of what your CPC is. Some of my campaigns I’m spending $20 CPCs and Facebook. And had you said that to me five years ago I would have been disgusted with myself, but the caveat is the conversion rate is 40%. So, I don’t really care what my CPC is ’cause I don’t care what my revenue is and it’s working there.

LinkedIn still has some way to go in terms of its automatic optimization, but I think Facebook and AdWords are absolutely there. It’s not like we’re not quite in the 100% AI thing, but we’re moving towards that. And I think our job is to help our clients succeed with that, aim closer to that.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. A couple of things while on package. 100% agree with especially bit management. I mean, I … In the company that’s doing bit management right now, I just wonder how they’re gonna evolve in two to three years to still be relevant looking at how fast and it’s mostly how fast Facebook and Google are moving with not only their machine learning algorithms, but also with their adoption. Even like you and I, right? 18 months ago we were like “No way, would never do it.” You fast forward just a year and a half and we’re like “Yeah, man. Why spend that time doing that when I could be focused on this part of this lever?” Right? So, 100% agree there.

The second part of that was we had Mark Irvine from Word Stream on and he did a huge analysis on ETA ads and he was basically saying you got to have four to six really in order for Google to spin them, learn from them, know which of those four to six ads it wants to serve to this person. Like you and I might see different ads in the same ad group. It’s because of our buying signal search history and that’s stuff that these third part algorithms just don’t have. So, it’s fascinating. After that PPC show, that was back in December and I’ll link to it in the show notes, I went and made sure every ad group had four to six ads. It was like in editor, add ad, you know? Trying to create new ones.

Andrew Breen:             Yeah.

JD Prater:                     Sorry. No, go ahead.

Automated Bidding

Andrew Breen:             I was gonna say and I think the renaissance to switch over to automated bitting for example, so target CPA or maximized conversion bidding, it comes from a good place in that three years ago a lot of people who were saying “Oh, just do automated bitting,” well, the old school guys were like “Well, you’re just being lazy. You’re not doing your job.” So, I think that people who are still holding on, they feel like they want to, they’re providing a lot of value to their client, but I would actually say like even just run a test and see. If you’re doing better, hey, that’s awesome. And if the time that you’re investing justifies the ROI, all day, but I suspect that is you do an honest tell you’ll find that it doesn’t. And there’s still value that we can provide as consultants and as agencies. You know? Is target CPA bitting right? Is maximized conversion bitting right? It’s still not a clear path to what works best. There’s still a lot of learning to be done. It’s just the learnings we have to as marketers are now different.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I agree with that. I think it’s just a shift of where your focus and what your time is doing. I don’t think it’s less time or more time unless you’re just doing everything that we’re talking about, but I would say what you said is spot on. It’s just really focusing on the output rather than always just focusing on the input or got to get that quality score up to 10. “Look man, how much revenue did we get,” you know what I mean? Those CMO things. “Hey, our quality score’s an eight.” “I don’t care.”

Andrew Breen:             You know, it’s funny. I don’t ever hear anyone saying this publicly, but I’ll just say it. I find very little correlation between quality score and anything else. Cost per click, conversion rates, none of it. I don’t focus on it. And so, my clients who used to be PPC people will sometimes ask about it and, to your point, it’s like well, does this impact revenue or not? And they’ll say “Well, it leads to a lower cost per click.” And I say “Well, okay. We could try to optimize this by changing a few words in an ad. It’s not gonna have a big impact. Maybe would try adding in a new offer.” There’s different ways you can pull the lever, so to speak, that have much bigger impact than other ones. That’s how we really think about it all. It’s like levers that you can pull. Key word match types are levers. Bitting on different devices are levers, but even like choosing different platforms, they’re all levers that you can pull to get more or less ROI and your job is to figure out what’s the biggest lever I can pull with the least input?

JD Prater:                     Right, right.

Andrew Breen:             Yeah. Sorry. I was talking about quality score and I don’t know. There seems to be a disconnect between quality score and outcomes.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. It would be nice. Well, one of my favorite inputs of the makeup of quality score is landing page and being agency side looking at your clients you’re like “Hey, man. So, can you update that?” They’re like “Well, I gotta put that into a request. Or I’ve got to go submit this.” It was never really that easy or something that I could control I should say. And that was always kind of frustrating, but it is what it is.

Andrew Breen:             Yeah. And especially at large enterprise organization you’re just not gonna win that battle. And you’re not gonna learn when to dig in and what hills to die on. And if you want to change something because you think the quality score might improve, that doesn’t make a great business case.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Well, let’s take the next couple of minutes here and let’s actually dive into ROI. So, one of my big predictions for 2018 is really gonna be ROI. And I think marketers are gonna be kind of forced to really get into actually contribution to pipeline. Right? Especially B2B stats. It’s specifically what we’re talking about. How do you see that shifting overall? ‘Cause I know that you and I are probably on the same page. We get it, but we know that there’s a lot of marketers that are still two years behind. Right? You’re talking about clients that don’t even know their numbers of all this. Where do you see 2018 headed for B2B stats?

Where Do You See 2018 B2B Headed?

Andrew Breen:             Well, I think a lot of people are on the right path and they’re starting to ask the right questions now. The challenge becomes the better questions you ask, the more you realize that your existing data can’t tell you hose answers. So, for example, if you want to understand contribution to pipeline right now, but you don’t have the ability to measure it, well crap. Now you have to start from nothing and start building something up new. So, I think that more people will start asking these questions and fighting the good fight, but also realizing that it’s really challenging. There’s no simple solution to it. There are tools that make it a lot easier. Absolutely. And I think probably one of them, but you can’t just get a tool and do all the work for you. It’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of unknowns. You know?

You need buy in from the top because you’re going to have to invest in some tools to help start pushing you down that path. And it requires a change in mindset because it’s easy to say “Okay, Facebook’s cost per conversion at the front end is five dollars and LinkedIn is $25. Let’s just do Facebook all day.” And 10 years ago I would 100% agree with that. If our Google Analytics form conversion triggers, than that’s good enough, but what we realize now is that, especially in enterprise, not all conversions are equally valuable. So, we need a mechanism to value that. We love ClearBit for that example. We can measure who’s coming from what website and if they’re enterprise or not, that sort of thing, but you have to get some sort of mechanism in place to get you closer to that truth because it’s really hard and Google analytics unfortunately, breaks my heart to say it, it just can’t do it.

And it’s not designed to do it. It’s designed to measure web outcomes. You need something that goes beyond that, especially if you have a sales team.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. And I think the only way you’re gonna get it for all of you die hard GA fans is GA360 with the full attribution and the Salesforce integration that they just launched, but unless you have all of those things and you’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to do all those things you’re probably like the majority of us and you’re doing a lot of heavy lifting. It’s a lot of brain power. It hurts. We have a lot of meetings with the sames team even here at AdStage and you’re line by line just going through them. It’s a very manual, tedious process.

Andrew Breen:             Yeah. It’s like time sheets, right? Time sheets such, but they’re really important because they give you really valuable business data that help you make good business decisions. Same thing with Salesforce. It’s like no sales people like doing Salesforce, but again, it gives you some valuable data points to make decisions on marketing attribution, that sort of thing. And even in your example there of GA 360 and optimized and the sales force, I actually don’t think even then it would be as close. I think that … Well, I won’t say much, but it’s still very challenging.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. For sure. It’s a slug. Back what you were saying with sales people, sales people hate Salesforce, but you know what? You have to use Salesforce. It’s just like what you do. And it’s so hard to get you out of it ’cause it’s so sticky and it’s so ingrained into all your work flows that it’s just difficult to get out of. So, kudos to you Salesforce for-

Andrew Breen:             -owning the ecosphere.

JD Prater:                     For sure. But, there are some other good ones. Hubspots out there. It’s up and coming. Definitely the SMB world, that’s a great one. And I know ZOHO is getting better. So, there are some other CRMs who are worth taking a look at. And I know there are a few others trying to disrupt. So, make sure you go take a look at them before you sign that piece of paper for Salesforce.

Andrew Breen:             Yeah, absolutely. But, on the flip side, on the enterprise side no ones every lost a job for recommending Salesforce. They’re the IBM of that space for sure.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Good point. Good point. Cool man. Yeah. Well, let’s put a bow on this. What are some takeaways here for ROI? So, leave us with a few good nuggets here.

Key Takeaways on Tracking ROI

Andrew Breen:             Yeah, absolutely. So, if you have a CRM in place try to understand how you get the right data into it to help measuring your marketing inputs. It could be as simple as a few big holding buckets that allow you to judge the effectiveness of the overall things that you’re doing. But, if you’re more sophisticated you can start breaking it down by platform and channel and ultimately ad grouping key word, but you don’t have to get there on day one. Have a road map of how you’re gonna get there and work towards it and set the expectation from the outset that is going to be a long slog. It doesn’t happen overnight. And it takes a lot of people’s buying and a lot of people’s effort. But, at the very simple thing is just at the start build a simple model of in the last six months here are the sales, the opportunities, the SQLs, MQLs.

And just work it backwards and then keep working that model over time as you get more inputs and more data and try to make it an engine that you can predict in the future and your predictions get better and better and better. It’ll get more and more and more buy in. Oh, and one more thing. Don’t think about platform data. It’s important to you, but you don’t have tot alk to your bosses about it. Nobody cares about cost per click except us or CTR or any of that. So, help them focus on the right thing by reporting on the right things or as close to the right things as you can get currently.

JD Prater:                     Nice man. All really good points. So, again, we’re talking ROI here with Andrew Breen. He’s at Go check out the website. Go check him out. Where can the good people find you online?

Andrew Breen:             I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. I got to give credit to them for building a great platform. So, I’m just Andrew Breen, Outshine, but you should be able to find me with a search.

JD Prater:                     Nice. And I’ll be sure to include a link here in the show notes so you guys can connect with you. So, if you get a bunch of weird connection requests I apologize from a bunch of PPCs.

Andrew Breen:             I look forward to it. Please. I love talking shop.

JD Prater:                     Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks again man for coming on, really getting into the ROI weeds, especially with B2B stats. It’s such a relevant topic for 2018 and I think you tackled it pretty well man.

Andrew Breen:             Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate the time.

JD Prater:                     Alright. Alright everyone. Thanks again for tuning in to the PPC Show here talking about ROI. We’ll see you all next week. Bye.


This Week In Ad Tech Headlines Feb 26 – Mar 2nd [PPC Podcast]

This Week In Ad Tech Headlines Feb 26 – Mar 2nd [PPC Podcast]

This week on The PPC Show, Paul Wicker and JD Prater break down the top nine headlines in ad tech and digital advertising for the week of Feb 26 – Mar 2nd.

Tune in as they cover the latest on Google UAC updates, Facebook News Feed, Twitter’s bookmarks, YouTube live streaming, and more.




Show Notes

Google’s App Ads Chief On Why Less Is More When It Comes To App Campaigns

AdExhchanger spoke with Google’s Director of App Ads about what’s next on the roadmap for Universal App Campaigns and Google’s plans to “give app developers a peek inside the black box.

News Feed FYI: Ending the Explore Feed Test
The Explore Feed was a trial response to consistent feedback we received from people over the past year who said they want to see more from friends and family in News Feed. The idea was to create a version of Facebook with two different News Feeds: one as a dedicated place with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated place for posts from Pages.

To understand if people might like two separate feeds, we started a test in October 2017 in six countries.

Facebook Rolls Out Job Posts To Become The Blue-collar Linkedin

Facebook is rolling out job posts for business and job seekers, who can now use the Jobs dashboard found in the Facebook web sidebar or mobile app’s “More” section. Businesses can post jobs on Facebook and promote them with ads, while job seekers can find a full-time or part-time gig, filtering the openings by proximity and location.

Trump vs Clinton Facebook CPMs

According to Facebook, during the 2016 election, President Trump’s campaign actually paid higher rates to advertise on the platform overall than Hillary Clinton’s campaign did.

Twitter Launches Bookmarks, A Private Way To Save Tweets

If you want to save a tweet, but don’t want to “Favorite” for everyone to see, you can now do so by bookmarking it. To use this new feature, click on a new “Share” button and choose “Add to Bookmarks.”
-mobile only

Twitter trying to be less toxic
RFP for a conversation health score

Brands’ Voices May Be Muffled on Amazon Echo

When it comes to voice search, Amazon Echo might be biased towards certain brands. eMarketer shares data from last year’s research conducted by Bain & Company, which uncovers Alexa’s top suggestions for shoppers who search by voice.

Updates to YouTube Live Streaming

YouTube is expanding its list of features for creators of live video. Live streaming will now include chat replay, automatic English captions, location tags, and IFTT technology integrated into YouTube’s monetizing tool. Automatic captions will be powered by live automatic speech recognition technology.

Unilever threatens to pull ads from Facebook and Google
Unilever h”It is acutely clear from the groundswell of consumer voices over recent months that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of digital on wellbeing, on democracy – and on truth itself,” Mr Weed pledged to:

  • Not invest in platforms that do not protect children or create division in society
  • Only invest in platforms that make a positive contribution to society
  • Tackle gender stereotypes in advertising
  • Only partner with companies creating a responsible digital infrastructure

The Importance of Ad Copy and Content in Online Advertising [Podcast]

The Importance of Ad Copy and Content in Online Advertising [Podcast]

Welcome to episode #75 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by Ferdinand Götzen, the Head of Growth at Recruitee.

In this episode, Ferdinand talks about the importance of ad copy and content in online advertising.

Stay tuned as he covers:

  1. The most important elements of ad copy
  2. Images versus the copy
  3. Content marketing for different stages of the funnel
  4. Changing ad copy across networks and customer journey

Listen to the Episode

Ferdinand Götzen

My name is Ferdinand Goetzen and I sepcialize in Growth. I first ventured into the digital sphere almost a decade ago and have been helping companies grow ever since. The world is rapidly changing and with the emergence of new sophisticated technologies, in particular those driven by AI, it has become more challenging but also more exciting than ever to grow a business.

I am currently living in Amsterdam, working as Head of Growth @Recruitee, a SaaS company and one of the fastest growing startups in the Netherlands.

I am also the co-founder of the new-gen media outlet Pynx Media and currently blog about traveling the world at Wireless Vagabond.

For more information about me, feel free to check out my LinkedIn Profile.

Show Notes and Transcript

JD Prater:                     Ferdinand, welcome to the show.

Ferdinand Götzen:        Hi. Thanks for having me.

JD Prater:                     Excited to have you on to talk to us about the importance of Ad Copy and content in online advertising. Always a relevant topic for the PPC Show.

Before we jump into it give us a quick overview of who you are and where you’re working.

Ferdinand Götzen:        My name’s Ferdinand Gotzen. I’m the Head of Growth at Recruitee. We’re one of the fastest growing SaaS startups in the Netherlands. We’ve been around for a couple of years. What we do is we have an all-in-one recruitment platform. It’s a software that allows you to manage your entire recruitment and hiring process from the moment before you try to find your candidates, from sourcing your candidates all the way to making the final hire. You can organize your pipeline.

The simplest way to put it is probably to say that it’s similar to CARM, but for recruitment. But we do try to think of ourselves as something much bigger than that. We try to think of ourselves as an all-in-one solution, something that really gives recruiters superpowers, that allows recruiters to do what previously they couldn’t have done alone, in the same sense as many marketing automation technologies have performed in the field of marketing.

That’s what we do.

JD Prater:                     Nice. That’s a fun space to be in. A quick plug for anyone listening, we are currently hiring a product marketing manager. If you’re listening, and you’re interested, let me know. Maybe I’ll have to use Recruitee to figure it out.

Ferdinand Götzen:        I would strongly recommend it, of course. No bias.

JD Prater:                     No bias.

All right, man. Let’s shift gears here and talk about some Ad Copy and some content. Kick it off here. Whenever you’re thinking about Ad Copy, what is the most important elements that you look at?

What Are the Most Important Elements of Ad Copy?

Ferdinand Götzen:        The most important element is probably sounding natural. I know that there is so much out there in terms of the technicalities and the best practices, the tricks, for writing great copy. I always say that the one problem with best practices is that if everybody uses the same best practices, everybody sounds the same.

You and probably everyone listening has heard or read so many value propositions with, “skyrocket this,” and “hyper-target” and “hyper-boost this,” these buzzwords that after a while don’t mean anything. I think that’s directly tied to the fact that people often underestimate how important copy can be.

There’s a great quote. I can’t remember whom it’s by. It boils down to “Picture’s attract, but it’s copy that sells.” When you’re talking about your brand, when you’re talking about your marketing, it’s very important to… Everything that’s visual, everything that’s creative, needs to really attract people. Attract people’s attention.

When you open a website, or if you look at an ad, the first thing you look at is always the imagery, the visual, the creative. One second later, after the first few milliseconds, you go straight to the copy. You start reading the headline, or whatever copy is most prominent. I think it’s incredibly important. It’s really important to have a voice, to have a specific style, to have consistency in the type of words that you use, but most importantly to, in a way, write as you speak. “The Ways Principle,” as people like to call it. Just to sound natural. I think that’s the most important thing.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I really like that one. I think it’s simple and some of the ways told me as well within that part of natural and you hit on that same voice was, you should be able to look at an ad and know exactly who that brand is. Right?

Ferdinand Götzen:        Yeah.

JD Prater:                     Assuming that you have the brand that people can then easily recognize.

Within that, too, let’s break it down to maybe some things that you think about on Facebook. Then maybe we can also talk about some search copy as well with the ETAs, with two headlines and thinking about longer Ad Copy there. Which one do you wanna start with? You wanna start search with AdWords being or you wanna start with maybe Facebook?

Ferdinand Götzen:        Yeah, we can start with Facebook, fine by me.

JD Prater:                     Alright, let’s do it. Within Facebook, you were talking about using the images. How do you think about structuring your ads whenever you’re … how much time do you put into the image versus the copy? What are some of your favorite AdTypes that you like to use?

How Much Time Do You Put into the Image Versus the Copy?

Ferdinand Götzen:        The way that we usually look at it is, the ad is kind of like a person. Imagine if an ad was a person, then the best practices of all that, that’s what forms the skeleton. Then the meats and the muscles and the skin and all that. That’s really when you polish it, you make it look great. I think that’s really important for both copy and creative. We played around, so at the end of the day, you really need to test everything. We get most of our learnings from ab testing. That’s how we find what really works. But we always do have some principles that we try to follow and content guidelines. When it comes to the format, we usually go quite traditional.

We’re now also trying out the Messenger Ads, as well. We set up a Chatbot on our Facebook page’s Messenger and now, we’re creating ads that send people straight to the Chatbot, rather than sending them to the website because we find that there’s still this innovative cool thing type of Chatbot. People still find it pretty new and exciting. Sometimes the answers we get on these Chatbot are scary and weird but it’s something that really … there are a lot of formats to play around with. What we found is that almost the basic, traditional ads on the timeline, those tend to be the ones that form the best. When it comes to formatting it, we put quite a lot of effort into the images sometimes. It depends a little bit on what we’re promoting.

We try not to promote our website directly through ads because we found that, as a B2B SaaS company and the recruitment space, which is not necessarily always the most tech-savvy space, you often have a lot of touchpoints between the end-user or the person who, the decision maker, when it comes to purchasing the subscription. We have a lot of touchpoints between when they first see us and when they actually decide to purchase the subscription.

So, what we see quite often, is that by the time someones’ purchased or subscribed, we see that they’ve had 130 plus touchpoints, sometimes. Which means, they’ve seen an ad here and they’ve seen a blog post there, then they came onto our website. At the end of the day, that makes attribution very difficult, but it also means that you have to look at your ads a little bit differently. So, we very often promote our content queue ads, which also changes the structure of those ads, considerably. We try to make sure that everything’s clean, that it’s very digestible. But we place more and more importance on the creative, as well, because I really believe in this idea that you need to attract their attention with the imagery and then you need to close the deal. Get the click with the copy.

JD Prater:                     Nice. We can talk about that, too. Let’s talk about using content. I think a lot of people within performance marketers, especially here in the US, they’ve been so used to direct respond, like buy now, buy now. I would say, over the last maybe year to two years, we’re seeing a lot more advertisers use content and go to content. Talk to me about how you structure your funnel and you think about all of those all of those 130 touchpoints.

Structuring the Funnel Across 130 Touchpoints

Ferdinand Götzen:        Yeah. At the end of the day, because there’s so many touchpoints, 130 is an extreme case, of course. Although, it really depends on the type of user. There are some users where, on average, it is 100-plus, then there’s some users where it’s less. But it’s very rare that somebody sees an ad, comes to the website, and purchases, simply because you need to always think about what’s happening on the other side. What’s happening on the user’s end?

If you think about the user, they’re on Facebook, they see an ad, they clicked it. Let’s say this is a recruiter, for example, which would be a good target person for our product. Even if they are immediately sold on it, they’re immediately interested, they want to sign up, purchase a subscription. They still have to often check with whoever is the decision maker in that company.

At the very least, they need to check with the finance people or the CFO, whether the budget is there to use this tool. As a result, there are a lot of touchpoints, and using content is gonna be really essential to making sure that those touchpoints are as valuable as possible.

To not go on too long of tangents, the way that we basically try to do it, is to think about the process or the thought process, that the user goes through. What are the different stages that a user goes through in deciding whether or not to buy something. Often it’s a pain, pain gets triggered, or the pain is really there, but it’s gets retriggered by something they see. Then they alterative solutions for that pain, those could be competitors that provide the same solution, but it could also be completely different types of solutions, different types of products to solve that problem. For example, it could go with Recruitee, it could also go with spreadsheets. There’s a lot of different options. Once they’ve actually decided on which solution is best, you need to convince them that your version of that solution is the best version of the solution. The more social proof you can put into that, the more professional proof, the more trust you can instill in your product, the better.

We think about this process that user goes through, we really try to emulate that when we’re running our ads, when we’re running retargeting campaigns. When we’re creating email lists, we really try to segment users based on what their priorities are, what they’re interested in because on the one hand, it’s more effective for us because it means that we have more relevant touchpoints, so maybe the user won’t need a hundred touchpoints, if everything they read is really relevant and they’re becoming educated within the market. On the other hand, it just creates a lot of value for the user. So, even if they decide to go with something else, then two years down the line, if they’re still part of your network and still reading your content or reading your newsletters, there’s a very good chance they might consider switching to you or working closer with you in some other way.

JD Prater:                     Cool. I really like that. Within your content, when you guys are creating it, maybe mapping it out, are you guys thinking about funnel pieces? You’re thinking, “Man, this is a top-level paying point. Maybe this next article is really gonna drive people to that next step and lower funnel content.” Whatever it may be within the recruiting space. Sorry. Is that how you’re thinking about your content strategy?

How Are You Thinking About Your Content Strategy?

Ferdinand Götzen:        On the one hand, yes. We have a lot of content, so that’s really important. We have this really beautiful giant sheet with every piece of content we’ve ever put out, every single piece of content that we have come across that has been put out that mentions or references us in some way or another. We know anything that’s written that has the word, ‘Recruitee’ in it, not only are we aware of it, but we’ve categorized it according to where in the funnel it’s most appropriate, according to what pain points it address, what angles it addresses.

In that flow from pain, solution, proof, action, there are a lot of other steps, of course. Different segments have different customer journeys, but we have actually categorized that and segmented it to quite a large extent. That’s to do with the fact that our head of content can bust out a huge amount of quality content in a very short period of time. So, we always have a lot of content and we have a very big overview of what should we write about next? We’ve talked a lot about data protection and data security in the GDPR within our product. Maybe we should talk about UX a little more. Maybe we should talk about our customer support a little more.

I think it’s really important to have that clear flow and a really good idea. What content do I have and how do I best use it? When we are creating ad strategies, sometimes these are really big overarching strategies that we developed for two months. Sometimes it’s a smaller experiment. Very often, it’s a two week experiment, where we’re testing something new. We have a very good idea of what content’s gonna be most suitable.

Even though we have this overview, we still do A/B tests, we still figure out works best and see what people respond to most.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Cool. Within using that content, using those ad strategies, are you guys doing a lot of retargeting, based off that. It seems like you guys have a really good understanding of what content is higher in the funnel versus mid-funnel. Are you just building audiences based off five different blog posts and then showing them this blog post, as an example? I’m trying to figure out how you guys think about your funnel. It’s kinda cool.

Content Marketing for Different Stages of the Funnel

Ferdinand Götzen:        We do something there. I try to keep some of the technicalities of how we do things a little bit secret, even though, generally, I believe that you can share anything with anyone. Every business is so different, even competitors. I do try to keep some things that we’re still testing that haven’t been proven, yet, on the down low. Generally speaking, yes. We really try to segment our users and we try to see how can we effectively give the user more of what they’ve already shown they’re interested in.

At the same, that’s always the big challenge. On the one hand, you wanna say, “This is a flow of users who care about this, so I’m gonna give them, I don’t know, it might be data security, so you’re gonna target that.” But then you might have a flow of users, maybe those users also care about something else. So, the real art in it is finding out how to make older users get all the touchpoints that are most relevant to them and not just one segment that might be relevant.

This might sound a little bit like gibberish, but it makes sense in my head. You need to make sure that everyone;s getting everything they want to be getting and that’s a very big challenge. That’s very complicated.

JD Prater:                     Gotcha, cool. Let’s switch gears and think about your search advertising. Whenever we think about copy and content within our online advertising, are you guys also running ads to content in search or is that when you guys think about actually running them to your website?

Running Ads to Content

Ferdinand Götzen:        We do both. When it comes to search, we do a bit of both. We have a lot of different ads, a lot of them campaigns, and there’s huge differences geographically. For example, we see huge differences that different countries respond completely differently to whether you’re trying to get people to your website or whether you’re trying to get people to your blog, for example.

We’re seeing huge differences geographically speaking. As a result, we have a lot of different campaigns that we’re constantly tweaking. We really do try to optimize the copy for every single one.

One of the things that’s really important there, is that we are a B2B company, which means that we have significant sales process. What we try to do, what I think is incredibly important, it’s something that we’ve been working on, especially lately, is creating consistency in the messaging. So that when somebody sees an ad or whether somebody sees a blog post and then they’re talking to the sales guy on the phone, that they’re hearing similar things. I think there is a lot of value in the subconscious connections that we create. It might seem that, on the surface, it doesn’t really matter if we’re using the same words as somebody else, further down the funnel, but it does at the end of the day.

I think that when users hear the same words, when they hear consistency, it also instills trust, it instills a certain brand identity. This is also true of tone and style, so we try to keep that consistent and optimize it, per geographic segment, as well.

JD Prater:                     That’s pretty cool. I like that idea as well. I think I’ve seen that even with here at AdStage. Thumbs up to that. We’re currently trying to educate our sales team and then working with our CS team so we’re all saying the same things. This goes even to … you were talking Chatbox and LiveChat maybe on your website to where all of this is saying the same things. We’re all moving in the same direction. Whenever you’re thinking about your Ad Copy … we’ll get pretty technical here. How do think about the two headlines and the description? Do you place more weight on those two headlines versus the description? How do you play around and test with that?

Writing ETAs – Headlines vs Descriptions

Ferdinand Götzen:        We have a certain amount of considerations, so that’s the thing. When you’re creating copy, on the one hand you wanna do what sounds really good, so I started off more with casual writing, creative writing, more journalistic style writing a really, really long time ago. I really enjoy writing something that sounds good, that flows well. At the same time, you need to do what converts, and at the same time, you need to do what is best for Google’s algorithms. When you have AdWords, there’s what we call, ‘the trifecta’ of this keyword, trifecta, which is that the keywords in your ad group need to be reflected in the ad itself. It also needs to be reflected on the landing page. You need to make sure that … you cannot have one ad group for every keyword, so you’re obviously gonna have some ad groups that have a variety of keywords, which all revolve around the same core keyword, but the long tail is gonna change.

Somehow you need to make that fit into the ad. We’re always those three things and we need to make sure that it sounds good, that it’s unique, that it converts, and at the same time, that it’s positive and works with the algorithms.

That’s something that I always struggle with because, when you’re doing extended text ads, you see that you got your headline and then I write a beautiful headline in English. Everything’s great; I’m very happy with it. Then I have to do it with German, then I’m halfway through the first word and I’ve used up my 30 characters because German has way more letters than any other language out there. A good example would be, I need to write, “Applicant Tracking System” or I can write, “ATS” but then in German, I have write the which is twice as long and I can’t even say anything else.

Those are the really specific challenges that we try to tackle, but I think this trifecta is incredibly important. Your landing page also reflects the keywords that you’ve chosen and the keywords that are inside the Ad Copy, itself. It’s something that, if you talk to anyone who works at Google, who’s part of the Google AdWords team there, they’re gonna tell you this is almost the most basic thing. If you get a hygiene report from Google, this is the most basic thing, is that these keywords need to be mirrored into these three elements. It’s something that 90% of companies are doing right.

JD Prater:                     I can definitely feel your pain there. I like the German example. When you’re thinking about that … we talked about using those keywords in the text ads and we talking about our keyword group. Let’s shift into the actually landing pages. I think this is becoming a big one now. Especially as we AdWords really promoting AMP, Accelerated Mobile Pages. Is that something you guys are experimenting with, is AMP? Then the second part of that is, do you guys create a lot of landing pages, especially for campaigns?

Creating Landing Pages and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

Ferdinand Götzen:        Yeah. We’ve been working a lot with AdWords, especially in the last couple of months. We’ve been really about … we did a whole overhaul of the whole strategy because, to give the good example before, I started working at Recruitee, the Head of Marketing had more of a performance marketing approach. I’ve had more of a growth approach, thinking about the full funnel, thinking about the whole customer journey. Rather than thinking of Google ads as an end, it’s just one piece of this really complex puzzle. It’s just one link in the chain. We’ve been working a lot on overhauling our whole strategy.

With AMP, we’ve already started looking into it, we’ve already planned out a bunch of ideas. We’ve thought about how we’re going to implement this most effectively, but it’s something that we just haven’t gotten around to, just yet, because we’re in the process of changing everything around, how we’ve organized our ads, the campaigns that we’re running, the copy, everything we’ve just completely overhauled in the last few months. That’s something that’s still waiting.

I can’t remember what the second question was?

JD Prater:                     The second one was really creating specific landing pages for specific campaigns. Are you guys driving people to the generalized landing pages?

Ferdinand Götzen:        Yeah, okay. Now I remember. The landing pages, we’re trying to build a landing page for every ad group. That’s our final goal, which is that every ad group has its own landing page. At the moment, we’ve done it on a campaign by campaign basis. But we want to do it also for every ad group because, what we’ve done is, we started working with Instapage. I’m a really big fan of Instapage. I love their internal AB test function because I have some friends who are serious data scientists and they work with all the big tools and they work data at a very, very high level. Even they say that for very simple AB tests, Instapage really does the trick, and it’s one way that … I also have to think about, we have a web app where the website and the application are integrated together. How do I create a system where everyone in my team, everyone in the marketing dept can actually make changes and test and do AB tests. Instapage has turned out to be one of the easiest ways for everyone to do those tests.

When you’re talking about a small landing page for a very specific ad group, it doesn’t matter how badly you screw it up, it’s not going to have a huge impact on your overall AdWords performance. We try to encourage as much experimentation. That’s what we’re in the process of doing. We’re trying to build one landing page for every single ad group, so that we can really nail this trifecta idea. That the keywords should reflect in the landing page, the ad, and the ad group itself.

JD Prater:                     Wow. That sounds intense. That’s amazing that you guys have gone that far. I have no doubt that, with that type of intensity and type of effort, I’m sure that quality scores are going up. When you think about the trifectas or maybe ad costs are coming down or it’s a better user experience for someone click on the ads. Kudos to you guys for that one. That’s not an easy task.

Ferdinand Götzen:        Yeah, thanks. We’re not quite done with it yet, so we can’t really pat ourselves on the back. To be honest, when you’re working with something like Instapage, you can just duplicate your pages. You just change the copy around a little bit. It is a lot of work. It’s a lot of tedious nitty-gritty stuff, but it’s not as much work as it sounds because you just duplicate, then you do some tests on your call landing pages. You figure out what works more or less. You come up with a few variations, a few variants, and then you just duplicate and you just adjust the keywords to optimize it.

JD Prater:                     Gotcha. Well, it’s still a big undertaking. I still think it’s pretty cool. Something else I wanna talk to you about was, you had talked about creating stickiness and nurturing leads that come through these paid-ad channels. How do you think about stickiness and nurturing leads?

Stickiness and Nurturing Leads Through Paid Networks

Ferdinand Götzen:        Well, there’s stickiness in terms of product. I was actually talking to a colleague today. Think of a product like, LastPass or Dashlane, which, if you use it right, you have one master password. Dashlane is a test deciding all your passwords for everything. That’s serious stickiness because you cannot get rid of it afterwards. It’s so incredibly hard to then switch from that to something else. That’s really a product concept. The idea that, even if a user were to be dissatisfied with an aspect or a feature of your product, the effort of switching to another product, would be just too much. Too different to switch that to something else.

This could be because it’s incredibly sticky, it could be because the product is incredibly good. That stickiness concept is really important. I tried to do that in marketing, and everything that we do related to growth because driving someone to your website is great, retargeting them is great. But you need to think long-term. You don’t know where your users currently are. This is really the big difference between B2C and B2B. I think that working in B2B SaaS, especially the non-enterprise B2B SaaS is like a baptism of fire. Attribution is incredibly complicated. Thinking about the user journey could be incredibly complicated.

I always try to think about, who is the end-user and what are they currently going through because maybe they really love your product. They saw your website. They saw the copy. They saw the ad. They are a hundred percent sold. They know that they want to use your product, but they’re currently using another product and the subscription doesn’t end for another two months. They’re not willing to pay double for two months, so you need to be there in two months time when they’re ready.

That’s something that everyone needs to think about. Especially when you have a longer process. We know that it takes, sometimes, up to two months to close some deals. So, we need to know … or three months, I promise, it really depends on the type of deal. We know that it’s not that they see us one day and they buy us the next day. It’s not a simple B2C free product that you can download or anything like that. So, we need to think about how do we make sure they stick around? How do we make sure that they are aware of us in the long-term?

That’s why we create content. That’s why we do retargeting. That’s why we have hyper-segmented email lists to make that everyone’s getting as much value as possible. That’s why we try to create as much value all the time as possible. That’s why we also try to use remarketing in our Google ads because it’s actually something I’ve noticed is that a lot of companies don’t do that. They don’t upload remarketing lists to Google ads. It’s a great way to reduce your costs and just tie down people who’ve already had touch with you in the past.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Let’s break that out. We’re talking about uploading audiences in there. Are you talking display retargeting as well as RLSAs? You’re saying you’re just not seeing a whole lot of that?

RLSAs and Audience Lists

Ferdinand Götzen:        We’re doing both, but when I work with other companies … I had a friend of mine who actually reached out to me and said, “Could I help out with Google ads?” And she asked me, “What is the most important thing about doing Google ads right?” I said, “The most important thing is to realize you have an account manager and you should use them.” They will tell you the basics, which so many people skip.

I used to teach growth. I used to do consultancy. I used to see what a lot of other companies are doing. From B2C, it doesn’t matter so much because you can get away with doing more basic things in the B2C environment. In the B2B environment, it’s very, very difficult. It’s very difficult to do just the basics and still be getting good results.

I just see that a lot of companies are not uploading customer lists. They’re not uploading remarketing lists, either for display or RSLA. It seems quite basic once you’re doing it a lot, but we tend to forget. That’s the thing, that people who are really in a field or in a subject, they tend to forget that most people don’t think that way and most people don’t do it.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Whenever you’re talking and you were thinking about the importance of Ad Copy, and we’re talking about uploading these email lists, how do you think about changing that Ad Copy? So, if you’re looking at this list that’s coming through and they’re on an RLSA, they come in, they search, they hit your keyword, how are changing that ad?

Ad Copy for RLSAs

Ferdinand Götzen:        The way we change it is, it really depends on the list that we’re uploading, but I think the most important thing is to just reiterate this consistency. You know what these people have already seen or you need to, at least, assume that a good amount of these people have already seen some of the stuff that you put out there. So you need to make sure that whatever you’re putting out there is a natural Followone from what they’ve seen before. The more we segment the lists, the easier that is to do because then we can really, not just talk about actual words that we use in our copy, we can also think about what are the angles, we should play, what URLs and landing pages should we send them to? How do we optimize those landing pages for that exact group?

But if you don’t have the type of segmentation, of course, you have to do it at a more basic level. You need to think about, okay, how do we make sure that we’re not repeating ourselves, for example. I used to put very little value on rotating ads and that’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way because then people were saying, “I’m seeing your ads all the time and they never change and they’re super boring and I’m boring of seeing them on my Facebook timeline or on Google.”

Then you just think about, okay, maybe I should make two or three versions and rotate them once I’ve optimized. It’s important to keep it fresh. It’s important to keep it relevant. It’s important to have consistency.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I think I definitely would agree with all of those points. Whenever you touched on this with Facebook, I think Facebook has really pushed us to update our ads a lot. When you think about ad fatigue and you think about people seeing your ad all the time. Are you also doing the same things, like uploading these lists, hyper-segmentation, then showing those ads based off of that? I guess what I’m trying to say, are Facebook and AdWords more or less mirrored within our funnel approach and Ad Copy approach?

Writing Ads for Facebook and AdWords

Ferdinand Götzen:        Yeah. To be there both part of the same machine that we’re trying to build. So, we’re trying to build this semi-automated huge monster of a funnel. It’s actually more of a combination of many little funnels. Facebook and Google ads really work in parallel. They really work in parallel.

JD Prater:                     Gotcha. I wanted to touch on maybe some of your favorite tools. You mentioned Instapage, what are some other tools that you like whenever you’re thinking around Ad Copy content, Facebook, AdWords, lay them on me.

Favorite Tools for PPC

Ferdinand Götzen:        One tool tested out that was quite fun, we started using it then we stopped using for a while. We’re thinking about using it again. It’s a tool that, I think in the states it’s called, ‘Easy-Leads.’ It’s called, ‘Zenbid’ here in Europe because they operate under a different name. It’s similar to another one called,’ and it does automated bidding. AI driven automated bidding. It looked up all your past data, all your live data, then it runs it through machine learning algorithms. It predicts or predictive algorithms and it essentially predicts where you are best placed to place your bets or to place your bids. It bids for you automatically. That’s a pretty cool tool. It works really for colleagues of mine or friends of mine who work in eCommerce. They’ve seen really, really nice results.

In our field, we’ve seen that it works sometimes, but for us it’s really complicated because, this is my issue with performance marketing because I don’t think of ads as a thing in itself. It’s a part of a wider thing. I know I’m using the word ‘thing’ a lot. I’m at a lack of words. When I’m thinking about ads, I’m also thinking about what’s happening down the line, so it’s very easy for me look at US leads, for example. I’ll look at US leads and the cost of click will be lower, the click-through rate will be higher. It’s great. You wanna celebrate, your Google ads are doing great, the US campaigns are doing fantastically. But then I hear my sales guy or a sales colleague say, “Oh, yeah, by the way, we have a hundred competitors in the states, so it costs us 10 times more in opportunity costs to talk to a US lead, than it does Dutch lead, for example, because we’re based in the Netherlands because they’ve all heard of us.”

I constantly have to take all these things into account. It’s really important to think about ads as one part of a wider thing. I went a little bit off track, I have a tendency to do that. To get back to the tools, I think that for that reason, ZenBid wasn’t great because these automated bidding things, they would then start bidding often on things that made sense for the click-throughs, for the conversions. We would see and increase in the conversions to sign up, for example.

We often see ads that performed really well with converting sign-up to a free trial but they then don’t convert to paid customers afterwards. So, you always need to keep a view on the whole funnel. When it comes to actually copy, I use a lot of little tools. We use Hemingway a little bit for test copy. Grammarly is super important, especially if you live … I live in the Netherlands and I think there’s a higher percentage of fluent English-speakers here than in the states, but still, English is not the native language, so Grammarly is always a nice tool to have. Make sure that everyone is always on the same page.

One thing that I think is really valuable is UsabilityHub. They purchased or they acquired this tool called, “Five-second Test.” It’s really great for testing landing pages. It essentially shows a selection of users your page, your ad, or whatever it is your trying to put out there for five seconds. Then you can ask them basic questions. The idea behind it is that, when somebody sees your ad for the first time, just for five seconds, they need to at least understand some basic things. For example, what does this product do? What is the unique selling point of this product?

Usability hub is great. Instapage is great. I like all the little things, like Hemingway and Grammarly and this kind of stuff. I have all these templates that we built and all these spreadsheets and lists and keywords to use, keywords not to use, and this kind of stuff. When it comes to tooling, I can probably say a lot more about other related toolings, so things like, analytics and this kind of stuff. But for ads in particular, that’s mainly the stuff that we’ve been playing around with.

JD Prater:                     Gotcha. Cool, man. I got two more questions for you. Next one is, looking at 2018, and you’re really focused on growth, what are some things that you’re really excited about for 2018?

Growth Initiatives for 2018

Ferdinand Götzen:        I’m really excited about video. We hired a video and design creator for our team. He’s staring tomorrow. We already set everything up so that there’s not even gonna be an onboarding date. He’s gonna get straight into thinking about what kind of videos we can make. We’re very excited about it. I think that’s really gonna make a big difference. I know that Facebook is now retiring the whole, content, reach and boost for Facebook Live videos, but still I think video is gonna play an incredibly important part. That’s gonna be really essential to our strategy, for display advertising, as well as for Facebook ads. I think everything’s gonna revolve around video.

Honestly, I think last year was the year for video, but we’re still in the hot spot, now, so, I think in the next couple of years. I think in the next couple of years, we’re gonna see every company start using it a lot more. That would be one thing I’m most excited about.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, it seems like 2018 is the year of implementing video. Yeah. I agree with you there.

Ferdinand Götzen:        Exactly, exactly. We’re talking about it, 2018 is actually doing it.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. I’m with you there. Alright, man. Last one here. Give us your best pro tip. What’s something that you wanna leave the audience with?

Ferdinand Götzen:        I think the best pro tip, is use your Google AdWords account manager. Call them up, talk to them. They want you to do well because they want you to spend more on your Google ads. Especially if you’re not super experience, which, in performance marketing it is very rare, but in the field of growth, it happens more and more because you have these people who are all rounders and they have very different kinds of expertise. Use your Google account manger. It can be incredibly helpful. They can be bring incredible value.

Then the only other thing I would say is, don’t think about ads as just one thing in itself. Think of it as part of your entire strategy, what place does it play, and think about making sure that everything you say is consistent, that you have your own style because branding is not just what you see, it’s also what you read. Three things.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Nice. Alright, man. Ferdinand, thanks again for coming on the PPC Show. Where can listeners find you online?

Ferdinand Götzen:        People can find me, I write a blog, it’s Gotzen’s spelled G-O-T-Z-E-N, depending on where you’re from, .com. I’m easy to find on LinkedIn. I’m always happy to answer questions, so if anyone wants, they can find me on LinkedIn, they can find me on the website. I think is a good place to go just to see what we’re doing. I always recommend to people, better to watch what I’m doing, rather than listen to what I’m saying, which might not be so smart because I write a blog and I want people to read it, but still. Find me on LinkedIn, find me. I’m everywhere on the internet. It’s easy to find.

JD Prater:                     Alright. I’ll make sure to include all of those links in the notes, so if you guys wanna reach out Ferdinand, please go look into those show notes. Again, Ferdinand, thank you so much for coming on and talking to us about the importance of Ad Copy and online advertising. It was really fun to hear how you think about the funnel, how you think paid acquisition within Recruitee. So, thanks again.

Ferdinand Götzen:        Thanks a lot for having me. It was great.

What Makes a Great Facebook Video Ad [Podcast + Transcript]

What Makes a Great Facebook Video Ad [Podcast + Transcript]

Welcome to episode #74 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by Akvile DeFazio, President of AKvertise Inc.

In this episode, Akvile talks about what makes a good video for Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads.

Stay tuned as she covers:

  • What makes a good video for Facebook Ads
  • How can small to medium size brands affordably and effectively create video content for their campaigns
  • What is the best way to use video in Instagram ads
  • Common mistakes she sees companies make with video
  • The most interesting trend in social media advertising right now

Listen to the Episode

Akvile DeFazio

As someone who lives for connecting people, making the connection between consumers and brands is what Akvile DeFazio, President of AKvertise, Inc., a social media advertising agency, does best. Prior to launching AKvertise, she spent the last decade working in-house at a variety of companies, ranging from ski and snowboard ecommerce, to pet health insurance, and event marketing at Search Marketing Expo via paid search and social.

As a conversion driven marketer, Akvile is passionate about helping businesses expand their online visibility and reaching their goals. Her expertise lies in ecommerce, event marketing, mobile apps, and lead generation, by way of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest Ads. When she’s offline, she enjoys exploring Central California where she, her husband, and their dog, call home. Connect with her on Twitter at @AkvileDefazio or at

Show Notes and Transcript

JD Prater:                     Akvile, welcome to the show.

Akvile DeFazio:             Hi JD, thanks for having me on.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, this is pretty cool. We have a Californian on the show not too far from us right here in San Francisco. Why don’t you give the good people a quick summary of who you are and what you got going on and then let’s talk about California.

Akvile Defazio:             Certainly, so hi everyone. My name is Akvile DeFazio. I am the President of AKvertise Inc., and we are a social media advertising agency in central California.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Central California, I like it. So we were talking right before the show. You used to be here in the Bay Area, right?

Akvile DeFazio:             Yes. I was in the East Bay in Berkeley. The BART is the best invention for the Bay Area, which I wish more cities had it.

JD Prater:                     100% agree. So where in Central California are you?

Akvile DeFazio:             I am in Paso Robles, which is equidistance between San Francisco and LA. For anyone that might be a little bit more familiar with California, it is about 30 minutes from San Luis Obispo.

JD Prater:                     Very cool. So you are truly central. All right. Well, great.

Well, we brought you on to talk about some Facebook ads as you do, everyone’s favorite going into 2018 and specifically we’re going to talk about some video ads, which we haven’t talked about on the show so I’m pretty pumped to actually get into this one.

What Makes a Good Video Ad for Facebook?

Softball question here. What makes a good video ad for Facebook?

Akvile DeFazio:             There are a number of factors, but relevancy to the audience is number one. Make it captivating. Make it interesting, helpful, useful, entertaining, even, to the people that you’re targeting. Just make sure you have a goal, and that it’s high quality in appearance even if you have a low budget for production and just make sure to get your message across to accomplish your goals of your video.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, that was like a 10-point blog that I’m going to have you write for us, but let’s dive into some of those with how do you … Let’s just like go real, like B2B. Right? How do we make that educating and fun? How would you approach these type of companies that are afraid to think about their company as fun, and educating, and entertaining?

Akvile DeFazio:             Oh, great question.

I just actually wrote a post that’s coming out soon about B2B video ads for Facebook and Instagram. I feel like it’s a heavily under-utilized medium for B2B especially. Sure, they’re all over Facebook for eBooks and webinars and to do lead gen, but not too many people are doing videos.

So one thing is just even if you have a gif or just using any sort of subtle motion in it, even if you don’t have a production team for it, even just use your phone or just have somebody that’s … For instance, if you’re in a webcast and you’re trying to promote attendance for it, have the host do a little introduction, give them a little sneak peak, a taste of what’s going to happen on the webinar, and have them hungry to come back and sign up and actually be on the webcast. Or, maybe if you’re doing an eBook maybe have a video of somebody reading a little snippet of it or just do something fun with maybe just a slight animation, a gif even, just to loop for 10 seconds if something just popping up or drawing attention to the ebook itself. So there’s a lot of different ways you can get creative with it. Just take what you’re doing with static images and try to add some sort of motion to it.

JD Prater:                     That’s good advice. I really like that.

Do you find that users are maybe more forgiving of like the polish of videos now on Facebook?

Video Quality on Facebook

Akvile DeFazio:             Oh, absolutely. As long as it’s entertaining or interesting to people in some way, they’ll watch it, even if it’s just for 10 seconds or some people will even watch the whole thing. Like with Facebook ads I think Buzzsumo came out with an article last year saying that the sweet spot for Facebook at that time was like 60 to 90 seconds, but for Instagram it’s obviously shorter than that since there’s a 60-second cap on it. But there’s so much opportunity to maximize your efforts using video, especially in the B2B space. Even if you are a corporate company that you can’t be too flashy there’s professional ways of making it stand out among the stillness of the feed.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, for sure. I think one of the things too, which we’ll get into, is like really creating audiences based off the video. I think that’s really … I think smart advertisers like yourself are doing these things, but I think it’s an, I would say, untapped resource. From what I have seen is that people using video one, 100% agree, not using it enough, but then two, not getting those audiences based off that video.

Akvile DeFazio:             Absolutely, yeah, making audiences from those. You already got someone’s attention for it even if it was 10 seconds make an audience out of that, try different messaging, video and static, or whatever you’re trying to accomplish, whether it e-commerce, B2B, or you’re trying to do lead gen for B2B. There’s so much opportunity, I feel like people aren’t using it to its full potential, so yeah, creating audiences and capturing those people to come back and complete the goal is definitely recommended.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Yeah. That’s such a tough one, when we talk about budgets and everything, so I think you gave some really good ideas for- Hey, look, man, just pull out your iPhone, take some video, and get over it. You know? Would that be your number one thing? Just get over it and try it.

Akvile DeFazio:             Yeah, just do it. Turn your phone around, or use your front camera, and just go to town, make a short video and see how it works. One example that I saw that people are like, “Oh, maybe I need to get a nice camera,” like a DSLR or a go-pro. Use your phone, because Taylor Swift just did a whole bunch of ads on Facebook to promote her new album a few months ago, and she was just doing behind the scenes sneak peaks of her in the recording studio with her phone, and you could tell it’s not IMAX quality, but it’s good enough, and if it works for her, it could work for a small business owner, as well.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, that’s a really good point. I put you on the spot there with some B2B, but I think it’s another social platform, so I think on LinkedIn, we see this a lot. I know we won’t get in to LinkedIn, we’ll push them aside. We’re going to focus on Facebook, but for B2B people that are like, “No, this doesn’t work.” I see B2B people all the time on LinkedIn with these front-facing camera shots just talking into the camera and telling people about their product, or being inspiring, I guess you should say.

Akvile DeFazio:             Absolutely. Yeah, and transfer that over to other channels and see how it works, and if you need to tweak it, do so. Test it, if it’s shorter, longer, different background, whatever, just test it out and see what works best for you.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, good point. Well, cool. Let’s go even deeper into this part of it. Whenever we talk about small and medium-sized brands creating these videos affordably and effectively and really kind of creating this content, what advice do you have for those types of advertisers?

Advice for Small and Medium-Sized Brands Creating Video Ads

Akvile DeFazio:             Get your phone out, use a simple background, whether it’s just a wall or a table if you’re trying to display a product. If you’re promoting services, do a little sneak peak of what somebody can expect. For instance, like Hello Fresh, they do have a lot of ads for home food delivery, and they just have simple videos where it’s just a woman in her kitchen, and she’s just unboxing it, and that enough gives the viewer the expectation of what they can expect at their own door if they use their service, and it’s simple. If you want, there’s a lot of really cool aps that are free, even, or low-cost if you want to upgrade. There’s stop motion studio if you want to do stop motion videos and just have some subtle motion from boomerang and hyper lapse, in shot. There’s also quick, but if you do have a go-pro, you can use that and just put overlay text, simple things like that, that will make it look like it’s designed really well and it’s high-quality, but it just takes a few little things to amplify your video and get your message across, or just captivate people, as they’re scrolling through the feed.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I know that you’re a Facebook ads expert, but do you also create the videos for clients?

Akvile DeFazio:             No. I have done that for some smaller clients, but usually I just give creative direction, and I give them suggestions, especially with smaller clients and they’re not too familiar with what’s out there and being in the space. I can give recommendations of free trials or free apps or just low-cost things to kind of get their foot in the door and see just how impactful video can be. A lot of my clients are mostly medium-sized, and they do have somebody in-house that’s a designer that has video editing abilities, so I’ll usually work with them and tell them what to do with certain ad copy or audiences that we’re looking to target, and we’ll just work together on that to produce some video.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Yeah, I was doing another podcast with another friend. It hasn’t aired yet, but it is coming out, but one of the things that caught me, that he said I thought is might be kind of what you’re getting at. He was like, “2017 was the year of video,” and then it was like, “Really, 2018 is the year of implementing video.” Do you find that to be true with your clients, that they’re really warming up to the video space?

Akvile DeFazio:             Absolutely. There are some that jumped right into it last year, but as you’ve said, they were talking about it, but they weren’t doing it yet. Even though we’re only in to February now that I already have some that are starting it for the very first time, and seeing great early results. So, it just goes to show that you don’t need to put too much work into it to make it work, and you can just tweak it and improve it. It’s still under-utilized. Yes, a lot of people are doing video, but most ads are still static and now with Instagram coming in to play, where that’s another huge visual platform that I think it’s a really good time to get in and just launch that first video. Make it easy, make it quick, and see how it goes. Just get in that space.

Instagram Video Ads Best Practices

JD Prater:                     Nice. Yeah, let’s transfer over into Instagram, because I think, again, I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about Instagram on the podcast. It is blowing up right now. I think it is a really good place for Facebook inventory going over, but what are some of the best ways that you see to use video on Instagram, because it’s a very different platform than Facebook.

Akvile DeFazio:             Right. So, there’s, obviously, less placements for it, there’s just the regular feed and you can do video ads that way, but now, with stories kind of taking on Snapchat, and making it a huge jump forward, a lot of people are on there and more people are advertising stories, and now, I think, just this week they started announcing that, as an e-commerce brand, you can start doing carousels in stories, which is huge. So, if you work in e-commerce, and you’re listening, jump on it before it gets super saturated. I think Instagram will have to have a lot more placements over time, since people are trying to get into that space, but there are 2-3 ways to get in there now with video, so make them short and make them captivating.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. That’s a really going point. Let’s unpackage jumping on stuff. I think this is why it’s so important, that whenever you’re looking for an agency, you’re looking for someone like yourself to run your Facebook campaigns, that it’s really important that this person is tuned in to what is happening now, to really either help guide that direction, but also to inform you, because I know, a lot of times, you might be just too busy to keep up with the news, but this is why you have these people that geek out, like you and I do, that keep up with these Instagram carousel ads for stories, which I think is going to be really cool. Just launching for e-commerce stuff. What are some things that you’re looking forward to with this type of new placement and ad type?

Akvile DeFazio:             Just being where the people are. I feel like, in the last several years, that e-commerce and just shopping in general, whether it’s on or offline, has significantly changed to where now the customer dictates where they want things and where they’re going to purchase. If they’re using Instagram, and they’re looking at stories, then it’s a quick way to just put in your products as they’re scrolling through and if they see that they’re interested in it, they can just swipe up and convert and just have a plan going into it, know what you want to test out first and then expand outwards. Yeah, I’m excited to see what they’ll do going forward since they’re introducing a lot more offerings to advertisers.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Whenever you’re thinking about video creation for Instagram, so separate from Facebook, are you creating two different videos or are you just taking that video, maybe cutting it up differently for Instagram?

Video Ads Creation for Instagram

Akvile DeFazio:             For a lot of my clients, we’ll launch the same video in both if it fits the requirements for each channel. If it’s a longer Facebook video that doesn’t cross over to Instagram, then we’ll edit it to make it shorter, or if the story needs to be shortened a little bit to kind of get the whole message across, then we’ll edit it that way. Sometimes, depending on the ad copy, too. So, with Facebook, we can add a little bit more, if we’re trying to do stuff there, but on Instagram, the copy’s a lot shorter, so we tried to tell more of a story often times there visually, rather than contextually. So, there are some tweaks here and there.

JD Prater:                     Nice. So, if you’re listening and you’re running Facebook video ads, just feel free to pop it over. Just test out the placement. Facebook is making it very easy to run Instagram, I’ll say that. They’re really pushing towards that, so check it out, but here’s something that I’m sure you hear a lot, and it’s a question that I’ve seen so many times, but what are some of the mistakes that you see companies making when it comes to video ads?

Common Mistakes Companies Make with Video Ads

Akvile DeFazio:             Excellent question. This happens quite a bit, unfortunately, but a lot of clients tend to get excited about a new product coming out or a new service, and they, often times if I don’t work with them directly in their office inside, I do have my own office, and most of my clients are out of state, that they might overlook consulting with me first, in terms of what’s good to use in ads. If you are on the team that’s creating your video content, and you’re looking to promote it on social media channels, definitely talk to your advertising person, because sometimes the story isn’t told the most optimally throughout that video, or they’re missing a shot of the product, or maybe it doesn’t work with the goal that you had in mind. Before you even start storyboarding, talk to your advertiser, talk to your whole marketing team, and see how you can utilize that video so you don’t have to go back and reshoot.

Talk about your goals first, no matter what campaign you’re doing, and then start storyboarding, and then how you can accomplish that goal, whether it’s brand awareness, to drive traffic to your site, or to convert people through a video. Talk to everybody on your team, figure out a strategy, and then launch it, so you don’t have to struggle and then figure out, how do I make this work? Instead of trying to jam a square peg into a circle. It’s good just to have all your ducks in a row and storyboard with your entire team, I guess. Long story long.

JD Prater:                     No, it’s good. I think it’s a really good point and something that I’ve been seeing as a trend, myself, is we’re really good when it came to advertising. We got really good. We started off in search, we moved into social, but now it’s like this storytelling ability and really being able to, like you were talking about, storyboard a video. How did you develop that skill or that process? Did you have experience with that?

Storyboarding Videos

Akvile DeFazio:             I did. I used to do a lot of organic social media marketing, as well, for companies I used to work with in the past, and I still consult doing that, now, and I love the creative aspect of it and I’ve always been a creative person in my personal life, as well, through art, and while I don’t have high-end equipment, I do enjoy shooting video and playing with other visual mediums, so I always know that if I’m trying to tell a story, whether it’s visual … So, I’m in toast masters, let’s back it up a little bit, and even when you’re doing a speech, you have to have a story, you have to have an introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. Same goes to video. Know what you’re trying to get your point across, and then put it together in a way that it will convey that story, visually, or whether you’re using audio or not. It’s just important to have a strategy going forward.

JD Prater:                     Gotcha. Yeah, it’s really tough, whenever you think about all the different skillsets that we need to have. I know that this is one that I’ve been thinking about more and more and something that I’ve always found myself doing, but never really thought about it. When you’re in Facebook and Instagram, and you’re like, “Man, that was a really good ad,” and I end up saving them or screenshotting them and then sharing them. Do you do the same thing?

Akvile DeFazio:             Absolutely, yeah. I have a whole folder on my desktop where I keep- I separate them out by type or industry or video or static, but I do take a lot of those and I have a white board in my office, as well, where when I am storyboarding, I’ll draw little sketches of what I’m thinking, as well, for video, or other types of ads if I’m trying to do stuff for funnels.

Strategy vs Implementation

JD Prater:                     Nice. Here’s a question that I’ve always kind of wondered, and it’s something that I’ve been kind of framing in my own head, is how much time would you say that you focus- Let’s say that you’re going to launch a new campaign tomorrow. The actual strategy into implementation, and then the optimization, if you were to break that up in let’s say it was 100 percentage, how much percent would you place on strategy, like setting up, implementing, and then optimization. If you could break them down?

Akvile DeFazio:             When it comes to social ads?

JD Prater:                     Yeah.

Akvile DeFazio:             That’s a great question, though.

JD Prater:                     It’s a tough one.

Akvile DeFazio:             I would say, 80%. It is a very front-loaded process, but once you get all of that set up, then it’s just maintenance and optimization going forward, and just making adjustments. So, yeah, 80-20.

JD Prater:                     So, okay. I agree with you, right? I’ve had this conversation with other paid advertisers, and it’s not always the case, which I was kind of surprised by. I’m with you. I spend so much time, and I’m talking having meetings, meeting with the design team, meeting with the product team, or meeting as a marketing team, right? You’re trying to figure everything out before I even set up a campaign in Facebook, right? I’m with you, I spend way more time front-loading, but I found that other people, and maybe it’s a big agency kind of thing where they’re like, “Nah, I’m just an implementer,” and the optimizer, so it could be just a breakdown in roles, but I find it interesting. If you’re listening, tweet at us. I would love to hear your response to this. Where can people find you on twitter?

Akvile Defazio:             They can find me at @AkvileDefazio or Akvertise, if that’s easier. Or, if you want, just contact me through my website at Like advertise but with a “K”.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, definitely. That was our mid, our mid-podcast break, but if you’re listening and you made it this far, tweet at us and let us know how much time you spend on strategy versus maybe the execution part of it. Let’s keep rolling, now. We’re moving into 2018, it’s still kind of early. Let’s just say, 2018, most interesting trend that you’re seeing in social media advertising, and then I’m going to have you stretch it out. Give me like a two-year, and maybe a five-year. Some trends that you’re expecting or could see.

2018 Social Media Trends

Akvile DeFazio:             Oh, okay. SO, for 2018, I feel like this is last year you were saying that everybody was talking about video in 2017, and they’re actually doing it in 2018. A lot of people are talking about chat bots, but we’re probably not going to see too many people implementing it until later this year. I know there are some already doing it, but it’s still very, very quiet on the Facebook feed in terms of messenger ads. There’s some really good companies coming out, like Manychat, Larry Kim’s chatbot, he just opened up his own company called Mobile Monkey. It’s alive. There’s tons of different chat bot creating services out there, and right now I’m working with a client that we’re trying to build that out for them because they have something really great in the home improvement space that can definitely benefit from this.

I feel like, chat bots are kind of the new, closest way to get to your users aside from getting their email and getting in their inbox. You are right in their messenger, which people are using that all the time, now, and props to Facebook for building that up in the last few years, but I feel like that will be the new space for us as advertisers to get in and utilize, but let’s not ruin it. It’s a good thing.

JD Prater:                     I definitely hear you on that one. We were testing it out back in, let me see, like March, April, May of last year, and we were just doing e-book stuff, right? We were also running demos, so if you visited maybe the pricing page, “Hey, do you have a question?” Schedule a demo or talk, and we just had our sales team managing it. It worked out okay. It was still so early. I’m going to revisit it now, in 2018, now that people are warmed up to the idea. I think we were too quick, and so it was just ahead and people were like what is this? Why are you in my messenger? You’re annoying me. Now, it’s like, “Oh okay. I’m somewhat used to this. I’m conditioned,” but I agree with you on that one 100 percent. I think video, I think chat bots are going to be huge, moving forward, so let’s say it’s 2020, where do you see social advertising headed?

Akvile DeFazio:             It will be much more automated and with the rise of artificial intelligence, it will be interesting to see how that converts our jobs. I feel like we’ll still be a part of the creative process, but I imagine going forward with everything else being- with computers kind of automating and optimizing everything, that they’ll have a larger play in that space, but I don’t want to give up my job because I love it, so I hope the creative aspect, at least stays on the human side of things.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I think I would agree with that one, but going back to what you said, that 80 percent of strategy time can’t really be automated, but the 20 percent, that can get quicker. That can get faster using machine learning, or even AI, so I would agree with you on that one. I think that’s always a good one. See, you’re in the 80 percent camp, so you’re good. You are solid. Cool. Let’s kind of wrap up here, we released our Q4 benchmark report, and within it, we saw prices triple on Facebook, right? We’re seeing this happen, even across not just the newsfeed, but we’re seeing it on Instagram, we’re seeing it audience network. It’s just getting more expensive as more advertisers get on there. Do you think- What is that breaking point? Because we were talking about, we got on early, right? We saw great results, but now maybe those great results are getting more expensive. Still great results, but they’re getting more expensive. Do you think advertisers will still stay with the platform? Or do you think they’ll start shifting budgets in 2018/2019.

Akvile DeFazio:             I hope they stay with the platform. Facebook is trying to figure out how to keep advertisers and users alike on the platform, and they’ll have to come up with something in terms of more ad placements, or other ways for advertisers and small businesses, or any size business, just to stay relevant and in people’s feeds or wherever they might end up being. Sure, it will get more expensive, but I know Facebook is still usually the lowest cost per click in terms of all of their advertising platforms. I feel like there is some wiggle room there, and it will have to cap out at a certain point until they start noticing people drop off. For now, I think we’re safe, and Facebook needs to make their own revenue as their own business, so they’ll figure out a way to keep earning that money, and keep giving us as advertisers room to play.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. I think that’s a fair result. I think that’s a very fair answer of kind of evaluating Facebook’s take on it, right? Because Facebook is like, I can’t lose this ad revenue and I can’t lose users, but I also need more inventory. I need more users, and I need them to stay on there longer. I think that’s what we’re seeing right now in 2018 with their news feed updates. They’re just like, Oh, we’ve got to get that time back.

Akvile DeFazio:             Yeah, it will be a bigger change but it will be interesting to see what pans out.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, definitely. I think those are all great takes. Anything else that we missed as far as with good video advertising?


Akvile DeFazio:             One thing that I want to share, in case anybody didn’t see it earlier this week, AdEspresso posted something really great about video ads, so perfectly timed for us to chat, but one thing that really stood out is that they suggested that when you’re creating a video ad for any platform, really, that think like a silent film artist when you’re creating it, and I love that, because 85 percent of people do watch it on mute, and we also can’t disregard anybody that might be hearing impaired. So, just be mindful to your audience and take that tip and run with it and add captions.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, great point. Yeah, I definitely missed that one as well. I mean, I missed the tip. I saw that article, I believe I saw you tweet it out. So, we’ll definitely include that in the show notes for all those listening. Again, that was ad espresso talking about silent movies and creating your video to kind of think about that, where I don’t necessarily have to have the music on, or the video sound on, so, really cool stuff. Oh, we’ve got to finish with this one. This is the last one, with the tip. I was asking Akvile, where is the origin story of this name? This Akvile DeFazio, it just sounds so exotic, so tell us a little bit about your name.

Akvile DeFazio:             My mother heard something similar to my name, or maybe heard Akvile as well, but I was born in Lithuania, so that adds to the uniqueness of it, and now apparently there’s a water company that I share a name with in Lithuania, and it doesn’t mean anything, but I appreciate it a lot more these days. But as a kid, oh man. It was rough. I’ve had every letter inserted into my name. Then, my previous last name was Sniechkute (pronounced Snech-koo-teh), which was terrible as a kid, so I got married recently and my husband’s last name was DeFazio, and he’s half Irish, half Italian, so, hence the last name.

JD Prater:                     Gotcha.

Akvile DeFazio:             The trifecta of …

JD Prater:                     That’s awesome. Yeah. Thanks again for coming on, talking to us about Facebook video ads, and Instagram video ads, the future of social media advertising, and sharing a little bit more about even your origin story, so thanks again.

Akvile DeFazio:             Thank you so much JD, it was great chatting with you.

This Week In Ad Tech Headlines Feb 12-16th [PPC Podcast]

This Week In Ad Tech Headlines Feb 12-16th [PPC Podcast]

This week on The PPC Show, Paul Wicker and JD Prater break down the top nine headlines in ad tech and digital advertising for the week of Feb 12-16th.

Tune in as they cover the latest on Chrome ad filtering, Google AMP for email, and Facebook downvote button.




Show Notes

Under The Hood: How Chrome’s Ad Filtering Works

Starting this week, Google Chrome will start automatically blocking ads on sites that fail the “Better Ads Standards,” the standards defined by Google and the Coalition for Better Ads. The infographic on the official Chromium blog shows the types of ads that will be blocked.

Google Announces AMP For Email

Google announced a new way for developers to leverage the mobile-friendly AMP framework. The new AMP for Email will help email content load faster and allow developers keep it up-to-day in real time.

Facebook Is Creating A News Section In Watch To Feature Breaking News

Facebook is going to create a new news section in its video streaming platform Facebook Watch to feature breaking news stories. Through original programming, Facebook could boost ad revenue and keep people engaged on the platform for longer.

Facebook Confirms Test Of A Downvote Button For Flagging Comments

Facebook is now testing a downvote button on a limited set of public Page post comment reels. “We are exploring a feature for people to give us feedback about comments on public page posts,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“This is not a Dislike button!”

Snapchat Will Share Insight Data With Its Influencers and Creators

Snap finally launched new analytics that can be accessed by Official Story account holders and creators with large audiences. The data will include total story views, time spent viewing stories, daily reach and engagement metrics, plus additional info about the audience’s interests.

Making the Move from Freelancer to Running a Small Agency [Podcast]

Making the Move from Freelancer to Running a Small Agency [Podcast]

Welcome to episode #73 of the PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid search and social media advertising. This week we’re joined by Jon Quinton, founder of Overdrive Digital.

In this episode, Jon talks about making the move the freelancer to start his own digital agency in the UK.

Stay tuned to learn:

  • How he’s transitioning from freelancer to small agency
  • How he’s defining workflows so he can take on more staff
  • Checklists for account onboarding and set up (defining UTM structures, ad account access, GA access etc etc)
  • And his fictional scenarios built in to give some real-life examples of how to proceed for new account managers

Listen to the Episode



Jon Quinton

Jon Quinton runs Overdrive Digital, an agency specializing in paid social, paid search and SEO. Working with clients in both B2C and B2B, Jon enjoys the challenge of optimising campaigns for greater conversions, and always focusing on the fastest way to make an impact on the business. If you need a hand with your digital marketing, get in touch for a chat!

Show Notes and Transcript

JD Prater:                     Jon, welcome to the PPC Show!

Jon Quinton:                Hey, man. Thanks for having me.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Guys catch that accent? Jon is coming to us from just the London suburbs of Guildford, as I have learned, and so I’m pretty excited to have him on.

Jon Quinton:                Thanks very much. Like I was saying, I’ve been listening to the PPC Show for quite a while now, so … I’m going to try and not get all fanboy on you. Can we have a selfie?

JD Prater:                     Yeah. I’ll just take a picture of my computer screen of both of us in a selfie.

Jon Quinton:                That will be perfect.

JD Prater:                     Nice.

Jon Quinton:                I’ll frame it.

JD Prater:                     Cool. We got Jon on the show here to really kind of talk to us about some really … an interesting kind of inflection point within his own career. So, Jon used to be a freelancer doing a lot of PPC management, and now he has started his own digital agency called Overdrive Digital. So, Jon, tell us a little bit about how you got started as a freelancer, and then starting your own agency.

Jon Quinton:                Yeah, sure. I’ve been doing online marketing now for kind of … well over 10 years. The really cool thing about it for me is it started out as a hobby, so I’ve ended up doing something that I was doing for fun, but for a career, which I think is really cool. It started out kind of … So, before I did this, I used to play guitar for a living, which was completely different, really good fun, no money, you know. But it was great, and while I was doing that, I set up a subscription site to do online guitar lessons, so people would pay me like, what, $6 or $7 a month and they’d get some content, and it was kind of before YouTube went massive and there was loads of free content everywhere. It was a really cool project. Financially, it was a disaster, but for me, I learned a lot so it was okay.

But that classic thing of I’ve set up a website, loads of people are going to come read it, oh, no they don’t. So I had to learn how to get traffic. I learned how to set up PPC campaigns. I learned how to do a little bit of PR and get into guitar magazines. I just really, really enjoyed it. Like absolutely, completely enjoyed that process. That kind of led to doing work for different people, and that led in some freelancing, and then spent some time agency-side. Then about 16 months ago, I left my position in an agency called Builtvisible, who are in London. We were doing lots of SEO stuff at the time, and that’s been quite a big part of my digital marketing, has been kind of organic side. Left there, set up Overdrive Digital, which initially was kind of me freelancing and contracting.

Honestly, I did that … I set up just after my second child was born, so the goal at the time was don’t lose the house, keep some food on the table, and if that happens, it’ll be cool. And then it was quite apparent pretty quickly that it was going to be quite a bit better than that, and it was really busy, did really well, and it kind of came to this point of me going, “Right, well, do I just keep going as I am, as a contractor? Or do I try and grow this thing?” And there was just this itch and ambition to make it into something a bit bigger, and grow a team around it. That’s kind of where I am now, really.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Well, we’re going to be diving into that kind of itch, if you will, and some of those growing pains. But you’ve also set up a lot of really good processes to really help kind of understand and define the workflow, whether that’s the day to day management, whether that’s hiring people. Let’s kind of jump into that, as I’m sure there are people out there listening who have always wondered if they could do it. I kind of wanted to start off with just kind of understanding, what does it take to not only go from freelance, but to maybe add your first, maybe second employee?

Jon Quinton:                I think the … there’s a few different things, I think, that have to be there, and I think the mistake that I was seeing a lot of people make when you just kind of start reading around it is that they went and hired because they felt really busy. It’s like, okay, that’s a good indicator, but it’s not enough. Is the revenue there? Is the profit there? Is the cash in the bank there, so if it all goes wrong you can survive for a bit? Is that there? Is there a sales pipe of leads coming in? Does it look like this current trend is going to continue? Is there enough of one type of work?

We specialize mainly in pay social, so a lot of Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, do PPC, still do a bit of SEO. When I first started freelancing, it was, “I’ll take anything I can get,” in terms of I wasn’t really trying to specialize in anything. I just wanted to work. Whereas now, with specializing, and as that has happened, there’s become more and more of one type of role. So, enough consistency to fill a job, rather than … You can’t really hire someone to do everything as your first employee, because you’re going to have to hire someone pretty senior who’s going to be quite expensive, and it’s just not realistic. For me, it was about kind of working out what those boxes were, and making sure they were ticked to make sure that it was a secure decision.

This whole topic around workflows and processes was a really big deal for me at that point, because I was going from, “Well, it’s just me, I do it my way. I don’t really …” You can do it your way without putting a huge amount of thought into what your way is, but then you realize, “I’ve got to hire someone, so what are they going to be doing? What skills do I need to look for? What are they going to be coming in to do?” And that, for me, was the first point where I was like, “Okay, I need to really define these workflows, and define these processes to make that kind of hire possible.” So, that’s kind of how it started, really.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Let’s start there, then. I think that’s a really good point of, “Do I have enough business to justify it? Okay, great. I have enough business, it looks like we’re moving forward, we’re forecasting, we’re modeling well. All right, let’s hire someone.” Let’s talk about some of those processes. What were some of the first types of processes that you put into place, or you started documenting, of your own type of workflow?

Jon Quinton:                So, it actually started with just kind of having a Word doc open all the time, and I’d be kind of jotting down, “Okay, I’m doing this, and doing that.” Every time I did something, I’d jot it down, and I’d try and have a little bit of detail around why I was doing that particular thing. So, if I was taking on a new client and I was uploading new ad sets, instead of just going through it, I’d spend an extra five minutes or ten minutes just writing some bullet points on what I was actually doing and why, and then that kind of grew, and grew, and grew until I have a pretty thorough set of notes. Then it’s kind of going from, “What am I actually doing?” Through to kind of what we need to do.

For me, that’s been a really interesting process, stepping right back and going not just, “What am I doing?” from a day to day basis, but, “If I could design the perfect way of doing this, from my experience and what I’m doing right now, here’s everything that I would do.” It’s a really good opportunity to step back from the day to day and go, “Actually, is this really the right way of doing it, or should with put another check in? Are we looking at the right data at this point? Are we sending the client the right report? Is the onboarding process right? Do they have a good experience? Could we do anything that makes that better and more pleasurable for a client?” All that type of stuff. It’s been a really good opportunity to kind of look at all of that, really.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I mean, I think that’s something that is always interesting, when you break down why you’re doing something. It sounds like as you kind of get into that, you started writing about it, you got into it. What are some of the onboarding, or some of the setup structures that you put into place? Give us super-tactical type of lists that you started putting together.

Jon Quinton:                I think the onboarding bit is really interesting because that’s such a key part of, a critical part of any relationship. Again, that’s where consistency comes in. One of the big reasons for me for doing this was if a client is trusting us with their budget, and they’re trusting us with their money, that experience should be consistent. So, whether it’s me working on it, or whether it’s a new team member working on it, the client should be getting the same type of experience and the same results and everything else. The onboarding is such a big part of that. That’s down to kind of anything from, “What do we need, as an agency? Account access, GA access. Does the pixel work? Have we checked that the pixel works? If the pixel doesn’t work, here’s a debugging checklist for doing that.” So, it’s usually the same things, right? And usually, fingers crossed, touch wood, they’ve implemented it through GTM, so you know your kind of right, if it doesn’t work, here’s some things you can look at, and here’s some things you can try in GTM.

Right from that kind of debugging set, to also from the client’s side, what should they be getting from us at that point. We have things like no matter who they are and what they’re doing, they’re going to get some form of strategic overview. So, context, here’s what we want to achieve, here’s why. Here’s what we’re going to try and do for you. Really kind of almost dumb it down to the, “Here’s what we want to achieve over the next six months,” and I’ve found that’s really useful for just setting things off on the right path, and setting expectations. We’ll be quite honest and brutal at that point to say, “Look. If we’re inheriting this account, we’re going to try loads of stuff in month one. It might mean that it doesn’t look as good for a month because we’re testing, so be aware that that might be a thing. But by month two, we want to be here, and then by month three, we want to be there.” It just gives us a really good point of things to review as we go through. Trying to avoid the situation where we’re just going, “Let’s do some stuff. Let’s launch some ads.” Or, “We’re just doing some things.” It’s always constantly working towards something. Having a really clear process for what that onboarding structure is makes that possible. It just facilitates that, I think.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I think that’s a really good thing to have in place, especially when you’re starting out with a new client. I’ve been in places where that wasn’t really in place, and so you’re just kind of, every account manager’s kind of doing their own thing, and when you think about consistency, it’s not really fair because some account managers are better at setting those expectations, getting that access. You can’t really scale that knowledge and you can’t really scale yourself, because this is a reflection of you. Overdrive Digital, that is you, Jon, and so I’m really happy to hear that you have that in place.

Jon Quinton:                Completely. That’s one side of it, but the flip side to the process and the workflows is, I think there’s a really fine line between having a process that’s genuinely helpful and adds value, and one that’s so rigid that people can’t add their own creativity. If someone’s had experience with doing things elsewhere, they should be able to add that in. It should be, “Here’s what you do, and don’t deviate. If you haven’t done step nine, why not?” That’s not what this is at all. It’s, “Let’s look at this and make sure the big, important stuff is done.” I think that’s really important.

JD Prater:                     Nice. So, we’ve kind of got onboarding, right? Let’s move on to the next level. So, you’ve been onboarded. Can we talk about management now? As you were saying, you had to start documenting all of this information in a Word doc. You start questioning yourself on, “Am I doing too much? Am I doing too little? Am I doing the right things?” How did you put that together in a way that was also scalable, but also made sense to new hires? After that, let’s get into some training, of how you kind of trained people as well. So, let’s start with the checklist, if you will.

Jon Quinton:                In terms of putting it in a format that makes sense, we’re still working on that. This is always going to be evolving. It’s never a certain thing, it’s a living, breathing process. Someone will look at it and go, “Okay, I just don’t understand it.” Then you go, “Okay, why not?” And you might reformat it based on that feedback. Generally speaking, it’s almost in that structure of how we talked about it. So, first thing they’re going to do when they get a new account is they’re going to have to onboard them. So, that’s the first thing. The next thing is, okay, setting up ads. What should we do? What’s the starting point? How many audiences should we be testing? What types of audience should we be testing? All of that type of stuff as well.

And then in terms of the management, what we’ve got at the moment is a set of weekly tasks, so it’s make sure on a weekly basis, you’re checking your CPMs to see if they’ve gone up. We set up lots of dashboards in Google Docs with Supermetrics, and we just pull in data and we’ll look at trends over time, like for CPCs. We’ll be able to look at an outset level and say, “Right, well CTR’s gone off a cliff. Why?” Obviously, something’s now fatigued with our audience, let’s move on, try something else. If we’re making sure that everyone has access to that data and is looking at the right data, at least we stand a chance of making the right decisions. For me, that’s one of the biggest skills or things to develop when you’re managing pay campaigns. It’s the decision making. Anyone can set up a Facebook campaign and put some ads in, and spend some money. But what do you do if that thing that you wanted to happen, doesn’t happen?

JD Prater:                     That’s a tough one, man. That’s … I think the “Then what?” is a good one. I think what you were saying, too, is it does depend. Maybe it’s the locations that you’re targeting. Maybe it’s the type of client. Maybe it was the offer. Maybe it was the hook. Maybe it was the image. But I think having that checklist of, “Okay, CTR dropped, CPM went up, go investigate.” And then start developing that hypothesis of what you think might be the problem.

Jon Quinton:                Exactly. I really like scenarios, to bring it to life a bit. Within the processes that we’re building out, we’re going, “Here’s everything you should be checking every week, and these things are helpful, and those things are helpful.” And then it’s, okay, let’s say two weeks into a campaign, your CPA’s still really high. What do you do? Go back and look at the performance. Is it because the CPC is really high? If the CPC is really high, is it because the CTR is really low? Is the relevance score really low? Then you can start to go, “Well, actually, maybe it’s not the audience, maybe it’s the creatives. Let’s test … instead of a picture of the product, let’s test a picture of a human being and see what that does. Or let’s try some video, or an animation. Or let’s try something completely different on the creative and see what we do then.”

It’s not necessarily that … because you’re right. Every client is different, every situation is different, and there’s probably a different reason why things aren’t working out. But at least if you’ve got a list of things to try, it instills that way of thinking, of, “Okay, well, don’t panic. No knee-jerk reactions. Before I start panicking, here’s a list of things that I know I can at least try.” I think that’s a really good way to start thinking. I think scenarios like that can really help to kind of bring it to life.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Let’s take it to the next step. So, you were talking about, a little bit around training and hiring, so whenever we get and think about that. Let’s start with hiring, and then we’ll get into training. Whenever you’ve got a good process in place, you’ve got a good set of clients and you’re thinking about hiring, you made the mention of, “I can’t really hire someone super senior because they’re the most expensive.” So, when you’re thinking about it, do you typically go for entry level, never done it? Or someone maybe a junior, one to three years experience? What are you looking for?

Jon Quinton:                Context wise, for this business, that is … we’re at the start of this journey, in terms of hiring. I’ve been involved with it quite a bit in other positions, but in terms of this business, this is a new thing for us. We have one full-time employee, we have a couple of part-times, we’re looking for a new full-time employee, maybe two more in QT, that kind of thing. We’re still figuring it out, but having that process means you know what skills to look for. It also helps you shape interview questions. “Have you had experience at this? If so, what happened?” You can start to work out where that fits into the day to day in a really easy way if you’ve got it written down and documented. It also means you can set tasks within that interview process, or you can set … You just know where the weaknesses are, and you can match it against what you’d need in the position. Whereas, if you haven’t got that written down, that’s really hard to do.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, 100 percent on that one. So, this is my favorite kind of question. You’ve interviewed, I’m sure, dozens of people now, right? What are some of the skills that you think stand out? That if you have these skills, you’re probably going to be pretty good, or at least skills that you look for in your next hire.

Jon Quinton:                That’s a really good question. Doing this, this is another thing about kind of doing it when it’s your own business, is it’s a lot more personal. It’s not personal, but it is personal. So there’s the whole side of, “Do I feel like they’re really going to care about this business?” as well. But in terms of skills, I think attention to detail is always a really big one, because if they’re going to be client-facing, you’ve got to be fairly confident that they’re going to be sending out the right information, and the right data, in the right way. That’s a big one. I think analyzing why something isn’t working, or spotting a problem in some data. So, giving someone a view of four outsets, for example, and you go, “Okay, which is the problem one? If this is your goal, which one would you be concerned about, and why?” And to start understanding that analytical thinking in quite a basic way. Then I think, again, with the digital marketing as a whole, you need that analytical side of the brain, and you need the creative side of the brain, and it’s really difficult to find someone with both, and as a new business, it’s really hard to be able to afford two separate people. You kind of have to figure out where the priorities are, and which side of the brain is more important at this particular point in time.

JD Prater:                     With that in mind, I know you were talking about how you’re in the suburbs of London, are you guys all within your office? Or do you try to hire remote as well?

Jon Quinton:                At the moment, we’re all … we’re in a co-working space at the moment.

JD Prater:                     Gotcha.

Jon Quinton:                Guildford’s pretty cool. It’s like a real hotbed for gaming, so there’s lots of VR and game design studios. We’re in a co-working space full of people with VR goggles on all day, basically.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I have another story about that that we can talk about after this. That’s pretty interesting. So, you’ve got some hiring. You’ve got someone that’s maybe starting, let’s say week one, week two. What does that onboarding for your actual new hires look like? We talked about onboarding clients. What does it look like when you’re trying to get members up to speed within your agency?

Jon Quinton:                Again, still figuring out precisely what that should be, and probably will never stop trying to refine that. The way we’ve kind of done it recently is working back from month three. So we go, right, month three, fully operational. This is what that looks like. Which means at the end of month two, you should be doing these things, which means at the end of month one, you should be doing these things. Typically, the first couple of weeks is just get familiar. Figure out who our clients are, figure out what we do for them. Ask loads of questions, no matter how stupid they are. Just be a bit of a sponge, and then it’s on to kind of, okay, starting to be functional. So, doing basic, kind of like the easier tasks, like uploading ads, or doing things in Power Editor, where you can’t really make a mistake until you hit that big review button.

All those types of things just slowly, slowly, slowly becoming more and more functional within an account. Then, kind of moving on to client coms and things like that. So it’s really to kind of learn the service, and learn the product, and learn the mechanics of it, and then start to kind of bleed in the, “Okay, actually how do you think about this once it’s running? Or how do you optimize it, or what decisions should you be making along the way? What does the client actually care about?” And all of the softer side.

JD Prater:                     And are you having them maybe use your checklist? So you’ve got these checklists in place, are you having the go through and audit accounts? Are they sitting in in the background of calls with clients so they can kind of hear how you guys talk with clients and larger accounts?

Jon Quinton:                Yeah. That kind of exposure, I think, is key. The checklists, yes, particularly for things like … I find it useful, myself. You know when you’re really busy, and you’ve got a thousand things going on at once? That’s when you start making mistakes, with the wrong ads going live, or … We do things like Black Friday, for example, we had a load of clients where obviously, we had the sales going live over the weekend. So, you’ve got a number of accounts where you’ve got to get a load of ads live, a load of ads off, the right ads in the right place. Everyone’s doing different offers, different percentages.

It can be pretty confusing, so we do this thing where, okay, here’s the checklist, run through it. I’m using it. And then we do this swap over. So, when there’s something kind of big like that, like if Hattie, for example, if she’s done her campaign, I’ll check that. And then she’ll go and check the one that I’ve done. It’s just that second pair of eyes, who’s not kind of swamped in it, is really useful. That’s something that’s been really helpful. It’s fun, but useful.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I’m glad that you guys had that in place, though. I’ve been in agencies before where sometimes the account manager gets really protective of their account, and they don’t want other people looking at it. To that end, with the double set of eyes and everything, how do you guys within your agency share knowledge? Wins, things, optimization tactics. As an agency, if you guys are kind of continuing to learn from each other.

Jon Quinton:                Yeah, so that is super easy at the moment, because we’re so small. It’s just like, “Hey, look at this!” And then “How did that happen? Okay, well, we did this, we did that, we did that, and yeah, look at it.” So it’s so easy at the moment. I think that’s probably, as things develop, the next thing. Training wise, the way we’re approaching it is just, again, because we’re small, everything’s pretty open and transparent, and it’s easy to spot where things may be a little bit weak. Sometimes it might be someone who’s new to Facebook ads, for example. It can be hard to find the right data quickly, so you want to view these conversions, these metrics. How do you do it? If we’re seeing that that’s a problem, or not even a problem, but someone’s struggling to get that quickly, we’ll just run a half hour session on, “By the way, here’s some really cool things you can do to get data quickly out of Facebook ads.” Or, “Here’s how it compares to what you might see in GA, and here’s why the two things are different.” It’s kind of spotting things in the day to day, and then that influences, “Okay, well let’s put half hour training session in on that thing.”

JD Prater:                     Nice. With kind of thinking about your own journey, what’s something that you wish you would have known? So, you’re only a year and a half in, right? Somewhere around there. What’s something that you wish you would have known, even just a year and a half ago, 18 months?

Jon Quinton:                When I decided to make the leap and freelance, I think probably that, actually, it will be okay. There’s enough work out there to share. It wasn’t half as scary as I thought it would be. Worse case scenario, I’ll have to go and get another job.

JD Prater:                     That’s very optimistic. I like it.

Jon Quinton:                It’s a little different now because I’m responsible for other people, and it’s a slightly different thing, but as a freelancer, that’s … The worst thing that’s going to happen is you’ll have to go and find another job. And probably have a dent to the ego, you know.

JD Prater:                     What are some of the hard things about starting your own agency?

Jon Quinton:                I think having a network was massive for me. So, having people that I knew, and knew me, and there was mutual trust, and that kind of thing meant that getting recommendations in all happened quite quickly. If you didn’t have that, it would be incredibly difficult, I think, because if someone recommends you, you’re probably going to convert that inquiry far easier than someone coming in cold. That’s a huge thing. I think without that, it would have been quite difficult. I think personal financial discipline. I know that sounds really boring.

JD Prater:                     It’s true, though. It’s good.

Jon Quinton:                If you start earning some money as a freelancer and then just spend it, you’re into a nightmare there. It’s difficult, because you’re like … but you’ve got business overheads and all that type of stuff to cover, and depending on what your ambitions are for the business, you may or may not need a larger sum of cash. That’s a big one for me, definitely. I think the big one for anyone, I think it’s the network, really. I think that’s the … If you’ve got that, you’ll start to get business in, and if you start to get business in, you can figure most other things out, I think.

JD Prater:                     Cool. With people thinking about it, right … Maybe there’s some freelancers out there listening, or maybe one or two person teams. What advice would you give them for growing your agency, or growing a company?

Jon Quinton:                I think, again, it’s going to be different for everyone. What we are looking at right now is looking at different sources of inquiries, right? Because without inquiries, we can’t grow. We’re looking at, right, okay, I definitely have a good network of people that can refer us, and do regularly refer us, but how can we just make sure that we’re ever-present in their minds? It’s that, how do we kind of improve our own marketing? How do we improve the perception of who we are? All of that type of stuff is what we’re focused on, really, in a big way for Q1. It’s thinking about it like a business, and not as just a job that you’re doing. I think, again, that’s a big thing. If you start freelancing, you could be the best PPC guy in the world, but that’s now only part of what you do. You have to be good at sales, you have to be good at marketing your own business. You have to do your admin, finances, tax takes. The actual job is only a small part of it. That’s a bit of a weird thing to get used to as well, I think.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I think that’s definitely … if I had to think about starting my own agency, that’s probably the number one thing that I am scared of doing, is all the other functions that I don’t know how to do, like HR, and accounting, and then selling. It’s like, can I just go back to marketing? So kudos to you, man, for taking it on.

Jon Quinton:                I find those sorts of things quite fun. Maybe I’m weird, but I quite like bookkeeping. If you hate that kind of thing, then are you really going to enjoy running your own business, or working as a freelancer? Or can you afford to get someone to help you with that? There are other ways around it, and if you’re bad at sales, that’s not necessarily a problem because there’s lots of agencies that will kind of share some work with you, or outsource some work to you as a partner. That means you only really need to connect to two or three people, and you can get quite busy quite quickly that way. So if you are weak at those things, you can think about other ways of doing it, I suppose.

JD Prater:                     Nice. All right, man. So, five years from now. Let’s think about it. Where do you want to be, five years from now? What does that look like?

Jon Quinton:                As a business?

JD Prater:                     As a business, yeah.

Jon Quinton:                As a business, I think a really solid team. I don’t know what number that is. For me, it’s a really solid team that loves working on what we’re doing, that loves getting the clients great results. I want to keep that kind of zest for good results and good relationships with clients. That’s the most important thing. If we’re the size we are now in five years, that’s fine, if the results are still good and the clients are having a great time working with us. That’s totally fine. But ideally, we’d be, I don’t know, 10 people, a nice cool office, that kind of thing. We’ll see.

JD Prater:                     All right. So, you guys are called Overdrive Digital. I know name is always a lot of fun. How did you guys come up with Overdrive?

Jon Quinton:                So, that goes back to me playing guitar. I loved overdrive pedals and overdriven amps, you know. I thought, yeah, that’s cool. It kind of, for me, it’s about being a bit loud, and it’s growing, and it’s kind of got a bit of energy behind it. And yeah, liked it.

JD Prater:                     All right. This is going to be my last question for you, man. Just what kind of advice would you give for everyone kind of listening out there, that maybe we haven’t touched on yet so far?

Jon Quinton:                One nugget?

JD Prater:                     One nugget. What is your thing that you want to leave everyone with?

Jon Quinton:                I think if you’re new to this, I would say drill down and get good, seriously good at one thing. If it’s ad copy, it’s ad copy. If it’s data, it’s data. Get seriously good at one thing, I think.

JD Prater:                     All right. Well, there you have it, man. From Jon himself, get really good at one thing, become a specialist. That way you can maybe, hopefully provide some really good value for your agency. Maybe even your own agency, or even maybe as a freelancer. Jon, thanks again for coming on, talking to us about Overdrive Digital. Really, your experience in prepping your coworkers, your team with lists, with processes, with workflow, sharing some of your hiring tips. I’m so thankful for that. Thanks.

Jon Quinton:                Pleasure. Thanks for having me.

JD Prater:                     All right. Well, everyone, thanks again for listening to the PPC Show. That was Jon Quinton from Overdrive Digital, outside of London in Guildford. I just wanted to thank him again for coming on, and then we’ll see you guys next week.


The Rise of the Technical Paid Marketer [Podcast]

The Rise of the Technical Paid Marketer [Podcast]

Welcome to episode #72 of the PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid search and social media advertising. This week we’re joined by Gianluca Binelli, founder of Booster Box Digital.

In this episode, Gianluca joins us to talk about the rise of technical paid marketers. Stay tuned to learn:

  • How he got started working at Google
  • Why he decided to learn how to write scripts and Python
  • Four products he built to solve and scale client issues using code (Zuul, Caligola, Cherry Picker, Pincer Move)

Listen to the Episode

Gianluca Binelli

Gianluca was at Google for 6​.5​ years working on different team within AdWords. First as Product Specialist, he then went on to manage online marketing for Google’s products in EMEA. Gianluca also served as ​Capital G’s Advisor, helping start ups with their online marketing in Google’s own late stage investment fund. He is the founder of Booster Box, a performance agency specialized in scientific marketing.

Follow him on Twitter.

Show Notes & Podcast Transcript


JD Prater:                     Gianluca, welcome to the PPC Show.

Gianluca Binell:            Thank you, JD, for having me.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I’m pretty excited that you came all the way from Italy-

Gianluca Binell:            All the way. All the way.

JD Prater:                     Just to come on the podcast.

Gianluca Binell:            Just for you. Just for you, yeah.

JD Prater:                     No, I mean Gianluca was in town here in San Francisco visiting some clients, and reached out on Twitter. And I was like, “Oh, man, yeah. Come hang out.” And so, we hung out on Wednesday. And now we’re here recording again. I got more of his time on Friday. So, I’m excited. Thanks for coming back.

Gianluca Binell:            I’m very excited. Thank you for having me.

JD Prater:                     No, we went and grabbed some coffee as you do with an Italian.

Gianluca Binell:            You must.

JD Prater:                     And so he started explaining some of these really cool tools that he’s got working on. So, I’m gonna let him kinda share some of these things with you. But first, Gianluca, tell the good people more about you. Maybe add some, the CliffsNotes version.

Working at Google to Booster Box Digital

Gianluca Binell:            Super. No, no, very, very happy to be here. This morning I was on the phone with my Mom. And I told her that I was going to be interviewed by a PPC podcast. She got all excited. And then she was very, very excited, but after a while she understood, BBC, the British Broadcasting Network. It was a little bit of a bummer then when I told her. “No, it’s not BBC Mom, it’s a little bit of a narrower audience.” But, I am excited anyways, even if my Mom doesn’t appreciate the PPC community as much as I do.

So, I’ve been in the PPC game for I keep saying 10 years for the last 12 years actually. But, can I stay at 10? I am originally from Italy as my accent, appearance, and name give out. And I worked at Google, always on the other side in different roles. First, I was product specialist. The guy that is whispering in the ear of your account manager what is the product for you, which I think is one of the most frustrating job in the world because you need to tell people to tell people to tell people to do something.

So, after two years now, of probably doing that, I developed all these theories. This product is perfect for this type of client. We should definitely do that. And more than that. And then, I rolled up my sleeves and moved to the marketing team where I was actually seeing the scope of my theories. And challenging some of the ideas that I had. And probably 90% of the things I theorized were wrong, but it was the 10% that worked out, which got me, they didn’t fire me. So, they kept me on the team for a while. And it was very exciting because I joined the marketing team. You always see from outside. The online marketing at Google, at least I felt it was a super mega sophisticated machine. Turns out there are humans as well there. So, nothing is perfect.

And when I joined the Google team we were three or four people. When I left, we were 54.

JD Prater:                     Oh, wow.

Gianluca Binell:            Yeah, yeah.

JD Prater:                     That’s massive growth.

Gianluca Binell:            Very exciting ride. And in that journey, Google does this 20% thing, which basically is from six to nine and weekend. That’s 20%, at least it was for me. And I worked with the guys at Capital G, the VC firm here in San Francisco. And so, that was very exciting because I helped them in figuring out the growth thing there. Figuring out what our opportunity for paid media for some of the companies that were investing into it.

And that was kind of putting all the dots, connecting the dots backwards. I figured out that even big companies, or unicorn, or supposedly unicorn, not necessarily were taking the full advantage of the huge amount of data there is out there. So, I bridged the two things together. The expertise I gained in the last 12, well, we’re gonna stick with 10 years in the industry. And I managed to be part of the team that became more and more sophisticated on all of our advertising in India. And the need in the market for helping companies making a better sense of the data they have available.

So, I went on into building Booster Box where that’s what we do. So, we are a scientific performance market agency. We’re focusing on large, medium-large international clients with big problems. So, they are more challenging to work with. And by big problems, I mean big data sets really. And we are based out in Tuscany, where else. Silicon Tuscany, the middle of nowhere.

Where the most, again, the biggest challenge that I face, we’ve been doing that for 18 months now. And definitely the biggest challenge I had to face was setting up the internet there in the office. But, now we have internet connection. We’re good to go. And there’s a very exciting ride to be, grab a glass of wine in the evening, and having an impact working on big problems. So, that’s what we do.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I mean, it’s kinda hard to beat working on big problems, especially with a glass of wine in your hand.

Gianluca Binell:            It helps.

Rise of the Technical Marketing

JD Prater:                     It really helps, yeah. Well, that’s really cool. So, we got you on the show here today to kinda talk about the rise of the technical marketer. And then, talk about some of the tools that you have built because of that. So, in particular, I’ve noticed within PPC world, in particular, the amount of coating that’s almost needed now. Not necessarily needed, but everyone is getting more savvy. And so, if you don’t know how, it’s almost like you’re getting left behind, right? And so, you see Fredrick Valley, you got Daniel Gilbert writing these amazing scripts that we’re all using and some people are like, “I don’t even use scripts, right? I don’t even know what that is. What’s going on?”

But, you’re able to take that even a step further. So, what have you seen within the community with people getting more technical? Do you think that that’s true? Yeah?

Gianluca Binell:            Yeah, absolutely. There were a few articles coming out in the last few years in this direction. The rise of the technical marketers. And I think overall, that’s a reflection that marketing has changed in the last 10, 20, 30 years. And the fundamentals probably are the same. Meaning find the user, find the magic, connect the two, right?

But, if you want to use a sport analogy. I was watching the Viking game yesterday night. It was super exciting. That was the first football match I saw in my life. If all the matches are like that, man, I’m hooked. And probably the fundamentals of football 30 years ago, 40, 50, are the same I guess. I don’t think the rules change, right?

JD Prater:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gianluca Binell:            But, the technology that is there now, right, even the materials, the shoes, the thinking, the process, the food, the training they do. Everything is changed. So, it is a different sport. And I think the same analogy, it works for marketing, right. Of course, the goal, it’s kicking the bowl in a certain direction anyways, but everything has changed. And I think the complexity of data that we have on the user, and the complexity of data that we have on the product makes the same job of finding a user, finding an edging, connect the two, much more exciting.

In all that complexity, I think that unlocks the need for a different type of skill set. So, just being the best and wining and dining probably is not anymore the keying element. You also need to be good at making sense of a complex data set. Or, knowing a little bit of statistics in order to get your head around on which one is the winner in A/B test, etc., etc.

So, I think definitely there’s a trend that is happening. It’s been happening for the last few years. And Dan and Frederick, the people you mentioned, and to be honest, I’m just very grateful to be playing this game now in a contest where we have so much access to data. Like you just said, “At the end Twitter will eat you up, and will be nerding out thinking about naturally, everything in the world.”

And I think we’re so lucky to be allowed this time where we can reach out to anyone in the world and we can learn statistics from MIT for free online. Tell that to our grandparents or our parents, right?

JD Prater:                     Yeah.

Gianluca Binell:            So, I think there’s no excuses, right?

JD Prater:                     Right.

Learning Python and Writing Scripts

Gianluca Binell:            The world is going in that direction as independency game, as marketing. I think it’s our responsibility to just embrace the fact that technology is rising and it’s just like gravity is happening. We’re just not gonna fight it, we just need to embrace it. And make sure that we are riding that wave.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. I think part of that too is you’re unlocking different abilities too. So, we’re going to get into some of the tools that you’ve built using technology, and using this code. But, how did you get started writing scripts or learning Python? How did you get involved?

Gianluca Binell:            Okay. First of all to give you an idea of how good I am at Python, every time I make a script and I give it to my guys they’re like, “Aw, that’s sweet.” They trash it, and they rewrite it from scratch. So, on a scale from one to nine, I’m definitely at about four, which I’m very generous with myself.

JD Prater:                     Well, I’m at a zero. So, you’re doing better than I am.

Gianluca Binell:            I don’t have a calculator now, but four is more than zero.

JD Prater:                     Yes, that’s right.

Gianluca Binell:            So, when I started at Google I was literally in between two guys that were two of the best people I know in Google Analytics. And they were talking to each other. The only option not to learn was listening to music 24, seven, which I didn’t. And so things just sunk in. At one point, there was this tool, a script that they were featuring in Google spreadsheet. And then I started playing around with that. I remember the first thing I did with that was a stupid thing to automatically send emails to instead of taking notes for phone calls for my colleagues. When you call your account manager, it’s not his desk. And somebody else is picking up the phone. As I was lazy, taking notes it wasn’t part of my particularly favorite mundane task. So, I start playing with the script.

So, that was the get-go that got me hooked in finding. And the first time you write something from scratch. And then you works. It’s just magical, right? The first time you see a little word. So, I start with that. And then, I thought to myself, “Hopefully, it’ll be more on theory, a little bit on code academy.” And I try also to brush up a little bit more my sophistical skills as I mentioned that MIT has an online course. And there’s plenty of stuff online. I mean, everything, it’s everywhere for free. So, that’s what I’m saying. No excuses on that.

And yeah. So this is where the two main elements knowing, getting a little bit better in coding. The theory was for me, Code Academy. Then the second bracket was definitely playing with amazing resources that are out there in the community. So, on the Google developers side there’s so much, so much stuff that it’s unbelievably cool. And then, Frederick, all the people that you mentioned earlier, are sharing great stuff online.

But, I think the theory is the first pillar. The second one is figuring out what are the scripts that are out there and start playing with it. But, the third pillar, for me is people. Just for instance, at Booster Box, my company, now we do lectures. So, on a weekly basis we invite an external guest that is sitting with us. And it’s just explaining their job. And these people are people, investment bankers, or data scientists. They’re not necessarily are in the PPC game.

But, building that connection and talking with someone that is solving a similar problem in just a different environment, right? It’s really helping me and helping my team accelerating the level of knowledge. Even when it comes to scripting, right? So, having the opportunity to reach out to someone, a human being, a mentor, a person, just to bounce off ideas and say, “Listen, I’m using this approach. It’s not working. What do you suggest?” That is definitely key. And even on that one, we live in a fantastic time. We can reach out to anyone on Twitter, and Instagram. And the worst case, they’re just gonna say, “No,” or not pick out that message, right?

So, definitely feel free to reach out. And if you have tough questions on Python, reach out to JD. If you have easy questions, reach out to me.

JD Prater:                     That’s right. So, I wanna kind of rewind some of that because I think one thing you didn’t intentionally, but you glossed over. So, you actually started with a problem. And then you, “I’m lazy, right, and I wanna solve this problem.” Right, whatever it is. But, I don’t necessarily think it’s even laziness. I mean, you actually took the action to go solve the problem in a programmatic way, which is fantastic. So, that’s what I love about your tools, which we’re about to get into.

It’s really starting with, “Man, wouldn’t that be cool if … ” Or, “I have this problem, the client wants this,” and then it’s, “What can I do to mitigate that, or solve that in a way that’s scalable so people aren’t necessarily doing this manually every day, every hour, whatever it is.” But, there’s something running in the background, right?

And I think the other part to that too, is you also took action to go and learn. I think the people that you might say is lazy, I think it’s the opposite. I’m lazy. I have the exact same access to these resources that you do, but I’m not out there learning, right?

Gianluca Binell:            Well, I guess, yeah.

JD Prater:                     And so you’re gonna push me to go and learn it this year, 2018. I’m gonna do it.

Gianluca Binell:            It’s happening. This year is mobile. I think, look, I think it’s important that each one of us is focusing on the right priorities. And it depends at which point people are in their career or start with a basic example, right? If you are an agency or if you are solo, then definitely the skill set that you need to build is entirely different, right?

So, I don’t think that developing a certain skill is mandatory for everyone. I do think though, that not being afraid of that, that’s it, right? If you’re not afraid of seeing a script and playing with it, you’re already 99% better than anyone else, right? So, I think the key’s just not being afraid of testing something new, and whatever. That’s probably applicable in anything in life.

Tool #1: Zuul the Gatekeeper

JD Prater:                     Well, cool. Yeah, we’ll lets ship into some of the products that you built. So, we’re gonna talk about four of them specifically because as we were getting copies, talking about them, I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. We gotta have that on the PPC Show.” So, which one do you wanna start with?

Gianluca Binell:            Yeah. I think the first one I really like is what we call Zuul the Gatekeeper. In honor of the marvelous movie, Ghostbuster, that I strongly encourage everyone to watch again.

JD Prater:                     The original, right?

Gianluca Binell:            The original.

JD Prater:                     Of course, okay.

Gianluca Binell:            So, Zuul the Gatekeeper was a very, very, nasty monster. I don’t know how to define it, probably, whatever monster, I think is a good definition. Our Zuul is much friendlier. And he’s basically a tool that helps us mitigate the risk of adding ads of bringing in the wrong placement. Let me start by the problem as you mentioned.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Gianluca Binell:            Everything starts from there.

JD Prater:                     It’s a great problem.

Gianluca Binell:            Usually, tools start from people nerding out in the mini kitchen or getting a wrong email from the client. This is a story to start with a second scenario. So, classic email, Friday night. It was summer last year. And I still remember where I was. And I get an email from a CEO of a very large company, which is still one of our clients, fortunately. So, it’s a good story.

JD Prater:                     Good. Zuul’s working.

Gianluca Binell:            Zuul’s working. Of course, somebody took a screen shot of one of our ads appearing in the wrong place. And you know, Murphy’s law is true. We’ve all been there, getting one of those type of nasty email. And there’s nothing that you can do, right, to avoid. To put yourself in a situation where you’re 100% in control of every single placement in the world.

So, you might remember a few months back. I think, it was May last year. There was this backlash on YouTube. Everybody was against Google. We shouldn’t buy GDN.

JD Prater:                     Pulling money out, yeah.

Gianluca Binell:            Google’s not doing enough to protect us. I strongly disagreed with that approach because I think it’s our responsibility to, as an agency in my case, but as players in the market. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we’re using AdWords, and Facebook, and all the amazing tools that are out there responsibly. These are self-serving platforms, right?

So, it’s how well the self-service element. There’s a very beautiful Brainlabs article, Daniel Gilbert wrote something similar sometime ago underlining that the self-service element in the word self-service tool implies that it’s agency’s responsibility to take that ownership.

So, I think that pulling spend out of GDN and Facebook, and just stop playing, probably is not the best idea. So, from one side definitely, you cannot control fully 100% where your ads will appear, and probably, our own ads will appear in the wrong place maybe in the future. But, we started putting together a methodology in order to make the game this risk. So, from the basic things is loading, adding a blacklist of websites where you don’t to appear, adding a list of negative keywords that you want to exclude, excluding side by topics, etc.

What do you do if you don’t know who the bad guys are, right? So, what we did was literally, taking a list of all the bad keywords, a gigantic list of negative keywords. So, imagine tax fraud, pornography, keywords you would never want to be associated with. And we build a script that goes and pulls the placement where your ad appeared yesterday.

So, at midnight, close of business, the scripts calls AdWords. And it’s, “AdWords, can you please tell me the placement where we appeared yesterday?” That’s phase one. Phase two, we go and scan every single element on the page of each placement. This is not really every single element because we cannot scan images, we cannot scan videos. We are only scanning text.

We tried to scan videos, to be honest. We used the Google Cloud Video API, but I think technology is not there yet. So, the results that we got by submitting videos there where it works like this. You submit a video to the Google Cloud API, the machine analyzes it, and it tells you, “In this video, you find A, B, C.”

The level of variety in the output that you get is two probe probably, because you only get, “In this video, you find a man with a white T-shirt.” Well, thank you. So, if you don’t have men in white T-shirts in your negative exclusion, that’s not really gonna help you. So, videos definitely are a big limitation.

But, on text we managed to figure out that by first of all counting the appearance of specific keyword in the text contained on the website, that was already giving us an indication if the website was about, lets say, tax fraud, or pornography, or something you don’t really want to appear next to. And then the second element would be in the regression model that identified if a certain word is repeated more than once within a space of 2,000 characters. Then, we overweigh that element. And that really helped us identify with a certain level of accuracy websites where we appeared yesterday, and we don’t want to appear tomorrow.

So, what the script does at midnight, goes and calls the placement. Then, from midnight until four in the morning start measuring. If analyzing the website, and trying to identify if these sites were bad guys or not. And then by four in the morning, takes the decision and push that back in to AdWords. So, that the following day, your ads are not appearing on that website.

Now, this is definitely not perfect. It doesn’t capture 100% of the website, and is ex-post. So, your mistakes already was made. And somebody could have already taken a screenshot on the previous date, and sent it to the CEO. So, definitely, this is not a 100% guarantee of success. But, is a step that is helping us mitigating the risk of operating in the wrong place.

So, that’s why Zuul the Gatekeeper is the protector of brand for us. And then the icing on the cake on this story was the fact that we’re able to put the script into a tiny raspberry pie. To be honest, if the script works in the Cloud, it’s much faster. But, the fact that it’s on the raspberry pie, sitting in your machine, right? So, you plug it on your computer is giving us people, humans, a concrete sense of protection, right? So, at midnight the tiny raspberry pie in a very noisy way will start wiring out, calling the placement, and that’s where you feel protected. So, that’s really something that is helping me sleeping better at night. Thank you, Zuul.

JD Prater:                     Again, you started with the problem. The problem was it, we’re talking about brand safety. This is more and more important that we’ve been hearing this specifically, on YouTube in the last year. And so, I thought it was a really great way of using code. Making a tool that is doing something programmatic to where you don’t necessarily have to have someone in there manually checking every single placement. And of course, there is that additional layer that goes in and reviews.

Gianluca Binell:            Of course.

JD Prater:                     But, being able to go in and say, “Hey, check out all the placements.” And then you’re crawling the site for the text. You’ve assigned weight to it. And this is all done while you guys are sleeping. So, by the time you guys wake up you guys have an answer, right?

Gianluca Binell:            Exactly.

JD Prater:                     So, fantastic. I love that story. I love the tool. And I haven’t even seen it, but I just think it’s a great way of using code to benefit PPC or so. Yeah, good work on that one.

Tool #2: Pincer Move

Gianluca Binell:            Absolutely. A similar logic we try to replicate a singular approach of scanning content in order to recycle existing keywords. Let me start by the problem again. So here we often work with clients that are an established business. They’ve been in the PPC game for a while, maybe four, five, seven, years. So, you’ve plenty of data, right? And sometimes these businesses are maxed out. So, it’s not as easy as . We forgot to add extension. That means with demand you need to figure out what are, in a way you can call it, lateral thinking. And try to figure out, “Okay, we have this type of information. How can we reuse this information in a different context?” So, what we did in this case was try to figure out, we know where these keywords that are working very well for us. How can we use this keyword in a different way and not simply buying ads on word search.

So, we call this tool Pincer Move. I’m a geek on Roman history. So, the Pincer Move is this move that Hannibal and the Romans were fighting. I don’t know the year to be honest. So, the Romans developed this technique on laterally attacking the enemy. So, not where the enemy was stronger, but on the sides.

So, we started by that type of approach. Already is the following. Let’s say you have a keyword that’s working super well on Google search. Let’s say the keyword French Press café it’s working amazingly well for your coffee commerce. And you’re winning first position, mazotoff, great for you. But, you really want to squeeze out more traffic from that keyword.

So, we take that keyword. We crawl the top 10 results on Google. And then, we automatically submit these results as part of GDN. So, we will be targeting specific places, the specific placement, sorry, as GDN placement of the results that are appearing on the top page.

In other words, when somebody is clicking on that keyword, is searching for that keyword, if they click on your ad, great. If they click on your competitor’s ad, there’s really nothing you can do about it. But, if they click on our organic results, this is a zero sum game, right?

JD Prater:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gianluca Binell:            So, the rest of the CTR goes to someone else. So, if they’re clicking on organic result, and if that organic result is selling ad inventory, you wanna be there. Now, of course, some of this placement will be Wikipedia, or competitors, or placement that are not part of the Google Display Network. But, if someone is selling that inventory, you want to be there. So, the Pincer Move is a tool that is helping us. Once you have figured out that these keywords are working well for you on search, you can try this approach to scale that beyond search exactly with the same keywords.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I think this is another really smart tactic, right? So, if you’re not able, or I should say maybe you’re not ranking organically yet. Maybe you have an SCO team that’s really trying to get you in that top 10. And this is something that again, you can use as long as that organic result is part of the GDN network. And again, it’s a programmatic way. You’re scanning it going, “Okay, cool. Two of the 10 are. Fantastic. Automatically add them to this ad group. And we’re gonna be bidding on them at this price,” right?

Gianluca Binell:            Exactly.

JD Prater:                     Fantastic.

Gianluca Binell:            If you’re lucky enough also to have direct media buying.and the client has that type of contact, or you as an agency are covering that as well, this is also a great way to form your direct media buying team to pick up the phone, and start calling those placements.

JD Prater:                     And this is, I mean, I think this is another good one, reviews, right. So, French Press coffee reviews, right. And we all know there’s a ton of review sites out there. And we know that a lot of those review site do sell inventory. And so, again, maybe you’ve got the top position. And now, they click on the first organic, but you’re also showing an ad there, right?

Gianluca Binell:            Yeah.

JD Prater:                     I mean, you’re just … Great job on that one. I really like that one. So, that one is called Pincer Move.

Gianluca Binell:            Pincer Move, yeah.

JD Prater:                     So, you’ve got Zuul. You’ve got Pincer Move. What else you got?

Tool #3: Cherry Picker

Gianluca Binell:            We also have something that we call Cherry Picker. It’s funny you mention reviews. The place for reviewing the word is YouTube. So, you guys, if you’ve ever been in touch with someone from Google talking about YouTube. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. We heard that sentence. The problem is when you try to buy YouTube, okay, fine. You can buy remarketing. You can follow people when they are watching a YouTube video with your French Press coffee product. Great. And it works from a performance perspective, right? But, trying to get YouTube to work beyond branding from a performance perspective aside for marketing is quite difficult.

JD Prater:                     It’s tough. It is.

Gianluca Binell:            Now, there are 46 million, trillion, zillion, thousand of videos uploaded every nanosecond on YouTube, something like that. Probably a little bit more than this number, by the time you are finishing this podcast. So, definitely strictly from a Google perspective, but from an advertiser perspective, trying to figure what is the content of the video, right?

JD Prater:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gianluca Binell:            So, what we do is, what Google offers, is the opportunity to buy keywords on YouTube in terms of what is used to be called, through the in search. I don’t know if it has a new name. But, the problem with that approach is that these keywords are broad. So, definitely broad keywords are something that were scrolling 2006. And since then, we all figured out what we shouldn’t do.

So, what we are doing is actually trying to cherry pick this specific placement. So, very similar to the Pincer Move logic. Once we figure out that reviews are a thing for e-Commerce selling French Press coffee, then we will take the keywords. We will match them with unboxing, where were you, etc., etc. And then we’ll have a bunch of keywords that are suitable for YouTube. We go and plug into YouTube every single keyword and then we’ll extract each specific YouTube video. We take the YouTube videos and then we target them specifically with a TrueView in-stream.

So, at this point from a user perspective, you’re about to watch video on skiing in Aspen. And if you are skiing in Aspen, you want to be in front of the eyeballs of a user that’s about to watch that video. So, definitely this is something that for our performance, advertising, perspective, has been proven to be very successful for us. And it’s something that we’re putting out there in the world. Giving back.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, so this one with all of these two, we’ll have links for all of you guys in the show notes to go in and check it out. But, this one he does have the code that we’ll be sending a link to. There’s also a slide chair presentation. But, this one I thought was really cool within YouTube. So, if I’m looking for French press reviews and we maybe have an ad on that one as well, but also we’re scraping the YouTube organic. He’s pulling out that YouTube video ID and adding that as a placement for his ads as well.

Gianluca Binell:            Correct.

JD Prater:                     So, that’s another brilliant move of utilizing organic. And using it again, in a programmatic way of writing some code to say, “Lets scrap these lists. Let’s pull this out. And then, lets start bidding on this without having to go in and manually type in all of these keywords.” Keep a list of all of these YouTube videos because no one has time for that. I mean, that’s probably hundreds of keywords, thousands of keywords. And you’re able to do this in a way that’s really fast, really scalable.

Gianluca Binell:            Exactly.

JD Prater:                     So, saving that time. I love the automatic part of that. The automation stuff.

Gianluca Binell:            Yeah, we really try to strive for automation as much as we can. I think we mentioned earlier, being lazy is a big portion of that. And the second thing is being process oriented as much as we can. The reality is that the way I see this job growing in the future is really all this stuff is gonna be automated anyways.

JD Prater:                     Sure.

Gianluca Binell:            So, if we drive automation better because that will allow us to move faster and closer to the strategic part. Linear data doesn’t have to be figuring out what are the negative curve terms from the SQR or fixing those bits, right? But, you can sit and think on strategic stuff with your client on how you double the revenue next year, right?

JD Prater:                     Yeah, and that’s all. That’s how you don’t lose your job to automation, right?

Gianluca Binell:            Exactly.

JD Prater:                     If your job is going through looking at YouTube placements and seeing how they are ranking, I mean …

Gianluca Binell:            There’s something wrong with your life.

JD Prater:                     There’s something wrong, man, because he already has a Python script that’s going to put you out of business. Let’s go to the last one.

Tool #4: Caligola

Gianluca Binell:            Again, Roman history.

JD Prater:                     Thumbs up or thumbs down, right?

Gianluca Binell:            Thumbs up or thumbs down, yes. So, Roman history. We call this tool, Caligula. So, the idea here is, is the following here. You know when you set up a brand new company and you’re putting the keywords. A keyword that potentially has a second meaning. So, lets say the keyword panda because you’re selling panda, an Italian car. Let’s say it’s a car brand, right? You’re selling cars, lead generation for cars. And you are very happy. You close your computer. You go home. The day after, you go in the office. You open the computer. You see the SQR and, “Oh, my gosh. Panda is also an antivirus and panda obviously, is the animal.” And you forgot.

So, how can you not have to wait to make a mistake in order to figure out what negative keywords you want to add in your campaign. So here, really there are a few steps that one can take. Obviously, you can go proactively on the keyboard plan mill, plaguing your keywords, trying to run an engram on the output, and you will see that panda is also an antivirus. So, you will add antivirus as negative term. And that’s easy enough to do for terms that you know are ambiguous already like in this obvious example.

But, if you have plenty of keywords, if something is not obviously, ambiguous. How could you predict, which terms will give you trouble from a search and report perspective. So what we did was literally trying to search each one of these terms on Google because we are insane. But, obviously, we did that with a bot.

So, in this case we’re talking about a very large e-Commerce selling thousands, and thousands, of products. These products, the brands of these products are wines. So, a wine often in Southern Europe is a family name. So, imagine Binelli wine. How cool is that? I should branch out.

JD Prater:                     Binelli.

Gianluca Binell:            Yes. And so, how could you, especially on family names, right, try to discern if a certain name has also a secondary meaning beyond the wine or whatever you’re selling. So, in this case, we went out on Google and search every single one of this term. So, at this point that for Binelli wine you have these 10 results.

Okay, so that’s our first step. The second step is we will go and match the content of the H-1 and the mental tuck. So, the least thing that you get on Google versus a positive library. So, a library that contains keywords that are describing your product. So, in this case will be wine, winery, etc. So, we will at this point be able to assign a score to each one of these listings. And this is binary, right? That’s why Caligula, yes or no, thumbs up, thumbs down, because we will have zero, one, scoring to each one of these H-1 and mental tuck.

So, lets say the first organic listing on Google is about Binelli Wineries that contains the word winery. Great, one. This result is definitely relevant to our gain, to what we’re selling. We go on with the second result, the result, etc. And at this point, we are able to give a final score to each one of the terms.

So, numbers, high numbers. So, something close to 10, probably very highly relevant. Terms that are closer to zero. So, on the lower end of this spectrum, probably they could be potentially ambiguous. So, at this point you are able to isolate terms that are potentially ambiguous. And the real icing on the cake here, is the fact that there’s a second part of the script that scans also the description. And then runs and engram on that. And gives you back suggestions of negative keywords.

So, let me give you the panda example. Let’s say you will plug in the keyword panda on Google. Google will tell you, “Okay, the first result is panda antivirus. The second result is panda zoo whatever.” So, clearly, none of these two results are referring to panda car. Panda car by the way, I’m pretty sure nobody knows in the world. You guys should definitely Google that. It’s horrible car from the ’80s.

JD Prater:                     Never heard of a painted car, okay. Look it up.

Gianluca Binell:            If you never heard of a Panda car, your life is good.

JD Prater:                     Okay.

Gianluca Binell:            Use that as a benchmark. So, at this point the first that we have to identify that panda very likely is an ambiguous word. And then the last part of the script will crawl the content, sorry. The H-1 and the mental tuck of the first result. And the second result, we’ll run an engram on those. And then we’ll suggest to you, antivirus and animal and zoo as negative keywords.

So, that is really cool because this is something you need to run once, only in the beginning, that saves us a lot of money because from now on when you set up a campaign you can go home knowing that the following day in that SQR that you’re gonna check out, you’re not gonna find horrible, obvious mistake that you should have known better to exclude in the beginning. So, Caligula really cool, thumbs up, and thumbs down in order to figure out which terms are ambiguous or not.

JD Prater:                     Gotcha. I really like that one too. So, I’m sure people listening are wondering, right. So, could it mess up? Does it mess up, right? So, is there an element of human review before it goes live?

Gianluca Binell:            Yeah. So, these are all, you can see them as a human assistance. This is all human assisted because we then need a human to watch the review the negative keywords. So, imagine stop words especially in known English languages are very difficult to predict. For some reason in French, the script always messes up. So, the engram sometimes could pick up stop words.

By stop words I mean, and, of, it, etc. The engram could pick up stop word as a suggested negative. And then imagine, you could exclude the keyword, for, from your entire campaign. And maybe that’s a bad idea. So, definitely we need a human in order to review that. But, as I said, this is at the campaign bidding moment, sorry, the campaign building element. So, it’s a phase where the human is heavily involved. And we will have a human review that.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, definitely. I like the idea of the human assisted type of automation that goes into it. But again, you’ve scaled their work. It’s not them manually going out and doing it. It’s you going out and bringing the work to them to then review and say, “Yes, no, okay, ship,” right?

Gianluca Binell:            Yeah.

JD Prater:                     And that’s way faster. It’s way easier for me to go, “Yes, no,” right?

Gianluca Binell:            Caligula, there you go.

JD Prater:                     If my decision is that binary, you made my life a lot easier. So, I think these are fantastic tools that you have-

Gianluca Binell:            Thank you.

JD Prater:                     … put together. I encourage you guys to go check out Gianluca. He’s at And where can people find you on Twitter?

Gianluca Binell:            On Twitter, my handle is K-T-Z style. And I was very young when I picked out that handle, so sorry guys. I know it doesn’t look professional now.

JD Prater:                     And I’ll make sure to again, link to that so that you guys can reach out at any time. We’ll be linking to these docks in the show notes. And he’s already said, “Hey, reach out to me,” if you guys have any questions that you’re across because he can help anything that may come up as far as implementing.

Gianluca Binell:            Sure.

JD Prater:                     So, really good stuff.

Gianluca Binell:            If it’s hard Python stuff, JD.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, if it’s hard Python stuff, I’m just gonna laugh at you. So, all right. Well again, thank you so much for flying all the way in from Italy to be here.

Gianluca Binell:            Thank you, man. Thank you.

JD Prater:                     All right. Well, thanks everyone for tuning in. We’ll be back next week for another episode of The PPC Show.