Welcome to episode #67 of the PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid search and paid social advertising. This week I’m joined by Nash Haywood, Senior Paid Media Manager at Element Three.
In this episode, Nash outlines some tips for setting up campaigns with Facebook’s budget optimization tool and how you can scale and ramp up your results using this new feature.
If you’re not familiar with this new feature, the social network said in a Facebook Business blog post that the Campaign Budget Optimization feature allows advertisers to
“set one central campaign budget to optimize across ad sets by distributing budget to the top performing ad sets in real time. Campaign budget optimization is available for any campaign objective and is best suited for campaigns with multiple ad sets.”
Learn about his early results and tips in this week’s episode.
Listen to the Podcast
Advanced paid media manager with 10+ years of experience in customer acquisition for eCommerce and lead generation focused companies. Connect with him on Twitter.
✔ Experience working with display, video, mobile, social, and search media buying platforms with an ability to build complex and comprehensive programs that meet client goals.
✔ Have worked in startups, mid-market and enterprise companies to attract, acquire, and retain profitable customers with a heavy emphasis on strategy and tactical execution.
✔ Highly experienced in multi-channel digital marketing campaign orchestration using paid (PPC) and organic (SEO) search, display, affiliate, and paid social channels for B2B and B2C.
But, above all else, family is his number one priority. At home, Nash lives with his wife, Danielle, and their two beautiful girls, Charlotte and Adalyn.
Nash Haywood: 00:01 Hey JD, what’s up? Thanks for having me man.
JD Prater: 00:02 Yeah man I’m pretty excited to have you on. We’ve got to kind of talk going on Twitter around some really cool Facebook budget optimization features and I thought oh man this is going to be perfect for the PPC show so you know thanks again for coming on and agreeing to talk to us about Facebook ads. Everyone’s favorite kind of ads.
Nash Haywood: 00:23 Yeah no problem. I’ve been doing Facebook ads for like three or four years now. And honestly like the platform keeps getting better there so they keep throwing out stuff that impresses me personally. I think that there’s lots of opportunities for different brands to use different ways. But yeah I’m happy to talk about how the budget optimization has been working for us and kind of some of the tactics we’ve been using to scale that up.
JD Prater: 00:55 Sweet man. Well before we get started on all of those fun things. What don’t you give us a quick intro. Who is Nash Haywood and tell us about where you work?
Nash Haywood: 01:02 Yes I work at Element 3. We’re a modern marketing agency based in Indianapolis.
Nash Haywood: 01:07 We are kind of like a full service agency. We have in-house creative team, video team, and paid team which I head up. And technical SEO so were kind of doing a lot of different things but we got the opportunity work with lots of big brands and kind of have the support of all the different groups of people so being able to do really killer video is great for Facebook and kind of all of the different platforms and how important that is and how having a supportive creative team to come up with ad concepts. All of that is just really good when you’re kind of at an agency environment so I have a lot of support and able to do different things and it’s been really great. So yeah Element 3 some notable clients Airstream, Thor Industries, Boston Whaler boats kind of in the luxury outdoor space or with some other clients like the defender few others.
Nash Haywood: 02:02 But yes as far as Facebook there’s a ton of opportunity. I would say that you know we’re really kind of focused on lead gen for the most part. Lead gen for some clients B2B but for other it’s kind of for the consumer on that luxury purchase. So yeah I think a lot of the tactics we’ll talk about are applicable to both B2B and B2C scenarios.
JD Prater: 02:27 Perfect Man. Well you said you running some Facebook ads for quite awhile. Did you get your start in paid search and then convert over or do you still run both search and social?
Nash Haywood: 02:37 So we run both. We do a little bit of programmatic now as well. But you know search really has been a tried and true for a long time. But it’s very low funnel. So you know it’s hard to scale if you’re not in like very high volume industry and you know Facebook their platform just the advancements that it’s had and the targeting and all the data that you have access to you can definitely influence the search demand and you can just drive leads from it. So I started out with search love search and what it’s capable of but Facebook really has kind of opened up this like massive set of data in their walled garden where they really don’t let you kind of get out of that as much as they can control it. And we honestly have kind of shifted some of our budgets over to Facebook from search.
Nash Haywood: 03:36 Is just where the ROI is right now and you know stuff that moves pretty quickly. So as we continue to evaluate like where the results are coming from Facebook. I think it’s going to be part of that mix. But you know there’s always new things coming into play but I don’t see Facebook going away anytime soon.
JD Prater: 03:54 No, definitely not definitely not. Especially when they keep rolling out of the features left and right. So that being said man, Facebook recently just released at least to a majority of advertisers it may still be rolling out but this budget optimization feature which is what I’m going to kind of tee up for. But basically what it does is you can sell this budget at the campaign level and then Facebook will go in to the ad sets underneath that campaign and distribute that budget across those ads with the intention of getting you the best possible results. And the most amount results for the cheapest price. So I think it’s a really great feature to rollout. And I know that you’ve been testing for two of your clients so you know. Tell us about some of the things that you’ve seen maybe some tips that you’ve run into for campaigns set up and then how do you kind of scale and ramp these this kind of feature?
Facebook Campaign Budget Optimization Tool
Nash Haywood: 04:55 Yeah, so we’ve been using it for about a month here and noticed it was active and the account wanted to test it out. It was good timing for one of the accounts has to be on a large account build in a campaign for the fourth quarter. But yeah we’ve been using it for two clients kind of two different scenarios one is a large dealer program nationwide with some geographic constraints. So a lot of separate campaigns that we’re doing in a very similar way. Another brand we work with has nationwide campaigns and has allowed us to really kind of focus on those audiences nationally and then really focus on the ROI whereas the first one is really you know restricted to like a radius around their specific location. So as we have like scaled it up there’s been a good bit of trial and error. I would say kind of approaching it initially with the standard like mentality of how you would manage and set budgets really wasn’t necessarily going to be effective.
Nash Haywood: 05:57 And looking at the way that you kind of would tier an audience like levels of importance. So like obviously your website custom audiences first retargeting and like engagement audience are really going to convert well for you. Interest based audiences being second. And then like lookalikes and the different percentages of those kind of following up after that. How we’ve gone about doing that. When you’re looking at those assets holistically like in that campaign you don’t want to necessarily go ahead and mix like retargeting with interest based targeting or lookalikes. You kind of want to like set it up in a way that you’re dealing with all of your retargeting audiences and kind of letting Facebook predict what’s going to work best and scale the budgets toward those ad ads are going to also be a factor in that as well.
Nash Haywood: 06:51 But the way that we set it up is that there’s main website custom audiences, interest, and then lookalikes and then as far as how we’ve worked with lookalikes taking the top conversion paths and top conversion points on the Web site and then taking those in and putting all the 1 percent lookalikes together and then creating a separate campaign for the 2 percent lookalikes. The reason for that is just simply because you know there’s higher accuracy in this small percentages and as you scale out a little bit less accuracy. And then also budgeting because you’re setting the campaign level you know you want to be able to put a larger percentage of the overall client budget on those high ROI retargeting audiences and kind of scale out from there for your total budget. And then just manage the ROI from there.
Nash Haywood: 07:39 So there’s been there’s been a number of different things that we’ve looked at and we kind of settled on having this tiered approach for the audiences and managing it that way. And that has effectively allowed us to scale and allowed us to increase budget when we start to see you know lookalikes performing well in that particular segment. Surprisingly we had 2 percent lookalike perform really well more so than the 1 percent and that that scaled out really well and you know it’s just kind of like you start to manage the budget.
Nash Haywood: 08:12 But it’s kind of more on the campaign level versus the asset level which I think is what most marketers are used to.
JD Prater: 08:20 Yeah definitely. So let me kind of say kind of what you said back to you to make sure I fully understand. So you got one campaign that has 1 percent lookalikes you got another campaign that has 2 percent lookalikes. Is that much correct?
Nash Haywood: 08:35 Yeah exactly.
JD Prater: 08:36 Cool. And then are you using like negatived so are you then going into the 2 percent and excluding the 1 percent. Or is there technically some overlap between those two campaigns
Nash Haywood: 08:53 Yeah. No normal best practices with lookalikes like excluding the audiences so we’re not like hitting the same people with two separate campaigns.
Nash Haywood: 08:58 The reason is that we’re carrying them with 1 percent 2 percent was initially we went into a kind of mixed up smaller audiences you know retargeting interest look alike and the budget initially just skewed right to the retargeting. So it was like clear clearly like that’s going to happen. So breaking it out and in a more segmented approach and kind of what would we approach first with a budget that’s where we put the largest amount and kind of group those together. And then as we scale up the lookalikes we excluded everything as you would do typically with any type of audience like that and then kind of gone from there.
Nash Haywood: 09:37 So I mean even at this point we’re still kind of getting a feel for it but the volume has really been quite nice that it’s been able to deliver it really kind of negates the need to go into the accounts and just add set budgets which can be time consuming. But I’ve also noticed and I think this is just Facebook you know releasing this to kind of a general availability to everybody with Facebook has it hasn’t been perfect. Like there’s definitely been some assets that I think would have had a lower CPA if you know differently set up but what we ended up doing was having like more conversions at a higher cost and things are just a little bit off. But it doesn’t really necessarily make sense on paper. So yes still trying to work through some of those things and you know letting Facebook take over the building between those assets has worked pretty well.
JD Prater: 10:41 Yeah, I’ve seen the exact same thing I mean Facebook anytime you go when you start doing some manual bidding I’ve just seen like just it’s just not doesn’t work as well or something with automated bidding that just seems to work so much better.
JD Prater: 10:54 As far as scaling and getting that kind of performance that you want. So to that end you know whenever we think about setting up these campaigns you know we’ve been kind of focusing on lookalikes so walk us through how you think through a funnel whenever you’re really kind of creating these different campaigns maybe different types of optimization or objective features and azure kind of sequencing your ads and your audience is to make sure that you’re getting the best type of result.
Nash Haywood: 11:25 Yeah for sure. I think there’s like two paths on this conversation. One is kind of the combination between more than one campaigning campaign typing kind of connecting the dots and then there’s a second path which you know we’ve been testing over the past six months or so which is like this 100 percent Facebook ads funnel. Because of the number of ad units that we have available were using never actually ends up leaving Facebook and being able to use that pretty effectively.
Nash Haywood: 11:55 So I mean as far as like the combination tactics I think some of the stuff that’s worked really well for us. When you start to take demographic and interest based targets we found some of the larger interests based segments and then taking demographic like age as well as like household income provides a pretty targeted segment. As long as it’s in the vicinity of like 200-300,000 that that’s been able to scale pretty well with like conversion based campaign to other things that we’ve done that have worked pretty well when using lead ads as a format is a really effective idea but kind of going towards an audience that hasn’t been warmed up properly just ends up costing you more or the cost per lead.
Nash Haywood: 12:49 We focused on using CPM based bidding with Reach and just really kind of warming up an audience with you know general brand again getting them used to seeing the brand on Facebook and then you know having some type of either content offer or something of that nature. That’s more of a soft sell upfront. That that has worked effectively. So it looks like you know maybe 2 to 2 to 3 weeks depending on the audience size and budget with a reach based campaign.
Nash Haywood: 13:19 And that and starting the lead ads campaign is having a little bit of overlap with the same audience shutting off the reach based campaign and then scaling up the budgets for the leads based campaign. Having that overlap the audience warmed up just generally has resulted in a better clickthrough rates and more engagement on those ads so that that has been kind of a really simple but effective strategy for us.
Nash Haywood: 13:46 The other one has been you know taking a traffic based campaign driving people to Web site content blog or you know other interesting things kind of segmenting them based on clicks you know having a number of different ads with different content rotate them within a larger audience driving them to a page seeing what they clicked on and then retargeting them with conversion based campaign of letting Facebook take over the bidding on the conversion campaign.
Nash Haywood: 14:15 But for the traffic campaign to really focus on doing a manual bid in those situations and making sure that you’re effectively driving those clicks and really really using the budget smartly in those situations as it is kind of a one two punch that you need to execute on. But that that’s been pretty effective. I’d say the only caveat to that is really that you have a client with a lot of content that is separate in topic that has very clear path to conversion after. So if that’s the case then that can be pretty effective.
JD Prater: 14:55 Cool cool. Yeah I like a couple of those things so let me kind rewind. Let’s go back to facebook specific audiences. What are some of the audiences that you like when we think about people not leaving Facebook which I think is going to be a huge trend for 2018 is Facebook doesn’t want people to leave. But how do you what are some of the audiences that you go to. It’s like maybe your first couple that you build out.
Nash Haywood: 15:23 It’s actually pretty simple so what we’ve done is really focus on video views upfront. It does require you have some video assets but the costs from production of that’s not too expensive. And then taking those showing that to a very large audience and then taking a percentage of people that look at those videos watch like through the video like 50 percent or so and then putting them into a Web site custom audience based on views and then showing them another ad and that ad could potentially be a canvas ad or it could just go straight to a lead ad. But I like adding the second step in there with a canvas because you’re really getting them on a web page.
Nash Haywood: 16:09 And that canvas side allowing you know the messaging to speak to you know pain points for that particular audience and then you know having to click through at the at the bottom of the Canvas to a landing page but if somebody is scrolling in that Canvas and there’s some engagement there you can definitely follow up with another custom audience based on people that engage with the canvas ad and then use a lead ad so they’re never actually leaving the Facebook ecosystem.
Nash Haywood: 16:40 I think naturally Facebook favors this type of ad format just because if they stay on Facebook they can sell more advertising they can you know make more money from each user session. So I think there’s there’s definitely a movement in that direction.
Nash Haywood: 16:57 And the thing is for marketers it works and it works really well lead ad formats just based on my sample set of data has really started to outperform conversions. I’m not in all cases but if you look at like across the board they’re very very effective. And you know it’s really nice to be able to kick somebody over to a CRM marketing automation system and then you know start doing some type of lead nurturing or are drip marketing from there.
JD Prater: 17:28 Yeah I agree with that 100 percent. There’s some really good stuff out there. Do you guys you know do you do any other type of you know maybe page engagement or website engagement type of audiences as well.
Nash Haywood: 17:47 Yeah page engagement. As like a retailer I kind of view as like a retargeting audience although it is definitely separate. You know there is sometimes you know hundreds of thousands of users who can target that that are in that page engagement segment that aren’t going to be in year like 180 day retargeting segment. So the ability to just to use that as a volume driver for like total number of people you can actually reach with the campaign has been pretty crucial for some of the brands we’re working with. But yes as far as like the different segments and audiences that have come out recently I’d say that’s probably one of the most valuable ones in my mind. Obviously you have to have a pretty high engagement Facebook page for it to work effectively. But if that is the case then I think you’re just incrementally adding on a number of people who already been exposed to the brand already have some type of brand affinity that you can work further down the funnel.
JD Prater: 18:48 Yeah definitely. Cool cool man. Well something else I want to follow up with you on as you were talking about kind of audience size and scalability specifically for optimization for conversions and so you had mentioned like 200 to 300,000. Do you have a minimum audience requirement that you like to make sure that you’re targeting when you’re thinking about optimizing for conversions. I know this could be a fun hot topic.
Nash Haywood: 19:15 Yeah I mean it really depends on how how many conversions are coming in and like what that ad set targeting is. Facebook’s like magic number seems to be 50 with with targeting. And like once you get to that point you can kind of see that there is like a point where their machine Larian kind of takes off and has enough data to appropriately work with just generally I like to have at least 100,000 anything less than that. And I think your your ad frequency gets a little bit high but it gives kind of Facebook room to breathe when it’s doing bidding and reaching enough people like frequency of people’s visits to Facebook I think are a factor in that as well. More and more more often in mobile app and like you know spending an hour or two a day on Facebook some people you know visit occasionally.
Nash Haywood: 20:09 So just having it having larger sets of data especially with how much data Facebook has. I think ultimately is a good thing. If you can do it. I mean I would say you know if you have a decently targeted audience of that size. Like move forward with it. But if you have something smaller that is very targeted that can work as well it really just comes down to like the particular situation and have the considerations for bidding for for automated bidding. Absolutely. Over 100k. But if you’re really focusing on granularity I think you can do some manual bids and kind of bid high to get in and kind of make sure your your ads are seen. But you know that limits you as far as the scalability. So there’s kind of pros and cons these each approach.
JD Prater: 21:00 Nice. Yeah I definitely agree with that. With so here’s kind of a sticky one right. So for 2018. All right. So it looks like Facebook is really taking over kind of the output of campaign creation, ad creation, budgeting, bidding, and the really no one thing you’re really controlling is just the inputs. So let’s think about Facebook optimizing our budgets they pretty much optimize Oliver audiences think ground like look alike audiences. Most of us are doing automated bidding rights we’re giving Facebook control of that. They’re taking over ad creation and ad testing for us. Think about the split test think about there. Their latest integration where you can create 6200 ads. You know like in the snap of a finger. Right. So moving into 2018 like where do you see the role of a Facebook advertiser?
Nash Haywood: 21:57 It”s a really good question. They are making it easy. They’re making it easy to spend money with them. They’re also making it easy to get results. And that works in Facebook’s favor so you know why. Why not let people good ROI or why. And and let them focus on the other things. I think to that end it goes towards looking at the entire funnel. Both the online funnel and how that’s set up you know you’re still going to really need to focus on your audiences to really you know drive conversions. If something is broken or it doesn’t really make sense that can be a huge area where you can improve things. So I think it goes back to like setting up offers that makes sense for the audiences. And then offline conversions if you’re in a business where you’re not doing a commerce and you need to do close loop reporting and re-import offline conversions back to Facebook.
Nash Haywood: 23:00 Those are the type of things that are going to add value to their billing algorithm. And then also like working with clients on the sales process and the transition from an online add experience to the CRM syncing those audiences back to Facebook and then having you know email coinciding with another message and really just I think gives marketers an opportunity to be more strategic with what they’re doing and focus less on kind of clicking buttons and really kind of doing a lot of the stuff that can be automated by Facebook. I think it’s a really good thing. I think ultimately you end up having better campaigns yet end up getting better results because you’re focusing on some of those you know various advertiser specific scenarios like their business model and what’s making them money and all those things that really matter.
Nash Haywood: 23:55 But sometimes you don’t get too caught up in really focusing on what was my bid or not what was my CPA for a particular campaign just focus on the end result. How much. What was the revenue you drove her you know how many sales came from that.
JD Prater: 24:12 Yes. I mean we know that that’s going to be a big trend for 2018 as well as marketers are basically being held to lower in the funnel. No I mean SQL well is the new MQL.
JD Prater: 24:24 And even then its contribution to pipeline are you think about are ROI. So I think that’s going to be huge especially for B2B. I think it’s always been a trooper B2C but with this idea around strategy and really trusting Facebook it’s really kind of moving away from paid search. So do you think that paid search people you know this is a little bit of a Facebook topic but I mean where do you see that going within the automation as well. Because every time it looks like Google wants to do some automation. People freak out but whenever Facebook does it people like cheer.
Nash Haywood: 25:01 Yeah it’s kind of crazy how much day that Facebook has. If he if you can set like Google has a lot of data. Obviously the Facebook has so much personal data as well. It’s all self provided so it’s pretty accurate. So when you think about like automated bidding for search I think it is a good way to think about just like how how can you provide the platforms with the data that they need or the things that they need to have the campaign scale successfully. And by that like you know GDN for conversions and using some of the dynamic ads that they have and and kind of letting it letting it take over the placement on the page the size of the ad and you know predictive bidding that they have that has worked really well and I’ve seen maximize conversions bidding work well it just comes down to volume.
Nash Haywood: 25:54 If you have decent volume you have decent data which is you know both platforms need to work with and you’re giving it like back to life. The thing I’ve just mentioned before with how you need to have good advertising meaning like a good offer and the right audience line that as long as you’re doing those things as a marketer I embrace that type of automation because ultimately those platforms are in no way more about the user than you are. You can you can infer a number of different things but at the end of the day like they’re trying to get results for advertisers and you know that’s also a fine balance of like how much money are they making.
Nash Haywood: 26:36 And you know Wall Street and things like that so as like a digital marketing manager I think one of the roles outside of doing an effective marketing and good advertising is really just as straddling the line between what is driving results and cost per lead and you know offline conversions are really measuring customer lifetime value is the most critical thing because conversions can come in at a very high level or high volume. But if they’re not converting off line. That’s obviously a problem and if you haven’t significantly higher CPA but they’re converting a 50 or a 30 percent rate that’s more profitable. So just knowing your numbers and working with a client to understand those and how to translate online success into offline success. Those are the things that truly matter. Automated bidding is just something that’s going to happening continually happen. As I think Facebook and Google it take away a certain level of control that you have as a marketer and kind of let their own engine kick and as they get more advanced with what they’re doing.
JD Prater: 27:42 Nice man. I think that’s a really good answer. Those are really really well put kind of this consultation approach and how we think about our roles you know within an agency. Now that’s a really good answer so let me give you a quick little curveball here so I’m sure people are listening and they’re thinking look man I’m not getting enough conversions right. So I’ve got not enough conversions for Facebook to really optimize towards and I’ve got a long sales cycles so you know LTV is difficult for me to also measure how do you kind of combat or take what is your answer to those types of objections?
Nash Haywood: 28:20 So I think you start with like you really look at the business model and how people want to do business with you. So if it’s something like in the case of the companies that we work with primarily on the 3 there are some pretty big purchases boats and RVs are going to be significant amount of money.
Nash Haywood: 28:39 So there’s a certain high touch element to the sale cycle and they’re definitely going offline to make that purchase. But I think just focusing on you know really what that is for your particular client or your business is going to be very important. So things that you can leverage with Facebook under utilized ness messenger ads like chatting with a live person. I mean there’s definitely some people using bots with Messenger ads but chatting with a live person either through a messenger ad or a live chat on a on a landing page can be the online offline gap that you’re able to bridge and connecting those. Alternately I think is going to be helpful for a lot of a lot of different brands.
JD Prater: 29:29 Yeah and I think also quick plug AdStage. We just came out with our Q3 benchmark report that does include Facebook Messenger and so make sure you guys go take a look at that. Cool man.
JD Prater: 29:40 Well let’s let’s transition now and you do into some lightning round so I’m going ask you a series of questions and you’ve got 60 seconds to answer each one. You ready to go?
Nash Haywood: 29:40 I think so.
JD Prater: 29:55 All right man. I’ll tee you off as this is how I love starting the round. So first question is you’ve got no meetings tomorrow afternoon. No internal no external you’ve got like three hours blocked off just to catch up on the industry. What are some of the places that you go to find out what’s going on in PPC and facebook ads you know. So blogs, Twitter, videos, podcast you know like what are you consuming?
Nash Haywood: 30:25 It’s a great question. So I think there’s a couple places growth hackers as a good Web site. I just love reading that content people are kind of pushing the envelope on different tactics and I’m just reading about tons of new things that people are doing and stuff I’ve never thought about. That’s one place. Another one Slack is definitely number of different communities on their online genius’s is a nice community. Like from an audience size variation of topics.
Nash Haywood: 30:57 Another one would be #PPCChat and #FBAdsChat. Obviously there’s lots of marketers still on Twitter. I think some would argue that it’s not many people on Twitter. But I digress. Also you know just the normal blogs and search engine land to kind of keep me up to date on the types of like platform updates and kind of the things that surround that. And then I’ll pipe all that stuff into the RSS reader. You know to kind of go through it on my phone or wherever I use feedly and that’s been great. And like to add things to pocket and then post to Twitter so other people can see it. So as much as I can I like to kind of get that on the go between meetings or in the elevator that’s a thing.
Nash Haywood: 31:47 So try to keep up as much as possible. But sometimes it’s super difficult. However Facebook lives or excuse me Twitter live chats honestly have been like one of the most educational things because it’s like real time engagement like have it now. It’s stuff that people are dealing with like at that moment and you’re kind of talking to people that are you know doing the same type of strategic things that you are.
JD Prater: 32:11 Yeah I would definitely agree that there are some really good ones. It’s cool. All right. Next question for you. So you’ve been running some Facebook ads for a couple of years now so what’s something that you know now that you wish you would have known then starting out?
Nash Haywood: 32:30 So this is kind of a cop out answer but you know you can’t you can’t fix like bad marketing work on the foundational stuff first. That is both the content that you’re promoting and the concept behind your campaign. You know the way that you’re talking about it is super important for one earnings people’s trust but also like getting to the next step with any type of leads or anything like that. Also like make sure your tracking is 100 percent good. QA it like 5 different times in multiple browsers on mobile. Make sure everything is working correctly. If you’re not measuring it obviously it didn’t happen even if it did so. And really like just having a decent actually attribution mindset.
Nash Haywood: 33:20 What I mean by that is not all brands can do for attribution but in a lot of cases just basic attribution capturing some values and hidden fields on the submissions can provide enough like a glimpse at the customer lifetime value as they progress through the Martech stack. To give you a good idea of where your leads are coming from and like ultimately like what’s making them convert to back out those numbers. Obviously if you can do more do more but those just taking a step in the right direction with attribution I think is definitely a good thing.
JD Prater: 33:58 All right. Question number three here what is a skill/behavior/trait that you think all Facebook advertisers have in common?
Nash Haywood: 34:10 Good question. I think it’s a desire to reach new audiences. Facebook in my mind is a very effective platform retargeting across platforms is going to be effective. But because of the sheer volume of people you can reach it is a very good and controlled environment to have top of all awareness. And then you know be pushing people into whatever action that that would be. So when when approaching Facebook and looking at it like across many different industries and kind of objectives I think the one thing they have is scale. And that’s why a lot of people go to them and you know as you continue to grow your ad budget and kind of the complexity of what you’re doing Facebook is able to support that. And they’re introducing new things that allow you to to take advantage of messenger ads or canvas and video views and there it seems like they’re listening to to marketers as well. So I think it’s scalability. And just having so many people available to reach is nice.
JD Prater: 35:28 All right. Tomorrow you’re doing well. All right. How about this one. Most overrated Facebook feature and under rated Facebook feature?
Nash Haywood: 35:43 Overrated, I mentioned this when we we were chatting on Twitter I think clicks to a website is getting phased out simply because the way that mobile is the load times I think a lot of people abandon those clicks or their accidental clicks and bidding towards that has been you know it can be a strategy that works but you need to definitely account for that as far as your overall costs and maybe multiplier CPC by two or three.
Nash Haywood: 36:15 Most underrated feature. I would say honestly it’s video being able to reach so many people and drive views so inexpensively and doing video with a rich campaign is super effective from the perspective of being able to get your custom thumbnail for that video in front of so many people. And then also have the benefit of having all those video views testing both video views and the reach objective reach. If you have a good video can drive as many views as a video of you campaign but then you also get that benefit of having so many brand impressions. And if you customize the actual thumbnail image those are essentially free when you compare it to the video views objective.
JD Prater: 37:10 Last question. You ready. So let’s say tomorrow you’re unable to do Facebook ads anymore. You can’t run digital advertising like what is your fallback career.
Nash Haywood: 37:27 Ooh that’s a good question. I worked at a newspaper like right out of college, Baltimore Sun and. His awesome experience they were kind of going through this transition. But I definitely like talking to people and covering stuff. In the age of like the internet taking over news and kind of a newspaper and having really focused reporting and in-depth reporting I think whatever you’re interested in being able to report on that is an awesome thing. Let’s assume the internet doesn’t go away. Being able to publish and write your thoughts down and reach a large audience I think would would be something that I would be focused on doing professionally for a news organization or otherwise. And I think a lot has a lot of people now have found you know you have a small audience and still make a career of it as long as you’re adding value. So online courses and different things are like just reporting on things and kind of talking to interesting people as well as you know maybe you know putting out information in an online course format or something like that I think those those all can be shining. Knowledge is definitely something that I would I would try to do.
JD Prater: 38:49 Fantastic. Well you made it. We have completed the episode. Thank you so much for coming on and talking to us about some really cool Facebook features that you’ve experimented with and tested and give us a really good optimization tips.
Nash Haywood: 39:06 Yeah thanks JD appreciate you having me. Hope you finish your cup of coffee.
JD Prater: 39:13 You know it. I’m almost done with a coffee cup number two. So thanks again man.
Nash Haywood: 39:13 Good stuff. Talk to you soon!
This week on The PPC Show, Paul Wicker and JD Prater break down the top seven headlines in ad tech and digital advertising for the week of Dec 4 – Dec 8th. Tune in as they cover the latest on Facebook targeting, AdWords life events, Pinterest Chatbot and Messenger integration, and Google Sheets AI.
The update applies to multicultural affinity segments and other potentially sensitive segments (for example, those ads that relate to the LGBT community or to religious groups) that may be subject to expanded review before they appear on Facebook.
With life event targeting, you can pinpoint users before or after the event to maximize the efficiency of your targeting. For example, if you are a wedding venue you can target people as they are planning their wedding.
Facebook Watch is positioned as an “additional placement you just check and tick off,” making it easy for advertisers who already buy on Facebook.
The new pay-per-install advertising product from Apple is an entry-level alternative to the existing Search Ads product, which is now being renamed to Search Ads Advanced.
Pinterest in launching a new chat extension and bot to make it simpler to share Pins and search for topics in a more conversational way.
Google is revealing new tools in Sheets made possible by machine learning. With a simple click, Sheets can automatically create a pivot table based on the data available, potentially saving a lot of time.
The integration will allow advertisers to use their first-party data through the Oracle DMP to run search campaigns on Bing.
Welcome to the #66 episode of the PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid search and social media advertising. This week I’m joined by Mark Irvine, Senior Data Scientist at Wordstream.
In this episode, discover what Mark and his team learned after a full year of testing Google’s new expanded text ads (ETAs) across 14,000 accounts.
Listen to the Podcast
Senior Data Scientist and Analytical Lead at Wordstream. Trains and supports Wordstream’s Team of 180+ employees, managing 18,000 unique clients. Researches trends in an every changing SEM market for our engineering, product development and marketing teams, as well as our CTO & Founder, Larry Kim.
- Recognized as the 5th Most Influential PPC Expert by PPCHero in their 2017 Rankings:
- Named the 14th Most Influential PPC Expert by Hanapin Marketing, 2016
- Named a Rising Star of PPC by Hanapin Marketing, 2015
PPC Podcast Transcript
JD Prater: Welcome to episode 66 of the the PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid search and paid social advertising. I’m your host JD prater, and this week I’m joined by Mark Irvine, senior data scientist at Wordstream to discuss his latest research on expanded text ads. He’ll also provide some excellent tips on how to improve your ETA performance. Let’s get to it. Mark welcome to the show man.
Mark Irvine: Thanks for having me JD. How are you doing?
JD Prater: I’m doing pretty good man. I’m getting geared up for the holiday season. How about yourself?
Mark Irvine: I’m almost like at that point where I’m past the holidays. That anything that I’ve done up through now, it’s either sink or swim, and I’m thinking about next year already.
JD Prater: Nice. Well, we’ll definitely get to that in a second man. But what have you been up to? So Mark and I connected at Hero Conf London. It’s actually pretty interesting that we have interacted probably for years on Twitter but finally met each other officially at Hero Conf London were we were both presenting some couple of sessions. So we had a really good speakers dinner then some really good darts session. But yeah …
JD Prater: Yeah. London was great and it’s been a long time coming. Also, finally got to meet you so of course it was a successful trip. Basically, though, the last couple of months for me have been cray. I got married at the very end of September.
JD Prater: Congratulations.
Mark Irvine: Thank you. Thank you. Basically, to start off what married life is is I decided to be on the road for six of eight weeks straight. So, already starting off married life by being imaginably the worst husband possible and just not being there. But obviously was out there in the UK with you, came back, met with a couple of partners in Mountain View, and in Seattle, and then did Pubcon Vegas two weeks ago, and Social Media Week in Chicago last week. So I’ve been all over. Finally back in Boston. Gonna finally see my husband for a little bit. Make up some time there and hopefully the rest of that sticks.
JD Prater: Yeah, definitely. Well you don’t have too many more trips planned out for the rest of the year, right? Are you at home?
Mark Irvine: I’m home solidly throughout at least the beginning of January.
JD Prater: Nice.
Mark Irvine: So love it or hate it, he’s gonna see me for about six weeks.
JD Prater: At this point, he’s like, “Man, I kinda had my free time.”
Mark Irvine: Yeah, exactly.
JD Prater: Why are you encroaching?
Mark Irvine: Yeah, so rude of me. My team back here almost forgot who I was. They moved my desk while I was gone. Honestly, if this is just me taking the first step out of Wordstream, this is the first hints.
JD Prater: Yeah. Yeah, so for those that don’t know, or if you’ve been living under a rock, Mark works at Wordstream. And if the good folks and the good listeners here have never heard of Wordstream, why don’t you give us a quick elevator pitch?
Mark Working at Wordstream
Mark Irvine: Absolutely. So Wordstream helps small, medium businesses and the agencies that manage those small, medium businesses, manage their paid search and paid social accounts all within one platform. The idea here is a lot of the stuff that you do in a regular paid search or paid social account, a lot of that’s repetitive. So our software is effectively a suite of tools to help people manage it within 20 minutes a week.
JD Prater: Nice. Nice. I can vouch for you guys. You guys have a great blog You guys have really good content. Your benchmark reports that I know you work so hard on. I just saw the latest one around Bing report so congratulations.
Mark Irvine: Thank you.
JD Prater: There was great information for the industry. And then Mark is a data scientist. So yeah kind of explain what a data scientist does.
What is a Data Scientist
Mark Irvine: Yeah, so thinking about not just the fact that everyone’s paid search accounts all with similar themes, and have similar elements to it, but Wordstream where we’re small, medium businesses, we have 20,000 of those small, medium business’s accounts linked up and because there are 20,000 ad accounts under our management, that gives us a lot of potential to really look I and see specifically what are people doing and what aren’t people doing and does that make them successful, and what are common benchmarks, or exactly what’s going on in the industry. So when something changes in the industry, I don’t have an anecdote, I have a trend. And from that, that’s effectively what my day-to-day looks like when I’m not traveling around the world.
JD Prater: Nice. Well, cool. Cool. Well, let’s kind of jump into it so Mark gave a very successful … Well yeah, very successful at Hero Conf London around expanded text ads and so we’re gonna kind of like walk through his section, and some of the things that he shared, and some of the things that you can feed through and think about as you’re planning for 2018. So mark you ready?
Mark Irvine: Yeah I’m ready.
Expanded Text Ads (ETAs)
JD Prater: Alright man. So it’s December. I’m thinking it’s time to start thinking around 2018 because I’ve waited till December and this is what happens. What are some common things, pitfalls, that advertisers should be thinking through?
Mark Irvine: Yeah, so I think that the big conversation we’re having around ETAs is either you’re currently on ETAs, they’re a year and a half old now. We’ve all seen them. We’ve all had feelings about them. If we look at the Google Bing narratives, they’re all hey ETAs are great. You need to be doing them, right? They increase your average click through rate by 20% line is the one that they all throw out. And of course, they’re bigger and they’re better. Why wouldn’t you wanna do this? But JD, I’m sure in your experience, you haven’t always seen that kind of performance, right?
JD Prater: Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, whenever I was kind of evaluating standard versus ETAs, it’s been really hit or miss.
Mark Irvine: Yeah, and that’s the exact truth is that the line that Google spews about the average increase in click through rate increase of 20% is an accurate statements. That is true for an average. But one thing that I learned in school early on is if I ever wanna tell a lie, I use an average. Because averages specifically hide half the data along with it. And so specifically when we look at on average when people make that transition, the 1 out of 3 people, or 1 out of 3 accounts when they’re making this transition, really struggle when they’re transitioning to ETAs.
So although looking through my SMB heavy portfolio, about 70% of all of our accounts have fully transitioned to ETAs, and 95% have begun that transition, it’s still a real conversation about well why does 1 out of ever 3 people who begin this transition struggle with it? And I feel like a big problem when we look at the data, and I think that you kind of mentioned it right there is when you’re evaluating an ETA versus a standard text ad, you often see that hit or miss kind of conversation. And we see that a lot of people took that exact same approach, that a lot of people, when they migrated to ETAs, they migrated to ETA’s with an ETA in each ad group.
When they made that migration, they found the winner of that test, and then they concluded that was the end of the test and that they had fully migrated to ETAs. And so when we look at just the number of ETAs in each ad group now, we actually see the fact that about 44% of people who have made this migration have only made this migration with one ETA per ad group. And so, when we talk about what best practice, and what common practice used to be, it used to be that you would have multiple ads per ad group.
We don’t see that as a common practice anymore but it’s pretty uncommon for people to have two or three or four ETAs per ad group. Whereas it was almost comical how many ads you would see in ad groups previously, that there were people out there that might have 10, 15 ads per ad group and that was almost too many. That was problematic at times, that we’re not at all really running into that case scenario anymore.
We’re more and more frequently seeing a lot of small ad groups with one or maybe two ETAs in them. And so that gives us a really unique paradigm in 2017, where throughout all of 2017, there were fewer ads in each ad account than there were the year previously. And that’s never been the case at least as far as my data goes back in 2008, where there are fewer ads per ad account. So it’s a very unique problem that we’re facing that this ETA migration, of course it’s kind of a forced migration of course people are hesitant to just jump in and do it all, but we’re seeing the fact that all of a sudden people are much more hesitant and are testing a lot less frequently in this new ad format. And that then begins this problem of as people test less, we’re also seeing fewer improvements.
44% Only Have One ETA
JD Prater: Right. Yeah, I think that was like one thing that I really took away from your deck was … Like 44% only have one ETA, which it seems crazy to me ’cause I think as you were saying, an hour and a … Oh sorry not an hour. A year and a half this has been out, right? And you’re like, “Wait. What have you been doing for 18 months?” One of the things that I really enjoyed about your data was the flip side to it. It’s like when you actually have more ETAs you actually see better results and so I won’t put you necessarily on the spot but you were saying if you have …. Ad groups that have more ETAs, you have a 21% higher CTR. If that doesn’t make you go and launch some ETAs I don’t know what will.
Mark Irvine: Yeah. This doesn’t even necessarily need to … Like this turns out and you know that I love numbers. Any time that we can solve something just by doing more or just by creating more numbers in an account, I’m all too happy to see that. But it’s one of those things that as Google takes this more algorithmic approach towards optimizing your ads, as Google write ads for you as it optimizes those ad rotations for you, as that kind of becomes more standard in how Google operates, oftentimes just having different messages, having more options for Google to optimize for you, well that’s often enough to allow Google to fund success with that.
JD Prater: Yeah. That’s a good point. Let’s unpackage two things there. So I think one, we should definitely talk about Google writing ads for you ’cause I’m sure everyone here has an opinion on that and I keep getting the alert in my account. It’s just like and it’s gonna start and it’s gonna start soon. And I’m like no. I know I can opt out but I kinda wanna see what they write more than anything else. And then two, let’s unpackage maybe different types of messages within like a same kind of ad group and letting Google kind of surface those different ads, be kind of a messaging best practices. So which one do you wanna tackle first? Messaging or Google writing ads?
Google Writing Ads For You
Mark Irvine: Let’s talk about Google writing ads first.
JD Prater: Let’s do it.
Mark Irvine: And so … I don’t know. I originally saw that and when I first saw that come in, I nearly opted out the entire book of business. All 18,000 accounts I was just like, “Well why would I want Google write this? Of course I can write better ads.” But then I say that, and then five minutes ago I just talked about how I’m not writing better ads, how I’m specifically not writing any ads. And so what we’re seeing … Google’s not all that active with the ad suggestion beta, or the written by Google beta. They’re slightly different. I think that maybe one evolved into the other. But all said and done, I think that across my book I’ve seen it affect all of like 3% of accounts. So it’s not all that common.
But what we’re seeing is like … Of course ’cause I want to evaluate it, when I see those particular ads that Google is writing, they come in with that label, that written by AdWords label so it’s really easy to evaluate the performance. All said and done, they’re not remarkable ads. They do have a slightly, in ad groups in which they exist, that ad group takes about a 10% increase in click through rates. So just having … It is getting that kind of story of just having multiple ads helps increase the click through rate. The actual copy that they write is fairly honestly unoriginal.
Nothing that I’d be like write home about. I think that they changed a couple of the verbs in my original ads to be something different, or they switched around sentences or words to be all that different from one another. This is a big problem of course if you have very strict branding that maybe she’s born with it, maybe she … It’s Maybelline, is a specific brand line that your marketing director’s gonna care about a lot if you mess up or if you re-write.
But if you find yourself int he case that most of us find ourselves in, where this is just a 140 character add that says something about something, then very unlikely, like Google’s not gonna write offensive in this ad. They’re not going to necessarily skew your branding all too much.
They’re gonna play that semantic game that most of Google is about where they’re just changing out a couple of words here and there and maybe giving you a different CTA that you use another ad group. Just testing out those kinds of languages together sot hat it can hopefully provide better performance. So I don’t know. Unless you … Do you have any horror stories from this?
JD Prater: No, not yet. Within the AdStage account, it hasn’t hit just yet. If you start trolling on PPC chat, it’s kind of fun to see people. It’s rally interesting to me straddling the search versus social types of mentality where search people are so controlling of everything that they want. Where the social people are like yeah basically, go ahead, do whatever you want.
Mark Irvine: Go nuts, yeah.
JD Prater: Go nuts.
Giving Up Control to Google
Mark Irvine: So you’re gonna kinda see that a lot more of that kind of attitude emerge from AdWords, or from Google, or from Bing in general particularly as social becomes a more prominent market in the US. That like, what is it? 22% of all digital goes to Facebook now and that wasn’t a thing that happened three years ago. That like, just in terms of Google maintaining its market share, Google is going to follow what’s successful for Facebook and vice versa.
JD Prater: That’s true. That’s been kind of the fun part. We were talking about this on the headline show that we do every week and we were really excited because Facebook’s like yeah check this out. I can make 6200 ads really quickly. You give me 10 headlines, you give me 10 descriptions, you give me 5 images, 5 videos and then boom. Gone.
Mark Irvine: Done.
JD Prater: And then go test ’em. Boom. We just took care of your ad creation and your testing for you. 6200. And it’s like, “Why doesn’t AdWords do this?” And they kind of launched it with like the UAC which I think is them kind of venturing in to this role of here’s multiple headlines, heres multiple text boxes, and now we’ll just go out and kind of test it for you. Which I think is all … I think that s abetter use case for Google than writing ads for you. I would much rather give them four or five headlines, multiple text box descriptions, and let them scramble it up to make a bunch of ETAs. That I’m more okay with.
Mark Irvine: And then so I think like what you’re seeing is like two weeks ago, for instance, Google released the ad variations beta. So now it’s native tot he new UI exclusively.
JD Prater: I know.
Mark Irvine: Right in there. Here I am God. Take on another unpopular topic but right in the new UI, if you were very comfortable testing out different call to actions, if you’re very comfortable testing out headline two and headline one switching places, or if you wanna test out different messaging, it’s very easy to do that at scale now.
Whereas like previously you know what I did not enjoy particularly when I managed accounts directly? I really hated going in and changing 18,000 ads because a sale started. Or because we changed a promo code. Or because I want to change one particular message. That was a very manual … I had a lot of control, but to be honest, the control was only as good as I was. And I have other things to do with my life.
JD Prater: Yeah, that’s a really good point, especially when you think about the manualness of like am I gonna do this in Excel? Am I gonna do this in Power … Or no not Power Editor. It’s just the Facebook in me. The Google AdWords editor, right? And you’re like find, replace. But at the same time, you’re just … Like I don’t … I just don’t wanna do this.
Mark Irvine: I think that this is honestly cathartic for paid search marketers, particularly as like … When I started back in my day, when I started in paid search, this was one of those things. Like I exclusively did paid search and then display was adjacent and I might get my feet wet in display and now we’re doing a paid search and display, and we’re doing programmatic, and we’re doing social, and we’re doing all of these other types of ad buys that like …
As I take more on to my plate, I have to kind of be open about giving up some control of that. At the end of the day, I don’t wanna … This individual add that I’m gonna be writing out of 18,000 ads is not going to be the one that makes or breaks success for me. If there’s just some kind of catch all or if there’s some kind of algorithmic way for me to do this, then I’m gonna be much more happy, excited to do that.
JD Prater: Yeah that’s something that we’ve seen too. Even AdStage customers, right? There’s been a real shift ’cause we have like a … It’s like an automated product and it allows you to set up rules across channel. Whatever you want, right?
Mark Irvine: Yeah.
JD Prater: You can also flight ads. You can schedule ads. You could actually go in, schedule all these promo ads, and have them launch this day, and turn off this day with like simple … pretty easy. The thing is man, people, they’re not there yet. I think we’re getting better. I think a year ago if we were having this conversation about automation and giving up control to the Googles and Facebook, I think the answer would have been hell no. And now, it’s like well cool. I’m gonna go do some other stuff ’cause I still have all this, other things on my plate to do. I’m happy to kinda let you just take this part.
Mark Irvine: Yeah. From tech platform to tech platform, I remember when Wordstream just started, it was one of those things that we wouldn’t even … We didn’t even have the ability to copy and past an ad because why would you ever wanna dot hat? Because every ad had to be different. Then you were writing this ad or if this ad group for a very different reason. Dynamic keyword insertion has its own kind of controversy about it because well I don’t even know how this ad is going to show. Or dynamic site links, or dynamic ad extensions were such a controversial topic that turned out to be so inconsequential.
I think that one of the big things about being in paid search in 2017 and 2018, is that like we can all sit on this cusp that where it can reactive to what Google is going to be doing. We all had feelings when Google changed its ad rotation setting. We all ah feelings when Google changed its budget delivery settings. We all have changed about the new UI. We can all sit back and dig in our heels and hate this, or we can kind of think more about like well why am I upset about this? And how should I be managing this? And why is Google doing the thing it’s doing and how can I kind of apply this more directly to suit my needs?
JD Prater: Yeah that’s a very logical conclusion Mark.
Mark Irvine: I of course say this from the luxury of being a senior data scientist where I get to look at all the numbers all day long and say, “Okay, so on average this is a …” I get to do that thing where I lie with averages. And they say, “On average, this is a good improvement.” But I don’t have the client yelling in my face that this might potentially ruin their branding down the line maybe.
JD Prater: Yeah, true. True. It’s a little off topic, but yeah I ran into this when I was managing clients. We were trying out the display where they were doing the responsive text ads and it would pull in your imagery. It was not on brand and of course this brand was like, “What is this color blue? Where did you get this? This is not the right color blue. You need to be using pan tone …” And you’re like …
Mark Irvine: Yeah.
JD Prater: I don’t know man. We were just testing something.
Mark Irvine: I actually remember when that first happened. I think that Google would pull the images from your Google Plus accounts, most generally. And so it used the wrong logo and this was just … When that showed up, and then I explained to them why it showed up that way ’cause they pulled it from the Google Plus account, I was effectively was just throwing their in house social team under the bus. It was a very easy problem for me to get out of. It was like okay I’ll just opt out of doing this, but instead along the way decided to throw three people under the bus.
JD Prater: Nice.
Mark Irvine: That’s what working with Mark Irvine, senior data scientist looks like.
JD Prater: Get ready to be thrown under the bus. Alright. Well let’s kinda transition now. So Facebook and Google are gonna take over pretty much all things ads, and so some of the things that we can control are the inputs, maybe, right?
Mark Irvine: Yeah.
Ad Messaging Best Practices
JD Prater: Google’s really going out there, but what are some messaging best practices … And I know you talked about in your Hero Conf London session, but what are some of the things that you’re seeing?
Mark Irvine: I think that one of the big things that we’re seeing is that like these standard text ads, the text ads that were created, the text ads that we’ve been running with for 16 years, they were created in an era of search that is really no longer there. So the year 2000, the year 2008, a lot of times when we write these ads, we think about someone in our position, very likely, we’re sitting at a desktop computer all day, we’re thinking of people searching on a desktop computer all day. We’re searching for keywords when we’re searching for our clients keywords so we think that people are going to be in that exact same desktop searching for keyword position.
And so the metaphor that I used was the old Geico commercials where it was … Geico was really successful because they were one of the first online advertisers or one of the first online platforms where you could get car insurance. And there were lines that it was so easy a caveman could do it. And so the way that we searched at the time, you would go to a desktop computer, you would sit down, and I you wanted to buy car insurance online, you’d have this caveman like query, car insurance. You would get results for the term car insurance, and you would consider that ad a good match if it reiterated back that caveman like language of car insurance back to you.
That’s not how we search anymore. Now, when I’m searching for car insurance, I’m not even necessarily going to be clicking on … I’m not gonna be searching that way. I’m not gonna be searching for the same terms, and I’m not gonna click on that ad. I’m not gonna convert right away either. So we have to think about the fact that people are searching more long tail. The long tailed search query is no longer a nicety but its actually the majority of all searches, about two thirds of all searches are long tailed now.
We’re not searching on desktop as frequently. Most of the time, we’re on mobile or across multiple devices. And when we are searching for something like this … Even like I’m looking for shoes right now. I can’t just click on an ad and buy shoes. I need to of course search multiple times. Or now that I’m worried, I am no longer the key decision holder in my life, so now this is a conversation I have with my search. So I now to begin to poll multiple searches for the same product research.
So, knowing that I’m no longer this like digital stone age caveman, you have to think about how we’re selling ourselves to the people who are searching here. That people are searching longer, they’re searching more natural, they’re often searching vocally, but they’re also searching for much more complex needs than they were a decade ago, or even five years ago, or even two years ago.
So knowing the fact that we’re now complicated sophisticated people searching, we need to think about writing ads to people who are using that language. And that’s really where standard text ads are kind of no longer fitting the bill for us ’cause it’s 90 characters. We can’t do anything with 90 characters. If someone’s searching for something that is 140 characters, or multiple words, then we’re not gonna be able to necessarily even fit that in a smaller ad.
One of the things that I’ve seen really successful when I go through a semantic engine of what doing an [n-gram 00:26:50] and looking at semantics within an ad set, it’s very easy to identify certain words that resonate very well with people. And a lot of these are fairly common like the word free resonates well with people. This isn’t anything really new. But one of the things that really stood out when I looked through a host of ad copies was that pronouns performed rally, really well. And the reason is because it’s very difficult for me to write an ad for someone or to write an ad that’s not written for someone without using a pronoun.
So if I include the word we in an a, then all of a sudden I’m not going to be writing at this caveman like language anymore. When I include the word we in an ad, I’m now kind of forced to write my ad in the way that I would speak to another human being. So I’m not really focused so much on the keyword that they’re searching for, but I’m focused more on what it is that they’re searching for as a solution.
Use More Pronouns
JD Prater: That’s interesting. That’s interesting. So within that, like are you saying as advertisers, should we refer to our business as we rather than … AdStage is or should we say we are this?
Mark Irvine: So I feel like if you were to describe what AdStage was, that’s a statement, right?
JD Prater: Yup.
Mark Irvine: And then you’re going to go into some descriptive language around the platform which you provide.
JD Prater: Sure.
Mark Irvine: If you were to position yourself, like I’m sure that your sales team, what they don’t do is they don’t say like AdStage allows you to do X, Y, and Z. They don’t describe the features of AdStage. What they do is they sell you guys as a solution package. And so we look at your blank. And we provide the following tools and suggestions to help you manage your multiple accounts along the way. And so that kind of difference between using features, using nouns to describe what it is that you do versus using pronouns to describe how you help people is a huge difference in terms of how you market yourself.
And it sounds like really … When I break it down between nouns and pronouns, it sounds really semantic, but when you actually take a step back, forcing yourself to use a pronoun, you suddenly shift your messaging a whole lot when you’re talking to a human being. And so you break away from this like keyword marketing strategy into this more human marketing strategy.
JD Prater: I really like that. I think it’s really good. I think even with SMB right? So it could like a local plumber, right? I could really see how the we coming out of that would be a really powerful type of ad whenever I’m kinda scrolling through. That’s a good tip man. So pronouns. We, him, she …
Mark Irvine: We.
JD Prater: … We.
Mark Irvine: You is great. You.
JD Prater: You.
Mark Irvine: There’s so much that you know about your business, or about your customers whoa research searching for something. You of course know what they’re searching for but you also now their demographics. You know where they’re searching. You know when they’re searching. You know on what devices they’re searching.
Thinking more about who and how someone is searching is often more important than about what they’re searching for. That someone who is searching for a UK sim card is … That’s the first thing I did when I got to London is I of course was like oh right I don’t have a sim card for this. I am not interested in buying a UK sim card.
I’m interested in this bigger solution and knowing the fact that I like pulled that search in Boston Logan Airport for a UK sim card, well that was a really indicative, like that kind of search behavior is way more indicative of exactly what my intent was rather than the fact that I was searching for this piece of plastic.
JD Prater: Yeah that’s really nice. That’s a really good point too. I’m sure you probably did it on mobile so what are some mobile tips and trends that you’re kind of seeing as well?
Mobile Tips and Trends for ETAs
Mark Irvine: So with mobile of course like we know that mobile isn’t necessarily the same search process. That Google is gonna tell us that intent is uniform across all devices. We know that’s not true. A big thing that’s underutilized … maybe this is in part because Google hasn’t really pushed it as much … is the if statements. And so the if statements, it really just allows you to write slightly different messaging for someone who is searching on a mobile device versus a desktop or tablet device.
We use that specific process a whole lot during the standard text ad days with device preference. Specifically, when you wrote an ad, you had to specifically check a box and it was right there int he process when you were writing an ad that you almost were exposed to it immediately. This if statement, you can go in, you can write this bracket equals if, parentheses device equals mobile, comma, kind of language. Marketers didn’t take that kind of comp sci class. No one’s really comfortable writing that programming. I’m sure if you like invite Dan on, then Dan’s gonna be all too happy to talk about specifically like scripting and that kind of language.
But the typical SMB, that plumber, he wants to write a different ad to someone who’s staring at his toilet on his phone than someone who’s comfortably at work maybe thinking about well getting that sink fixed. Anyway, using that if statements, there’s a lot that we can do knowing that someone’s on their mobile device. Thinking about the fact that you’re gonna promote that call to action that’s hopefully a call rather than schedule a free inspection of that toilet that’s overflowing.
JD Prater: Yeah. I think that’s the good part too. It’s like, there really does seem to be kind of some immediancy whenever you’re actually searching on your phone. I locked my keys in my car this weekend. I needed an answer like right now. I need a locksmith right now. IT’s very different than searching for a locksmith on desktop where I probably have the convenience of having internet connection. So it’s a very different sense of urgency than being at a park and it’s like am I screwed?
Mark Irvine: Like I’m screwed and so you get back to me. Yeah.
JD Prater: Yeah, hurry up.
Mark Irvine: And knowing that, being able to provide that specific language that … let’s say that you were locked out at like midnight or something.
JD Prater: Oh man.
Mark Irvine: If I had that specific language that someone is there 24/7, that’s so much more valuable than your desktop search where if I’m conveniently comfortable under my covers on my desktop searching for this, then I’m not necessarily looking for that right away. So that kind of difference in language means everything.
JD Prater: Nice. Nice. Well, I think those are some all, some really good points. Anything you wanna kinda wrap up and really encourage us to think through?
Mark Irvine: I would just overall I’d encourage people to … entrust Google just a little bit in terms of automation. Definitely have a healthy skepticism, definitely review along the way, but in general don’t not do or don’t not allow Google to do, just because you’re afraid of worst case scenario is probably my biggest take away.
Lighting Question Round
JD Prater: Nice. Alright. I agree with all those points. That was really well put, very succinct. Yeah thanks for sharing all that. Let’s transition into some lightning fire round where I’m gonna ask you a couple of questions and give you about 60 seconds to answer each one.
Mark Irvine: Perfect.
JD Prater: You ready? Alright.
Mark Irvine: I’m as ready as I’m gonna be.
JD Prater: Yeah. Alright man. So let’s say tomorrow, you’re taking it easy. You’ve got no meetings internally, externally. You’ve got let’s say three hours blocked off and you’re like, “I’m finally not on the road. I need to like catch up industry news.” Where do you go to catch up on news? Any favorite blogs, podcasts, people that you kinda follow?
Mark Irvine: Yeah so of course I’m gonna do that healthy half self promotional shout out and say #PPCChat in general. What I will say is everyone on PPCchat, half of the time I’m trying to identify the newest error, the newest problem, someone on PPCchat already has strong feelings about it. That’s great. It’s a live feed. Everyone’s got a new problem every day, and if you ever wanna know the worst case scenario, what’s going on, Twitter has it for you.
Apart from that literally at the very top of my browser, I have the AdWords blog, the Bing ads blog, the Facebook ads blog, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal. And then controversial, the AdWords Google Plus page. Every time that there is an announcement that they kind wanna make an announcement but want it to not be seen all that much, they make the announcement on the Google Plus AdWords page because they know that not a lot of people are gonna see it and react right away. So every single time that there is something that they know is going to be unpopular, that’s where that news is gonna break.
JD Prater: Yeah those are all like really good ones. I’m always surprised by the amount of people that aren’t following the actual blogs from the networks. That’s really where they’re releasing the news that Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal are writing about, right? That’s what they’re linking to and then really good point on Google Plus. They definitely like to sneak some stuff in there.
Mark Irvine: Another one that I just though of, the Google Ads Developer blog …
JD Prater: That’s a good one.
Mark Irvine: … is a good way to have a look into what’s coming out soon. Sometimes a lot of their new features makes it into the API long before it makes into the new UI. So seeing the fact that okay they put shopping showcase as in the API sometime in March, that gives me like a six month parameter of like okay I know that they’re going to make that more generally available sometime soon.
JD Prater: Yeah. I wold also echo that Facebook, they did the exact same thing so definitely check out those developer blogs because they will always update the API first before they roll it out. So good ones there. Alright, let’s keep going.
Now that you’ve kind of moved into this data science, and you’ve always been kind of in data science role like your kind of understanding search versus social … Like what’s your favorite channel that you like to see in advertising?
Mark Irvine: I eman so sometimes that answer’s gonna depend on which of those networks is paying me more to answer that question, but …
JD Prater: How about as a consumer?
Mark Irvine: As a nice person?
JD Prater: Yeah.
Mark Irvine: Alright I’ll be a person for a hot second.
JD Prater: There you go.
Mark Irvine: I don’t know. I still like search a whole lot. I think that there is a lot of … And this might be me as a data scientist as that math background. I really like linear rules, and I really like that control and understanding what’s going on. Whereas with social, I understand that I’m targeting people based off of some criteria but there’s that screen behind it that this still feels anonymous in a lot of ways. And of course, there’s privacy concerns around why it has to be anonymous.
I see great results out of Facebook, don’t get me wrong. But I still feel that there’s oftentimes a distance between all the players on social where you have advertisers whoa research targeting people and they don’t fully understand how they’re targeting those people, and that’s separate from the agencies maybe managing them that don’t fully understand well why are we doing these particular things, or what’s the goal of all of this.
Everything still feels very distant and I feel like along the way I’m buying solutions or I’m buying audiences to reach without thinking big picture of how this is all working together. So like if I want to talk about attribution on social, well attribution on social is just kind of this weak idea. I see some notion of this within a view through window or I can see some notions.
But I don’t see this full funnel insights like I do within Google Analytics or within the search platforms. I definitely think that social’s grown up a whole lot in the last three years. I look forward to it growing up a whole lot more. But if you put a gun to my head and I had to pick one, I’d still go back to search because search I completely understand at the end of the day exactly what that linear process looks like.
JD Prater: Yeah I think that’s a good point, and it piggybacks really well. So it’s 2018, you’re gonna be hiring more data analysts at Wordstream, what are some of the skills, what are some of the competencies that you look for in like a new hire, especially around the analyst type of role?
Mark Irvine: Yeah I think that the big thing … I feel like a lot of people are gonna say, “Hey you have to really analytical. Hey you have to be very good at paid search. You have to be very in depth knowledge of all these platforms.” I think that a bigger thing honestly that goes under considered in a lot of interview processes is the fact that at the end of the day particularly if you’re client facing, you have to be able to maintain that client relationship. Even within my highest tiered service, my full maid servicing offering team, I still look for someone to be 40% client facing, and 60% operational.
Even myself, I am not even all that client facing. I come from that data scientist background. I could in theory roll in with a sweatshirt every day and not shave and do whatever I want. And no one would necessarily ding me for that, but if I want to run a team, manage a team, speak to a client, speak at a conference, write a blog, I have to think about not just how do I … I pride myself. I know math very well. I know numbers very well. I know data very well. At the end of the day, I have to relate that back to people who don’t.
I’ve seen a whole lot of people who are very good at the core competencies in their job struggle or fail along the way because they can’t necessarily relate that back to a person. And so a lot of what I’m doing when I’m interviewing someone is I’m specifically looking for them to explain that more complicated conversation to me and pretend … Like I give them a bunch of trouble and I pretend like I don’t understand every step of the way so that I can see specifically how are they gonna relate that to a small, medium business who does not care what change happened with an exact match that day.
JD Prater: That’s a really interesting input there. You know a lo the of time with the data analysts it’s always the guys that aren’t that great at communicating or they don’t wanna be client facing. They’re like, “Can you just stick me in a corner in the basement and let me play around in Excel and do regression models all day?” And so it’s interesting that you’re like, “No man. You need to have some people skills.” So I like that.
Mark Irvine: I mean like so that’s where I came from. Before I was even paid search I was in a strict math background for a long time and I was … My background, I actually was working more closely with the NHL, and so there’s a lot that you can do in terms of running numbers. Numbers, you can run numbers all day long and come up with really exciting trends but if you can’t go back and explain to a coach or to a media outlet exactly what you’re doing, well none of that really means anything.
And so I would so much rather admittedly, when I’m traveling a whole lot, or when I’m training a team , or when I managing a team, or I’m working with clients, every single time, every single hour that I’m doing any of that, I’m not running numbers. And of course I could be running numbers for that kind of thing, but this is all useless if this is just knowledge for me. And that’s what clients come to us, this is what clients come to you guys for. Numbers only … Math is a universal language only if we all understand it.
JD Prater: True. That’s a nice wrap up right there. That was good.
Mark Irvine: Thank you.
JD Prater: Alright. I’ve got two more questions for you. So we got into Twitter debates around the word hack, right? So you are from Boston and hack means something different to you. I would love for you to explain to us when you’re using the word hack and you’re in Boston, what does this mean?
Mark Irvine: Okay. So everyone like we all think of hack in. We all have multiple … The word hack has multiple meanings right? So right now well think of hack as like … If we go back to the ’70s and ’80s we think of it as this like oh I’m gonna hack into the mainframe and I’m gonna get into the system. That then translated further on into I’m going to hack your marketing and I’m gonna use it in this kind of gimmicky sense.
Growing up, in Boston, the word hack kind of means more of just a clever, unique way to do something. And so the way that we all know hack universally of that technology, I’m gonna hack into the mainframe, well that actually comes from a group of MIT students in the ’70s as like comp sci was really evolving at MIT is they were using this local language to describe how they were doing this clever creative thing to get around systems at MIT.
So they started referring to that in the native language of hack, and so now we all think of like hack as being this super sophisticated advanced language, when in reality everyone in the area it’s just kind of like a townie word for oh yeah I’m gonna hack my way through this party. Or like oh I’m just gonna hack my way through this presentation. It really doesn’t mean anything sophisticated to us.
I feel that a lot of people when they use the word hack or when they look down on people for using the word hack is because their delivery isn’t up to scientific snuff if you will. Whereas like to be honest, when I was in the second grade, when we learned how to carry the one over, well that was a hack and that’s how it was explained to me in Andover public education, so like maybe that’s just representative of Boston. Maybe everyone in Boston’s a little bit of a hack. And even upon saying that, that’s one of the times which my Boston accent really comes out is I give a very hard R kind of language in there.
JD Prater: Give us like a really good Boston, like a wicked good … Let’s do to the Dunkeys and let’s order some doughnuts.
Mark Irvine: Oh my God. Alright. So earlier this year, the dunks on my corner, the Dunks on my corner stopped serving the ice coffee, and so I had to have a hot ice coffee all winter long. And then the Dunks went out of business and now I have to go down to the pru, and I have to order all of my Dunks, hot or cold, down at the dunks on the corner. And they charge you like an entire quarter fifty for it. It’s nonsense. I don’t have anything real to say.
Honestly, dunks does run through my veins at any point in time. Everywhere I go I can’t actually enjoy good coffee because I’m from Boston anymore. There’s a Dunks on every corner and for a long time there was a Dunks directly at the end of my block that now when I go to Starbucks, it’s like oh this is fancy. Everyone else in the country looks down on me.
But even when I was out in London, oh there’s a bunch of nice coffee places around there and I had to go out and I had to immediately identify well what’s the townie awful coffee because I can’t sit through this and of course I can’t have any hot coffee anytime I go anywhere. So as I travel the world, I should honestly run this blog of bad iced coffee that I’ve run into that I can’t have this like hot iced coffee that everyone else serves everywhere else in the world.
JD Prater: That was pretty good. I like that. I love the Boston accent. I love when guys, when you guys like really get into the character. It’s good. Alright last question for you, I’m a let you go. Let’s just say the whole data scientist, Google thing, whatever we’re all like second … We’re all kind of hired indirectly by Google, right?
Mark Irvine: Right.
JD Prater: If it doesn’t work out man, what’s like a back up job that you’ve always been like I’ll just go do that.
Mark Irvine: Do you remember Erin Sagan? Erin Sagan used to work with me at Wordstream.
JD Prater: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Mark Irvine: And then she like fully embraced the Google, and now she’s all about Google. She’s writing all of these narratives that we all read that whenever Google does something we don’t like, she wrote that language.
JD Prater: Nice.
Mark Irvine: She already knows the fact that we don’t like it and behind it you can see her grating her teeth of like JD don’t be mean to me. So when Erin and I started at Wordstream, we both worked in restaurants. She was a waiter. I was a bartender. It’s still one of those things that particularly during the summer of … I’ll occasionally pick up a bar shift, that I can’t walk away from that money, that it’s also very relaxing to me like from that math perspective I like mixing drinks.
All of this is just math in different combinations and it’s an ordered structured kind of thing. The only difference is the clothes and the hours in which you do this that I’d probably become that boss from Bartender immediately. If Google wants to fully automate everything, that’s when I’m gonna have my initial panic attack when I’m gonna be like, “Oh guys I’m not sure about this automation because that means I’m out of a job.” But until then, I’m hoping that I can stick around a little bit longer.
JD Prater: Favorite drink to make.
Mark Irvine: I mean I always enjoyed a Long Island Iced Tea, not because I like the taste of a Long Island Iced Tea. Just because I always like grabbing every single bottle within the well and pouring it at once, and then very gingerly adding in a little bit of coke at the end. Being like, that was like your finishing touch, and now it’s a different color, enjoy. I also enjoyed a lot of … I know that it’s very basic, but any kind of milk based drink, or any kind of like shaken cocktail, I really liked it because you effectively just got to smile and look around the bar and everyone would look at you while you shook it that it was just a big showmanship kind of thing. So that’s always my thing. Basically, anything which I can make a big distraction or hold a lot of bottles in my hand at the same time was my favorite drink to make.
JD Prater: Oh man. Such a great answer. I’m like laughing over here ’cause it’s such a ridiculously awesome answer.
Mark Irvine: Thank you.
JD Prater: Alright. Well, love to have you back on again at some point. It was really great having you on and definitely enjoy the rest of your holiday season not traveling and hanging out with your husband man.
Mark Irvine: Absolutely. You too JD.
Welcome back to another episode of the PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid search and social media advertising. This week I’m joined by Sayf Sharif, Director of Analytics at Seer Interactive.
I attended his session at Hero Conf London and left with my mind blown. So I asked him to come on the show and talk about how to build advanced Google Analytics audiences.
Stay tuned as Sayf walks through how to create advanced Google Analytics audiences based on a variety of user behaviors, to target not just people that view a specific page or product, but people who have complex behaviors, like viewing more of content A than content B over 6 months, while also not subscribing to your newsletter, and having never visited your lead form, and who have never clicked on an ad before.
Listen to the Podcast
I’m a driven and fun guy, specialized in digital marketing and Google Analytics, helping organizations get the most out of their marketing dollar using data-driven strategy. Whatever tools you use for your email marketing, or your content, or your paid ads, or your social media, or your a/b tests, what interests me most is to help you make it better.
Past Speaking Engagements:
- HeroConf, London
- SMX East, New York City
- Meeting of the Minds, San Francisco
- eMetrics, Toronto
Sayf Sharif: I care more about how people are actually behaving when they’re out, when they get to the site, so that we can understand their actual behavior and whatever that extra chunky content or product is, that they actually want. Then we can understand that and then we can bring that back up the food chain back to channel and say, “What campaigns are driving actual viable customers, or what organic content, landing pages are working or whatever it is.”
JD Prater: Welcome back to another episode of the PPC show where we interview the best and the brightest in paid search and social media advertising. I’m your host JD Prater. This week I’m joined by Sayf Sharif, Director of Analytics at Seer Interactive.
I attended his session at Hero Conf London and left with my mind blown and so I asked him to come on the show and talk about advanced Google Analytics audiences. Stay tuned as Sayf walks us through how to create advanced Google Analytics audiences based on a variety of user behaviors to target, not just people that view a specific page or product but people who have complex behaviors like viewing more content A, than content B over the last six months while also not subscribing to your newsletter and have never even visited your lead form or have never even clicked on an ad before.
Let’s get to the show.
Sayf, welcome to the show many.
Sayf Sharif: Thank you. Glad to be here.
JD Prater: We brought Sayf on to the show because we were both at Hero Conf London and he’s giving this presentation around what we’re going to get into, but around these Google Analytics, really defining behaviors. I went in thinking, “Oh Google Analytics stuff, I can always learn more.” Thinking, “I’m probably like a seven.”
I leave your session and I’m like, “I’m like a three. This guy is amazing.” Thanks for coming on and talking to us. I’m really excited for this but, give the listeners a quick preview of who you are and your background of where you are, man.
Working at Seer Interactive + Background
Sayf Sharif: Sure. I just want to say, my goal in London was to make people feel terrible about themselves. I’m glad that I succeeded.
Yeah, I’m the director of Analytics at Seer Interactive. Most people are familiar with Seer, from Wil Reynolds and his talking at various conferences and things like that. We do other stuff too. I have been here for about two years and we really have been trying to leverage analytics in a way for our paid teams and our organics search teams where it’s not just about audits and tracking. It’s about how can we provide value for our customers. That’s the whole point of this stuff.
That talk I was giving there in London was about what we’re doing with, what we’re calling behavior driven personas. We had called them quantitative personas but that was a little too nerdy for some people so we’re saying behavior driven, because it’s what are people actually doing and how do we determine who’s valuable and then how can we use that to do everything from testing to targeting to personalization and the whole nine. That’s where the value is and people really connect with that. I’m glad you liked it.
JD Prater: I really liked it. I’ve been a fan of you guys’ blog for probably, jeez, probably three or four years now. I thought you guys did a really good job with SEO, the organic stuff. Then, I got to meet Gil of course. Gil Hong was on the show this last summer. Go back and check out that episode, he was really talking around shopping and stuff, getting ready for I think state of search was kind of where he was getting prepped for.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah.
JD Prater: All right man, let’s jump into this. I’m actually really curious. How did you get your start into Google Analytics before we even stop going into this behavior personas? How did you get started?
Sayf Sharif: A lot of times … I used to have a intro slides about me before my speeches or, my presentations and Wil basically convinced me that, no one wants to hear your background, no one care. Let’s get right into the meet.
But, I actually went to grad school for archaeology and worked as an archeologist, which is the normal track. Anthropology is actually one of those area that does feed a lot into analysis and understanding behavior. I’d always been a tech person and I left archeology early on when the web really first came about and started off doing front end development, things like that. That really bled into needing to understand what people were doing and what was successful.
I started actually working with Urchin, pre Google Analytics way back in the day and having to do lots of fun analysis with that, where you combined data sets and step away from your computer because it would be chugging for eight hours on your local drive. It’s nice now in modern days where I don’t have to do that kind of stuff.
Yeah, the way I always talk about it is, what we’re doing on analytics, it’s just digital archeology, because archeology is, you’re going somewhere, you’re looking at the evidence that humans left behind, like the behavioral evidence and those data points. Then, you are trying to understand what they were doing and what they needed and what their problems were and we’re doing that but with websites or mobile apps. It’s just digital archeology so I’m kind of doing the same stuff I studied for in my grad classes except I’m using a computer instead of a trowel and a bull whip.
Digital Marketing Moneyball
JD Prater: Nice tie in man. I think, one of the things from the presentation that I really liked is how you prefaced it was Digital Marketing Moneyball.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah.
JD Prater: Talk to us about that. How you can find what actions are leading to this value.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah, like I said in the talk, I think I have a slide that has Brad Pitt. To have a handsome Brad Pitt picture. You can’t go wrong.
JD Prater: Yeah, I know.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah, Moneyball, I’m sure probably most of your listeners are familiar with it, but it was the book by Michael Lewis and the film with Brad Pitt and they’re talking about how athletics really got … We’re able to compete against people like the Yankees who had ten times as much money, by focusing on really putting their money on the most valuable players they could get for the least amount of money. Looking at what statistically made someone valuable in baseball, which was getting on base, which lead to runs, which lead to wins.
What we’re trying to do when we look at things like customer lifetime value, customer centricity, behavior, things like that, is to say, if we’re going to segment for audiences, the first thing we want to look for, is who, the valuable audiences are and what their behaviors are, because, those actions lead to that value.
WE’re calling it Digital Marketing Moneyball partly because, you say, “Well, your page value for your URL …” What’s page value. You start talking about these kind of things but, when you say Digital Marketing Moneyball, people, I think understand more, it’s about we’re trying to find the valuable people for the least amount of money possible.
You know what, if we can … Everyone that’s listening to this show probably understands the more, segmented, targeted the audience, you’re going to work with, you’re probably going to be, it’s going to be cheaper and more valuable to you, just from, we’re going to re-target everybody that hit our site to, we’re going the re-target the person that looked at a shoe with a shoe ad, is probably going to have a better success rate than, just targeting everyone at the site for a general level.
The more we can get into that complex user behaviors to understand, this is the kind of pattern that someone’s following where they’re actually valuable and how we can do things like, like, I said, targeting testing personalization, whatever that is. That’s Digital Marketing Moneyball.
JD Prater: I like it. I thought it was a really good analogy. I think it’s something that we can call definitely relate with. Yeah, kind of walk us through the next step. I think we’re all on board that we need to be doing more of this. I definitely see it for 2018, we’re all going to get more sophisticated and we need to get more sophisticated as marketers not just because we need to but it actually drives better returns. Right?
Sayf Sharif: Yeah.
Understanding User’s Paths & Actions In Google Analytics
JD Prater: For our clients, for even our internal I house team. How do we get stared with some of this Digital Marketing Moneyball and understanding these paths, these actions that are really creating value?
Sayf Sharif: Yeah. I mean, so, obviously there are tools. I’m not a huge fan of tools, because I feel people like spending money on tools rather than actually doing any work. The tools don’t always work that well. I will mention that there are tools that you can use to help you do this but, I like doing things for free, when you can do it for free. It’s one reason like, free Google Analytics. Like, why would I pay someone to do my job for me.
I think, the first thing I’ve been telling people when they say, “How can I get started doing this?” Is to say, “Okay, well, first of all, you need to have your actual conversions in GA.” We need, whether it’s eCommerce conversions in the eCommerce revenue or it’s goal completions on some sort of goal value. If you don’t have a value associated with it, it’s difficult.
Sometimes that means to being some sort of close loop implementation where you’ve Sales Force using the measurement protocol hit back to GA with the actual value often conversion or maybe just say, “F it. I’m just going to do, you can average page value of something like that.” Fine, whatever, but you got to have a value.
Once you have a value and you have conversions, the first thing that I do before anything else is to just start segmenting based on that behavior. I want to segment out true bounce visitors. People that … I’ll have scroll tracking implemented so I can see where people are scrolling. I want to look at people that bounced and didn’t even scroll. People that hit that page and were gone within five seconds and didn’t scroll. It’s almost on every site, I just say like 20% of your visitors, it’s a mis-click. I want to just get rid of that first and segment that.
Then, I want to look at high value people. I want to look at the people that converted. Show me people, give me a segment of everyone that converted and then give me a segment that is neither of those. People that were engaged to some level, probably hit multiple pages, but they didn’t convert. Now I have this bad traffic, good traffic, and the traffic that they were engaged but they didn’t convert. Then I can start looking at what is the differences in those behaviors.
Even with that, sometimes we see, “Oh the conversion rate actually, we thought Facebook converted terribly compared to the Google organic or whatever but, when we look at the valuable customers, it’s a much higher conversion rate.” We actually are getting people coming from social that they’re really converting high once they’re, of the valuable component. How do we target those people? What are they clicking on? What are they coming through on compared to the low value people? What are they engaging with content-wise? That kind of stuff.
Then, we can start saying, “Okay, this kind of behavior …” I think my examples, I had in the presentation, you have these examples like, it’s really obvious. Someone views a video versus doesn’t view a video, they’re more likely to convert. Maybe it’s also, if you look at this you can start saying, what content is more likely to be viewed by people who are high value, versus low value. It might not just be getting the one that gets the most pages, it might be something else. Then, you can start saying, “Okay, I want to target people specifically for those products or those pages or those services, or whatever that is.”
Then, at a deeper level, you can … That’s just like the first level of analysis but then once you understand that behavior, you can start getting into the user scoring stuff that I had talked about where you’re saying, “Okay, well I want to understand my commercial versus my residential customers or my do-it-yourself customers versus the people that are going to hire a contractor.” Then, you can start doing things like adding additional tagging and tracking and understanding directly into the data. When you want to segment you can say, “Show me everyone that has a do-it-yourself score higher than five or something like that.”
JD Prater: I really liked that part and we should definitely get into that. I want to, one thing that as you’re kind of getting into this, it reminded me. It was like one of those hot takes. It was this like, “I hate personas.” You’re like, “What? This guy is an analytics guy. What does he mean he hates personas?”
Why don’t you go ahead and explain to us, why you hate personas and then, the next part of that, that I really liked was your Prego story. I’m just going to tee you up on those two.
How Prego and Target Got It Right
Sayf Sharif: Yeah, the prego story is not fully mine. I definitely got to give credit to Malcolm Gladwell for that one.
JD Prater: Sure.
Sayf Sharif: The personas stuff, I will say that this brand personas the, Dedicated Dan, the Social Sally, that kind of stuff, I am not a fan, but I understand how in certain situations they’re useful for people that are doing brand design and things like that. I understand why they exist, I just think they’re over used in ways that shouldn’t be.
If you start saying, “Well, we need content for the site. What kind of content would Dedicated Dan like?” I think that’s a mistake, because then you’re … We can actually look and see people’s behavior. We can actually do user research and people are not … You won’t fit into four or six categories. I think that I said this, “Why is it that brand personas always seem to be able to fit on one slide?” Because, is that our limitation?
I think I told the story, the Target story about how, the pregnant teenage story from Target, which I don’t know if other people know but, how the dad coming into Target and said, “You’re sending stuff about pregnancy to my 16-year-old daughter. It’s inappropriate. Blah, blah, blah.” Then, two weeks later came back in and apologized to the manager of Target because he complained about the stuff to the manager of Target of course not marketing. because his daughter was pregnant. He came and apologized. “Actually, yeah, she’s pregnant.”
Target identified this girl, the computers, not the people, identified this girl as pregnant because she bought cotton balls, unscented lotion and a large bag that wasn’t necessarily a diaper bag but it could double as one. There was three products and the Target computers, was like, “Um someone’s pregnant.” Because, it looked at the patterns of those behaviors of people purchase these things, then, three months later they’re purchasing diapers, therefore this person is probably pregnant. They don’t have a pregnant teenage girl persona but they targeted her anyway. They targeted her based on her behavior, her patterns, what she purchased.
When we limit ourselves to these personas, that the brand person comes up with, it fits on one slide, I think we start losing value of the fat that we’re complex people. We don’t all fit into some single persona.
That’s the persona thing. It’s good to start but I’d rather go … That’s why we talk about the behavior of different personas. It’s about behavior. Personas are actually based on human behavior and tracking enough stuff that we can make decision that way.
The Prego story, again, Malcolm Gladwell, he talked about it better than I ever talk about it. I don’t know if there was a Ted Talk. Anyway, if you just Google Malcolm Gladwell and spaghetti you’ll find it. Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce, that’s what it was called.
Basically, he was talking about Howard Moskowitz, he was the psychophysicist, which is the coolest job title back in 70s who tried to … Pepsi hired him to figure out how sweet to make diet Pepsi. He tested a whole bunch of people and it just came back as noise. He expected a bell curve and there was a no bell curve it was just noise. It always bothered him.
Then Campbell Soup hired him for Prego and Prego was competing against Ragu at the time. This is in the 70s and everyone had Ragu. Anyone who’s as old as me remembers the old commercials where Prego suddenly started competing with Ragu, and you had a commercial where you had two bowls of spaghetti sauce and Ragu, got poured on one and Prego on the other and Ragu just splattered everywhere and Prego sat right on top.
That came from Howard Moskowitz because he went around the entire country to all these fairs. He tested thousands and thousands of people. They had a hundred different attributes of spaghetti sauce, how think was it, how red was it, how sweet was it, how spicy was it, how much oregano it had? Every single aspect of spaghetti sauce. They came to the understanding through this analysis that … They had them rate it, like, one to 10. Like how much do you rate this? They came to the understanding that, people didn’t just like one kind of spaghetti sauce, just like they didn’t like one kind of sweetness of Diet Pepsi. There was three main buckets they first came up with. They came up with regular, they came up with extra chunky, and they came up with extra spicy.
Prego immediately released, they started and made an extra chunky sauce, released those commercials and then captured a third of the market for spaghetti sauces, because no one else was doing it. Now, there are 72 kinds of Ragu. When ever you go to the store now and it’s like, “Why is there so much everything?” It’s because, well, because everyone’s not you. Everyone likes things different. They know that now and they target the biggest groups they can.
You take kind of the persona stuff and you take that stuff, it’s like, we all like different stuff. There’s lot of horizontal segmentation. The other part of that though is that in all that testing no one ever asked for extra chunky. Right? Not a single person, all of that thousands of people that he tested with spaghetti sauce and put 10 bowls of spaghetti sauce, not a single person said they wanted chunky spaghetti in the sauce. They just rated chunky spaghetti sauce as higher and they captured the market.
Most of these personas are still based off qualitative research. “Hey, what do you want in a hand bag or what do you feel … What kind of problems are you trying to solve.” It’s not that those aren’t important but people don’t always say what they want. They might say, “I want this.” Then, you put them on a site and then they do something completely different, because people are dumb. Not, dumb but like, they’re weird and you’re primates and are just like strange shiny. You rely on this qualitative research.
Okay, it’s a start but, I care more about how people are actually behaving when they get to the site so that we can understand their actual behavior and whatever that extra chunky content or product is that they actually want, then we can understand that and then we can bring that back up the food chain back to channel and say, “Okay, what campaigns are driving actual valuable customers.” Or, “What organic content landing pages are working.” Or, whatever it is.
Yeah, that’s where it comes from.
JD Prater: Nice. I really like. I think everyone who’s listening is now convinced that behavior driven personas are the way to go, because I like that you were talking around like, you’re basically leaving a digital footprint. That’s really what’s more important because that’s actually showing action more so than what you think you might want. You’re actually doing these things.
For everyone listening, we’re on board. We’ve got the Digital Marketing Moneyball. We’ve got where it’s sold on digital or behavior driven personas. I’m trying to get it all, man.
Sayf Sharif: It’s all right.
Mapping Digital Footprints in Google Analytics
JD Prater: Give me some next steps. Let’s just say … We talked about segmentation. Let’s just say that we looked at … We got rid of our crap traffic and now we’re just really trying to diagnose, like let’s get super in the weeds. Let’s get real tactical. Are you saying like, let’s go into the behavioral site content in GA. Is that how you would start looking for and connecting these dots. How do you start connecting the dots, I guess.
Sayf Sharif: A number of different ways. I think one thing that is one of the big features of Google Analytics that people don’t use is the custom dimensions. In the free version you get 20 custom dimensions that you can put on users and sessions and hits to your hearts content. In the 360 version you can do 200. These are just different aspects of that data. I can have a page URL and … I was actually talking to a …
I did a finance webinar the other day and we looked at Bank of America and I showed how, from the home page of Bank of America, and the first page of results of Bank of America, checking account, I could get to close to 20 different URLs with over 30 different conversion links and buttons for a checking account. That many pages for checking account. There wasn’t a checking account page of Bank of America. They had interest free this and they have whatever else, that. I don’t know. I don’t remember the names. Corporate checking account. They’re all about checking.
There’s content groups in GA and there is custom dimensions. We want to say, “Okay, I want to not just understand how this URL is doing. I want to understand how my checking account content is doing.” Deeper than that some of the stuff was … Like I said some was for personal, some was for corporate and corporations. Okay, I want to know what’s checking account and I want to know whether it’s personal versus corporate. Some of this stuff was targeted towards parents of teenagers. Like opening up accounts for children or things like that.
We said, “Okay, this stuff is … This is stuff that’s targeted at parents.” We don’t necessarily know their parents but we’re probable that this is targeting for parental stuff.” Maybe it’s like, “How do I figure out your own savings for the future.” We say, “Okay this is someone who is like proactively helping, proactively planning or financially responsible.”
If I wanted to go into this site and say, “I want to understand valuable users or I want to understand who the behavioral persona is here.” If I wanted to say, “I want to understand how parents of children are looking at checking accounts.” To do that is possible if I just had raw data but it’s a lot easier if on every single hit there I’m saying, “Okay, on this page, that’s targeting parents of teens, I want to also immediately type dimensions for checking, for personal, for probable parent.” Things like that.
Then I can start saying, “Okay, how does the content for parents do versus the non parent content.” “How does the personal do versus the corporate?” “How does the stuff that displays urgency …?” You might have a landing page that’s displaying urgency.
The example I have for this is not financial but we have the, we work with Trex who builds the composite decking and one of the problems people have with non-composite decking, which is the wood decking is, splinters. You get splinters in your feet from your crappy wood deck. If someone’s searching for content about splinters from their deck, there’s an urgency there. No one in their right mind sits there with a perfectly good deck and goes, I want to Google splinters in my feet. If you understand this content has urgency … I need to file my taxes before … I have one week to file my taxes or whatever it is. You can say, “Okay, there’s a mood.” There’s aspects like that.
Once you understand those things then we can even start assigning points and scores for those. We can start saying, “Okay, I want to have a frustration score. I want to have an urgency score. I want to have a parental score.” Then, with GTM it’s really easy to say, I want a trigger on these pages to throw up a little bit code that throws an event that says this is an urgency event, we put a … We capture into a cookie or we score up into GA and we say, okay this shows urgency of this it’s shows for my checking or whatever else. We add it to a custom dimension.
Now, that’s in the data but it’s also on that user so I can then look at that user and say, “You know what, I want to target people that are parents, that are probably parents that are also displaying urgency about their taxes.” Or, something like that.
Then, I can look at that audience and if that audience shows that it is highly valuable, or it is highly converting, now, well, I just created an audience. I just have a Regx where I’m saying, “Okay, I’m going to go into my audience builder in GA and I’m going to make an audience for people that show one or two urgency but once they get to three urgency, that’s where they start getting valuable. Maybe an audience of people with an urgency over three who are probably parents. There you go. Congratulations. You’re winning.
JD Prater: Yeah, that’s where I was like, “And, my mind’s blown.” I thought that was really good. I really wish that we could spend two hours. My ask of you is to write the most detailed blog post of all time.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah. I’ve been working on. I have it. I swear to God. I have been promising this for a while. I did promise it in November. I’m running out of time but, I really intend to have the whole big long deep blog post out there for you.
Negative and Positive User Scoring in Google Analytics
JD Prater: Good. Good man. Yeah. That was something that was really good. We talked about custom dimensions. We talked about content grouping and like the scoring, which I thought was really cool. The positive. Talk to me a little bit too, because I thought one thing was really cool, you talked about negative scoring and how you incorporated that. For people that weren’t there at the conference, talk to us a little bit about negative scoring.
Sayf Sharif: Sure. Well, there’s actions that indicate you’re likely to convert in a way and there’s actions that indicate you might not be. The example I gave at the talk was again for Trex and it was about do-it-yourself-ers. A large component of their customer base are do-it-yourself-ers who want to build their own decks. Other people don’t want to build their own decks. They want to hire a contractor, which is my audience. I get those people. I don’t understand the do-it-yourself-ers. That just makes me scared.
Anyway, but, you can do things that indicate you’re probably going to be a do-it-yourself-er. You might interact with content that’s specifically about, “Hey, you want to build your own deck.” If you have a blog post that says, “Hey, how do I build my own deck, myself?” Well, they’re probably, there’s a chance that they might just be reading it, but let’s give them a point for that. That’s the positive scoring.
But, if they go start searching for contractors in their area, they might not be a do-it-yourself-er if they’re searching for contractors. We’re going to give them a negative score.
We can adjust that score and we can save it and store it over time and we can say, “Okay, what’s their score now? How’s that score change over time?” It can go up and down. We’re not just saying, “Here’s actions that indicate you want to build your own deck or you want to open a checking account, but it could be … Because, like for a checking account example, if you look at one piece of content about a checking account and then you look at 30 pieces of content about doing something with a CD or something like that. Well, you’re probably not a great checking account target.
If you have a remarketing pixel on something about do-it-yourself content or about checking account, then, everything else you do, it’s like you would exclude that from an audience. You say, “Okay, if someone completes a goal for finding a contractor, we’re going to remove him from the do-it-yourself audience. Until they do something like that, if they’re just doing behavioral actions before a conversion, leading up to something, you still don’t know you want to give them not just positive scoring but negative scoring and multidimensional scoring where you can say algorithmically, “I need someone that has at least twice as much points in this category than that one or, if someone has a negative score here, I want to just eliminate them from the audience entirely.
Remarketing Lists Created From Google Analytics Audiences
JD Prater: Yeah, I mean, that’s where I was like, “Man, I’ve got to get on this.” That is such a powerful remarketing list. We’re talking display, we’re also talking like, just like the RLSA say, so, all of you search marketers out there listening, just think about how fine tuned these audiences are and how you can really tailor a message or tailor some ad creative for this type of person.
It’s no longer just like a catch all bucket that you probably have running. It really is some really advanced GA audiences that I doubt were just brilliant because I had never even really thought about the scoring aspect. In your presentation you gave access to your script. We can include that in the show notes. You guys can understand the script that you can throw into GTM in order to kind of get this information on to your website. They’ll start tracking it.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah, yeah. It’s a really … It’s a strip down basic example of the script where it’s just adding a point to something, and then being able to track it into a cookie using GTM and GA. It’s stuff where, with that script, if you know Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, you could have that up and running on your site within a half hour.
JD Prater: Well, that’s a perfect time for us to leave a good cliffhanger. If you’re listening go check it out. We’ll make sure to include it in the show notes. Let’s transition into some lightning round here where I’m going to ask you a couple of questions and you’ve got 60 seconds to answer each one.
You’re ready to go?
Sayf Sharif: Okay.
JD Prater: All right we’ll do a softball question first. It’s the question I always like to start off with and it’s … Let’s just say tomorrow afternoon, you’ve got zero meeting. No internal, no external. You’ve got three hours to yourself and you’re like, “Man, I need to get caught up. I haven’t caught up on industry news. I need to see what’s happening.” What are some sources, some people, podcasts, what content do you consume in order to keep up.
Sayf Sharif: My normal content is podcasts, these days, because I can do it on my commute. I really like half hour podcasts because I have about a 25 minute drive so it’s really consumable on my cell.
JD Prater: Let’s go ahead and wrap this up,. No, I’m kidding.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah, yeah. I also like … Like I mentioned before, the digital analytics power hour is a really good one because, I really like that one. I find that one keeps my mind active. I would say that’s the … Anything else I can find out. There’s not a lot but, that’s the number one I would say, I would always go to.
JD Prater: Perfect. No, I like it. I’m not familiar with that one, so I will make sure to add it to my keyword podcast. I’m with you as well, I’ve got about a 30 minute commute. That 30 minute podcast, it’s just perfect for me. Fantastic.
All right, question number two that I always like to lead into. It’s really around, for you, you talked about Google Analytics. What I want to ask around the free versus the paid, is the paid version, like the Analytics 360, is it really worth the price?
Sayf Sharif: It can be. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody. Full disclosure. Seer just became a GA-360 reseller so we can’t … I will admit that I do have skin in the game.
JD Prater: Got you.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah, it’s not for everybody. If you’re doing for instance a lot of double click stuff, those integrations seeing the view threw in the multichannel funnels, having the DBM, DCM integration, can be incredibly valuable. If you have so much data and you’re doing so many different things that you’re hitting un-sampled data and its’ just unusable …
I’ve seen people that have so much un-sampled data and ‘required cardinality’ that they were having problems looking at anything over that data. Even in a day, having that un-sampled data, having the big query integration, it can be worth it.
If you have less than a half million, if you have less than, a quarter million sessions in a month and you’re not really interested in data driven attribution, you’re not using double click, you’re not doing anything that it’s going to provide you, then, no. You definitely shouldn’t buy it. I mean, I’ve had plenty of people before where it’s like …
Like I said before, I’m not about tools. I’ll use tools. GA-360 is just a tool. It can be valuable but for a lot of people it’s like, “Look, you have a lot of better ways you can be spending your money right now, than 360. Let’s fix a lot of other stuff up and if you get to that point, then we’ll help you get 360.” It just depends. For the right people it’s extremely valuable.
JD Prater: Got you. All right. Let’s keep it into GA. Underutilized feature that you’re like, “I can’t believe people aren’t doing this.”
Sayf Sharif: I mentioned before custom dimensions. It always, it’s one of the things we look at when we look at when we do a critical audit when we start projects. How many people just don’t use any custom dimensions what so ever. They’re not adding anything to their data. I think that’s number one.
I think even just GA Events, I think are extremely underutilized. People use them here and there but a lot of times also will go in and it’s just they don’t really have many or they’re just, they’re not structured in a way that’s being useful or a way that’s implemented to add information. I think a lot of stuff we do with measurement strategy is to really understand how can we really leverage thing like, the additional events, the additional dimensions of data to really squeeze it for as much information as possible. People don’t always do that.
JD Prater: Nice. One of the things that you mentioned to me when we were in London was that you’re building out this team. How many people are you up to now, how many analysts?
Sayf Sharif: 15, now.
JD Prater: Yeah. 15 analysts. That’s crazy. That’s a lot. What are some characteristics that you look for in a future analyst. If you were to hire number 16, tomorrow and you’re doing some interviews today, what are you looking for.
Sayf Sharif: We compartmentalize it to several different categories. There is no analytics unicorn. No one can really do all the stuff. They don’t exist, except for me, hair flip. No, I’m not …
There is like the strategy analysts, who understands business, understands behavior, understands what do we need to study, where can we actually get value from. There’s people that are really good at visualization and displaying that and communicating value and what needs to be acted on and things like that, telling a story. A lot of time that’s the same person but sometimes … It’s a Venn Diagram. They overlap a little bit but not all the time.
Other people are more developers. They’re really good at implementing. They aspire to be CMO of or they live on the GTM blogs and want to develop stuff. Other people are data engineers. They want to do, “How can I really create and crunch and play with the data and get it into a Hadoop cluster and do all this aggregation, automation, things like that.” Other people are data scientist, who want to use R and Python. These are all different people.
When I look for the next person, the first thing I have to ask is, what do I need right now? Where are my needs? Sometimes that’s a data scientist and sometimes that’s an analyst and sometimes that’s someone who’s really good at visualization. Once I know that, then I can look for that person. But, in general, I would say, the biggest circle is really that first part, which is understanding human behavior and people. If you can’t do that, you’re going to struggle with everything else that we’re trying to do, except maybe if you’re a developer.
In general even there, you’ve got to have a desire to understand people and also have a desire to like, you enjoy solving problems and creating solutions for them.
JD Prater: Nice. Are you guys hiring anyone right now too, you go ahead and plug it.
Sayf Sharif: We’re always hiring. We are definitely looking for more people at the support level right now, but it comes and goes. Sometimes we’re looking for people with more experience. The right person comes along, anytime, I’m going to hire him, but, yeah, we’re expecting to hire … I don’t remember what the prediction has been. Over the next year I’m going to need to hire a lot of people. Keep your eyes on our website and apply and if you’re good, we’ll talk to you.
JD Prater: Yeah. Make sure you start following Sayf here on Twitter as well.
Sayf Sharif: Yes.
JD Prater: Got to have the followers man.
Sayf Sharif: Gotta have the followers.
JD Prater: All right. Last question and then I’m going to let you go. All right, let’s just say, Google Analytics shutters. The tool is gone tomorrow. You’re like, “Man, I need a job now.” All right. Let’s just pretend that was the only thing that you did and now you don’t have a job. What’s a fall back job that you think about?
Sayf Sharif: Like a legitimate one or like a …
JD Prater: Like a legitimate fall back job, yeah.
Sayf Sharif: Man. I feel like I’m pretty secure.
JD Prater: Yeah. I agree.
Sayf Sharif: Fall back jobs. I feel like, definitely, if GA were shutter, I’ll be like, “Okay, Adobe. Yay.”
JD Prater: Yeah.
Sayf Sharif: “Coremetrics.” maybe look for another job. No, I’m kidding.
JD Prater: Got you.
Sayf Sharif: I haven’t really thought about that. I mean, I think, I probably honestly would go into something completely different and creative. I make board games and card games and things like that in my free time myself, that I never really share with anyone so I’d probably just say, “wow, let me kickstart some of the stuff and see what happens.” That probably would be where my instinct would be to go, would be to start creating some game Kickstarters and seeing if I could just start my own company that way.
JD Prater: Well, that’s cool. Yeah, that’s probably the most unique thing anyone’s ever said. That’s really cool. I like it.
Do you want to give us any samples of this kind of game, you just let us know we’ll put it up there in the show notes and you can have people up-vote or down-vote it.
Sayf Sharif: All right. I haven’t published anything yet, so we’ll have to do it … Everyone will have to sign an NDA, and then we’ll do it.
JD Prater: There you go, there you go. I like it. Awesome.
Well, thanks again.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah.
JD Prater: Enjoy your Thanksgiving.
Sayf Sharif: You too.
JD Prater: I really look forward to having you back on the show sometime in 2018.
Sayf Sharif: Yeah, anytime.
JD Prater: All right. Have a good one.
Sayf Sharif: All right. You too. Thanks.
JD Prater: Bye.
Sayf Sharif: Bye.
This week on The PPC Show, Paul Wicker and JD Prater break down the top eight headlines in ad tech and digital advertising for the week of Nov 13 – Nov 17th.Tune in as they cover the latest on Facebook Stories for Groups and Events, LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms in Sponsored InMail, and the latest in AdWords.
PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Users of Facebook Groups and Events can now contribute to a Facebook Story visible to the rest of the members and moderated by the admins.
Facebook rolls out dynamic ads for auto, updates lead ads for appointments
Facebook dynamic ads for auto allows manufacturers and dealers to upload their vehicle catalog with relevant details such as make, model and year. It then automatically generates ads that show the most compelling inventory to the right audiences—driving them toward vehicle detail pages, lead submission forms or other valuable places. With a single integration, you can make sure that your most relevant vehicles are always being shown to potential auto buyers—allowing you to focus on closing the sale.
Facebook’s dynamic ads for auto brands work similarly to the versions that cater to retail, hotel, airline and real estate advertisers. They retarget the people who checked out a brand’s site or mobile app or browsed similar sites elsewhere online with ads promoting specific products corresponding with that behavior.
Facebook has added business locator and appointment scheduling features to lead ads so that a person can find a advertiser’s nearby location, such as a local auto service center, chiropractor office or hair salon, and schedule an appointment through the ad.
To activate the locator feature, a brand must include the zip code field in a lead ad’s form and provide Facebook with data mapping out its locations by zip code
LinkedIn is extending Lead Gen Forms to Sponsored InMail and Dynamic Ads to allow brands to collect information such as names, emails, and company names.
Lead Gen Forms attached to Sponsored InMail campaigns will roll out to all advertisers this week and work the same as the original Sponsored Content version, with no added cost to the advertiser for attaching them to an ad.
Brands will be able to access the data natively or via third-party CRM systems, including DriftRock, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle’s Eloqua and Zapier.
Snapchat context cards will finally let advertisers track purchases and clicks. Until now, advertisers could only use sponsored lenses and filters to track how many people viewed the ad and for how long.
Starting today, advertisers can add Context Cards to their lenses and filters for free, providing users more information about the lenses and filters they play with. Users can swipe up on any friend’s snap that includes a sponsored lens or filter and open up the linked website URL without leaving Snapchat.
Pinterest sharpens its visual search with several updates: Lens Your Look search to help users match their outfits, and Pincodes — a new take on QR codes for companies and publishers.
Twitter launches new Premium APIs designed to offer expanded access to Twitter data beyond what’s currently available in the free APIs. This includes tweets per request, higher rate limits, and more complex queries. The pricing for the premium APIs ranges from $149/month to $2,499/month.
Bing adds support for package-tracking searches and brings back its Black Friday flyer ads page that shows all Black Friday deals in the U.S. Better delivery tracking outside of the US
Google made a few announcements for AdWords advertisers just in time, before Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season in the US next week.
This week on The PPC Show, Paul Wicker and JD Prater break down the top eight headlines in ad tech and digital advertising for the week of October 30-Nov 3rd. Tune in as they cover the latest on Facebook’s “Q3 earnings, Snap Pixel, Facebook creative options for travel, and more.
- Total revenue was also up, increasing 47 percent year-over-year to $10.33 billion.
- Mobile ad revenue came in at $8.9 billion, up 57% from the year-ago quarter
- Monthly active users was also up, increasing 16 percent to 2.07 billion.
Tool will tie together website traffic and ad exposure
Snap Pixel, Snapchat’s proprietary conversion pixels are the first step in building out Snapchat’s performance-based advertising model that’s geared toward direct response marketers that want to connect the dots between ads served within the app and website traffic.
- Highlights the move of marketers wanting to measure everything
- Reporting only, no optimization yet. Just like others.
- Will need to build trust. LI has yet to do that.
- Pixels are also threatening to die in app purchases grow
Advertisers can now enhance their ads with overlays and use the collection ad format with dynamic ads for travel. The new travel ads will also feature friends who took a similar trip to provide social context.
- In early results, we found that combining Collection ads with dynamic ads for travel resulted in a scalable and successful booking solution
Just in time for the holiday season, the new showcase shopping ads will allow advertisers to put together a selection of products to be showcased in the same ad.
Google AdWords has rolled out Showcase Shopping ads to more countries just in time for the holiday season.
Instagram advertisers now get two different swings at showing people branded Stories. First, right at the top when users open the app; and now, also mid-feed, where users will see the preview tiles.
Outlook users can now click on an email contact’s name to view their LinkedIn profile picture, work history, and more from within their inbox. With a click, they can also see mutual connections and connect with the person on Linkedin.
- With a click, you can view a mini version of their profile right in this pop-up Office Profile Card, which includes highlights like mutual connections or shared work experiences
- Also click to connect
The new Dynamic Search Ads leverage Bing’s organic search-crawling and machine-learning algorithms to automatically match the most relevant page on your website with a given search query.
-launched in October, now in editor. Based on on website.
Amazon updated its iOS app to include a new feature called “AR view” — just in time for the holiday shopping season. AR View allows you to virtually place products in your home prior to purchasing.
-Leaning heavily on Apple’s own ARKit,
-iOS 11 introduces ARKit, a new framework that allows you to easily create unparalleled augmented reality experiences for iPhone and iPad.
This week on the PPC Show, Paul Wicker and Mike McEuen break down the top nine headlines in ad tech and digital advertising for the week of October 23-27th. Tune in as they cover the latest on Facebook’s “Explore” feed, the new publisher guidelines, Instagram’s live broadcasts, and more.
Facebook has caused a huge drop in referral traffic in a test that removed all Page posts from the News Feed. These posts appeared in a separate feed called “Explore.” “We have no plans to roll this test out further,” followed the official announcement.
Previously available only to some local panel results, such as salons and spas, the “Reserve with Google” booking feature is now open to more service categories.
The new guidelines don’t include any substantive changes for publishers, but centralize some of the advice Facebook has previously given in its effort to fight against fake news and low-quality content.
The “pay with Google” option ties all your saved cards on file together in a single interface. The larger idea here is to make checkout speedier for mobile users and increase conversions for retailers.
With parallel tracking, users will go straight to the landing page after clicking your ad while their browser processes the tracking URL, the AdWords click tracker, and possible redirects in the background.
You can now invite one of your viewers to participate, splitting the view in two. The feature could be useful for brands and news outlets for more interactive, social streams and discussions with viewers.
The new overview tab is located on the top of any campaign page. Data within the tab can be modified and customized to focus on the insights you care most about.
Google AdWords published a guide to help advertisers adapt their ad strategy for iPhone X. This includes do’s and don’ts for banner and native ad placement for the new device.
Head over to our Facebook page to view the video recording of this show.
This week on The PPC Show podcast, JD is joined by Justin Brooke, Founder of AdSkills, to discuss his tactics for scaling Google Display Network campaigns that eventually got 14,000 customers.
Tune in to the podcast as we dive into:
- Justin’s story of how got started out as intern running ads back in 2007
- His 5X3 method for starting out on the GDN and tactics for scaling performance
- How you can set up GDN campaigns to be as targeted as Facebook ad campaigns
We are training the next generation of media buyers and connecting them with great clients or jobs. We now have 5,000 students at AdSkills. All of our courses are backed by millions of dollars in real life campaign testing, and they are updated frequently.
Podcast Transcript and Show Notes
Examples of Justin’s 300X250 GDN ads from the episode.
AdWords Display Placements to Remove
Justin Brooke: So when you clean up the dirty traffic, you separate out your campaigns, mobile and desktop, separate them out because they’re very different, and then you start adding this layered targeting. I believe you can get even more targeted than Facebook.
JD Prater: Welcome back to another episode of the PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in PPC advertising. I’m your host, JD Prater.
This week I’m joined by Justin Brooke, founder of AdSkills, to talk about how he got 14,000 customers using the Google Display Network. Tune in as we dive into Justin’s story of how he got started out as a lowly intern running ads back in 2007, his five by three method for starting out on the GDN, and tactics for scaling performance, and then lastly how you can set up GDN campaigns to be just as targeted as Facebook.
Justin, welcome to the show, man.
Justin Brooke: Thanks for having me on.
JD Prater: Yeah, I’m pretty excited about this topic: How I got 14,000 customers from the GDN. I can already tell you everyone’s ears have already perked up because it’s the GDN, and no one gets 14,000 customers from the GDN.
Justin Brooke: Oh, I certainly do.
JD Prater: I like it, I like it. So before we jump into that topic man, give us a quick introduction of who Justin Brooke is, and tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Justin Brooke: Yeah, so quick version. I’ve been doing this about 12 years. I interned with an internet millionaire in 2007, my job was to study his giant library of courses and seminar footage and books, so I got the education of a lifetime. My job was kind of to write review articles on those things, so he could make affiliate commissions on them. In the meantime, I did get the education of a lifetime. Saw that paint traffic was something I needed, and I kind of learned that in that education. Went home, it was an unpaid internship too, so I was still broke. I took my last $60, I started a pathetic $2 a day campaign on Google Search. Actually, it was the site targeting, so it was GDN back then too, before GDN.
JD Prater: Full circle.
Justin Brooke: I forget how well GDN has treated me over my life, but man a pathetic $2 a day ad campaign doubled my money every month for 11 months, had a six figure business in … I mean it was literally ads that took me from eating ramen noodle soups to Red Lobster, so it’s just been my thing, you know. It’s done well for me so I constantly study it, and that’s what I do. I’ve had some clients have spent 10 million dollars, done really well.
JD Prater: Nice, nice. One thing that you said, that I thought was kind of interesting, was how you were an intern. Could you give us a quick little background? What made you want to become an intern doing this type of job?
Justin Brooke: I was broke. That’s pretty good motivation. You know actually, it’s pretty funny. So I never wanted a business, I think still to this day, I don’t really want business, I just want website that pays my bills. That was what I wanted. That’s what I knew what to call it. I didn’t know how to call it like, I want to make money online, or anything like that. I just knew I wanted a website to pay my bills, and I’d met this guy, Russell Brunson. I’d read stuff online as you do some Google searching, and you’re joining forums, and you hear about certain guys, and heard about him, saw he was offering an internship. I had previous sales experience prior to that, you know I was working in a boiler room. You know I was a dialer, I wasn’t a great salesman or anything. But I used those sale skills, and I landed myself this internship, and the internship changed my life.
JD Prater: Nice, nice. That’s a really cool story man.
Justin Brooke: Yeah.
JD Prater: Thanks for sharing that with us. Well, let’s dive into it man. So 14,000 customers from the GDN, you gotta walk us through this process of how you got there.
Justin Brooke: I mean first, it starts, you gotta have a good offer. You can’t do it without a good offer, a well tested sales funnel. I would rarely tell someone to start out with GDN, that’s like the coldest traffic. But what you’ve got to do, what I always do, is I got a kind of method, and I call that the five by three method. It’s a framework I use to start all of my campaigns, five ad groups, three ads in each.
It’s real simple stuff to most pro-media buyers, and probably cringing right now as I say that, but to some of the beginners we teach in ad skills, it changes their life. They never had a structure. Most people treat it like a lottery. They just put 500 bucks in, and they hope more than 500 bucks comes out.
It’s quite like a lottery, but with the five by three, you’re able to test multiple segments of the market with multiple ads. And generally 80% of it fails, maybe 90% of it fails, but there’s a little bit of it that wins, and that’s where you know where to spend the money. So, I started there, you know and I got to … So, the other thing is I, with my agency, maybe I wasn’t great at sales, or what? But I knew that most people didn’t want to touch Google Display Network, and I also knew that most people definitely didn’t want to touch Google Display Network for people who had currently banned Google accounts. So, I was like that sounds like a good target market for me, and I just kind of learned how to get people unbanned, how to keep them from being banned, and I went after all the customers nobody wanted to touch it with a 10 foot pole.
And then I used this, the five by three method, to get people started. On the specific campaign that we’re talking about, I was working with a financial newsletter company, Stansberry Research, they have just tremendous offers and copywriters, and so that goes a long way to helping, but the goal was to first clean up their Google account, and then second, get to 100 sales a day. With the five by three method, I was able to get there in under 30 days. You know, pause all the losers, and keep the winners, and redistribute the ad spend, you bump it up 50% every week, and you know you do the basics and you kind of get there. And I’m happy to walk through more of this, but I’m just trying to answer your question.
And then they come back to me after I get to a hundred sales a day, on this kind of like rinky dink, five ad group campaign. They said, “That was great. We want a thousand sales a day now.”
JD Prater: Of course.
Justin Brooke: I was like, “Holy crap.” Like a hundred sales a day was already like my trophy, I was like, “Greatest success of my life!” And now they want more to do a thousand sales a day, so I … While my knees are knocking, but I’m on the phone so they can’t tell, I’m like, “Yeah, absolutely. I could do that for you.”
Go to my white board over the next couple days, and I come up with Operation Nowhere to Hide, which was basically just, what are all the possible targeting possibilities inside Google Display Network? Let’s use them all. And created this giant like … So the first one was five by three, five ad groups, three ads. By the time I was done, this was 16 campaigns, 80 ad groups, and 240 ads, and … you know, we didn’t start there. You know, we started with that little five by three, and we kind of grew, and we grew it, and grew it.
We, me … you know, me and my wife, that’s the we. We grew this thing into the beast, and we were spending $65,000 a day towards the end of it, and then it was political seasoned, and for whatever reason they had to stop the ads, you know because it had a politician in the ads, and … But we had a good run, man, with 14,000 customers, and we got up to like 500 plus customers a day, and it was good. Happy to answer any questions.
JD Prater: Yeah, I got one for you. So you were talking about having like a really good offer.
Justin Brooke: Yeah.
JD Prater: Could you give us an example of what a really good offer is?
Justin Brooke: So Google Display Network can be very targeted, and I’m happy to talk about that. Maybe that’s the next question?
JD Prater: Sure.
Justin Brooke: But, general speaking, Google Display Network is the cold, cold traffic of the internet, it’s beta rats. And as my uncle will tell you, “Nobody clicks on beta rats.” And I’m like, “You’re right, 99.5% of people don’t, but that .5% is enough to make billions of dollars off of.” So … yeah. What was the question again? Sorry.
JD Prater: Oh, no, you’re good. About, what makes like a really good offer?
Justin Brooke: Oh, right, the good offer. The good offer, yeah. So it’s really cold traffic, and you need to have an offer that has a broad appeal. What most people are doing wrong with GDN, is they’re trying to use the same tactics that they would use for search ads, or maybe even Facebook ads. When most people are targeting a custom audience of their website visitors on Facebook, you know it’s kind of easy to make that work. But in cold traffic, you can’t really use jargon. They don’t care about you, so the ads can’t have a picture of you in it. And it has to really be about the problem the person has, or as these ads were, it started off with just a news topic.
You know, it was like catering to something that was very relevant so it got a lot of clicks in the news, it had a politician in the ads. You know, like they hired a guy to be part of the campaign. And it was very broad appeal, it was part of the news, so it was very click worthy. And then it kind of went into, and because this is going on the world right now, you should be investing in gold. And went into … I don’t know if it was gold, or if it was the stock market exactly, they have two different … yeah. Well they have multiple newsletters, but essentially that was the offer, it’s a newsletter, a yearly newsletter for like 50 bucks a year, and you get monthly writings from an expert, a legit expert, on how to better invest in gold, or how to better invest in the stock market. So that’s the offer, you know it’s this newsletter, it’s a annual newsletter …. or a monthly newsletter, with an annual price.
So that’s a pretty sexy pricing strategy, it’s good information, it’s legit experts. They’re hiring big name people on the front end of it, so that your ads are very click worthy and people want to read the sales page. It has a lot of credibility, because it’s, you know the TV personality, and then a good price on a good quality product.
JD Prater: Gotcha, gotcha. Yeah, so I think you get some of that, so experts is definitely key. Good value exchange is also key, nice.
Justin Brooke: Right, most people would’ve charged monthly for a monthly newsletter. They were charging 50 bucks for the whole year.
JD Prater: Gotcha, gotcha. So they get all the money upfront?
Justin Brooke: Yes, and you know more so it’s about the backend. You know, they’re selling $3,000 and higher coaching programs on the backend of that newsletter. So it’s like you can buy the guy’s newsletter and hear from him once a month in writing, or you can get coaching from this guy, and get like really valuable stuff for $3,000. So the $50 was really just lead gen, and then the $3,000, you know I mean they upsell as well. They would like … You know, so there’s an annual price, which was like 50 or $70, and then the upsell was like 200 bucks for lifetime access, and you get these other bonuses if you’re a lifetime subscriber. But really, the profit came from these big coaching packets, and so that’s why they were able to afford to be able to get the customer.
JD Prater: Cool, cool. I like it, I like it. Let’s follow up on that targeting question. So that’s one, so how do you go about going from basically this five by three, to what did you say, like 60 campaigns or something? And the second part I want to follow up on is ad creative, and I want to dive into that as well.
Justin Brooke: Yeah.
JD Prater: But let’s start with the targeting.
Justin Brooke: Okay, so before I even get into the targeting, first thing people need to know is there are a couple of settings you need to know about, it might be hard in a podcast to explain these settings ’cause you kind of have to see where to click the buttons, but there’s a couple settings in your … it’s called category exclusions, and site exclusions, you need to turn off these things, like if you don’t want your ads showing on error pages, and parked pages, and I want my ads showing inside videos, and inside games. You know, I just want my ads showing on normal pages that people are reading.
So that’s the first thing, kind of cleanup some of the dirty traffic, and if you don’t know how to do that, that’s usually where I see people not liking the GDA, it is they didn’t know how to turn off the mobile traffic, or the dirty traffic, and so it wasn’t working for them. If you do that, it’s pretty good traffic, but then there’s a couple things you could do to make it really good. Like one of the things I really like to do is, you know let’s say …
Let’s talk about this newsletter for example, so a stock market newsletter. So what websites would that be good to show on? Obviously Forbes.com, Wall Street Journal, probably news sites, political sites, definitely anything that’s talking about stock markets. So I’m gonna put all those in my placement targeting, but I’m not just gonna target the website, that’s what most people would do, is they would just target the websites. You wanna layer your targeting so that you get even more narrow.
And so I wanna target Forbes.com, but only pages about these keywords. And so with GDN, you can target by keyword as well, and can layer the placement with the keywords. So like, for example, if I’m selling a weight loss product, I can advertise on USA Today, but only on the pages of USA Today where they’re talking about weight loss, or belly fat, or lose weight, you know what I mean?
JD Prater: Mm-hmm.
Justin Brooke: And so when you cleanup the dirty traffic, you separate out your campaigns, mobile and desktop, separate them out, because they’re very different, and then you start adding this layered targeting. I believe you can get even more targeted than Facebook.
JD Prater: Bold statement coming from Justin there.
Justin Brooke: I mean it … You know, if you think about it, I’m advertising a stock market newsletter. Yeah, let’s say I’m advertising a stock market newsletter about tech stocks, so my ad is showing up on the Wall Street Journal, but on a certain page you’re reading that happens to be all about tech stocks. That’s targeted as targeted gets.
JD Prater: That’s true man. I like it. So within that, I mean did you have to go out and find these placements, or were these ones that you found as you were kind of doing your optimizations?
Justin Brooke: Well you start with the obvious stuff, and then you use some tools. You know, I use SEMrush, I use Adbeat. I think everybody knows about these tools, mostly. And then I use also, Google has a display planner, they have their G Word Planner, Display Media Planner, so I use that as well. You start with some of the obvious ones, and then that gives you suggestions, and you just build it out. I had five different categories, so like when I did my research, the customer we were going after was an elderly couple who’s jaded on mainstream media and they’re looking for information they can trust online, alternative sources that they can trust online, about stock markets.
And so I knew that they were hanging out on news sites, political sites, finance sites, prepper sites, and then also like gold investing, you know currency, gold charts type of sites, so that was like my five categories that I would target, and I’d create my ad groups around those things, and have keywords related to those topics, and have placements related to those topics, and interest related to those topics.
JD Prater: Gotcha, I gotcha. So was there anything surprising from any event that you’ve found within this campaign, or did it go smoothly, like you thought it was going to?
Justin Brooke: I don’t think … I’m still waiting for one my campaigns to go smoothly.
JD Prater: Right.
Justin Brooke: Been doing this 12 years, and I think I had like one home run. Surprising thing was when we split out the text ads, and the image ads. I had hired a buddy of mine, Tommy Powers, for consulting when I got … I got stuck at like 200 sales a day, and I just was like, man, I need to have somebody else’s eyeballs to look at this to tell me what I’m missing. So I paid him for a call, he looked over my campaigns, and he was like, “Dude, I usually split out my text ads my image ads.”
And so when I did that, boom, overnight doubled sales for the customer, I looked a hero, and what it was is image ads will work, and text ads will work, but when you combine them, the image ads will… or the text does will cannibalize the image ads, because they can work in any size. They can switch their shape to 300 by 250, and 728 by 90, you know they’re responsive. So when I split them out into their own campaigns, that doubled our sales, and that was a surprise.
JD Prater: That’s a really good pro tip there, I like that one.
Justin Brooke: Good, good.
JD Prater: Well yeah, let’s move on to ad creative. So anyone that’s run GDN, we all know like, this is such a headache. And I just wanna know like, how do you approach the ad creative? Are you using Google’s ad display builder? Do you look at html ads? Or in with like your text ads? Just kind of walk us through all of that.
Justin Brooke: Yeah, so our ads, I definitely don’t hire any banner designers. I’m so sorry for any banner designers that are listening to this right now, they’re all putting a hit out on me. The ads that I create are extremely simple, in fact if you look at the layout of Facebook newsfeed ads, and if you look at the layout of Google’s new responsive ads, that’s pretty much the exact same way that my ads would look. You know it’s a … the top half. Let’s talk about a 300 by 250.
JD Prater: Okay.
Justin Brooke: You know like a thick square banner ad, the top half is an image, that image should either be the pain they’re trying to run away from, or the pleasure they’re trying to run to, you should test both. You never know what resonates more with audiences. Is this audience more trying to run away from pain, or are they trying to run towards pleasure? So top half image, high contrast, keep it simple, some diagonal lines, the human eye just can’t ignore diagonal lines, can see perpendicular and vertical all day. So that’s the top half.
Then you’re gonna have like a heading, and that’s gonna be blue. You know, the bottom half just basically looks like a text ad. You know, you’re gonna have a blue headline, you know a dark gray description, little blue learn more button over in the right hand corner, and then usually you have to have some sort of branding on there as well, you should put that in the bottom left hand corner.
Everybody has seen these ads that I’m talking about. I know, because I’ve delivered billions of impressions, yeah, so I know people have seen these things. But that’s basically what my ads look like, and that ad, you know that thing is a workhorse for me. I’ve tried other formats, and some of them have worked for me, but put a gun to my head and say, “You gotta create an ad that works.” That’s the format I’m going with.
JD Prater: Gotcha, cool, cool. One thing I kind of wanna go back to, so this one has been kind of sticking with me. So you are generating a hundred leads a day, and they’re like, “I want a thousand.” Right?
Justin Brooke: Right.
JD Prater: Why did you agree to that? Like, what was like did you think that they were … Like, did you think that there was like 10X left within your campaign?
Justin Brooke: I was starstruck by the client, first of all.
JD Prater: Okay.
Justin Brooke: Wiggled my way in, they don’t really hire many outside people. I mean this is a nine figure company, and they usually do everything in-house. They have their own media buyers. Wiggled my way in, because nobody wanted to touch the Google Display account, because they kind of had been slapped before, years ago. Nobody wanted to touch GDN, as you have said yourself. And so I was like, “I will.” And they didn’t think I would get anything. They were like, “If you can get a hundred sales a day, you know great.” And so I did. But they were like, “Can you do more? A lot more?” And I said, “Yes.” I didn’t know if I could. One thing I knew, I knew that what got me there, to a hundred sales a day, was not gonna get me to where I needed to go. I needed a whole new system. You know? And so five by three just wasn’t gonna cut it. That’s great for getting started, but then you’re gonna need some real horsepower.
And I was being paid percentage of spend, so a thousand sales was 10X of what I was earning right then, so heck yeah, I was onboard, I was gonna do it and die trying.
JD Prater: Gotcha, gotcha. Yeah, I was just like, it’s one of those things. Like I think about even like in my own life, you know working at an agency or something, or even if my boss like came in right now, was like, “JD, we need a 10X, you know sales.” I’d be like, “What?. Uh, no.” So yeah, anyway. Yeah, thanks for that kind of like recap there.
So, just so for everyone that’s listening, I’m gonna throw in some screenshots of what Justin is talking about with some of these placement categories. I can go into AdWords, I can get us some of those screenshots, and we can make sure that to kind of throw those in within the show notes there so you guys can kind of see what he is talking about. But-
Justin Brooke: And if you email me, I’ll send you a couple of my ads when you [crosstalk 00:24:14]
JD Prater: Oh, nice. Let’s do that, and we’ll go ahead and throw that in as well, so that way you guys can see what he’s talking about with those 300 by 250 ad, when he’s talking, you know, top third, middle third, that kind of stuff. So-
Justin Brooke: And speaking of the 300 by 250, I always start there, ’cause that, of everything that I’ve run, you know it’s the one that consistently brings in the most conversion. So I start there and get my messaging to work, if that works, then I rollout to all the other sizes.
JD Prater: Interesting. So you only start with that one, and then if it’s … you’ve got your message. So you … Okay, hold on. Let’s back it up. You start there, you find out what messaging is work, and then you roll it out to other image sizes. Do you then rollout text ads, or do you start with text ads as well?
Justin Brooke: I have started with text ads, I used to recommend people just start with text ads. I don’t anymore, because it hasn’t been as reliable as telling people to start with 300 by 250, and text ads. That’s what I think people should do, because you know it’s all about when you spend that first, usually it’s 500 bucks, or 1,000 bucks, or 5,000, depends on how big the guy’s pockets are, but when you spend an initial spend, you need to have as many things being tested as possible.
You want some text ads, you want some image ads, you want five different ad groups, you want three different versions of the image ads. You know, test as much as you can, because 90% of it’s gonna fail, and you’re looking for that 10% that’s gonna win. So make sure that first spend is really worth it, and then the next spend will be … you know, that’s the goal.
JD Prater: Is that how you kind of like frame your ad spend as well, when you’re kind of like testing out some stuff, you’re like, “Hey, guess what? This is my initial spend, I’m gonna test a bunch of things, figure out what’s working, so that way we can then ramp up spend afterwards.” Is that how you kind of pitch it?
Justin Brooke: Yeah, I normally would, whatever they wanted to spend … I don’t have an agency anymore, so I’m not for hire. I have courses, I teach this stuff to people, and try to raise the next crew of agency guys. But what I used to tell my clients is, “Okay, if you wanna start out with $10,000 a month, we’re gonna break that up into 20% chunks, that way you never blow the whole budget”.
There’s so many people I’ve heard, that they hire a guy, he spends all the money, and is like, “Hey, sorry it didn’t work, your money’s gone.” I never want to create that situation for my customer, so I would break it into 20% chunks, and we would start with 20%, and if the first 20% didn’t get anything at all, like there was no ad that showed signs as a winner? I would tell the client, “Well we can stop here, that way there’s not a whole lot of loss.”
But usually if you test enough stuff in that first 20% spend, you can come up with a couple of winners, and then we would spend the next 20% on the winners, to kind of verify our test, make sure it wasn’t a fluke. And then from there we start adding all the other 20% as we start seeing the numbers are working well until we’ve spent all of it.
JD Prater: Nice, nice. Well man, those are some really good tips. Let’s go ahead and transition to some rapid fire round here. So I’m gonna ask you a couple questions here, and you’ve got around like 60 seconds to answer ’em. Are you ready to go?
Justin Brooke: Yes.
JD Prater: All right. The first one I always love to start off with is, where do you turn to kind of keep up with the industry? You know, like the PPC world’s always changing, do you have any favorite blogs, podcasts, people, newsletters, whatever it is man, like where do you go to keep up?
Justin Brooke: I like your blog actually, quite a bit, especially your library page, I’m always sharing that with our team. I’m like, “I want ours to look like this.” I really do like what you guys have done with that. I also like PPC Hero, I like Unbalanced for the Landing Page Tips. I really like … Man, I’m drawing a blank as to all of them right now, but I do have a list of seven places that I really like to follow, but those are the ones that scream out at me. You guys, PPC Hero, Unbalanced … I can’t think of ’em, I’m drawing a blank.
JD Prater: No worries. You got us in there, so I’ll make sure to give you you’re $5 later. All right. All right, let’s move onto question number two. So what’s something that you believe is true about paid traffic, that others find crazy?
Justin Brooke: That, paid traffic and content marketing, are gonna be the same thing soon. It’s all gonna merge.
JD Prater: Interesting. Do you wanna dive into that a little bit more? I know you’ve got … you’ve still got 60 seconds.
Justin Brooke: I’ve been saying it since 2012, and there’s more and more evidence of it. We have whole networks dedicated to content distribution now. It’s what happened to TV, and other mediums, it’s gonna happen to the internet.
JD Prater: Nice, I look that one too.
Justin Brooke: How we’ll be able to find your content, you’ll pay for it.
JD Prater: Gotcha, gotcha. Cool, I like that one. I like it. All right man, so you’ve been doing this for 12 years, right?
Justin Brooke: Mm-hmm.
JD Prater: So what’s something that you know now, that you wish you would’ve known 12 years ago?
Justin Brooke: That 90% of it’s gonna fail. Yeah, it’s test more. In the beginning I treated like a lottery. For a long time I watched my campaigns like hourly, I would sit there refreshing. Now, I start a campaign, I don’t come back for a couple days. You gotta let the data build up, it takes time. There’s algorithms involved now, just be patient, know that a lot of it’s gonna fail. Test a lot, you’ll get there.
JD Prater: Good advice, I like that one. And then I’ll kind of wrap-up on this note. So I always like to ask all of our guests on the podcast, and so let’s just say you can’t do digital advertising tomorrow. Something happens, right? It just goes away. What’s like a fallback job? What’s something that you would want to take-up?
Justin Brooke: I’d probably be a writer. I really like writing.
JD Prater: Yeah, I like that. Before we started recording this, Justin told me, “He wrote 6,000 words this morning.”
Justin Brooke: Yeah, yeah. From 4:30 AM to 10:30 AM.
JD Prater: That’s crazy. So for all of us out there that have ever written a blog, and we’ve struggled for a thousand words in like week, this guy wrote 6,000 words, so in-
Justin Brooke: It’s more 1,000. So, I had it outlined. So it …
JD Prater: But still man, that’s crazy.
Justin Brooke: It was.
JD Prater: So I definitely salute you on your pursuit to writing some more, so good stuff there. Well, it’s probably a good place to kind of wrap-up, Justin, thanks for coming on the show. Where can people follow-up with you online?
Justin Brooke: Yeah, so they can go to AdSkills.com and see what we’re about, what our business is about. That we’re really passionate about training the next crop of media buyers, and connecting them with good businesses. We even have like a free media buyer matchmaking that we do for our customers to make sure they’re getting good clients. Also, we’re pretty strong on YouTube, we’ve got some really good content on YouTube. So if you search AdSkills on YouTube, you’ll see some of our past webinars and stuff.
JD Prater: Perfect. All right, so we’ll definitely make sure to include some of those links in the show notes for you guys out there.
Justin Brooke: Thanks.
JD Prater: Yeah. Justin, such a pleasure man. Thanks for coming on and sharing some of your pro tips there on the GDN, it was really, really great to kind of hear some of the different, like granular tips, so I definitely appreciate it.
Justin Brooke: Cool, no problem man.
This week on The PPC Show, Paul and JD break down the top nine headlines and trends in ad tech and digital marketing for the week of October 16-20th.
Facebook Adds New Custom Audience Options to Improve Ad Targeting
Facebook is adding two new Custom Audience creation options. “Dwell time” will let your retarget those who have looked at your ads but didn’t convert, while “Link sharing” will enable you to focus on users who have actively engaged with your content.
Facebook officially launched a new feed on desktop that presents people with posts from Pages they don’t follow and posts that aren’t likely to show up in their regular news feed.
It’s called Explore Feed and subtitled “top posts for you from across Facebook.” Facebook rolled out the alternative News Feed on mobile earlier this year. On both mobile and desktop, the Explore Feed can be found within the “Explore” menu that lists similar non-News Feed feeds, such as Trending News and City Guides.
Facebook Acquires Rising Social App tbh to Quell Competition
Tbh, which stands for “to be honest,” is an anonymized polling app that allows people to share how they feel about friends. The app, which has proved to be particularly popular among teens, was acquired by Facebook in a deal said to be worth less than $100 million.
Linkedin Is Rolling Out Autoplay Video Ads
LinkedIn will start selling video ads to a test group, planning to eventually bring them to all advertisers. The ads will look like other LinkedIn videos that users can watch in their feed, and will autoplay without sound.
Twitter Introduces a New Video-Centric Ad Format
Twitter has unveiled a new ad format called the Video Website Card, “ a creative format that combines the power of video with the ability to drive users back to a site to learn more or take action in the moment.”
Instagram Redesigns Call-to-Action Bar
Instagram is tweaking ads’ call-to-action bars to better blend in with an ad’s photo or video. Instead of blue, the bar will dynamically change to the main color contained in the ad’s photo or video.
Instagram may be able to insert more ads — and relieve Facebook’s ad load pressure, which is expected to decelerate the company’s ad revenue growth this year — without overdoing it.
AdWords “Days to Conversion” Shows How Long it Takes Users to Convert
A new report in Google AdWords will show advertisers roughly how long it takes users to convert after clicking on an ad. This data should help advertisers to better optimize their campaigns and ad units.
Google AdWords’ days to conversion segment can be applied to reports in both the regular and new AdWords experience.
Pinterest Opens Search Ads to Self-Serve Advertisers
Advertisers can now buy search ads through Pinterest’s self-serve tool, Pinterest Ads Manager. Beyond the traditional keyword targeting, the new interface lets marketers automatically target relevant searches using Pinterest’s Taste Graph.
Bing Ads Launches Multi-Linking for Multiple Account Management
Bing Ads advertisers can now link and unlink accounts within the platform more easily. The interface will be updated to reflect who has account access and a simple “Change who pays” option to facilitate billing changes.
This week on The PPC Show, JD is joined by Josh Bretag, Founder of Blueprint Solutions Group, to talk about running and managing a PPC agency.
Tune in to the podcast as we dive into:
- Josh’ story of how he got started his PPC agency
- Skills he looks for in remote workers
- And last, he’ll share some of his daily productivity tips
I live at the intersection between data and growth.
I am not just a digital marketing expert or an analytical / data scientist; I seriously consume information and (here is the good part) I use it – truly use it to drive growth in all aspects of business.
Not by simply understanding good design or developing great campaigns but a thorough holistic approach to building growth strategies that are rigorously tested and meticulously implemented.
Growing a business is not a one and done venture. You cannot simply find a strategy or approach that produces results and then check it off of your to-do list. Continuous growth requires continuous learning, testing, adjusting…continuous work. Work that I am as passionate about as Jacques Cousteau was about discovery.
This passion drives me to not only hit my projects with a vigor that few can master but to voraciously devour information – my education never stops and I bring the benefit of this education to every business I approach.
I am constantly growing my own skills in the areas of : Digital marketing, Growth, AARRR funnel, conversion rate optimization (in all its forms and applications), marketing theory, social media, web development and entrepreneurship by studying the greats, applying my learnings and developing my own approach based on data.
I am the machine behind initiatives that have resulted in:
– 40% sales growth while reducing marketing spend by 70% in less than 3 months
– Conversion rate increases that drove a six-figure increase to the bottom line
– Scaling a startup from $0 revenue to more than $50,000 per a day in consistent revenue in 3 months
– Reducing CPA from $100 to $30 across three marketing channels in just under 2 months
– Scaling a new business from £0 to over £1,300,000 in revenue per month in under 7 months
I pride myself on consistently achieving results that others might call impossible. I believe in hard work, in testing, in data and in building sustainable, reliable growth.
Josh Bretag: Yeah, I was gonna say with … On that topic I find I can get more done in four hours at home when I lock myself in a room and get things done than what I can in an office for eight, ten hours. Because there’s no distractions and things like that. And there’s no one asking me questions. And there’s no one pinging me. I’m really shocking when I have to work in Aussie offices and have people around me talking. So it’s like, noise canceling headphones on, and off I go.
JD Prater: Welcome back to another episode of The PPC Show. I’m your host JD Prater. And this week I’m joined by Josh Bretag, founder of Blueprint Solutions Group to talk about running a remote PPC agency. Now first I have to say that Josh does an amazing job of running a remote team, and he’s going to drop some serious knowledge on some best practices. He’s going to tell you exactly what to look for in a potential hire, and then some of his own productivity hacks of how he makes sure that he gets all his work done. And then last I just want to make sure to tell everyone, we had some connection issues, which is completely our fault right here at AdStage HQ, to where I just had a really bad internet connection. So we actually lost half of this interview. So what we’re going to be doing is only airing the first half of the interview and then Josh and I are going to try to reconnect and we’ll do part two. So look for that coming up.
In the meantime, let’s go ahead and get started with the show.
Josh, welcome to the show.
Josh Bretag: Thanks, mate. Thanks for having me.
JD Prater: If you guys didn’t catch that he called me mate. Josh is phoning it in. It is early in the morning in Australia. It’s Monday afternoon here in San Francisco. So thanks so much man for coming on.
Josh Bretag: It’s great to call you back. Come out to chat and talk about PPC and Facebook. I’m really actually quite excited to answer some of the questions here.
JD Prater: I’m excited. I think you’re our first Australian guest. So I’m always excited to have some people on for different perspectives. And so now we’re going to get some international perspective of what’s going on down there in Australia. So, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself and introduce what you got started over there with your company.
Josh Bretag: Yeah, sure. So basically I run a company called Blueprint Solutions and also [inaudible 00:02:29]. So Blueprint Solutions is like, we do converged optimized website design and app programming, those sorts of things. And then with Q-betica we do performance marketing ranging from Facebook to full frontal Google Display Network, Google AdWords.
Basically what happens with us is we come into big startups or big corporates and they’ve got a plateau or they’re trying to get something started. They usually come to us and we end up doing, pretty much, their marketing arm for at least six months to a year. Until they take it back internally and we train staff.
So that’s basically what we do. Kind of jumped around a bit from where we’ve started from. Actually started in web development and then progressed in to performance marketing because I got sick and tired of building websites. And then the clients would complain they weren’t getting leads and stuff. I’m like, well that’s because you’re not doing the marketing part properly and you didn’t think about the new website, the fact that marketing. You didn’t think about adding Google Tag Manager and doing all this. You didn’t think about landing page. You didn’t think about doing UTM parameters and these sorts of things. So, it pretty much come down from a frustration with trying to help people be better at marketing when they’re doing their websites.
JD Prater: Nice. Nice. It seems like the checklist is never ending. It seems like it keeps getting longer these days. When we think about website marketing, especially performance marketing so …
Well, cool man … Well, we’ve got two main topics that you have agreed to discuss with us. So, first you’re going to be talking to us about remote work culture and then scaling versus maintaining CPA on Facebook ads. So, let’s dive in to the first one. Let’s talk about some remote work culture. And, kind of, my first question for you is; how do you … how do you start with that? How do you start with even hiring remote employees?
Josh Bretag: Well, I’ll take it back a bit, because we actually started with in house culture. So we had our office, we had staff there. But pretty much any staff that would normally rock up maybe, I’d say, one to two days a week, if I was lucky. Including myself, I was a shocker. So I, kind of, set the standard to start off with that it was okay not to come in to the office and do your work.
So it’s kind of where the office culture kind of came from because I just couldn’t be bothered to go. I didn’t see the point in going to an office when I could do the work from my own house and not have to commute an extra half an hour to an hour extra a day. I’m like one of those, kind of, efficient people that look at it and go, how much time do I spend commuting and doing this other stuff and how many extra hours did I have to work or spending doing other stuff. And that, kind of, is how it came from there.
And then what pretty much happened from there was I started evaluating people based on their project performance rather than how many hours they spent in the office. Which I find is one of the clear differentiations between people who are open to remote work and those who are, you know, not so much. Or, you know, in the old style of you got to do your 9:00 to 5:00 and they’re not really based … Performance isn’t based off projects or success. It’s based on; oh yeah are you working as hard as this other person who is doing … Comes in at 7:00 and leaves at 6:00 pm. Which I think is the wrong metric for tracking performance of people. Because, I’ve seen many people where they come in and they start at 10:00 or 11:00 pm and they finish at 3:00 and they get more work done than the guy that comes in at 6:00 am and then finishes at 8:00 pm. Because they have just found better efficiencies, and it’s your fault for not giving them more work and using them more effectively, that they are able to finish at those sorts of times.
And programmers are fantastic at doing that because they just automate so much of the process of what you do manually. It’s like kind of how the culture came in. And also too, it was just the fact of, I went looking for … So we ended up hiring our first assistant remotely. So like a virtual assistant. And she was American based. That’s, kind of, like where it stems from. We tested out doing O Desk. I think it was like that Philippian job site. I can’t remember off the top of my head. Which they’re great as well.
But the big issue with that is people go, “oh, let’s get some $5 an hour person”. You don’t want the $5 an hour person. You want the $25 per hour person. The reason why you want the $25 per hour person is because if you had to pay that person in Australia they would probably be around 100, 150, 200 dollars per hour. So you’re just playing commons with scale really in that case. That’s one the other big gotchas that I found. And I fell in to that trap. I though, oh yeah I’ll hire the $5 per hour person. They can do what I want. The problem with that is you’re telling that person all the time what you want them to do rather than them coming to you with ideas, thoughts, and challenging your strategies and ideas. And you’re never going to be able to grow a business if you’re the one that’s always spinning all the plates and telling everyone what to do. You need other people to be telling you what to do and telling you that you’re wrong.
JD Prater: I like that. You don’t hear too many people saying that a founder so …
Here’s a question for you. So, whenever you’re about to take on someone for a project are there certain skills that you look for and that you know this is someone that’s going to do well working remotely?
Josh Bretag: It depends on what job I’m hiring for. But usually I’m looking for someone kind of like, you know, a go getter and stuff. So I’ll look at teachers, where they kind of got to be … They’ve got so much work after hours. It’s not funny. So you know they are going to get the work done and you know they’re self disciplined.
So I kind of look in to the fields where people have been there, they’ve gone though a pregnancy or something. You’ll find a lot of mothers that have ex-corporate jobs and just sick and tired of working the corporate world. And they will quite happily come pick up a nice job. They get to work from home and spend more time their kids.
I’ve got two people that have had over 25 years experience in the corporate world and they’re just absolute guns when it comes to writing ads because they previously majors in psychology and they both did teaching. And then they both moved in to the marketing roles in the corporate worlds spending like ten million dollar budgets. And you pick them up and then they’re not … They understand that they work from home so they don’t charge you as much as well in the corporate world because they’re happy to have the lifestyle.
So that’s the other thing. A lot of people think that, oh yeah, if you pick up someone with that much experience they’re expecting you to pay the same rates to corporate. They’re not. They understand that they’re doing it for a lifestyle choice. And they don’t need as much cash because they’ve already got a nest egg there. So it’s more so just, hey they just want to keep working so they don’t get bored. And they want to keep themselves active and moving in their brain. Rather than just being, oh yeah, now I turned in to this housewife that cleans dishes and do these sorts of things. Especially if they are a career driven woman. So, I’ve always found that like a nice little niche to go in to.
Other things that I look for is someone who … Like if I set out … We always set out test task for someone to do. When they first come on we always hire them as a contractor first before we look at doing full time or part-time or anything like that. And what I’m looking for is them to challenge the test. To say something’s wrong or, “I would do this differently” because of x, y, z, reason. People need to be confident in their abilities and willing to go against the grain and be open to having hard discussions. Because if you can’t do that remotely and you can’t do that face to face than you know it’s not going to get results that are required.
So that’s one of the other things I look towards. And it makes it really easy as well for cutting down the field of people that I’m looking to hire. So, we might get 600 or so applications. I’d say maybe five or ten people out of that 600 would do that. So it makes the field that much easier to cut down.
JD Prater: Wow, 600. That’s legit, wow. That’s really …
Josh Bretag: We put out on like five or six different sites and we get people looking for work. And we advertise worldwide so you’re going to pick up a bunch of people.
JD Prater: Oh I see, I see. I got you. So it’s the worldwide … Alright.
Cool, cool. Well, I’m a huge fan of remote work. I’ve worked remote for four years of my life. So I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and say, well what are some of the cons of having this remote work culture?
Josh Bretag: I find anything creative wise, so like creating graphics, putting copy and stuff requires a committee of people to do it. That becomes difficult. Even though you’ve got hangouts, even though you’ve got zoom and all these cool software where you can chat, there’s just a different feeling between doing that over a hangout than being with that person or those people in that room in that meeting. Doing it across the table with your coffees and you guys have all been there at 3:00 am in the morning. Still doing it to get things done and across the line. And I think that requires really tight deadlines. I find it’s more effective when you’ve got all the people together.
So let’s say, a person wants a website delivered within the week. That’s where I’d be going, yeah no we won’t be the right thing for you because we have structure, process, we have a system. We can’t just throw a project in to the middle of that, that required delivery within a week and be able to deliver effectively.
If you had everyone in house and with you, you could probably do it a lot easier and a lot more effective. But I find if you’ve got … It’s just because of the coordination. And you can’t just hop over and chat to someone and say, “hey, da-da-da what about this issue” or fix this and then show me. You’ve got all these effective tools to do it. You can do the same thing that we can face to face online. But there is just that bit more efficiently when there is a fine deadlines and things like that. No short timelines. There’s a lot more efficiency when you are there with them than when you’re not.
And normally strategy stuff too is the other one that I find is really … So if you got … We always catch up all my heads of strategy, heads of marketing, heads of operations, client and stuff. We catch up once a year for two to three weeks at a time and go through the whole strategy for next, two, three, five years. And I find that’s more effective that doing that across Google Hangouts.
And it’s just also too about … When you work remote you also lose that personal touch with coworkers a bit more because you’re not with them face to face. You’re not talking about stuff outside of work. So you always got to … I find with remote workers that you need to encourage them to supplement that. So then to go out, do activities like sports and stuff with teams. So it’s still got that friendship and those thing outside work. Which they would have had if they were working in an office usually.
JD Prater: Gotcha. Gotcha.
Cool, I think those are all some of those pains that people feel working remote. So I would agree with all of those.
So the other side of that is there’s this, kind of, myth right? That if you work remote than you’re not actually working. Right? You’re at home and you’re doing other things, but you’re not working. And so, could you give us a breakdown. Give me an average day for you. When do you start? When do you log off? Walk us through what a normal day looks like for you.
Josh Bretag: Normal day for me is like; I’m up at 5:00 am, 4:30, go for a ride for about maybe three or four hours. So, do that, then come back. Then it’s breakfast. Then it’s probably start work about 8:00, 9:00 am. Usually I turn off like Skype, email, the whole works because it’s just distracting for the first three hours of the day. Because normally if it’s important someone will call me or text me. So I leave my phone on for that. If it’s not than I’ll leave them off. And I’m usually working on strategy or working on the business. So, like how can we effectivity do this? Or I’m working on a certain client’s campaign or something like that.
And then I take a break for an hour or two in the middle of the day. Spend time with the kids if I can.
And then after that I go back in to another shift of work. Which then I’ll actually turn slack and Hangouts and those things off for about an hour. Answer any things that are important and send that off. Go again, do another solo bit of work. And then again revise and then by that stage it’s probably 5:00 or 6:00 pm. And because we’ve got US, UK, UAE clients than I’ll have meetings at 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, or 10:00 pm at night with UK clients. Usually on a daily basis.
JD Prater: Nice. Nice.
I kind of like some of those things that you pointed out about, it’s okay to take a break. As long as you come back, you can get plugged right back in. I think a lot of times, I’d say being internal, it’s a weird feeling. It’s like, if you were to take a break for that long, it’s okay. Your mind needs to relax. You hit it hard so … Very cool. Very cool.
Well let’s …
Josh Bretag: Yeah well I find …
JD Prater: Oh, go ahead …
Josh Bretag: Oh, sorry.
JD Prater: Go ahead.
Josh Bretag: I was going to say with … On that topic I find I can get more done in four hours at home when I lock myself in a room and get things done than what I can in an office for eight, ten hours. Because there’s no distractions and things like that. And there’s no one asking me questions. And there’s no one pinging me. I’m really shocking when I have to work in Aussie offices and have people around me talking. So it’s like: noise canceling headphones on, and off I go. So that’s just the way that I work.
But also too, you definitely have to … That’s the other thing too. You’ll find workaholics in remote work that just keep working and working and working. And they’ll eventually burn out. If you don’t take a break times because I haven’t taken breaks. I haven’t done stopped. I haven’t stepped back and realized there’s more life than working.
JD Prater: Yeah, I’ve definitely been guilty of that. So …
And this is where we have to cut the episode. Again, I really apologize for the internet connection issues that we have. But stay tuned for part two with Josh as we will be discussing maintaining and scaling CPA on Facebook adds.