Trusting the Facebook Algorithm To Deliver Results

Trusting the Facebook Algorithm To Deliver Results

Welcome to episode #84 of The PPC Show. This is the second half of our interview with Merry Morud, Associate Creative Director at Aimclear, to discuss the recent Facebook changes in light of Cambridge Analytica and the impact advertisers can expect and get ready for.

This is part two of our conversation. Stay tuned as we continue to talk about:

  • Trusting the Facebook algorithm
  • Kim Kardashian opening for Merry at a conference
  • Updates to Audience Insights and Custom Audiences
  • Facebook Ad creative best practices

(Tune in to part one here).

Listen to the Episode

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Show Notes and Transcript

We’re picking back up in the middle of conversation so be sure to check out part 1.

Let the Facebook algorithm do it’s thing

Merry Morud:        I also think it will encourage some other advertisers to let go of targeting and kind of let the algorithm and based on conversion angles kind of do its thing, which, I mean, I’ve seen work really well. Facebook has been trying to get us to do this for years and because, quote, it worked really well for Netflix and they were talking to us about a client who does like B2B sales software that caused like hundreds of thousands of dollars and we’re like, “Yeah, great for consumer brands. I think we need a little more targeting qualifying on B2B or really, really, niche products,” so, certainly have a targeting layer that qualifies, but I think that kind of giving it up to the algorithm is worth a test too. I think this will also encourage Facebook engineers and Facebook data people to go back to the drawing board when it comes to targeting.

Facebook data is so cool and we tell Facebook so much about ourselves and because we are connected with people, Facebook knows that we’re connected to those people and Facebook knows what kind of household you live in because you’re all accessing Facebook off the same IP, and so they understand your household and probably more than we think that they do. So I think they’ll come up with more segments to replace that third party data targeting, maybe not all of it, but certainly they’ll come up with some cool things. That’s a prediction. I also think they’ll come up with segments we haven’t thought about or segments we wished were possible.

I also think they’ll come up with segments we haven’t thought about or segments we wished were possible.

For example, they had graduate targeting, maybe like two or three years ago in the spring, so they had like people who were graduates in 2015, let’s say, and then parents of graduates of 2015, which was great because graduation is such a turning point and like a life cycle reset. So your kid is leaving the house and whether that makes you an emptynester or you have other kids that you’re still raising, you know, you have to help your kid get to this next stage in their life, typically.

So you’re buying things, you’re helping guide them through the process, it’s also a very emotional time for parents as well, and then, for the graduates, who are graduating high school for example, they’re going off to college, they may need to be on a different phone plan, depending on the service availability, they may be buying a car because they’re not going to be around mom and dad anymore, they may need a new bank account that’s connected to their university, there’s so many big things that are really, really, hard to predict when someone will change a bank. But we know that if they go to college and TCF is connected to the University of Minnesota Duluth, like, that’s a great opportunity for the right person and the right time.

I haven’t seen graduation targeting for like two years in Facebook, and it’s like, why? Like, you have this data, you know these high school seniors have been sending you signals that they’re about to graduate and you know it and you know who their parents are by who they’re connected to on Facebook. You probably even know their grandparents, and I think you would also break that out even deeper into high school graduates and college graduates, and also, like college graduates who are 45, right? So like someone graduating with a degree at 45 is in a different life stage or has different needs than someone who is graduating college at 22, like totally different.

So like those, like that kind of targeting is so possible in Facebook and I just wish they would surface that.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I think every EDU wants that, yeah. I think, to your point there, just to kind of jump in, was I think you’ve been drawn to really couple things. Like, Facebook is optimizing for us, they’re doing a lot of great stuff around bidding, around optimizing for conversions, right? It may not necessarily apply to you, you may not have 50 conversions per week per ad set to really take full advantage of it, but I do think it is extremely valuable to give some stuff up to the algorithm and to trust Facebook and to kind of let them take over some things. There’s a lot of things that Merry just mentioned that they can’t do, right?

They don’t own your strategy. They can help you with targeting options but it’s up to you to select those and to do the research, and that’s the part that’s not gonna go away, that’s the part of your job that you’re always going to have, which is a nice part because I don’t want to be in there messing with bids all the time.

Merry Morud:              Yeah, I don’t want to be just the channel jockey, just like pushing levels and yeah, that kind of stuff. But yeah. To your point, like, giving it up to the algorithm is a bold move and I think when we say, “Trust the algorithm,” I almost think people are like booing and hissing in their car-

Trust the algorithm?

JD Prater:                     Yes. Of course they are.

Merry Morud:              They’re like, “Trust Facebook? No. No way,” but think about it, Facebook has so much data on us as users and much, much, much, much more data and nuance data that we could even conceive of targeting as an operator. So they’re looking at way more data points per user than we can even think of or would even really think about or there may be signals that a user is sending to Facebook that we wouldn’t thread that needle that like that’s a signal that they would buy our product. For example, if you were a hair stylist or like a barbershop and you had like really awesome colorists and that’s what you’re advertising …

Facebook has so much data on us as users and much, much, much, much more data and nuance data that we could even conceive of targeting as an operator.

For example, my hair right now is many shades of pink for the most part and so, quite honestly, there’s nothing on my profile, aside from photos, that would lead an advertiser, like myself, to know that I would be a proponent for this service. I don’t, quite honestly, I don’t know what that signal would look like or would be, like what does a person who would color their hair pink or green or blue or something that is just like not natural, like, what would those signals be?

I’m not sure, but Facebook is looking at very, very, nuanced signals that they could probably put together, like, maybe this person who likes Kylie Jenner and reads Vogue and has like a Stitch Fix and a Bark Box, those are the people who … and that’s not … I don’t have a Bark Box or Stitch Fix, but I’m throwing out ideas-

JD Prater:                     Kylie Jenner all the way.

Merry Morud:              Like, the Kardashians, keeping up with them, for sure. But funny story, Kim Kardashian opened for me at a conference-

JD Prater:                     What?

Merry Morud:              In So Cal.

JD Prater:                     For you?

Merry Morud:              Oh yeah, totally. She was just the session before me. But anyway.

JD Prater:                     She opened. Nice.

Merry Morud:              Well, yeah. She was before me, so she’s an opener.

JD Prater:                     She’s an opener. Yeah. Love it.

The gabillions of data points Facebook looks at

Merry Morud:              Anyway. Anyway. So Facebook’s data algorithm, creative serving algorithm, is looking at all these like nuance data points and putting it together based on what you tell it to convert towards and again, it’s something that we as people, we can only think of so many things. They’re looking at hundreds of thousands and gabillions, well, however many that number is.

JD Prater:                     It’s a ton of data points. It’s a good point too. I remember, even anecdotally, so, working with … in the agency side, working on a popular weather app, right? So we’re doing a lot of weather targeting, right? So, Merry, I’ll ask you this, and this was a fun realization for us, do you have a weather app?

Merry Morud:              On my phone?

JD Prater:                     Yeah, on your phone. Or do you just use the native one?

Merry Morud:              I just use the native one.

JD Prater:                     Okay.

Merry Morud:              Though I do really enjoy the screen caps that I get from friends who have like the really snarky one that it’s like-

JD Prater:                     Yeah, that one is a good one.

Merry Morud:              I like that one.

JD Prater:                     What we found was a lot of people, let’s just say that they had a weather app, okay, the next question is would you consider yourself a weather geek or would you say that you were interested in the weather, right? So, at what points on your profile are you saying, “Yes. I love the weather,” but all we’re targeting were like weather related stuff. And so you end up just kind of like tapping out that audience and you end up-

Merry Morud:              Yeah, totally.

JD Prater:                     And it’s like oh, there’s a whole nother segment over here that aren’t interested in the weather but yet, they want a weather app because maybe they’re taking their kids to school.

Merry Morud:              Right.

JD Prater:                     Right?

Merry Morud:              Exactly. So parents-

JD Prater:                     Parents.

Merry Morud:              They have to know if it’s going to be like-

JD Prater:                     How to dress, right?

Merry Morud:              Way too cold for them to like … their little ones to stand outside waiting for the bus or if a storm is coming and they may have to pick their kids up early from school or I mean, maybe it’s people who work in construction outside a lot, people who are, you know, I wouldn’t say like servants to the elements, but like what they do is greatly impacted by the elements.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. And exactly it, right? So this is after you do some research, but I think what I’m trying to get to is we started off with such low hanging fruit but then we realized that’s not scalable and like you have to dig deeper, and this is the part that you’re really getting at with the old school ways, not so much relying so much more on these partner categories or the go to audiences that we’ve always had. You have to dig deeper, find those different audiences, and now, the next part is really fun, is crafting the creative. We’re gonna get into that in just a second because if Merry is here we have to get into creative, but one more thing with audience insights, we can’t leave that one hanging. We’ve gotta talk about audience insights and custom audiences as well.

Changes to Audience Insights and Custom Audiences

Merry Morud:              Yeah, so this one really hurt because audience insights was just such a fantastic tool and again, this is like a knee jerk reaction by Facebook because someone found a loophole with their bug bounty and so they shut down audience insights and they shut down the audience reach when you use a custom audience in targeting, even if you use it just to exclude. That makes it really hard for us to plan budgets because we don’t know how big an audience will be if we use a custom audience and psychographic targeting. We still get the audience preview in the audience tab, but yeah, in terms of audience insights, and that was visual, where you could plug in a custom audience, whether it was emails or people who bought something on your website or app or whatever, and then Facebook would give you this really colorful data about who those people were, like what kind of other pages did they like, what was their demographic makeup, what kind of households did they come from, like what was their income, and so that went away and that really hurt.

It seems like a simple enough solution for Facebook would be to close that loophole would be to just randomize the audience rounding and prediction, you know, so maybe randomly round it up three percent and the next time it’s rounded down five percent and the next time it’s rounded up one percent or whatever it is, just like kind of randomize it. That seems simple, but I’m also not an engineer. For now, I think it’s gone but I bet it will come back. It’s certainly going to be re imagined, I would think, because … that Minnesota accent came out there, re imagined.

JD Prater:                     Don’t you know?

Merry Morud:              Oh yeah.

JD Prater:                     Oh yeah.

Merry Morud:              Oh, it’ll have to be re imagined. Yeah. Might’ve been Canadian.

JD Prater:                     A boot. Yeah.

Merry Morud:              Yeah, so some of that insight was tied back to third party data, you know, when it came to like household income and what persona profile they belonged to, whether it was like a young, up and coming, city dweller or a silver senior, whatever those mean.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. I love those.

Merry Morud:              I know, I’m just like, these both sound like the same person. Well, some of them do. But I would put money that it would come back. But again, re imagined with Facebook data. They’re figuring it out. How soon it will come back remains to be seen. They’ll surprise us with it one day.

JD Prater:                     Of course. Of course.

Merry Morud:              One day it’ll just be like it’s back and then we’ll all rejoice.

JD Prater:                     Someone on Twitter will have a screen shot and they’ll like, “Hey, look, everyone. It’s back,” everyone is like, “Wait, really?”

Merry Morud:              And quite honestly, it’ll be like back for a week before anyone notices.

JD Prater:                     Always. Always.

Merry Morud:              Unless Facebook makes a big announcement and we catch on to it. They won’t.

JD Prater:                     All right. So, well, we’ve got you here. Let’s call this part three. Part three of this podcast or chapter three, however you want to say it, but I really … while you’re here we’ve gotta talk about ad creative. You’ve given a ton of conference presentations on this and I think, I’ll let you speak to it, but it seems like your research is what really makes you so good at this, right? I mean, you do extensive research, you understand these audiences, and so you really kind of get into this empathy aspect of it. So I’m gonna turn it over to you and everyone is listening, so we’re talking about data, we’ve got things going away, things are gonna be maybe coming back, but what can we take away from all of this and how can we make our ads the best possible ads?

How can we make our Facebook ads the best possible ads?

Merry Morud:              Yeah, so, most recently, I’ve been most passionate about creative and it’s probably why I’m associate creative director, it’s why my talks at conferences have steered more towards creative because, quite honestly, when you work with big budgets, like we do at Uber, we can run a lot of tests and we can figure out what works in terms of campaign optimization, targeting, et cetera, very fast. And so, there are just only so many optimization levers and audiences, buttons to pull and push and whatever, and so at the end of the day, once you’ve kind of optimized your ad type, your campaign bidding, and all, like, placement and that kind of stuff, day of week, where do you go from there? Where do you improve? And the answer is always creative because you can always make your message, you can always make your creative better.

Where do you improve? And the answer is always creative because you can always make your message, you can always make your creative better.

There’s always improvement and also, even though you’re creative right now, maybe amazing and you’ve worked really hard and done a lot of tests to get it to that point, great. It will probably not be amazing in six months or it will probably need something in the cultural zeitgeist may change to make that irrelevant or make that motivational message not as motivating as it once was, so creative, often times, needs to be reworked and refined and that’s just for one audience. When you layer in acquisition and remarketing and re engagement and retargeting and all of these different steps throughout the funnel, there are endless ways that you, as a creative, can refine that message to move those people further through the funnel and that’s an important point I want to make about Facebook ads is we, as advertisers, get so bogged down, thinking that ad has to make the sale in that Facebook ad or that search ad or whatever or display ad. At the end of the day, that ad’s only job is to get the audience to take the next step. That’s it.

If you can make a sale on that Facebook ad or display ad and that was enough, then more power to you, but that’s not that ad’s role and it rarely ever is. This has always plagued me as a copywriter because I want to say everything in one ad and I want to say to everybody all at once, but you don’t and you can’t. A, people aren’t gonna give you the time to say it all and so you really have to boil it down to what’s the motivator to get people to take the next step. And you may figure out what that motivator is, but then you’ll have to refine how you say it or address it and so there’s always, always, always, creative iteration and improvement that can be made, even on ever green. We, as marketers, and we have so much data and so much optimization, algorithms, and mechanisms and whatever, we often forget that just having really amazing creative can have as much business impact or as much ROI impact as just the next latest, greatest, optimization setting or algorithm.

So creative can move that ROI needle for you and your clients or you and your business, if not as much as those optimizations, I mean, like, if not more or you can do it every week or every month, like, improve on that creative and whittle away those cost pers.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I think that’s a really good one. I really like … we think too much about maybe just the sale, but it’s the action to the next step. What is the next step? And I like that differentiation of thinking through that within your own funnel, but really thinking through where is this audience in their customer journey, right?

Merry Morud:              Right.

Incite the click, incite action

JD Prater:                     And when you think through the life cycle of a customer, what do we want them to do next? And I think that’s … I really like that one. So that one is really good. So let’s break it down and give the audience even some more really good stuff. When you talk about in incite the click, incite action, how do we do that?

Merry Morud:              When we think about an ad’s job is to take the next step, the visual element of your ad, be it motion or static, that has to get people to stop scrolling. And Facebook says, you know, people scroll on mobile at a rate of one point seven seconds per post, so you have about a second to grab someone’s attention with an image, and that’s really, really, fast. So think about the image or the visual as the thumb stopper. This is why really just like weird images work, because our brain is confused and when our brain is confused we seek to rationalize or seek to appease that confusion by looking at the context around it, and that means reading the headline, reading the text copy. So, quite honestly, when it comes to an in sighting ad, it starts with an image that’s going to get people to stop because if they’re not going to stop, they’re not reading your copy because they’re not reading that copy in a second. They’re already scrolling through it and they’re not gonna read the copy unless that visual element stopped them first.

They’re already scrolling through it and they’re not gonna read the copy unless that visual element stopped them first.

So that’s the visual element’s job. The ad’s job, as a whole then, is to take the next step. And how you insight the click is to … it boils down to like being relevant, understanding your audience, and, like I mentioned, that can be like writing about a nod or a wink to an inside joke or a nod or a wink to how or what you targeted. We did Facebook ads for a food delivery company a few years ago, it wasn’t Uber Eats, should have been.

JD Prater:                     Next year.

Merry Morud:              Yeah, next year. Next year. But we did targeting around all of these, what I call them, couch events, because it’s food delivery, and so I wanted to hit people who A, were gonna be at home and wanted to be at home and wanted to be, you know, engrossed in something at home, so they’re not, like, you know … a podcast, you can kind of cook and listen to a podcast or whatever. But in terms of TV events that happen-

JD Prater:                     Super Bowl.

Merry Morud:              Yeah.

JD Prater:                     Something like that, right?

Merry Morud:              Super Bowl.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Okay.

Merry Morud:              This was around the time of March Madness.

JD Prater:                     Oh, nice.

Merry Morud:              So we had to elude to the fact that people should order in for this event without saying March Madness, because the NCA would be down your throat faster than you can press publish on top editor. So we had to have a little wink and a nod to the audience that yeah, you’re gonna be watching basketball for weeks straight, hours on end, and I think one of the lines was madness is a crowded bar or trying to watch the game at a crowded bar or something like that, or madness is like ordering crappy pizza for the big game or something like that.

JD Prater:                     Yeah.

Merry Morud:              We’re like, “You have a lot of basketball to watch,” you know, eluding to like this week’s long event, not like a month. It was the bane of my existence for a long time. Too much basketball. But anyway, so March Madness or Game of Thrones had just come back or was about to start a new season, and so we would pump out ads that said put Joffrey’s] 77 courses to shame, so that was around the Purple Wedding. We would make like fun winks and nods to the audience and those went gangbusters because they were relevant, they were kind of funny and they were smart and well targeted, and I mean, quite honestly, food is easy. It’s beautiful, people love seeing that, those visuals on Facebook, so that was helpful that we had a really sexy product, which food really is.

JD Prater:                     But you also identified a motivator, right?

Merry Morud:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JD Prater:                     And so whenever you’re thinking through, you know, we were kind of talking before, like, motivating versus like a barrier, right? So, how do you kind of play with those two things? Motivations versus like a barrier to entry or something like that. Do you think through those things as like a brand or a category whenever you’re thinking through a copy and images?

Motivations versus barrier to entry

Merry Morud:              Yeah. Well, before you even kind of start brainstorming about your creative approaches, you want to identify brand motivators and barriers and then identify like those category motivators and barriers, so this is almost like a swat analysis, where you’re thinking like okay, why does someone need a product like this as a category and what’s the motivator for our product? How is our product different? Or what is going to make someone not take the next step in buying our product? Is it our brand? Is it our price point? Is it just they a lack of awareness or knowledge to what this is or does? Is it do we have bad reviews online? All that kind of stuff, and then identify what are the reasons that a user can overcome that barrier and purchase from you?

JD Prater:                     Cool. Cool. Well, I also saw that you had mentioned write soundbite style copy. What do you mean by soundbite style copy?

Merry Morud:              Yeah, so I’ve been writing in headlines or thinking about copy in terms of soundbites for, I mean, like, Marty taught me to do it years and years ago. Write like clips of copy in soundbites because, essentially, when we talk about people scrolling through at one point seven seconds, that’s all you really get. They’re not there to read a whole sentence sometimes, so think in like snappy headlines in terms of writing in soundbites. So what I’ll often write in soundbites and then kind of refine and then identify either what needs more explanation in that soundbite or sometimes it’s a question, has the audience ask itself a question, and like you really have to then thread that needle into the landing page or other supporting copy, whether that’s the text copy or landing page or maybe it’s like text on the image. So identifying those really snappy soundbites and then it’s just like old advertising hat, right?

We always wrote in like headlines, snappy headlines or like three word statements. It’s very like mad man, right? It’s toasted.

JD Prater:                     I just remember, there’s this one episode with Don, you know, and I think he’s like, “Give me 20 headlines by lunch,” or something, something like that, and I remember thinking through and always hearing this as well, like, the first ten are always the easiest. You can write ten headlines pretty quick. It’s the last ten that you really have to think through, and a lot of times those are actually your best ones rather than the ones that come to you really quick, because those are probably, again, the easy ones, but it’s the ones where you use the research and you really kind of put yourself in their shoes, getting the empathy for the user that’s gonna be reading this. And sometimes those later ones will actually be the best performers.

Going way too far with ad copy and then walking it back

Merry Morud:              Yeah. I mean, really, it’s about riffing on those initial ideas, and when you’re either in a brainstorm with other people or just by yourself, write out, like in your head, sometimes you’re like, “I want to say it’s like this and that’s really ineloquent, or maybe it’s just totally wrong or really un PC,” that’s okay. Those ideas don’t have to be set in stone, but write out that abstract or what you’re trying to say, and then kind of boil it down. I also am an advocate of going way too far with ad copy and then walking it back, because if you write ad copy for marketing legal or like for a brand, your client, that you’re writing it to get approved, you’re always gonna have really safe, boring, ad copy.

And so, go a bit too far, have legal walk you back a bit or have the client walk you back a bit, but then they’ll understand what you’re trying to say and maybe just sanitize one word instead of a whole sanitized message that’s not very compelling. Yeah. They’ll say like, “You know, I really like it, but we can’t say revolutionary,” like, no brand has ever let me say revolutionary. I guess they think the public thinks they may actually start a revolution, which whatever, but-

JD Prater:                     That’s a great example.

Merry Morud:              It’s like software companies and we’re like, “It’s accounting software revolution,” and they’re like, “Not, not, revolution because no,” and I was like, “There’s not gonna be a riot of accountants. We’re not starting an accounting revolution.”

JD Prater:                     What if I start a PPC revolution here?

Merry Morud:              Yeah.

JD Prater:                     At AdStage. Yeah.

Merry Morud:              That’s our next podcast. PPC Revolutions.

JD Prater:                     Well, cool. Let’s really kind of take it home, bring it home. So we really talked quite a bit around Cambridge Analytica, Congress, we talked about ad copy, we talked about images, we talked about partner categories, third party data, audience insights. Where would you want to leave the audience with? Like, you know, what are some of those takeaways where you would say, “Hey, this is what I want to say.”

Key takeaways from all Facebook changes

Merry Morud:              Regulations is coming more. More disclosure and regulation is coming. It’s already happening and I think it will happen as a whole to the internet, so not just Facebook. And what happened when Zuckerberg went to Congress was he freaked them out, and not just by what Facebook knows, but he freaked them out as to what is possible out there online in terms of data and privacy, so I would expect more of that to come. Maybe not at the level of Europe’s GDPR, but at some level. It’s gonna come and it will probably be over corrected at first and over reached, but we’ll likely walk back because certainly that there are big companies who have lots of lobbying money to write those, quote unquote, plain English legislative documents. So that’s coming and just get ready and make sure that what you’re doing is above board. In terms of what went away with Facebook and in terms of third party data targeting, not worried, really excited. Advertisers out there in podcast land, you know, start transitioning audiences so it’s not a complete surprise when that targeting goes away and you have to start a new audience.

I would start them both now, so you get at least a bench mark of expectation, of like we expected this and this is what we were getting when we were using third party data, and this is our cost pers or what we’re getting when we use Facebook based data or just letting the algorithm run wild. So start doing that now. Start mapping out what audiences need to be transitioned to the new data zeitgeist. When it comes to audience insights, like I said, I think that’ll come back and then the audience reach, when you use custom audiences, I think it’ll come back once they figure out how to close that loophole. It’ll happen.

I’m very confident of that. It was too good of a tool to take away from us and it was so helpful and I know people are upset that it’s gone and Facebook knows that. When it comes to creative, always, always, always, improve creative. I know you think that maybe just changing a couple headlines or body text isn’t going to move the needle a whole lot but really, it can. It can if you do it in a very thoughtful way, in a strategic way. And really, it boils down to getting people to stop scrolling. So your job, as a Facebook advertiser, when it comes to the creative piece, is to get users to stop scrolling and you do that with an image that grabs their attention and then get users to take the next step with copy that insights that click, invites that click, and gets users to continue their journey or start a journey. Yeah. I think that’s it.

JD Prater:                     Nice.

Merry Morud:              I mean, I feel like there’s more I could say, but like-

JD Prater:                     Oh, we could go on and on.

Merry Morud:              I feel like we have a good solid takeaways there.

JD Prater:                     Awesome. Well, Merry, thanks again. It was such a pleasure having you on the podcast that was actually recorded, and it was also a pleasure having you on the one that wasn’t recorded. But thanks again for your time, effort, and for all the things that you do for the industry.

Merry Morud:              Yeah. Thanks for having me, JD. We should do it again.

JD Prater:                     We should. Well, maybe like a year later, this is what we’ve learned from this podcast, it’s gonna be a good one.

Merry Morud:              Next time Facebook gets in trouble. Hot takes.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Call in Merry. That’s right. Well, cool. Well, thanks again, everyone, for listening in to the podcast and we’ll see you guys next week.

Merry Morud:              Bye.

Recent Facebook Changes and The Impact on Advertisers

Recent Facebook Changes and The Impact on Advertisers

Welcome to episode #83 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. Over the next two weeks we’ll be joined by Merry Morud, Associate Creative Director at Aimclear, to discuss the recent FB changes in light of Cambridge Analytica and Zuckerberg testifying in front of congress. Then we’ll tackle the implications of custom audiences & 3rd party data and what advertisers should be doing now to prep for the changes.
Stay tuned as we talk about:

  • Cambridge Analytica & other data scandals
  • More disclosure and regulation for political advertisers
  • More regulation will come to data & digital as a whole
  • Zuck goes to congress…
  • 3rd party data going away

Listen to the Episode

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Who is Merry Morud

Merry Morud is the Associate Creative Director at Aimclear, specializing in audience-specific, channel-focused messaging, and deep psychographic audience research. She joined Aimclear in 2008 as employee No. 4 and is a master at aligning creative and messaging with psychographic personas and interests.

Merry is currently excited to be under contract full-time with Uber in San Francisco managing paid social rider acquisition.

A top contributor to Aimclearblog, Merry is also a noted author and thought leader throughout the marketing universe. Her brilliance has been shared with the masses through various marketing blogs and podcasts, along with numerous high profile speaking engagements around the world.

Merry’s thought leadership extends to webcasts for publications including WriterAccess and Search Marketing Now. She presents at Aimclear’s Social PPC and Psychographic Display Intensive; Social Content Distribution for SEO- the New Link Building; Community Management Master Class; and Facebook Marketing Intensive Workshops.

An industry trailblazer, Merry piloted and managed innovative Facebook PPC initiatives for Fortune and Global 500 companies, and is also well experienced in handling the unique online marketing needs of midsize and startup businesses.

Show Notes and Transcript


JD Prater:                     Merry, welcome to the PPC Show, take two.

Merry Morud:              Hey, JD.

JD Prater:                     Let me go ahead and get this out of the way. Merry was in here last week, which we’ll get into her being in San Francisco. We are recording the show, at least I should say I thought we were recording the show, we get done and it was not recording.

Merry Morud:              It was that quintessential, cliché, moment of just such a joke. I thought it was a joke.

JD Prater:                     Yeah.

Merry Morud:              But good news is-

JD Prater:                     I’m just the joke.

Merry Morud:              I’m in San Francisco for a while so we were able to do this again pretty quickly and so that just means we get to have fun and shoot the breeze.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, so tell everyone what you’re doing in San Francisco and all the good stuff that we need to get caught up on.

Merry Morud:              If you don’t know me, I’m the associate creative director at Aimclear. If you don’t know me, you probably know my boss, Marty Weintraub. We are a full service digital marketing agency based in Duluth, Minnesota with an office in St. Paul as well.

I was employee number four at Aimclear back when it was just Marty and Manny and Matt and Merry, all Ms.

JD Prater:                     All Ms, wow.

Merry Morud:              Back then, we were a small shop so we wore many hats and Facebook ads came out and Marty spoke on the last session of the last day at SMX East, I believe it was in 2007, and he talked about the impending social PPC and there were like 12 people in the audience, all the old SEO’s and search pros were like already at the bar snickering about paid social or social being ridiculous and from that, and from subsequent speaking gigs that Marty did, talking about social PPC being kind of like this next wave, we got Martha Stewart on me as a client really early on in my career. And so Manny and Matt were already busy with other clients and Marty said, “All right, you don’t have that much to do, here’s your client, Martha Stewart, Facebook ads, figure it out.”

There was nothing written about Facebook ads or best practices and everyone was totally failing because they had just taken their search keywords and dumped them into Facebook, which, of course, didn’t translate or didn’t pour it over well at all.

People just thought these don’t work, its kind of trash and so they just kept doing their search thing, and so that lead me to really figuring out, psychographic targeting, like, what this means and how you can be successful on Facebook ads in terms of … back then, I was talking about campaigns structures and not driving yourself insane with the lack of structure in that platform when it was really brand new and evolved into psychographic targeting and then creative best practices.

Now, I am still working at Aimclear but I am under contract doing paid social acquisition for riders at Uber, just down the street, so we’re like neighbors now.

JD Prater:                     I know. Did you take an Uber over here or did you walk?

Merry Morud:              Oh, gee, it’s like four blocks.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, yeah. It was pretty shocking, you know, I found out Merry’s here and then you’re like, “Wait, four blocks? Yeah, like, this is amazing, yeah. We gotta do this in person,” so-

Merry Morud:              Twice.

JD Prater:                     Twice. Not once, but twice. It was really my way of just talking about Facebook ads twice, so yeah, mostly-

Merry Morud:              For another week.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, for another week. Yeah. Well, cool. Let’s jump into it because we’ve got quite a line up on this show today. We’re gonna be talking about really the last couple of months, right? We’re gonna be talking going through the Cambridge Analytica stuff, we’re gonna be talking about Zuck going to Congress, and then really how that’s gonna be impacting you as the advertiser and some things that Merry and I are actually really excited for. We do think some of these things and the data regulations are gonna be fantastic for advertisers, but let’s kind of walk through what happened and what’s going on and how we can take advantage of it. So let’s kick off with the Cambridge Analytica. We know that explanation probably not necessary. You guys have all read it, you guys know what happened, but maybe give us a quick summary of what you think we can take away.

Cambridge Analytica

Merry Morud:              Right. Y’all totally understand what happened, like, we’re in the thick of internet marketing, so we understand the data that’s been available to us for many years and yeah. When Facebook opened up that connection targeting, like that connection data for developers and people connected on apps and things, we all saw it and we’re all like, “Oh, this is insane and a lot of data,” but insane in like a crazy cool way, but like most people were like, “Wow,” this is probably gonna go away soon, so I think people took advantage of it while they could and took advantage of it in legal ways, in the ways that Facebook outlined. What happened with Cambridge Analytica and Kogan. What happened was Kogan had scraped all that data from those connections and then sold it to Cambridge Analytica and therein lies the legal problems. It was not his data to sell and so Facebook got very mad and they shut him down, slapped him on the wrist, but then never really followed through with checking to see if that data had actually been destroyed or gotten rid of.

And here we are in 2018 and we all know what happened with that data and that data was used to help political candidates and to what extent it helped or helped win we don’t know because that’s something we can’t retroactively understand, but here we are. Congress invited Zuckerberg to have a hearing and answer for what happened and that was a really interesting two days, I think, for many digital marketers or anyone is like relatively savvy with internet data and privacy. Ultimately, I think it just … wow. Like, these people are making our laws in the 21st Century and the questions that they asked Mark Zuckerberg were, I mean, incredibly elementary and really highlighted their lack of understanding of the internet as a whole, even the younger Congress women and men were just woefully uninformed about the basics of internet data targeting, remarketing, privacy.

zuckerberg goes to congress

And emailing on WhatsApp was one of my favorite moments because, I mean, like … no. I mean, aside from a simple misunderstanding of the product, and I get that many legislatures only use the internet to email, so maybe that’s all the internet is to them, but WhatsApp is encrypted end to end, so, I mean, a simple answer is like no, Facebook and WhatsApp and like all that, like, can’t be seen. It’s like iPhones data or iPhones messages are encrypted. So at the end of the day, I was really, really impressed by Mark Zuckerberg for not being as condescending as he could have been, and I don’t think he was really at all. I think he was very patient and I also think he didn’t really talk down to those legislatures, which was a really good look for him, even though they asked some really silly questions that revealed their ignorance to one of like the biggest industries this country has ever seen, if not the world.

If you think about how much data and the sharing of data and the internet impacts all our lives, in general, and then like businesses as a whole, like, it’s astounding that they don’t have a better grasp of this. What was your favorite moment from the Congressional testimony?

Zuck goes to congress

JD Prater:                     Favorite? I mean, there were some great memes. Internet had a field day with the Senators more than Zuckerberg, which I appreciated because, again, anyone that’s been doing this for even like six months, and then by this, like, digital marketing, right? Like, you don’t know how Facebook makes money? Like, really? You know, like, Senator, we run ads, but-

Merry Morud:              Right. They’re not like a multi-billion dollar company just because they put together a platform where people hang out online.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, they employ like 25000 people, all those people get paid, right?

Merry Morud:              Right.

JD Prater:                     So, they had to be somewhere.

Merry Morud:              It’s not just some like venturing capitalist just writing checks every month.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. And I think the rest of part two, I mean, five hours, two days in a row, I think 30 mins in I would’ve flipped over the table and been just red in the face pissed, so I give, again, Zuckerberg … like, the patience, like, that dude was zen and I was really impressed with answers, patience, but also, you know, some of the times he was just like, “I’ll have my team follow up with you on that one,” you know-

Merry Morud:              Right. Which is what you should defer to.

JD Prater:                     Yeah.

Isolated event or majority of advertisers?

Merry Morud:              For like many of those specific data point questions, I mean, from what happened with Facebook going to Congress is, I mean, like, maybe, our future legislation will be written in plain English, as they so implored Facebook to do with their TOS. Maybe iTunes’s TOS will also be written in plain English and South Park can get rid of that episode. Maybe my next loan or mortgage will be written in plain English as well, because like, I will put myself to sleep even reading that and I certainly don’t quite get it, but I mean, words or the way you say things are, like, matter, more … they matter, and so anyone who may cry a foul, like, fake news, they may … we’re gonna, like, back track on this.

JD Prater:                     Okay.

Merry Morud:              Because I … all right. So, what you say or the way you say things matters and it may not matter that much to someone who cries fake news, but lawyers will disagree with you and those TOSs certainly, like, they’re designed to protect corporations and make sure that your data and, like, that agreement between, like, you and that company is used in the right way and used in a way that everyone kind of agrees to to a certain point. If Facebook didn’t have such stringent TOS, like, there would’ve been more marketers abusing that connection targeting or that connection data that Kogen did, but since they have these TOS and most people abide by those, you know, it does protect them and it does tell users what’s going to happen to their data, maybe not as specifically as they would like and in a plain terms, but, you know, it says, like, your data is being used to target advertisements towards you.

And I would say, you know, great, like, give me ads that you think are relevant to me because I always think back, when people complain about privacy and what kind of data is being used to target you, I think that we forget how crappy early internet ads were where like everything was like a blinking Viagra or Cialis banner ad and just awful and it wasn’t targeted. So, like, there wasn’t advertising put in front of you that was relevant and now it is very relevant to the point where it’s creepy sometimes, but that’s really on us as digital marketers and creatives to walk a line between being really targeted and knowing certain data points about someone or what these algorithms think that they may purchase or intend to purchase, and walking that creative line of being hinting at making that purchase or that you know that they may be looking for a said product or a service without saying like, “Hey, you clicked on this ad,” or, “You went to this website,” or, “Now you’re in the market for this,” like, that freaks people out.

So we just need to walk a fine line with being just, you know, better ad artists, I would say.

JD Prater:                     Nice. I think one thing too that we were kind of talking through is this is also like an isolated … I still maintain this is isolated event that maybe it’s one bad actor that got found, right? But this is not the majority of advertisers.

Merry Morud:              Absolutely.

JD Prater:                     I mean, I think most of us are white hat, I think the majority of us are white hat, I really think maybe less than one percent, if not even smaller percentage, are people are really trying to take advantage of this or trying to hack or game a system. So I think that’s one thing that we should say I kind of agree upon and then I think the next part is we saw Facebook move real quick, right? This is where we’ve seen this in the past where something comes out and you can almost call like a knee jerk reaction, right? With some of the things that come out. So, one of them that we’re gonna get into is this regulations in getting into the data and digital management as a whole, but one of the things we saw in context of political are now like political candidates have to be verified. I thought that was a kind of an interesting one, then, again, we can get into who is actually running political ads and which ones should we be scared of, but you know.

New rules for political ads

Merry Morud:              So, yeah. I think recently, maybe within the last week or two, Facebook put out an announcement that political advertisers need to disclose and there’s going to be regulation around this. This disclosure involves getting something in the mail, like, the physical post mail that’s delivered by a mail person and not just setting up ad accounts willy-nilly. I still think that they’re probably not going to do enough because identifying what is or what isn’t political is nearly impossible in this day and age where, I mean, gosh, almost everything is political, almost everything has a political slant. So I’d put money on the fact that they’re still not thinking deeply about how this will be abused or skirted. We’ve all seen these loopholes for years. We’ve seen how easy it is to cloak ads or to scrape data. White hats, like you said, which most of us are, I would say like 99.9 percent of Facebook marketers are all above board because of our ethics and also, it’s a significant work for tactics that may disappear and may not pan out in a day.

Gray or black hats don’t really care, they’ll roll the dice and take what they can get, and that was what Kogen and Cambridge Analytica does. It gets really murky in terms of political disclosure and regulation when you have pages or maybe even brands that are advertising, sponsoring a post, boosting a post, or whatever you want to … whatever the mechanisms are that they’re promoting and putting money behind, a piece of content that may have a political slant. For example, if Aimclear shared a piece of content about protecting net neutrality, is that political? Should that be regulated? Because it is political, certainly. Should it be regulated though? I don’t know. That’s really kind of like up in the air, and then there’s also these like exploitable loopholes and if you took a look at my ad cloaking blog post, essentially what happened, and this can be applied to politics and like those like, you know, random political pages that people spin up that seem innocuous and, you know …

Americans for Freedom, or like Being Right is Right, or all those cleverly named pages that certainly like to share a bunch of political memes and political stories, so those kind of pages and those kind of political propaganda can be spun up and shown ads that don’t look like they’re coming from a candidate for public office, but you know, it’s serving a purpose to either seed misinformation, sway votes a certain way, but it’s not on behalf of the candidate, like, that’s going to be a big problem and like a big glaring dark spot that Facebook needs to contend with. Yeah. Essentially, like, that blog post, we’ll link to it in the show notes or foot notes or whatever, but essentially it’s like does Chrome Extension spun up a bunch of … I wouldn’t call them fake blog posts because they’re blog posts, but they’re just like really poor content. It’s basically just a blog post for the sake of promoting this Chrome extension that saves you money and they spun up all these different, like, verticalized Facebook pages that are not connected to the company that has this Chrome extension that saves you money.

It’s kind of like Honey, if you know that one. It’ll like look for coupon codes or that kind of thing, but it monitors your browsing data, which is, I mean, like, maybe people don’t want Chrome extensions monitoring their browsing data and purchasing habits, maybe they do, but these ads cloak what the source is or what the purpose of this blog post is, which is, of course, very click bait-y and like how I afforded my honey moon on a shoe string budget, how I shop for ADIDAS and save money, or this crazy hack that allows me to travel the world on a dime.

And so they seem like this very innocuous, third party, like, oh, just the cool hack or something that’s friendly and helpful, but really, it’s all just to service this Chrome extension and at the end of the day, they’re using these Facebook pages, which are so easy to kind of cook up and just launch and then run ads behind without disclosing that the actual product or the brand.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, that’s a tough one and I think that’s a really strong point that needs to be made, you know. Whenever we think through senators, governors, you know, there was an election like just this past Tuesday, right?

Merry Morud:              Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JD Prater:                     And they’re not the ones running ads that are fake news or that are like scary, they’re like, “Vote for me, this is what I stand for,” and they’re using, of course, our data to target us, right? But that’s okay. I’m not saying that’s the wrong one, so, to your point, completely and utterly agree. It’s really these bad actors that are spinning up pages, that are putting out content that isn’t at all truthful or isn’t at all like what their real intent is to be. I remember like in Denver. So, there’s the Denver Post. That is our newspaper for Denver, but you may have seen the Denver Sun and it was like an article about something and you’re like-

Merry Morud:              Seems legit, though.

JD Prater:                     Seems legit, yeah. Maybe there’s a Denver Sun, I don’t know, maybe. And it’s like, there’s this article-

Merry Morud:              The Denver Tribune.

JD Prater:                     And it’s not real at all, it’s actually completely fake. There is no Sun, there is no Denver Tribune, and you know, part of that is on us to, of course, know these things, but in a world where we’re putting out so much content, there’s so much information, I think that’s an interesting point for Facebook and I see that they’re making strides, they are trying. This is a first step. To your point, it’s probably not enough.

Ad cloacking

Merry Morud:              Right. And they’ll get there. But, quite honestly, I wouldn’t say the brilliant part of these kind of shell pages, but what that allows these brands to do is to make very like wild claims or to make these inflammatory suggestions because it’s removed from, you know, it’s removed from the brand, and in terms of politics, it’s removed from the candidate. So it’s not, you know, it’s not that candidate saying these inflammatory things, it’s this random group that’s on the side of the candidate saying inflammatory things about the other guy, but since there’s no head of that group or no like organization, like, who do you blame? Who does ADIDAS sue for using their brand name in an ad about downloading a Chrome extension?

JD Prater:                     That’s a good point. That’s a really good point. So yeah, let’s get into some more stuff that’s happened. So, partner categories, right? So for those that don’t know, partner categories, a lot of that was third party information that Facebook was able to really tie together around you, the user. They did, I think, a really great job of pulling that information in. But those are gonna be going away, right? Give us your thoughts on those and maybe a few other updates and regulations that you’ve seen come down.

3rd party data going away

Merry Morud:              Sure. I was floored and shocked when I heard that third party data was going away, which is not necessarily tied to what happened with Cambridge Analytica and these audience loopholes, but I think it’s a bold move for Facebook and I think it’s smart of them to do. Advertisers will be notified in their ad sets. If they’re using third party data targeting, that will be eradicated. So big brands will, you know, get their hands held by client service teams and they’ll tell those big brands what they should now target and if they can map, you know … you know, you were doing income targeting, now you should do X. Or you were doing industry targeting, now you should do Y. They’re going to kind of outline for bigger brands what can replace that targeting and that targeting will start going away June and it will be dead and done in the water by like end of Q3, beginning of Q4 about.

Just because you may not have a Facebook rep or a client partner doesn’t mean that you, as an ad practitioner in Facebook, should just wait for it to go away, like, you should already be kind of planning and testing audiences that use third party data targeting, which is a bit harder to identify now, but like, you can kind of glean what’s gonna go away with Facebook based data. Facebook based targeting, find those proxies, find things that can replace, whether it’s income targeting or that sort of thing or maybe automotive targeting. Often times, like even in the past couple years, it’s known that we’ve paid for third party data if we apply it as an advertiser, like, we don’t know what that price exactly is, but that cost gets tacked onto our CPMs or CPCs, and so knowing that this data is more expensive to use, I would set up two audiences, one that use third party data targeting and one that used mostly or only Facebook data, to compare the cause and comparative performance of those audiences.

So I encourage the listeners today or further on to do that exercise as well and find those proxies, find what can be replaced with Facebook data. Honestly, I’m really excited about this because this is so old school Facebook targeting and this is like what I totally jammed on for like five years. When I see advertisers use third party targeting when we get new clients and doing an audit of their social account, often times what I’ll see is people, you know, get a bit … I won’t say like lazy, but it just becomes so easy to select a category or a data variable that’s in this nicely packaged audience that’s from like a third party. And so people would, you know, select a couple categories thinking that’s good and call it a day and maybe it’ll qualify it with an ad operator, usually not. But they often, often, missed like the fanatical nuance targeting that’s available and that’s honestly where you’ll find the most passionate, passionate, people.

For example, way, way, way, back in the day, one of our early clients for Facebook ads was Second Life. I don’t know if your users know this. JD, were you a Second Lifer?

JD Prater:                     I wasn’t. No. But I just watched the episode of The Office where Dwight has a Second Life and then Jim joins in and it’s just-

Merry Morud:              Just to like mess with him?

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Just to mess with him.

Merry Morud:              In Second Life? Yeah.

JD Prater:                     We will also link to that episode. Yeah.

Merry Morud:              In the foot notes?

JD Prater:                     Yeah.

Go old school with your audience research

Merry Morud:              Yeah, so, Second Life is a place where you can kind of like go online and create an avatar and it’s this whole world just online. You could be a unicorn that flies and live on your own island with other … like, maybe a friend who is a panther. But you could be whatever you wanted and to be fair, I never joined Second Life either, even though they were a client, but great fun, great game. And so Second Life said, “You know, I think people who are into Manga would like really, really, dig Second Life,” and I was like, “Okay, cool, cool, cool, sweet. Manga,” so I went to my Facebook targeting tool and I just typed in Manga and then I grabbed all the targeting variables that had to do with Manga and then I would stem on that.


Found this section at bookstore over the weekend.

So I would do like Manga Space A, Manga Space B, Manga Space C and like grab everything that dropped down because Facebook will kind of stop predicting or dropping down suggestions after you have selected a few, so you kind of have to drill in a bit deeper with those second keywords, so I do that with like alpha stemming. And so I’m like … got everything that had to do with Manga, all those targeting variables, and then I was like, “There’s gotta be more because A, I don’t even know what I’m targeting right now, so I don’t know,” I didn’t do any research, I just went straight for it. And so I was like, “Okay, cool. Let’s take a step back, figure out what Manga is,” went to Wikipedia. If you don’t know what Manga is, it is Japanese anime. So pretty fanatical, passionate, community and there’s more to Manga than just keywords surrounding Manga.

And so, quite honestly, every blue link in Wikipedia that linked to another Wikipedia page or entry was a targeting variable, if not many targeting variables, within Facebook. So that was like the, you know, expos or conferences that surround Manga Anime, this was like specific characters that I would’ve never known to target without looking into this. There were specific comics, specific shows, fan clubs, authors, illustrators, all of these people had people who were like passionate about those things individually and not necessarily Manga as a whole. And what happened after I added that research to this targeting pool was it doubled the size. And so I just want to encourage your audience to take that time to do a little research. Dig into not just like what the vertical is or what that keyword is, but what, you know, what conferences do these people go to? What magazines do they read? What podcasts do they listen to? What television shows would they watch that would then make them want to buy something?

So, for example, if you’re Home Depot, maybe you want to target everyone who watches like HGTV because like, gosh darn, when I bought a house I watched so much HGTV and wanted to like strip everything down to like the bare bones and build from scratch or even just like paint. I just wanted to do something because it was really inspirational. Or think about the job titles they have or what an office manager for a small law firm’s role is versus an office manager at like a 25000 person company. Their roles are like totally, totally different. So really, really, just think about not just stemming on keywords or searching those in Facebook targeting, but thinking about all the other avenues that people would put on their Facebook profile or say that they like or interact with online or purchase that would ladder up to that bigger category.

So also, like, if you think about like football, you could stem on American football all day and get like a really, really, great audience, but then you also may miss the people who just really like Adrian Peterson and they’ve never said that they liked football on their profile, but they really like Adrian Peterson. But that means, you know, they like football because he’s a football player. Or, you know, teams. Specific bowls, like the Rose Bowl. You could get into college football, which has crazy passionate fans. So there are just like so many branches out from that one root that you can really explore and like really kind of dig up in that Facebook targeting, and that’s like … I still love doing that, like, building audiences and researching is one of my favorite things. It’s also really helpful in the creative process too because the more you learn about these categories and what smaller passions ladder up into these greater categories it gives you great creative insight. It allows you to maybe make more like inside jokes or references that may be a bit more relevant to them.

So I’m really excited. I think it will harden back to this more like old school targeting on Facebook.

The Martech Evolution for Digital Advertising Agencies

The Martech Evolution for Digital Advertising Agencies

Welcome to episode #82 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by Lance Loveday and Amanda Evans from Closed Loop agency.

We’re going to be discussing the Evolution of the Digital Advertising Agency as it relates to the shift within the martech landscape and how it impacts staffing models.

Stay tuned to learn how they built a technology stack that allowed their agency to pull 450k reports in Q1 while reducing the time spent creating reports and allowing their account manager to focus strategy.

  • Learn how agencies are leaning on their Martech stack as a competitive advantage
  • How solving for data pipeline and deeper funnel metrics leads to better optimizations
  • Plus, how they’re automating as much as possible so account managers can focus on strategy

Listen to the Episode

You can also listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, PlayerFM, Overcast, & Tunein Radio.

Closed Loop

Innovative companies work with us to help them gain an unfair advantage in the highly competitive digital advertising world. We deliver superior results by combining senior practitioners, deep ad industry expertise and our own ad technology in a way that enables our clients to grow faster while hitting – and often exceeding – their ROI goals.

  1. And they’re HIRING!
  2. Follow Lance Loveday
  3. Follow Amanda Evans

Show Notes and Transcript

JD Prater:                     Lance and Amanda welcome to the PPC show.

Lance Loveday:             Thanks for having us JD.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, so I got to meet up with Lance and Amanda at Hero Conf just a couple of weeks ago, back in Austin, and I got to learn a little bit more about their agency, Closed Loop. Instead of me giving introduction Lance and Amanda quickly introduce you guys yourselves, and tell us a little bit about Closed Loop.

Tell us a little bit about Closed Loop

Lance Loveday:             Sure. This is Lance, I’ll go first. I’ve been in the business for about 20 years. I’ve been in advertising, and digital advertising for that long. Was one of the first advertisers on, which became Overture, which became Yahoo, which is now dead, but also I was one of the first advertisers on Google before they had AdWords. They didn’t know how to value their inventory. We buy these impressions, blocks by the quarter and we buy all the overage it was really cheap and found easy to make money at that point.

And then had stayed Paid Search and expanded into Paid Social and display overtime and grown the agency organically and now we manage about 50 million in ads and annually and got clients all over the world. And a great team and we’re having a lot of fun in a quiet corner here in Sacramento but doing what I consider to be world class work so in my mind, it’s the best of all worlds.

And I’m fortunate to work with the very talented Amanda Evans. She’s our chief advertising officer and I’ll let her introduce herself.

Amanda Evans:             Sure. Thanks. So yeah I’m Amanda Evans. I’m the Chief Advertising Officer, I run the client services team over here at Closed Loop. I am almost at 20 years being in the industry. I think I’m at 18. And yeah, like Lance started out very early on with Goto and Overture and Yahoo which is still around. And our Yahoo reps would be upset if they heard you say they were dead.

Lance Loveday:             Yahoo search, all right.

Amanda Evans:             Okay, yeah, and like Lance there, happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

JD Prater:                     Yeah and I got an interesting fun fact. I remember seeing Lance presented here at Hero Conf Portland so if anyone was there at Hero Conf Portland, that was my first run in with Lance. And then surprisingly getting to run into him again in a very different world and a very different space and it’s like, Ah, wow, that was like three years ago. Like that was so long and then Amanda spoke last year at Hero Conf on reporting and visualization so.

They’re very well known within the industry and so we’re actually going to be talking about this evolution of digital advertising agencies, which I think is absolutely fascinating conversation especially in talking with them at Hero Conf because of what they’re doing, how their solving it and then what they’re using to solve these problems.

I’m going to turn it over to you guys as kind of a first question, and that’s really around like what you guys are trying to solve as an agency and then what are you guys using to solve it, because that has drastically changed in the last five, ten, 18 to 20 years that you guys were talking about.

What you guys are trying to solve as an agency and what are you using to solve it?

Lance Loveday:             Yeah I mean, it has evolved quickly. I mean, what we’re trying to solve for at high levels if we’re battling this perception that I think some people have that advertising management is a commodity and that kind of is like a spike in my heart on the one hand, but you know we see the evidence all over the place.

In some advertisers do really well, some advertisers do very poorly and some, majority are somewhere in the middle, and most are blind to the opportunity the money that they are leaving on the table. And so we fight this constant battle of people having this check box mentality when it comes to who’s managing their campaigns and how effectively they’re spending their ad dollars. So that’s a constant battle for us. Just have to fight that perception of commoditization, and we’re fortunate. We find clients who kind of self qualify, people who get it and are willing to make sure that they got right person in the seat managing their campaigns.

You know and as for how we do it, you know we’ve had to evolve as you mentioned partially on the technology side over time, and we built our own technology tool. After a while we got frustrated that nobody has done it and there weren’t any good third party tools.

So we built our own data pipeline tool that pulls data from all the front end ad platforms and very importantly pulls data from our clients back end systems so that we can blend it together and do a full funnel analysis in our own environment and get down at a really granular level to do analysis and understand where we could squeeze performance out of these campaigns and then we combine that with a really strong data visualization tools that allows us to tell the story more visually as opposed to having to get you to long tables and so on and tease it out.

And we did this kind of on a speculative basis to begin with but when we started using it, it unlocked all kinds of additional value that we hadn’t really anticipated. It made our people way more efficient and started powering all of our report and automating all of that which our clients loved, and our people of course loved they’re not having to manually sort data from different places and marry it all together in Excel.

And most importantly, it contributed to massive performance gains. Because partially yeah we had more time to do more strategic things and optimize, but it also enabled deeper forms of analysis and intelligence that we couldn’t get any other way. So it’s really been a game changer for us developing our own technology, and I know a lot of agencies struggle with how to approach that. Do you build or buy and how do you go about it? In our case, building our own has been the right answer. But it’s something I think every agency has got to solve for.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I mean even adding to that one, build, buy or staff. I mean I’ve seen agencies just throw people at it. You know you can get a lot of people coming in, maybe, right out of college and teach them Excel, right, and you can pay them cheaper wages, right, but I think at the same times, I kind of want to hit on a couple of things that you talked about is, solving for the data pipeline, automating as much as possible.

Amanda, I’ll kick this one over to you. So when you guys are thinking through on the services side of this reporting in this visualization like talk to me how you guys are pulling this all in, trying to automate it and why that’s so important?

How are you automating reporting and visualizations at scale?

Amanda Evans:             Yeah, it’s really critical you know when we started looking at the way that our account managers were reporting out to clients was maybe five years ago now, we realized they were spending roughly 50% of their time putting things into spreadsheets, to turn it around to give to people. That’s just not an efficient use of time when we’ve got really smart people that don’t need to be copying and pasting data into a spreadsheet. And then running a pivot table and then formatting and all that.

We realized they were spending roughly 50% of their time putting things into spreadsheets, to turn it around to give to people. That’s just not an efficient use of time when we’ve got really smart people that don’t need to be copying and pasting data into a spreadsheet. And then running a pivot table and then formatting and all that.

So we started looking for different ways to get our data into something that would work. So with the proliferation of data, we started seeing that our clients were asking for different levels of key word report or geography or search query reporting and it was just getting to be bigger and bigger and bigger amounts of data. So now what we’ve got is, we’ve got a data warehouse that is pulling directly in from the platforms API’s so we’re connected to AdWords and Bing and Twitter and LinkedIn-

Lance Loveday:             And Yahoo.

JD Prater:                     That’s right. Yeah. Gemini and I don’t leave them out.

Amanda Evans:             -And all of that data gets pulled in and what I mean by all of that data, I mean ALL of that data. So we’re pulling geography down to the city level for every day for the past few years. We’re pulling key word level data, search query data, placement data, you know different cuts and slices and dices of social level data. All of that gets pulled in to, we use Tableau but you know different agencies use different type of BI Tools but the BI Tools are critical for enabling this kind of on-the-fly analysis.

Our philosophy is that reporting needs to be able to answer people’s questions on the fly as well as provide analysis as well as tell the story. To be able to find the tool to do all that is really difficult. So that’s what we’ve come up with.

Our philosophy is that reporting needs to be able to answer people’s questions on the fly as well as provide analysis as well as tell the story.

JD Prater:                     Nice, yeah that’s something you know when you think through like reporting, I’ve been trying to think through it differently as well. So like for me, this is my internal definition is like report is like the last thing you do, right?

And really what you should be doing is measuring and analyzing and spending your time doing that. And if you’re spending all of your time like you were saying, like 50% of your time just getting the data in, just so you can build a report, right, your kind of missing on this measuring aspect and this analyzing aspect, which is honestly, that’s way more fun. I would much rather spend brain power on that, so yeah.

I don’t get the people that just like are so ingrained in Excel and they don’t want to leave it and I get it. It’s powerful. I get it. It’s great but at the end of the day, let’s automate that. Let’s use our brains power to solve greater problems like data pipeline and understanding deeper funnel metrics and how do we use that to optimize, right?

Understanding deeper funnel metrics and how do we use that data to optimize

Amanda Evans:             Absolutely.

Lance Loveday:             Yeah. Well you gotta think about just what the natural limit is on how much … how many reports you can pull … how much data you could pull in and what you can … what one brain could possibly internalize and just to give you a basis for comparison, our CTO published some numbers from the use of our tool. And in key one alone, we ran 450 … we pulled 450,000 reports. And we pulled in 256 gigs of uncompressed data.

JD Prater:                     That’s a lot.

Lance Loveday:             You know no reasonable size collection of brains is gonna be able to process that kind of data. You just can’t do it.

JD Prater:                     Definitely not quickly. Yeah. No, I think that’s like … that’s a really good point. You’re talking about the amount. You’re talking about the volume of the data and so when you guys are thinking through using this data, so like let’s say, you guys have got this automated, you’re pulling it in like what’s that next step now when you guys are thinking about optimizing and blending this data from the front end kind of, in the interface type of metrics, from your AdWords, from that backend data that’s living maybe in a CRM or maybe it’s living somewhere else maybe for eCommerce in their own data warehouse. How are you guys thinking through the blending and really using that information to drive performance?

How are you guys thinking through data blending and really using that information to drive campaign performance?

Amanda Evans:             So we will typically tag all of our ads and … with a parameter that get passed into a client’s CRM system. They will then, either send us some sort of a download of that CRM data, whether it be in the CSV format or directly … we can connect directly to Salesforce as well. We, then, blend that data with the front end data, so we get a true understanding of a user that came through on a given key word, did they eventually convert to an opportunity and a closed sale. As you can imagine for a B2B business, that’s extremely important. We’re not just driving leads at that point, we’re driving revenue. We’re driving qualified leads for the Salesforce there.

So that all happens on automated basis. We set it up once, as the client sends us their reports each week, that gets blended in automatically and pushed up to a web based reporting tool.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. I like to kind of diving into that. I’m sure that our agency folks over here, probably have two questions. One, like Oh man do I really have to? Is gonna be one because it’s so easy to optimize for the lead, right, and not go further because we can track that lead, probably digitally, right, like we can use Google Analytics for example, to track that. But when you’re talking about the CRM data, like marketers are probably, like, “Ah that’s for sales, right?”

So how do you guys kind of work with clients like to actually get that access, or to get that information? Lance, you had mentioned in a lot of clients that are opting into your guy s’s philosophy to begin with, do you think that’s really kind of where it starts in the beginning?

Getting client buy-in and access to CRM data

Lance Loveday:             It’s part of it and you know but sometimes there is an education process. And you know and sometimes its just a matter of kind of showing the kind of waterfall analysis of like, all right, well, here’s what we think is happening on a cost per lead basis and it looks like these leads are cheap. But here’s bases on our past experience what reality has been, so we’ll show what kind of a case that’s … and look here’s how the economic look on the front end. And we were buying leads from this source all day long because they were cheap.

But when we ran it down and finally got to, what’s the cost per MQL? What’s the cost per SQL? What’s the cost per close and then what ultimately over time, what’s the true ROI? It turned out that as cheap leads, were cheap for a reason. You know they were worthless. And we were over paying for them. Whereas some of those expensive leads, we thought we couldn’t afford to buy, were worth it when we should have been paying 500% more for it.

You know and so we show based on real world performance, how our spending mix changed over time based on incorporating that back end performance into our biding and spending decisions. And it completely changed how we thought about the value different sources of traffic.

You know and so we show based on real world performance, how our spending mix changed over time based on incorporating that back end performance into our biding and spending decisions. And it completely changed how we thought about the value different sources of traffic.

It also had the beneficial effect of changing the Salesforces’ perception of the quality of those leads so they ended up working the leads what much harder. And we got an additional multiplier effect on it that way. And so you combine all the those things together and you get into a really virtuous cycle and that’s the Holy Grail of all this force so. Once we can tell that story based on actual performance data, and we tell people that, “Hey, the action required to actually instrument things and enable this, it isn’t that hard. It’s doable.” People generally start nodding along going, “Yeah, okay we should totally do that. That makes sense.” And we have a solution. It’s pretty turnkey.

So it doesn’t create a lot of work on the client’s side so we are able to not just preach at them and tell them this is how it should be done, we’re actually trying to do that heavy lifting for them. And show it for them. And then over time, clients kind of build their own internal systems around that as well.

JD Prater:                     Yeah I think, you know, where we’re using Zoom right now to record this and so right behind Lance is a map of the Martech landscape put out by Scott Brinker and you should see this explosion, right. If you haven’t seen it, I think this slide just came out last couple of weeks. I think it’s close to 7,000 now. When we think about marketing, when we think about where it’s going, there so much data and I would say it’s getting easier to track. It’s getting easier to automate. It’s getting easier to measure and I think the advertisers like yourself that are building out these types of solutions are the ones that gonna succeed because I think you’re already ahead of the curve.

I was talking with Andy Taylor whose now at Merkel, and he was at RKG before but they started out with the warehouse. Like that was what Merkel bought them for.

Lance Loveday:             Yeah.

JD Prater:                     They’re tagging down to the key word and they’ve been doing this and they’ve been able to run these type of reports. I mean, that’s what the Merkel reports are, so valuable is because they’re able to use a data warehouse to be able to use a visualization tool to run these types of analysis. And I think that’s something like we could all understand, we can all grasp, but you guys are actually using it to drive performance.

Before this, we were talking about some quality score stuff. Tell me a little bit more about that story ’cause I thought that was fascinating because I’m sure everyone’s rolling their eyes once I said quality score and that it actually matters.

Gleaning insights from Quality Score

Lance Loveday:             Yeah, you know its funny. I mean this is something that has kind of reared its head again for us more recently. Partially because we’ve had kind of deeper data access and analysis and we’ve been able to correlate quality score to performance a little more closely. And it’s just driven home for us via, a lot of the audits that we’ve done for people over time are just … how low a starting point so many can be in from starting from on a quality score basis and I think it’s a really under appreciated drag on a lot of campaigns performance and people are kind of blind to it. And so yeah, I kind of roll my eyes a little bit about quality score because it has been discussed and almost beat to death over time.

But having said that, we’ve seen repeated now via so many of these audits that the average weighted quality score for, even larger advertisers sometimes, is really low and is absolutely a drag on the economic of their campaigns and again via case studies we’re able to demonstrate, say, “Look, this is what has happened in terms of the campaign economics.” When we’ve been able to improve average quality score by even a point or two over time, it’s just had a massive impact. So I think for as much ink has been spilled on quality score for as much as people might be tired of hearing about it, it isn’t enough to just nod your head and say, “Yeah, yeah I quality scored your report.” You got to take action. If it turns out that you’re suffering as a result of those things and when you do, it must creates so much upside potential. You can’t ignore it.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. When you guys are kind of thinking through these deeper funnel metrics, you guys are automating, yet you have a great visualization tool within the Tableau and you’re freeing up your account managers’ times, so how do you guys think through staffing? What are they doing now with that 50% of time? Talk to me a little bit about that. I mean, Amanda, you … probably under your purview here. How do you guys think through that?

Amanda Evans:             Yeah you know it’s interesting. We were originally thinking the 50% of their time would be able to be spent on, maybe, an additional client. That hasn’t happened. And the reason that hasn’t happened is that 50% of their time is now shifted over to being more strategic. They’re able to analyze deeper, much, much deeper levels than every before, which I think is tracking along perfectly with the industry. The industry is giving us more and more targeting options. And so it’s been a good change for us because that 50% of the time, now they can actually identify, which of those targeting options need to be used? And start to use those levers strategically.

It’s hard to find a lot of that information within the interfaces or as we said before, downloading it into Excel. But by having the reporting automated, by having the ability to drill down and filter and segment in real time, that’s made our account managers much more strategic, I think. So we didn’t get to use the 50% of the time on other clients but that’s okay.

JD Prater:                     Oh I’m sure the clients appreciate that.

Amanda Evans:             Yeah.

JD Prater:                     But kind of like the next phase of that, right, so now they’re being more strategic. Talk to me about how even changed for like a staffing model within an agency, within the last five years of thinking through who you guys are hiring now and the types of people you guys are hiring now.

Amanda Evans:             Yeah, we’re hiring mostly for a mindset rather than skill based. So think back five years we were looking for somebody who knew AdWords inside and out. Now, we’re looking for somebody that understands how numbers fit together, how metrics are working towards improving a campaign. So I think the skills and how the mechanics of how you build on ad group, that can all be taught. We’re looking for somebody who is driven to identify, kind of mirrored anomalies in the data, think through questions that a client is gonna ask, and really look at this from a qualitative perspective rather than just pure mechanics. So I’d like to think we’re looking for somebody that can think a little bit bigger rather than just somebody whose in there doing the daily bits.

Lance Loveday:             You know think of as the systems thinkers, right, people who appreciate how changing what input is gonna change other downstream metrics and impact the ultimate Northstar metric that we’re optimizing to as well but who appreciates the quantitative end and the quantitative components that come into play. And I talk about how over time people develop the art of advertising management and I really believe that there is an art and creative components to the work that we do and it’s not fully quantifiable, it’s not something that is easy to build an algorithm for. And for that reason, I actually feel pretty good about our ability to continue to differentiate and to not to fall into that commodity trap. Because we’re already using people’s minds for what people are good for and that’s the strategy teasing out meaning, understanding the interrelationship between things. And then we’re using the technology obviously but technology’s good for.

JD Prater:                     Yeah I mean it seems like you guys are having a really good frame of reference for what can be automated but also like what can we focus on as humans, right? There are things that if you’re spending five, six hours a day pulling reports in Excel like, you’re probably going to be automated in a couple of years but the things that won’t be automated are that strategical thinking. I still maintain that and I think the people that can learn to use the technology, and use the automation tools, those are the ones that are gonna succeed in my opinion kind of moving forward.

So I think you guys are doing a really great job. As far as kind of like wrapping up, what would you guys like wanna leave everyone with? You know like what would be your main take aways to agencies or to in-house teams as they’re, maybe, some are on this journey with you guys and trying to build out their own text techs. I know many are not. So how do you think through that?

Lance Loveday:             You know I would encourage people to just start experimenting. For us, if you’d have asked us five years ago if we were gonna have our own technology tool that might rival what’s some of these other agencies have built over time, I would have said, “No way. We’re too small. We can’t afford it. It’s too hard.” But the reality is we got frustrated enough that we decided to go ahead and take a shot at it and you know God Damn It, if we didn’t pull it off, you know, over time.

But it had to start somewhere and in retrospect, God, yeah, I wish I started a lot sooner. And so I would encourage people just to take the first step. You know start download a trial of Tableau. Get to familiar with it. Start to think about ways you might be able to use that. Hook it up to a tool like AdStage. I mean, we’re using AdStage to power part of our funnel, right? You know you can absolutely kind of do your own home brew data pipeline and visualization platform and I would encourage everyone just to take that first step. That would be my take away.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Amanda, do you have anything you want to add to that?

Amanda Evans:             Well I mean, I would agree. I think taking the first step with the client in mind. I think you know advertising agencies are much more than advertising agencies at this point. We’ve transitioned into really consultants on a business front and I think using a lot of the data automation tools and data pipelines that are out there help us to continue in that capacity. That’s all I’m gonna say.

JD Prater:                     Well fantastic. I mean great advice. Thanks for taking us along that journey of this evolution as we kind of think through. I think we really are in this kind of this turning point I would say in 2018, specifically where I think we say a lot trends bubble up into 2017 around CMOs wanting to track revenue being held responsible for revenue. And I think we’re starting to see people, agencies, in-house teams really starting to think through especially on the marketing side of how we can track further down the funnel.

You guys have been doing it for five years which is absolutely incredible to think through. But where can people find you guys? Where can they reach out if they had some questions? I’m sure there are people that are gonna wanna ask questions about your stack and what you guys are using, what tools. I know that was always a big question. Where can people find you?

Lance Loveday:             Yeah I mean the websites. There’s Twitter we’re at @closedloop, we’re consistent that way. Those are probably the best methods. Yeah.

JD Prater:                     And you guys were talking about who you guys are hiring for? Are you guys currently hiring if anyone is listening?

Lance Loveday:             We’re always hiring. Phone yes. And in fact if you could advertise for that on all future podcasts, I’d appreciate it.

JD Prater:                     You got it. You got it. All right. So thank you guys again, for coming on, talking us and then for those listening that’s You guys can find them on Twitter as well @closedloop, and they are hiring. So reach out to Lance and Amanda if you guys want to learn more about what they’re working on or hey, if you want to become a potential client of theirs. They are very smart people, and I think they’re gonna do a really job for you guys.

So that’s it for today’s show. We will see you guys next week.


The Explosive Growth of AdWords Shopping Campaigns

The Explosive Growth of AdWords Shopping Campaigns

Welcome to episode #81 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by Nate Velazquez, PPC Account Manager at Seer Interactive, to talk about how to take advantage of the explosive growth of AdWords Shopping Campaigns.

Did you know that Shopping campaign spend increased 40% YoY in Q1, and accounted for over 60% of retailer search clicks, according to the latest Merkle Q1’18 report?

The new Shopping campaign type combines Shopping and display remarketing campaigns to deliver your ads across Google’s entire suite of sites and networks. Reach relevant and valuable potential customers while they’re looking at content across, the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail.

Listen to the Episode

You can also listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, PlayerFM & Tunein Radio.

Nate Velazquez

Nate started his career in digital marketing by starting and founding an eCommerce website while in grad school. While his website didn’t generate a ton of income, it did lead Nate to joining a digital marketing agency in Tampa, Florida, where he discovered his passion and skills in PPC and eComm. After honing his PPC chops for several years in Tampa, Nate moved back to Philadelphia to join the Seer team in August 2016. He works with both lead gen and eCommerce accounts, working with clients to increase demand and sales through PPC. He works hard to solve every problem he encounters and share his learnings with his team. Nate’s also shared his knowledge with students, teaching at the University of Tampa, the University of South Florida, and his alma mater, Temple University.

Best Seer Moment
Crushing a client’s Black Friday 2017 performance for both total revenue and return on investment:

  • Cyber Monday saw a 55% increase in ROI and a 17% increase in revenue generated YoY!
  • Black Friday saw a 85% increase in ROI and a 76% increase in revenue generated YoY!

Show Notes and Transcript

JD Prater:                     Nate, welcome to The PPC Show.

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah, JD. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, man. So, for those that don’t know, Nate and I connected at Hero Conf. He was there.

He was actually attending my session and I said at the end, “Hey, if you guys are interested in coming on the show, come on up and talk,” and Nate was the very first person that walked up and said, “Hey, I want on.”

So, Nate, tell the listeners who you are and what you got going on.

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah, definitely. So, first off, great session. I think a lot of the speakers at Hero Conference are better in filled.

It’s always great hearing from you guys in the space. Personally, took a lot out of your session so, really looking forward to implementing some of those, connecting the tactics to the different pipelines.

Yeah, so, I’ve been at Seer about a year and a half, close to 21s. I’ve mostly focused on legion and ecom clients. So, I really have a good amount of experience there.

Actually, I just got a memory on my Facebook timeline that about four years ago today, I launched my eCommerce website and I launched my eCommerce website while I was still in school, trying to make some money on the side.

Didn’t really work out the way that I wanted to but if I had launched it with all the knowledge I have now, I’m sure it would be a much different story.

So, I definitely feel a lot of weak LS paids when it comes to performance for shopping key app paids.

So, that’s where a lot of my experience comes from.

JD Prater:                     Very nice. And yeah, so, for those listening, we’ve had Seer on, we’ve had Gil on almost a year now, we had Stefan on back around November, December time.

He was talking to us some really cool stuff and how he’s using analytics to basically score people on these behaviors.

So now, Nate’s going to come on and talk to us about some explosive AdWords shopping growth, which he was able to kind of share some stats and they were kind of staggering.

So, Nate, man, what are we seeing over here when we talk about AdWords shopping campaigns?

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah, absolutely. So, I think most account managers or people in house can tell that AdWords is growing year over year in terms of cost and spend.

So, just looking at a report from Merkel, about 76% of retail search spend comes from shopping campaigns. So, the actual PLAs as opposed to the text ads, which is pretty significant.

We look at some of the different aspects of shopping campaigns and we look at fashion and apparel. They spend much more on shopping campaigns, as opposed to text ads, about 84.6%.

And then for another popular segment here is the consumer electronics, which spend actually a little bit more around 86.1%.

So, the way that Google is serving up ads for retails has definitely shifted towards shopping campaigns over the past couple years and I think a lot of us in the space, I’ve noticed that it have reacted accordingly.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, I mean, one of the ones on there kind of got me getting part of that Merkel was like, “There’s a 40% increase in spend year over year in Q1 of 2018.”

So, that’s a huge number when kind of think about where people are spending, where they’re kind of putting their time.

Do you think that a lot of this was really Google messing with how they actually serve the ads, where they’re placing the ads or do you just sort of think retailers are finding great results? And so, they’re putting more money behind it and they’re really kind of getting that ROI that they’re looking for.

Nate Velazquez:           That’s a great question. Personally, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that when you’re trying to actually buy a product, you like to see the image, you like to see the description.

We like some of those product attributes that you can’t normally get from a text ad so, I would imagine that Google AdWords has seen their performance om shopping campaigns and started to serve PLAs at a higher rate compared to text ads and advertisers have responded accordingly.

That would be my best guess on that.

JD Prater:                     Nice, nice.

Yeah, it’s really great to kind of see that. So, taking all that, increasing clicks, increasing spend, that’s how people want to shop.

So, what can we do as advertisers to make sure that we’re really putting the best foot forward when we think about creating those shopping campaigns?

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah. That’s a great place to start.

So, I think when it comes to the shopping campaigns, the most important thing to remember is that all of your product attributes come from your product feed.

So, there’s no keywords for shopping campaigns so, the only way that AdWords will know what products to serve based on different queries is from the attributes on your product feed.

So, I think that’s step one. I think step one for most retailers should be take a look at their product feed, see what attributes are there, ensuring that they have all the required attributes to run shopping campaigns but obviously, look to provide some of those additional attributes that aren’t necessarily required but definitely would give you an advantage when it comes to searchability, when it comes to being eligible for the shopping section on Google and just having better results against your competitors.

I’d say the product feed should be your number one place to start.

JD Prater:                     Nice. And whenever you’re thing through product feeds, do you have any favorite tools that you’re using or anything to pull those?

Because it’s one thing when you have a couple hundred and you can easily maintain it in a spreadsheet but when you’ve got tens of thousands, millions of products, how do you guys work through that and think through it?

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah. So, I think it depends on the retailer. I know that a lot of the clients that we work with here at Seer, a lot of them use third party vendors to manage their feeds.

There’s some really great tools out there. Obviously, it can get a little expensive. Some of them charge by the skew.

So, if you’ve got tens of thousands of hundreds of thousands of skew, it’s definitely going to get pretty expensive.

But I think you need to think about it like this: would you rather invest in a third party platform that helps you manage your feed for you and they have all the technical knowledge and all the expertise, probably a faster lead time, as opposed to hiring someone internal who would have to make all those changes to the feed, would have to diagnose everything themselves and you might deal with some lag or some lead time internally.

So, I think whether you’re working with a client or whether your in house can even weigh those costs accordingly and see where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck.

Either go third party or hire someone dedicated internally.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. And it’s also one of those things too when you think about what you’re doing from eight to five, five days a week.

I don’t think I want to be that guy that’s managing a feed in a spreadsheet all day, everyday so, yeah.

Nate Velazquez:           And to that point, I’ve worked with some clients over the past couple months where they weren’t using a feed management tool and to get them too update their titles or to update the descriptions or to add different attributes to the feed, it would take weeks.

We usually talk to our clients once a week and every week it’s, “Hey, how’s the product feed going?” And they say simply, “It’s going.”

So, just on the frustration side, you might want to explore those options too. I know that a lot of people in house probably deal with those issues on their end.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. You kind of mentioned this and I wanted to get your take on this.

Do you have any tips for titles or descriptions, how you guys think of optimizing those?

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah, absolutely. So, when it comes to titles, generally the longer the better.

I’ve looked at some product feeds where the title is just like a generic shirt. It might be “Bro T-shirt” or something like that. That doesn’t tell me what this t-shirt is, what the attributes are, what color it is, what size it is, who is it even for.

So, just one of the things we always preach here at Seer is try to add as many attributes to your title as reasonable.

You certainly don’t want to keyword stuff but if I have that same t-shirt, that “Bro T-shirt” and I rename the title something along the lines of “Men’s bro t-shirt, medium” and if it’s a brand t-shirt, I would add the brand name in as well.

Those titles tend to perform much better than shorter titles which don’t have much product attributes.

So, that’s the way that I would think about it. If you see an ad on the search results and you type in a specific iPhone model number, you’re probably pretty close to the bottom of the funnel. You’re more likely to click on an ad that has the same product attributes that you searched for, as opposed to generic iPhone 6 title, if that makes sense.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. I think those are all really good tips. I think those are the things that we all kind of geek out on, of where do I put this information, how do I put it, and just really tying to figure out the best way to source it but also, make sure that we’re writing the right things.

So, cool, man. So, let’s just say we’ve got our product feed, we’ve got it connected to our merchant center account, we’re ready to start some campaigns, how do you kind of think through segmenting whenever you’re going through those products?

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah, that’s a great question. I can speak to this knowingly from my small time experience as someone who ran an eCommerce website but also as an advertiser.

Use your website navigation. It’s by far one of the easiest ways to start. Most retail eCommerce websites have men’s products, women’s products, shoes, accessories or whatever it may be.

I would recommend starting with their site navigation. I’m sure your product feed is probably broken up pretty similarly so start with one division of your products. Maybe it’s just men’s t-shirts or maybe it’s just accessories.

Get all those products uploaded to the merchant center, ensure there’s no disapprovals, ensure that all your products are being pulled in the correct way.

And the once you have all that set up, hop over to AdWords, get a shopping campaign set up. I like to personally break up my shopping campaigns into different ad groups.

Some eCommerce managers will just use all products in. I’m more of a fan of breaking it out the ad group level.

So if we stick with our t-shirts example, our men’s apparel example, it might me men’s t-shirts as one ad group, men’s shorts as another ad group, different training here so, it might be rash cards or sports apparel, men’s accessories.

I kind of break it out that way and then from there, once you actually have those sub products broken out, you can look to ad different product groups, exclude certain product groups.

So, this is where a lot of the segmentation shopping really becomes pretty powerful when you start excluding different product groups.

So again, the men’s apparel example. If I have a t-shirt ad group, I’m probably going to want to exclude shorts, fitness apparel, accessories, everything along those lines.

And then if you want to get even deeper and this is where a lot of eCommerce managers are really going to nerd out, add those custom labels.

So, if custom labels are added to the product feed and they can be broken up in a bunch of different ways. Some of the more popular ways are to break it out into top versus bottom sellers, seasonality so, you might have a bunch of products with a custom label of spring or a custom label of summer or something along those lines.

You can also break it up by price. So, a lot of retailers will have price points. As for custom labels, it might be 19.99 and bellow or 20 to 49.99 and 50 to 99.99 or whatever your price tiers are.

That allows you to go into the product groups and set different bids for products that might have a higher average order value. So, you can have them served a little bit ahead of the products that maybe you still want to sell but they don’t give you as much of a margin, it that’ll make sense.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, definitely. I think those are some really good tips. So, for those that haven’t quite catch it so, segmentation. Definitely start having a plan first.

When ever you kind of think through your plan of how you’re setting up your campaign and campaigns in your ad groups, do you create a map in maybe using spreadsheets just so you can kind of map everything or are you guys just kind of using the product feed once you’re in there to create as you go?

Nate Velazquez:           It definitely varies but I’m a big fan of using a map, something as simple as a short excel with these are the products that we want to include in this campaign, these are all the sub products, the set we want to break everything up.

It makes a nice visual for you boss or for your client or for whoever it is that way, everyone’s on the same page about how things are going to be broken out.

I find it to be pretty helpful.

JD Prater:                     Nice. And for those just getting started, you were talking about starting small. What do you mean by small?

Just a sub set of products and then kind of scale from there or do you start small with bidding or budget? How do you kind of think through that?

Nate Velazquez:           I think it depends on what your immediate goals are. Now we’re in the middle of Q2 so, now’s a pretty good time to test.

If we were in Q4, I would not recommend testing at all. That’s when a lot of eCommerce businesses make a majority of their money so Q4 should be smooth sailing, ensuring that you have budget, ensuring that you have full visibility on all your products.

But now that we’re in Q2, you might want to start off with a particular product sub set so, looking at t-shirts or if you just launched a new spring line or a new summer line, that might be a good place to start.

You could also look at testing out different automated bidding rules. We’ve been exploring lots of automation here at Seer, whether it’s target rule ads like target CPA.

So, you can definitely expand that way as well. Maybe look to set up a new campaign, set the budget a little bit on the lower end, depending on how much your monthly budget’s going to be and then, look to set up some automated rules.

Definitely give it enough of a learning period. I think sometimes some of us eCommerce managers will freak out if we don’t see our EOS as above what our goals are within the first couple days.

But I think we need to let those automated rules learn so, whether it’s target EOS or target CPA, give it about three to four weeks to it to learn.

I know that sounds like a long period but like I said, this is what you test in Q2. Get those learnings so that you can use them in Q4.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, that’s a really good one for everyone listening is if you’re going to be using realistically these AI tools, when you think about target ROIs, you’re thinking about these bidding algorithms.

They need time. They need data to really understand and to lever. I remember back in agency days, we were working with one of the big bidding algo vendors out there and they said, “Well, we need at least six weeks to learn and then we need six weeks to optimize.”

So you’re like, “Wait, 12 weeks? I have to wait a whole quarter before you’re going to be good at knowing what’s going on?” And it was kind of eye opening to kind of hear because you just, again, maybe it’s just me thinking, “Oh, this is only going to to take a day or two, right? You guys are so good. You guys will get it figured out,” but it was a tough one.

Nate Velazquez:           Definitely, yeah. Well, one thing that I will point out is if you’re using the new AdWords UI, I believe Carrie Albright actually mentioned this during her talk on PPC and I was literally digging in during the talk and I was able to see this and it was pretty mind blowing.

If you navigate to your portfolio bid strategies, you can actually see how fast your rule has been learning so obviously, you would want to make you you have the right amount of time but there will be a nice little bar that shows up underneath your performance.

And the new AdWords UI will give you some cues as to saying, “Hey, it’s still learning. Some of the budgets are constrained. Might want to open them up,” or “Hey, there was a composite change to the rule,” whether you set up a big max simulate or a bid minimum floor, it will let you know when those updates were made on the wall and how much longer it needs to learn.

So, that’s one of the features from the new UI that I actually really like.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, that’s another great tip as well. And I guess we have to give some sort of applause to the new UI because this one of the things that they did really well but that is something that I’ve definitely taken a look at and I do think it’s important.

Whenever you make a change, you have to realize it has to relearn from that change. And you’re trying to make changes everyday, you’re basically messing with that algorithm’s learning curve.

And so, a lot of times you just need to make a change, wait, and see what happens. It’s the wait part that everyone kind of struggles with when you’re in there trying to control everything.

Nate Velazquez:           Definitely, yeah. I’ve run into this problem before myself. You set up a new rule and performance tanks.

I’m more of a fan of just removing the automated rule and managing it manually, getting back at the performance that you would like and then applying the rule again.

So, just for example, back in Black Friday this past Q4, we had a lot of automated rules set up. We planned way ahead of time for our Black Friday so, we already knew we wanted to do this but we pause our automated rules on Black Friday and on several Mondays so we can manage all of our bidding manually.

And we saw some really, really great results. I mean, compared to the previous Black Friday, I don’t want to use any exact numbers here but I know that we crushed our ROIs out of the park, revenue was crushed out of the park, client was really happy.

We certainly put in a lot of time but to see those results, we were very pleased.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, and that’s another good one too is actually prepping for Q4 and whatever you’re actually thinking about it.

I mean, you’ve mentioned it twice now. It’s like actually having a plan for shopping that time of the season when most ecom are actually making the most amount of money.

So, don’t just start doing it in late October, early November but really, really start think about it now and to figure that part out.

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah, it’s funny you mentioned that. Not only do we have cyber Monday, now we have cyber Monday extended so a lot of those deals run to about Tuesday as well.

Sometimes you have the pre Black Friday deals. So, for us in ecom, it’s pretty much Black Friday, cyber Monday week or month, depending on what deals are running.

Yeah, absolutely having a plan in place, you should start thinking about your Q4 plan is going to be around August, to be quite frank.

You should definitely have some strategies in place, how you go on in bidding place, coverage so, whether it’s in house or the account team. Just ensuring that someone’s keeping an eye on performance over the week end, on that Saturday after Black Friday, on that Sunday after Black Friday, into the cyber Monday week as well.

Really just communicating everything ahead of time to either your internal team or your client that not only do we have to document a plan in place but this is going to to help us hit the goals that we want to hit.

JD Prater:                     Definitely. And you mentioned some really great positive results.

So now, let’s talk about some fun stuff like what are some mistakes that you’ve seen yourself make or your team make or clients make when it comes to shopping campaigns?

Nate Velazquez:           So, I think one of the easiest oversights when it comes to shopping campaigns is how you’re handling your device bidding.

Some retailers will see really good performance on mobile and some other won’t. I definitely made the error in the past of kind of keeping all my bids neutral at a bid of zero and then we launch a campaign and a week later, mobile’s eating up 75% of you budget and you’re way bellow your ROIs goals and then you go and you look at your device results and you’re like, “Oh, well, looks like we need to bid down on mobile.”

So, I would say definitely paying attention to your device bids. And then obviously, as we mentioned a couple of times, Q4 is really big deal so just making sure that you have full visibility during the day.

So, if you have any day parting set up or if you have any day of the week bidding set up, just ensure that you have full coverage so that if you’re bidding, let’s say, -33% on a Monday that maybe you take that off the week before Black Friday so you have full visibility and reach as many people as possible.

Those are some of the mistakes that I’ve made in the past and have definitely learned from those.

JD Prater:                     Nice, nice. Let’s kind of shift gears here around what AdWords is actually released for shopping.

So, they’ve released the new products like what example here being the showcase. So, what are some of the things that you’ve been excited about over maybe the last year or so, what they’ve released and some of the things that you think people should really be jumping on?

Nate Velazquez:           So, yeah, the soaking shopping campaigns have worked really well. I’ve run them myself and it’s particularly more of brand awareness play for at least the experience that I saw.

We didn’t necessarily hit out ROIs goals on that campaign but it did contribute to increasing convergence for our shopping campaigns overall.

I know some other Seer team members have seen some pretty similar results too so, for those who aren’t familiar with the showcase shopping campaign, it’s almost a showcase for your products at the brand level.

So, you’re going to need a dedicated image as opposed to using images from your products feed but getting in a dedicated image from your design team or your agency shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

And then you pretty much show literally a showcase for your products. Like for someone who makes t-shirts, you might show an image of a couple of t-shirts, provide a final URL for on that landing page and actually take a look at those products.

So, showcase shopping campaigns have worked really well and actually, one other release that just came out was shoppable actions. It’s still technically in beta so, I haven’t got in a chance to explore this yet but basically, it’s on a cost per sale model and it would integrate with some of the voice search stuff that Google’s doing with their Google Assistant in Google Home.

There’s a blog post that I’ll share with those who are interested in from Yaderin’s blog but I’d say this is going to increase pretty significantly later this year, maybe more so in the 2019.

I think a lot of us quite nailed down what we’re doing with voice search and there’s a still a lot of thought that has to go into that but voice search is definitely going and if you have the ability and you have the capabilities, you might want to contact your Google rep to learn more about that. It’s called shoppable actions.

JD Prater:                     Nice. And I’ll make sure to link that in the show notes so you guys can have access to that blog as well.

So, let’s kind of think through. So, we know that Google’s big conference is coming up here I think at the end of May. What are some things that you think they might announce?

This is us looking into our crystal ball, if you will. What are some things that you would hope they might announce within this conference for specifically around the shopping eCommerce world?

Nate Velazquez:           That’s a pretty good question. Off the top of my head, I don’t really have any ideas into what they might be releasing or announcing.

I know that they put a lot of time into their smart bidding platforms, especially over the last year. Really just doubling down on AI machine learning for target ROIs and for target CPA.

So, they might release some new smart bidding option. Maybe it will be cost per sale or, I’m sorry, the paper sale model which is what they have for this new beta.

I’d be a little hesitant to try that out myself but anything’s worth a test, right?

JD Prater:                     Nice, nice. I mean, if you could have them announce or develop anything, you got anything on your wish list?

If AdWords is listening right now, what would be on your wish list?

Nate Velazquez:           Oh, okay. So, if they were listening right now, I would love to see some way to actually view the product feeds in the merchant center.

I know you can download them but some clients or your in house, if you’re in house, you really shouldn’t run into this problem but if you’re working with a client, you might not have direct access to their feed through whatever reason.

Being able to actually view the feed in the merchant center would be very, very helpful. It’s something that I wish we could have yesterday.

I know that you’ll get merchant center warnings and you’ll get disapprovals and it will give you some mine items but actually being able to view the feed in the merchant center would be huge.

So, if we could get that today, that would be great.

JD Prater:                     Nice, nice. Well, let’s kind of wrap up here with kind of thinking through.

We talked about this explosive growth of AdWord shopping. If you could leave all of the people listening here with maybe one, two bits of good advice or nuggets, what advice would you leave them with?

Nate Velazquez:           Sure. So, I would absolutely say use negatives. That’s the number one takeaway that I would absolutely recommend.

So if we go back to our men’s products example, if I have my men’s t-shirts ad group, not only should I exclude those other products at the product group level but I should add negatives for tank tops if I’m not selling tank tops or the different products, athletic apparel.

Use your negative to help filter your shopping campaigns so they can be very, very strong.

Obviously, you’re going to kind of have your universal negatives across the board which are going to be applied at the account level but you should look to ad a specific campaign negatives and ad group negatives as well.

So, that way that the products are showing are only the products that you want them to. I think that’s something that a lot of retailers are doing. I don’t know if they’re doing it as well.

So, take a look at your search terms, dive in there, see what’s search queries you’re showing up for that you don’t want to and just go ahead and negate them right away.

I would say that should be something they should move on sooner rather than later and then go ahead and look to do some audience testing with the different audiences that AdWords kind of builds in.

Your old visitors, your shopping cart visitors, your shopping cart abandoners. Really take advantage of those audiences that are created and do some audience testing.

You might come up with your own bid modifiers but generally you’ll bid more on the bottom of funnel users and people that are just all visitors.

So, someone who navigated to the shopping cart but didn’t complete a purchase, maybe try increasing your bids 50%.

If you have a lot of repeat visitors then definitely leverage those audiences well so, someone who purchased in the last 30 days, maybe you increase the bids there.

If people are coming back and they’re purchasing once or twice a month, if it’s some of those kind of products that people reorder frequently, but yeah, I would say explore audience bidding for sure.

Work with your either in house team or analytics team. So, set up some deeper audience as well.

The Seer team’s done a lot of cool stuff with user scoring and I know there’s some great blogs on the site that people can check out and then, yeah, definitely take a look at your device bids as well and those negatives that I mentioned before.

JD Prater:                     Nice. That’s three fantastic tips to leave everyone with so, yeah, man.

Thanks again for coming on. Where can people reach out to you, follow up with you if you have questions? Where can they find you online?

Nate Velazquez:           Sure. So, I’m on LinkedIn. I’m just Nate Velazquez. Feel free to send me an invite on Twitter @naccyvela so, I’m definitely going to warn everyone.

It’s a bit out 50% PPC, about 50% everyone else so if you’re cool with that, feel free to follow me and we can talk.

JD Prater:                     Nice. And I’ll be sure to link those in the show notes so yeah.

So, thanks again everyone for listening. Nate definitely had some great, great tips here for those running some eCommerce campaigns and really getting into those shopping campaigns.

So, thanks again, Nate, for coming on and working with us and helping us figure out some of the ins and outs of shopping campaigns.

Nate Velazquez:           Absolutely. Thanks for having me on, JD.

JD Prater:                     Alright. Until next time, we’ll see you guys next week.

Good. Nice, man.

Nate Velazquez:           Cool. I feel like that came out pretty well.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, man. That was good. There’s going to be some good stuff in there for sure.

Nate Velazquez:           There was one or two spots where I know I kind of fumbled with my words a little bit. I don’t necessarily think it needs to get edited out unless there was something that you guys want to do. Feel free to.

But it was fun.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I think that was good. That was really good. I think you definitely got some good pro tips in there, very actionable so, I think everyone will like this one but, yeah.

So, quick for me … Let me look at my schedule really quick. I don’t think I can turn this around tomorrow but I would love to. Let me look real quick.

Because that was a really clean cut so it’s not going to need a ton of editing.

Nate Velazquez:           Cool.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Okay, 11:45. I got an hour. Okay. Let me see if I can get it done. If I can get it done today, it would go tomorrow. If not, then it will go out next Tuesday but I’ll let you know once it’s live for sure.

I’ll send you the link. That way, you can share it around as well.

Nate Velazquez:           Yeah. Sounds good, man. I’ll send you the … I sent you the links for the reports but I’ll send you my blog, I’ll send you the user scoring Seer blog and then I’ll send you the blog for the shoppable actions on Google too.

But yeah, man. This was great. Again, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, definitely. And if you want to send across at that time too your Twitter link, LinkedIn and maybe like a short bio as well that will make it that much faster for me to turn around.

Nate Velazquez:           You got it, man.

JD Prater:                     Cool. Alright, man. Well, thanks again for coming on and really good stuff. I really appreciate it.

Nate Velazquez:           No problem again, man. Definitely hope to see you again in the future.

Try and hit a conference later this year, maybe next year but I know you guys are doing a lot cool stuff.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, man. Well, Seer’s ready. I mean, you guys use us for a couple of clients but not for every client, so yeah. We’d love to have you guys of course use us more for automation.

Nate Velazquez:           Alright, man. Take care.

JD Prater:                     Bye.

Unlocking PPC Revenue Growth with CRMs

Unlocking PPC Revenue Growth with CRMs

Welcome to episode #80 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by Heather Cooan, Founder and Principal Growth Strategist at HDC Digital.

Heather is laser focused on revenue growth for clients and one way she accomplishes this with CRMs. If your B2B PPC campaigns are stuck or you’re having issues scaling performance then this episode is for you. Stay tuned to hear Heather’s advice for unlocking revenue growth through the power of CRMs.

Listen to the Episode



Heather Cooan

Heather is an entrepreneur, author, international speaker, & an ex-roller girl. She founded HDC Digital, a Phoenix-based digital & demand marketing agency revolutionizing the way companies think about and approach growth. Over her career, Heather has served in digital marketing roles both in-house and agency-side, spanning the full funnel, across many verticals, both lead generation, and eCommerce. Credits include The Smithsonian, UGG Australia, Teva, Google, PapaJohns, ISOTONER, Totes, ESET, PetSmart, Infusionsoft, and numerous others.

Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Transcript and Show Notes

JD:                   Hi there, welcome to The PPC show.

Heather:          Thanks so much JD, it’s nice to be here.

JD:                   Yeah, we got to meet up at SMX West for the first time ever. I’ve been a fan of yours, at least on the Twitter, as they say, but you’ve been around in the community for a while now. So, give us a quick update, what you’re up to and where are you?

Heather:          Yeah, so I have been around for a long time. Some folks on PPC chat and I like to joke around, we use the hashtag #ppcmoses, we’ve been around that long, since before you could advertise on Google, which is kinda crazy to think about.

I’ve been all over the place, so I did some time agency side, did some time in-house brand side, and recently just went out on my own, started a company called HDC digital, where we are doing a lot of digital and demand marketing. Kind of blending my experience and background, and we’re focusing on growth. So really helping companies bottom line revenue, that’s what we’re doing, I’m doing now.

JD:                   Perfect. Well, yours was a can’t miss session at SMX West so I asked if you would come on and rehash it out for all of our listeners that couldn’t be there. For all those listening, be ready, get your pen and paper out, it’s going to be really great. We’re going to be talking about stuff like CRM’s, and I’m sure marketers are already tuning out right now because like ‘I do not want in a CRM’, that is for sales, that’s for the business op’s side of things, but, let’s jump into it. You really talk about framing this problem and so, what is this problem that you’re seeing as we move into 2018 and beyond?

Framing the problem

Heather:          Sure. This is something that I started to see when I was agency side, dealing with running paid campaigns for clients, where we would start to hit diminishing returns, and I couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t continue to grow. Then when I moved in-house did some work brand side with a couple of CRM companies actually, I realized it’s because on the back end inside of the company there’s a lot more going on than anybody realizes when they are just running the paid channels, or even the organic channels or the content or any of the individual pieces of marketing.

So, what I’ve noticed, and I continue to see it now with my clients, is that there tends to be a problem with anybody who really has an offline sales point. So anybody that has a sales fleet or has to talk to someone in order to get information, do demo and actually go through the sales process.

And so these companies start out, and they start out running bottom of funnel paid campaigns and they really lean on the paid channel. And it’s gets them growing, it gets them started, it gets them a lot of traction, and then they start to hit diminishing returns and they can’t figure out why. And, what I’ve found is that they’re missing the entire back end. They don’t have a funnel to find, they don’t have a buyer or customer journey defined. They don’t have any of their metrics defined. They haven’t been tracking anything through a funnel to look at conversion rates in between metrics. They’ll get funnel velocity to look at leaks and where things are falling apart, and often-times, sales and marketing are at odds and it’s a little bit of a thunder dome battle, if you will, between sales and marketing. And, sometimes inside marketing of the company is large enough to have a separate content team from the demand-gen team.

And, so that’s really what I’ve been running into, more and more, and so, we started to specialize in taking people through funnel taxonomy, getting things set up on the back end. Getting things measurable so they can actually see, and then providing alignment between sales and marketing so that they can work together, instead of working against each other.

JD:                   Yeah so a quick recap. We’re really going to be focusing on B2B for this talk. So, with it, a lot of this information, if you have this problem, if you are having trouble scaling your paid campaigns. If you have some data silos and you’re having some team alignment. Those are the main three things I picked up from that, and one thing I really loved about your presentation was like, break all those down, and let’s get started and let’s actually grow some revenue. If you got those problems, buckle up, because we’re about to get into it and Heather’s going to be helping us understand how to really frame this problem and how to get past it.

So, what do you think? What is the first thing we should start to do?

Define metrics across the funnel

Heather:          Yeah. What did they say, when you have an alcoholism issue, first you have to realize you have a problem?

JD:                   That’s right.

Heather:          And what I find is that a lot of companies are way far beyond the problem before they realize they have it. Often-times we end up working with clients who are at a point where they have hit diminishing returns and have stalled in growth for so long that now the Board is starting to get grumpy, or the investors have started to get grumpy, and now they’re in a panic mode, really trying to get it done. And, then they’ve got a lot of turnover, they’re burning out their people because they can’t get there.

So, realizing that you need to plant for the future and continue to progress and build forward, before you get there, is the biggest thing. So, realizing you have that problem. And, then once you realize that you have it, it’s time to get all the stakeholders in a room and start defining your buyers journey, your customer journey and your funnel metrics.

What is a lead to you? Define what that means. Is a lead just someone who fills out any form? Is it someone that fills out a form that’s just a piece of content or is it someone that subscribes to the blog posts? Or is it- what is it?

And then all the way down to the bottom. What does it mean when it gets passed off between marketing/sales? What does it mean when they’ve actually qualified in sales? And then the bottom part of the funnel, the actual sales process itself needs to be mapped out. And then once it gets handed off to customer success, or an implementation team, what does that look like? And then, beyond that, building the relationship all the way towards advocacy and then back around to create new acquisition on the top of the funnel.

So, mapping all that out, is step one after you’ve realized you’ve got this issue.

JD:                   Yeah. So, I have a problem. Now we’ve figured out- at least we’ve defined it, and so, to contrast that, you’re saying within your own experience, what your seeing is, you’re seeing a lot of paid teams running and getting maybe a bunch of downloads, which could be, let’s say, a white paper download or attending a webinar, the common B2B “leads”, and then, nothing right? No real follow up, they’re not really growing anything they’re just capturing this number.

Heather:          Right.

JD:                   Perfect, okay.

Heather:          Because they’re getting squeezed so the paid teams and the demand-gen guys are getting squeezed because sales doesn’t have enough leads. What sales is really saying is ” we don’t have enough people that are ready to talk to us”. So, what marketing does is, they go get more leads, they just get more form completions. Sales can’t really do anything there and that just causes sales more pain, costs the company more money, doesn’t get to the root of the problem and doesn’t produce more revenue.

JD:                   Yeah, and I think this is something that we can jump right into. I think a lot of us understand this too, because we might be measuring, and Google Analytics, for example, are online activity, and sales is over here in this offline activity, maybe a Salesforce, maybe a hotspot, right, that’s our CRM’s, and they’re not really talking to each other. So, there’s your data silos, there’s your team alignment and now you’re having some trouble scaling, so, how do we- what is the next step? So, we’ve framed it, we’ve figured out all of our definitions for our leads and our MQLs and SQLs, what now?

Getting all the technical requirements set up

Heather:          Sure. So, once you’ve actually got definitions and these definitions need to have everybody in the room to come up with them. Marketing can not make definitions themselves. Sales can not make definitions themselves, and customer success needs to be involved as well. Everyone needs to be in the same room because it’s one big long demand chain, or a revenue architecture across the entire funnel that’s actually a circle if you think about it.

All those guys need to be in the room because they’re going to have different perspectives and at the end of the day, what we’re doing is we’re aligning everyone around business metrics that ladder up to revenue, because sales marketing customer success together is team revenue. That’s their job, they do it together. So, once you’ve got everything defined and you’ve got alignment, then you need to select your technology and get all of the things installed into the technology, the technical set up of all these things.

Usually involves things like getting lead scoring put together, getting all your criteria for lead scoring, getting your lead routing and lead management put together. Using automation, so based on lead scoring when are we going to route things to sales, what kind of things are going to trigger to send it to marketing. And then, is there going to be lead recycling? What criteria is going to bring something back from sales to marketing, and how long is it going to be there. What are all of the lead statuses that are going to trigger these things so that you can report off once it goes to sales, what’s working, what’s not working if it’s not coming out the end as new units or customers or revenue.

So, getting all the technical set up is probably the next step.

JD:                   Yeah and I know that you’ve helped out quite a few businesses in getting this set up. What are some the main issues that you see with this, let’s just break down lead scoring as an example. What are some of the road bumps that you see?

Heather:          Sure. One of the biggest things is getting all of the right stakeholders in the room. I went through a Salesforce implementation with a client, and, Salesforce is wonderful, but you can’t use a Salesforce if you don’t know what you want when you set it up.

You have to have an architecture, it’s that customizable. And, a lot of the things are out of the box are really just an example of what you can do, not a best practice, not a recommendation. And, this poor company, that was already in pain because they had gone too long on their old system, got Salesforce implemented and then when their sales team started using it, they realized ‘oh gosh, we can’t track things all the way through the funnel, we can’t use this the way we want to use it’, they accidentally had set it up exactly like their old system, which was duct taped in the first place. And, so, they found themselves in a place where they were rebuilding and re-architecting Salesforce on the fly.

So, really getting all of the right stakeholders in the rooms, with a higher up implementation partner if you need to, getting all of that defined and set and thinking through ‘What do we need to measure, when we set this up? What kind of conversations are we going to have? Who are we going to be held accountable to? What metrics are we going to be held accountable to? What people and processes need to be accounted for? How’s our sales team going to use this? What’s going to disrupt them? What’s going to take time out of their call time?’

All of those things need to be diligently thought through and if they’re not, you will pay for it on the other end in terms of wasted time and money and resources.

So, that’s the biggest thing. We will take months sometimes defining everything on that end, to make sure that everything is aligned correctly and we’ve run through scenarios of ‘Okay, this is the kind of reporting you’re going to end up if you set it up this way. Is this right?’ before we build it in the system, that way it’s done correctly the first time and they’re not struggling operationally and making things worse. It’s just it can cause a lot of additional pain if you’re not careful.

So, that’s the biggest thing, and it’s scary.

JD:                   Yeah.

Heather:          I see a lot of executives that are wide eyed and intimidated. I’m like ‘Oh crap, I have to basically stop the business to get this done’. No, you don’t have to stop the business, but, yeah, it’s a tough ball of worms to tackle.

JD:                   Yeah, it’s like one of those things too, even putting in our perspective. So we’ve both running PPC campaigns, coming up through that. We spent so much time architecting our own campaigns of what does the flow look like? When are we going to re-market? What does that message look like? What does that ad look like? Is it on AdWords, or is it on RLSA? Is it on Facebook? It is- wherever it is, we spent all that time and yet, only to get that lead, and we don’t really think about what happens next, and we’re not really organizing that and structuring that piece of it, so[crosstalk 00:12:11]

Heather:          And that’s why it’s so important to actually think through the entire lifecycle of your customer. So, we coach companies through persona development and lifecycle marketing. When we do this definitions of all the metrics and things, because we want to make sure that we’re thinking through awareness. Not awareness of me and my product, but awareness of what the pain is that we actually serve, all the way through to advocacy on the other end, because you will find that there are things that need to be measured in between each of those stages of the buyer or customer lifecycle or journey. That they weren’t even thinking about that would be helpful when we’re actually putting the technical pieces together to produce reporting on the other end. And, a lot of that happens to be around content. We’ll get into measuring channel attribution vs asset attribution, and that usually ends up being a war inside marketing.

Where do they come from? Well, I don’t care where they came from, what did they consume? Well, I can’t see and that can be tough.

JD:                   Yeah, It’s also again, pointing out- I think it’s why also it’s so important to work with someone like you, who has had to do this several times, several different types of businesses, several different types of CRMs. So, again, we might outsource our PPC and we do that for a reason, right? Because they are experts and I think this is something like- I’m like hearing it and I was like ‘Man, I would totally outsource this if we could do it again’.

Heather:          Sure, yeah it’s hard.[crosstalk 00:13:35]

And it can hurt, yeah.

JD:                   Even our own Salesforce instance, and I’m sure everyone listening would hear this and probably agree. It’s not good, it’s okay, but it’s not perfect, right? And I wish we would have had a better structure in place whenever we were setting it up. But…

Heather:          Yep.

JD:                   ..Tis life.

Heather:          Oh yeah. I’m sure I can hear people groaning in agreement. Yes

JD:                   Yes.

Heather:          Because, everyone seems to have issues with their CRM in the way things are set up. And, difference CRMs have different limitations, but when you’re dealing with Salesforce it’s so customizable, it can always be adjusted and optimized on the fly. The people component is what’s difficult, retraining sales, retraining marketing and then getting all of that data correctly put together.

JD:                   Yeah, definitely. So, let’s talk about putting it all together. So, let’s just say, We’ve defined everything, we’ve got our structure set up so, how do we go about gathering the data and then measuring it?

Measure and gather data sources

Heather:          Sure. So once you’ve got all of your taxonomy defined, everybody’s agreed on what we’re going to be measuring, what we’re going to be held accountable to. And then we’ve got the technical in place/installed. Lead scoring is set up, algorithms are tested and running, and the whole database is scored and you’ve got lead management and flow and routing all based off of those lead scores. Then, you turn it on, gather some data, see how things are going, fix all the bugs. Because there is always inevitably some things that break when you turn things on. And then, you’ve got that, usually sometimes it can take two to four weeks, sometimes six weeks depending on the culture of the organization, for sales to get the hang of things to be tagging things with the right statuses, using the right work flows, for the data to even out.

So you first things on, you got that people interference, and so they’re still learning and they make some mistakes and so things end up in the wrong buckets. So, once that’s done, then you’ve got your baseline data and you can start to define, or start to build all of your reports as the data is flowing in.

Now, I’ve seen this happen, the biggest mistake is people wait until they’ve got the data to figure out how they’re going to report on the data. Report definitions and architecture need to happen when you’re defining all of your taxonomy up front. So, that’s where the whole thinking through ‘what is it that we need to measure? What do we need to report on? How do we want to see it?’ All that needs to be thought through, prior to even building anything.

That way when you have the data come through, you’ve got all your baseline, you can see where things are broken, you can fix them, but then you can just turn on your dashboard reports, and then it’s really a matter of ‘Is this what we thought we needed? Or, is this- did something change? Did we find something different that we didn’t realize was there, when we started turning it on and look at what we’re actually reporting on’. The insights that are coming out. And, you’ll find some mistakes. I’ve seen companies turn on Salesforce for the first time, brand new implementation, and they realize ‘Oh shoot, we didn’t string a unique identifier through the entire funnel’, so now we can see stuff on the incoming side through marketing, but when it comes down to sales we can’t see it. Or, we can see it on the revenue producing side but we can’t measure it/tie it back to the marketing side.

So, those things happen. Ironing out and getting your dashboards put together.

JD:                   It’s always a tough one, and it’s so tricky too because even building out our own dashboards for the marketing team and the sales team using Salesforce, we do this all the time. But, you’re constantly wanting to change them, because you want to see something different and again, it just reminds me of agency side, when you have those kick off meetings, it’s like ‘So, what are your business- what do you want to see?’ All these questions, we’re so accustomed to doing this and yet we’re not doing it and they’re not implementing it. I’m hearing you say this and I’m going ‘Yeah, right?’

Reporting and dashboards with CRM

Heather:          Oh shoot. Yeah, and when it comes to reporting and putting together dashboards, because there are usually a handful of folks who need very flexible dash boarding and reporting, this is where tools like Tableau come in handy. Where you would have some folks who are practitioners and trained in Tableau, so they have an instance on their desktop where they can actually build the reports and mess around with the data, accessing the tables directly. And then you’ve got folks who, can just do server side access like the execs and those guys who they have predefined reports that really don’t change that they can jump in, at a glance reports.

So, think about these when you’re defining your metrics and your reporting. Who is going to need what? Are some people going to be able to use a Salesforce dashboard and that’s fine? Or, are some people usually, the guys that are nitty gritty, nuts and bolts in the marketing channels, or the sales enablement guys, they might need something like direct access to Tableau so they can build their customized reports on the fly to get even deeper insights.

What you want to do is, in the definition phase you want to get everybody aligned to business metrics, but then you want to also account for channel metrics. So PPC guys have all of their Google Analytics, and they have their tools in AdWords and Bing and Facebook, and then you’ve got social stuff, you got the organic stuff. Every single marketing channel is going to have their own levers that they pull on day to day, but then sales and marketing and everyone, customer success need to be aligned across the business metrics, which is where the funnel stuff comes from and that’s where your CRM becomes your heart of the reporting, your one source of truth.

JD:                   What are some common problems that you’ve seen whenever your people are trying to set these up? So, you mentioned one I thought was really good, their unique identifier. Any other ones that you would call out?

Heather:          The unique identifier is usually the biggest one. The other thing is sometimes lead statuses are not defined correctly, and that comes into play when things are handed off from marketing to sales. And, if you didn’t think through granular enough or sometimes too granular on the lead statuses that’s when leads are dis-positioned.

So, when a sales rep is reaching out and figuring out is this someone that should be talked? Is this someone that came through too early? Maybe the lead scoring accidentally sent it over. You’ll need to have those defined and implemented in a way that they give marketing enough information so they can adjust their channels, but they don’t take up so much time from the sales team that the sales is just picking the first one in the pick list and moving on, and they’re not ending up in the right bucket.

So, often times when we go through definition engagements to get everything mapped out, we find that marketing wants so granular. They want to know the favorite color of these people and that’s why they didn’t close, but sales is like ‘Man, I only have so much time to get this person figured out on the phone and I have got to Jam through all my quota, make my calls, make my talk time’, and so, figuring that out at first is a big, big deal, because I’ve seen sales teams get overloaded, screw up the data because there’s too many options. And I’ve seen, marketing be locked out and they’re totally blind because there’s too few options and the buckets are too broad.

So, lead status or disposition tends to be a big one. And then, everybody seems to get stuck in the lead recycling conversation, ‘When should we send someone back through to marketing? And does that change the metric?’ So, if someone gets all the way down to sales and maybe there an opportunity, but then they don’t close for some reason and we want to send them back through to nurture over to marketing, do they stay in op? Do they move up the funnel? What do they do? How do we define this and where does it go, and then how do we keep that reporting separately so that those are not mucking up their reporting.

So you want total opportunities in the pipeline, but if there is some in there that haven’t closed and they’re not ready and they’re in nurture, how do we account for those and how do we get them out of the reporting so they’re not active pipeline.

JD:                   Got you. So, let’s just say, we whipped through all this stuff right, we defined it, we set it up, we’re measuring, reporting, and we go back to this beginning question, of framing the problem. We’re talking about scaling our paid campaigns, so how do we take this information now and use it to now scale campaigns?

Scaling paid marketing campaigns

Heather:          Yeah. So, one of the biggest things that actually the bulk of my presentation at SMX was about campaign tracking. Inside the CRM there’s something called campaign tracking and most people don’t even realize it’s there, and once you set it up to measure what’s coming through the entire funnel, and all the channels that are involved, all of the content assets that are involved, everything that’s rolled up in a single campaign that’s producing revenue. Then you start to unlock what’s happening post lead acquisition.

So, after the form completion, not just how many of them went to sales and moved to the next level of the funnel, but how many went to sales and moved to the next funnel and came from paid versus organic and consumed these two E-books and this one blog post. So you start to get more granular information. Once you’ve got campaign tracking set up and you’ve got your lead source tracking set up inside Salesforce, correctly so that you’ve got granular enough, but not too granular, then you’ve got all of the pieces to then make optimizations on the top end in the channel from that back end data.

So, we might realize or find out that a lot of our revenue is actually coming from trade shows, and so that might inform the paid marketing team ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that our enterprise business line, that’s all the revenues coming from trade shows’. Maybe we’re going to carve out some of our paid media budget to drive foot traffic to the booths, instead of just driving to demo, because that particular persona, they built more trust in person and so those trade shows are making big difference.

So, it’s really about gathering that information on the back end and then recycling it back through to your PPC vendor or, team, to start implementing. It does change or inform the strategy.

JD:                   Nice. I like that one. Another question that I had too is, a lot of marketing teams are, I think, still held to lead, right?

Heather:          Yes.

JD:                   And I see this changing left and right for years now, really with this new ABM models, specifically for B2B, that we’re talking about, but, how do you get marketing teams to really start thinking around revenue, or lower pipeline contribution at least?

Marketing teams moving to pipeline contribution

Heather:          Sure, yeah this is a hard one. Especially when it comes to folks who are in more of the traditionally top of funnel channels. Folks in social media, especially in organic social, content, even sometimes the SEO guys that are dealing with ‘How do I get traffic and content ranked? How does that even contribute to revenue?’

In my experience, the visibility is really what helps them understand. Once you get everybody aligned to the business metrics and then roll out ‘Okay this is the business metric’, We’re looking at marketing qualified leads. That’s the number of leads that have been bedded by marketing that are ready to go to sales, to see if they can be developed into a qualified lead that sales can really work with.

So, if that’s what we’re looking at, we’re driving there, then that kind of aligns everybody to a point where marketing doesn’t feel like they are responsible for revenue 100% because there’s so much out of their control when they pass it off. But, they feel comfortable in getting into the funnel instead of at the very, very top where they’re just talking about subscribers or leads, or getting into a place where, okay, these are qualified, we can hand these off, we can confidently say that we think these guys ar educated and warm enough, that you guys can have a conversation.

Being able to measure that, and define that, and then get the two teams to agree ‘Okay, sales, yes, that definition of an MQL suits our fancy, that’s what we’re going to accept, we can deal with that’, and marketing says ‘Yeah, okay, we can produce X number of those types of leads for you on a regular basis given the toolkit and the budget that we have’, then everybody gets aligned.

Then on the marketing side, you have to roll up their daily, KPIs that they’re using in their individual channels, and show them how they roll up to those business metrics. So, if revenue plan breaks down to X number of MQLs each month, then PPC needs to know that that breaks down to X number of leads because we now know the conversion rate between lead and MQL.

And so, once you finally unlock all of that data on the back end, people can see the trail, they can see straight through between how my channel and my work directly contributes to revenue. And that’s where people seem to get really excited and really empowered, and you start to have different fights between sales and marketing, and they’re better more progressive fights, and I think a little bit of friction always moves the business forward.

And, the change, it’s amazing to watch this happen, to pointing fingers at each other and now they’re analyzing the data together and you’ll see marketing people go over to the sales floor and sit with some reps they’ve made friends with and say ‘Okay so I see all of these guys are sitting in this latest position of non-responsive, so, why? Why are they not answering the phone? Is it the season? Why do we think they’re not answering the phone?’

Such a more productive conversation between sales and marketing, and that actually starts to move things forward and you find little pockets of opportunity that you can optimize to, and it really opens up new opportunity. It’s awesome.

JD:                   Yeah, 100% agree with that. We’ve made a huge shift, probably the last nine months we have our team is “shmarketing” we have our slack channel where we’re talking to each other and, we’re really having much more informed and engaged conversations now. Even before this call, a meeting with our sales guys, I was like ‘Oh hey guys, what if we, marketing, automated this with a video message, showing people how to do this and do that? You think that’ll work?’ And they’re like ‘Yes, yes, touchdown’. I don’t have to do it, it’s automated, it’s coming from you so it’s not from us. You’re going to do the work and you’re going to use video. They’re like ‘Yes, thumbs up, you can do that’. I’m like ‘Alright, cool, I’ll take care of it’. It’s a much better conversation.

Heather:          That’s awesome, that’s so awesome that you guys are doing that. Because that’s where you evolve to once you’ve got all this back end stuff put together, is now you’re brain storming strategies together instead of siloed and now you’re starting to work in a place that’s more holistic. And that’s wonderful.

JD:                   Yeah, I think it couldn’t have been done until like, what you said. It really has to come around deeper funnel metrics, I don’t think you’re going to get there is you’re still looking at leads and still only looking at that number. You really have to come down to where sales is, meet them half way, whether that’s contribution of- whatever it is, right, I still say, get all of your tracking in place so you do know what’s working so you can say ‘You know what? Maybe I do need to shift paid budget’. You need to be big enough to say’ I’m willing to give up budget, shift it over here to events, because it’s going to drive more revenue’.

Team Revenue

Heather:          That’s right, team revenue. Everybody is about driving more revenue. And you’ll find, if you do that, the more revenue you produce, the more customers you produce and at least in a SAAS or a B2B or anything that is customer service focused, in terms of products, those customers are then going to your biggest driver of acquisition later on down the road as you continue to scale and grow.

What is it like 80% of your revenue should be coming from your installed base or is this 20% new acquisitions? And so, you’re really building for the future. But if everybody is on that same page, it just is such a more harmonious and frankly, cool place to work. You get to do all of these cool advanced awesome things, that you couldn’t do before because you weren’t enabled because you didn’t have the data.

You’re probably enabling your sales guys, walking him through ‘so this kid of lead that’s marked with this came through this channel, and they saw this and they read that’, and they’re like ‘Oh cool, now I know what kind of talk track to apply to this conversation when I get on the phone with these guys’. It’s a much more productive conversation for the customer, and then that leads to revenue. Because all of this is omni and it’s all based around customer experience when it really comes down to it.

JD:                   Yeah, and I mean another way that I also think though it is, it’s a much bigger team now, right? So it’s no longer just marketing, I get the sales team so it’s like ‘Look, our team just doubled/tripled in size, and now look how big and how more powerful we can be?’

And so, if you guys are still not there, I would really encourage you for 2018 and really get out of this stuck, or maybe you’re really looking to scale, take a listen to this podcast obviously. It’s actually funny, this is actually going to be pretty close to what my topic is for Hero Conf.

Heather:          Oh Awesome.

JD:                   …coming up in a couple of weeks. It’s going to be increasing PPC campaign effectiveness through pipeline contribution.

Heather:          That’s awesome.

JD:                   So it’s really measuring the deeper funnel metrics to really improve what you’re currently doing. So, you teed it up perfectly, I didn’t even see it going there, but I’m glad that it did, but, anything else? What else are we missing here? What else- you know, pitfalls?

Common pitfalls to watch out for

Heather:          Well, there’s one more thing, that sometimes people in this whole denial thing right, you’ve got to realize you’ve got a problem in order to fix it? Sometimes I’ll run into companies that are measuring leads at the very top, and they’re measuring customers at the very bottom, and they’ve got a conversion rate of lead to customer and they think they’re fine. What they don’t realize is that there are so many additional levels and conversion rates in between those two things that they’re missing out on, and there’s a ton of opportunity that’s likely being left on the table because they can’t see those things. So, that can also be an impediment to folks progressing forward and getting this stuff built, and that’s where- usually if they’re in that kind of mindset I think ‘Okay, well in a year, here’s my card, let me know if you get stuck’, because that’s usually what happens.

So if you’re in that mindset where we’re measuring the top or we’re measuring the bottom, we’ve got a conversion and we’re just rolling, be mindful, you might be coming up on some issues pretty quickly.

JD:                   So for those listening who might be stuck, and they’re interested in getting a hold of you, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?

Heather:          Sure. I’m available all over the internet, Heather Cooan, I’m on twitter, I’m on linked in, I’m all over the place. You can always e-mail, and then, we’re doing some blog posts and we’re doing some podcasts and videos and all kinds of stuff trying to help out in terms of providing education and awareness around this stuff, because, as long as this has been going on it’s just not something that everybody is aware of.

So, yeah, so I’m all over the place.

JD:                   Yeah, and Cooan too, COOAN.

Heather:          Yes, Jewish pronunciation, but too many vowels, it trips people up. OOAN.

JD:                   Yeah, so Cohan Brothers but COOAN, yeah I like it. Any other conferences you got coming up?

Heather:          I’m going to be at SLC SEMs digital conference in August, where I will be speaking about how to bust through the ceilings of PPC using marketing automation. So, I’ll actually be talking about how to put together and nurture sequences and apply treatment to leads after they’ve been captured from content, because that seems to be the black box that you mentioned earlier. Marketers are getting all of these leads and they’re killing it, right? But sales can’t do anything with these leads because they’re not ready, so how do we bridge that gap?

So, that’s probably the next one. I think that’s it, I’ve got scheduled right now.

JD:                   Alright, and to wrap it up and finish, what advice would you give marketers starting to venture into CRM world?

What advice would you give marketers starting to venture into CRM world

Heather:          Sure. The best place I learned a lot of this stuff, is I went and I hung out with all of the systems and ops people. So, marketing operations guys, sales enablement guys, they’re my people, they’re my friends. So, if you’re a marketer, it would really behoove you to understand a little bit about how these technologies work, and about the limitations of these technologies.

So, go sit with your MOPs folks and your sales enablement folks and learn a little bit of the tech. Geek out with them, and just kind of learn about what they do, and what they struggle with. They’re in the heart of the ricochet between sales and marketing, and they usually have a really good insight in terms of what’s going on and where the blind spots are. And they actually, usually have really surprising ideas about strategies that you never would have thought about, so, They’re a really, really great resource. That’s where I would start learning if you have access to those guys.

Other really great resources, has a really good blog. Siriusdecisions has really good blog. Those are probably the two best, and then the MarTech conference is really great if you want to get into a lot of B2B and CRM and marketing automation and all of these tech stacks and things.

JD:                   Perfect. Well fantastic resources and if you’re going to be a MarTech, let me know, we’ll be there. We’re going to be standing in a booth so please come by, hang out with me because I don’t want to just stand there by myself. So, come by, say hello, and I’ll really appreciate it.

So Heather, thank you so much for coming on, talking to us about how to get unstuck, really getting into that back end data. I really appreciate all your knowledge, skills. Welcome back from the community to you! We really appreciate you coming back in. So, that’s all I’ve got, anything else?

Heather:          I don’t think so, thanks so much for having me, this was a blast.

JD:                   Alright, well, thanks again everyone for listening to the PPC show. That wraps up this episode. We’ll see you guys next week.

Pinterest Ads Playbook for Social Marketers [Podcast]

Pinterest Ads Playbook for Social Marketers [Podcast]

Welcome to episode #79 of The PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid marketing. This week we’re joined by Vernon Johnson, Social Account Manager at 3Q Digital.

Search is all about intent-based people searching for specific products, and social is a little bit more about that discovery side, Pinterest has this great mix of both. People on Pinterest are here to discover, they’re here to buy, they’re here to purchase, they’re here to change somethings, they’re here to plan.

Did you know 61% of Pinners have discovered a new brand or product on the platform, and 1 out of 2 users have made a purchase after seeing an advertisement on Pinterest?

Stay tuned to learn as Vernon talks about:

  • Where to start when you’re first getting started
  • Creative Best Practices
  • Running Mobile App Install campaigns
  • How to find Long-Tail Keywords for Pinterest or Search
  • Using One-Tap to Trick the Pinterest Algorithm

Listen to the Episode



Vernon Johnson

Vernon started at 3Q in August of 2016 with a background in organic and paid social for higher education and direct response advertising. Originally from Madison, WI, he moved to Chicago for school, met his now-wife, Ashley, and settled in. When he’s not optimizing campaigns he’s cycling, brewing craft coffee, or hanging out with his wife and son, Emerson.
Connect with him on Twitter and Pinterest

Transcript and Show Notes

JD Prater:                     Vernon, welcome to the PPC Show.

Vernon Johnson:          Awesome. Thanks so much for having me, JD. It’s an honor to be here, man.

JD Prater:                     It’s gonna be a really fun topic. Love me some Pinterest ads.

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah. It’s interesting, because Pinterest has kinda been a low layer for a while, and not a lot of people talking about it. But recently it’s starting to surface, and it’s pretty fun.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. Well, before we jump into some really awesome ways to get started, some best practices, and even some hacks that you have for us, give us a quick intro of who you are and where you’re working.

Vernon Johnson:          Sure, yeah, I would love to. So I started my career in social kind of by accident. I was in school, I was going to school looking for a job, and ended up finding a place in their online department, and was actually just working in the call center, and realized that this online school didn’t have a social presence. So I jumped in right away, and found out I love it. I love learning, just kind of dove in head first, and kinda got lost and ended up getting hired full-time there. Worked in organic for a little while at some higher ed institutions, and really started to realize that I love the paid aspect of paid, where you’re kinda mixing the creativity with the science and the data.

And so that’s how I ended up getting into the social media and paid social specifically there for the last five years and just loved it. I’m currently an account manager at 3Q Digital, specializing in social and so that’s where I’ve been. Yeah.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. And for all those listening, 3Q got their Independence back from Harte Hanks. So yeah, congratulations. I know that’s a big announcement for you guys.

Vernon Johnson:          Thanks man. Yeah, we just got Tee Shirts made that said. “Proudly Independent”, so loving it. Loving it.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Well, cool. So, let’s jump into it man. I know you’ve been running some Pinterest ads. We’ve been kinda talking about it and I would agree, it’s one of those channels and ad networks that really people aren’t talking a lot about. And whenever I was running them in my agency, were all … Like I saw, pretty good success. And so, for those listening, where do you think is a good place to get started?

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah. That’s a great question. I think that’s the one question people always come to Pinterest with and I think the main reason they come to Pinterest with that question is because it is different. And so, one of the cool things that makes Pinterest so different from other channels is you’re mixing this idea of intent and discovery. So whereas, search is all about intent based people searching for men’s shoes specifically, and social is a little bit more about that discovery side, Pinterest has this great mix of both. So, it’s exciting but it can also be really confusing when you come to start with Pinterest because of that. And the platform is so different from a lot of the other channels.

So, one of the places that I really like to start is, if you already have an organic presence, that can be a really great starting place for running advertising. In fact, if you go into your organic analytics, especially if you haven’t converted your profile over to business head count already, definitely would do that, but then you have the access to this analytics. And you’ll be able to see your top organic pins from your website, which is great. So, this is not only the pins that you’ve specifically put on your boards but also anyone pinning anything from your website. So, if you haven’t pinned a whole bunch of stuff to your boards, you’ll be able to see that. So that’s a great place to start. It’s gonna show you your top pins, what people are engaging with the most. What’s really sticking out.

And then I would really start to build of your creative there. Pinterest fundamentally at the end of the day, is a creative platform. Your campaigns are gonna make or break on the creative specifically. So, you wanna make sure your stuck in there strong. So that’s really where I would start, is looking at organic. If you haven’t run a lot of organic, you can start with some things that have worked well on Facebook. That Facebook as well can be very visual. And so from that standpoint, you can start roughly with what creative has worked on Facebook.

I say that tentatively because a lot of times the Facebook creative won’t always work specifically on Pinterest. Pinterest is more vertical rather than horizontal for instance. So you wanna be careful because Pinterest is really about showing people how to do something. So people are coming to Pinterest to learn. 98% of people who’ve come to Pinterest have tried something they’ve found on Pinterest. So, they’re coming to discover, they’re coming to be taught, they’re coming to learn. So whereas Facebook is more like, “Buy these shoes now,” Pinterest might be, here’s how to lace up your shoes. See, I feel like that’s a stupid example, came to my head first. But that’s really what you wanna [crosstalk 00:04:18].

JD Prater:                     Or like these shoes are super hot right now. The trends and men’s styles.

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah, exactly. So, you change that a little bit but you might be able to use similar photography or similar images on Pinterest. So that’s where I would start. And definitely start with, if you’re in eCom start with your best products first, if you have atrial kit or a top performing specific skew, you can start there really easily and use some of those images.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, so for types of verticals. So, I’ve heard a lot of people wanna rag or call out Pinterest like, “It’s not gonna work.” Are there certain verticals that you know like, “Hey, man, because you’re in this vertical, you need to be on Pinterest.”

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah, that’s a good question. I think Pinterest is really expanding so a lot more verticals are working. Obviously, eCom and visual clients are gonna work the best. When you watch Pinterest webinars, they’re gonna show a lot of the really visually pleasing brand right away, because obviously those cater to the platform really well. But I think one of the spots that they haven’t done really well and they’re starting to really move towards them performing better is the DR brands, the specific brands that are selling specific products. So, not only eCom but the technology sites, SaaS sites, anything related to that. So, where you’re trying to drive action, I think we’re gonna see a lot of success, continued success in Pinterest.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. And they’re really building up this platform. One thing that you mentions was Pinterest analytics, and it’s something vastly under utilized, vastly people aren’t writing about it but there are some serious insights. Like, when you talk about creating personas, you talk knowing who your audience is man, that can unleash some serious insights of who your customer is what they’re looking for. I’ve found that to be a really powerful tool.

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah. There’s a wealth of knowledge there, even if you aren’t running ads, though you should be. There’s a ton of wealth of knowledge there for organic pins yeah. It’s a great resource if you haven’t explored it yet.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. And so, kinda moving through. So maybe we have the right vertical, maybe we got some Pinterest analytics, so now we’re starting to see some organic pins and as you kinda mentioned, really starting to boost, just even a couple of those, just to kinda see what happens. You mentioned some of this creative aspect, where it is different than Facebook. Its actually different than any other platform because of that very vertical, very long, very skinny, type of image. Have you found stuff that works within that long image of something to kinda think through? Because you don’t necessarily have like for example, those text requirement like Facebook has.

Vernon Johnson:          No, they don’t. In fact, we really encourage using texts on images. So that’s one of the things that I’d call out right away, is using text on your images, make it a really clear “Call to action”. So they used to actually unapproved ads if they had like CTA looking buttons, so “Call to action” … Like, if you put on the image itself something that looked like a button, they wouldn’t approve that ad but that has since gone away in recent months.

So you can now put that “Shop now” or “Buy now” button on there, which is really interesting. So people, when they click that the pin expands or if you one-tap on, go straight … So, that’s really interesting. So, I think using CTAs is something that you should really explore testing. I think it can be something that’s really powerful, especially on this platform, because people are here to discover, they’re here to buy, they’re here to purchase, they’re here to change somethings, they’re here to plan. So, like those “Call to actions” I think are gonna be really, really important.

As well as thinking about creative, you wanna make sure your creative really pops. We think about this a lot of times on Facebook in my world, making sure that it stands out, it’s thumb stopping. But I think on Pinterest I think it’s even more so. You want that creative to really stand out. And that can be difficult because Pinterest is such a visual platform, everyone’s trying to do that. So, one of the things that I keep in mind is, using compelling colors, making sure they’re bight and vibrant but they also go with your brand. You don’t want it to be so juxtaposed to the brand so when somebody’s scrolling through, they see it, it’s eye catching, it’s visually pleasing, but it also fits with your brands colors overall.

And then you also wanna be thinking mobile first. With all of this stuff, you really wanna be thinking somebody’s gonna be scrolling through on their phone, they’re gonna have the two pin layout, so it’s just side by side, and it’s gonna be fairly small. Pinterest is said, if you’re designing at a 600 by 900 or even a 600 by 1260, which is like the max size before it gets cut off, they reCommend a 20 point font. Obviously, that changes based on how you’re designing and what DPI. But relatively speaking, I think what they’re saying is that you should really use a big font, so when you’re going on mobile you can clearly see the call outs.

And then, in sizes I mentioned doing, testing it, there’s been some things on sizing I would definitely test it in your industry. So, square images, 600 by 600 pixels, I’ve seen work well. 600 by 900 is kinda the next size and then the biggest size that you can run in the feed without getting cut off is that 600 by 1260. So definitely do some testing. The vertical format really lends itself to those “How to’s”. “Here’s three ways to improve the way you do such and such,” or, “Here’s three ways to clean up.”

So those type of things can work really well. And one of the things I’d really think about in terms of your creative is looking at, “How can I educate the customer? How can I inform them of something new?” Facebook doesn’t really give us this opportunity and Twitter and some of the other platforms as much as Pinterest does. And it really gives you this opportunity to give, give, give, before you actually ask and receive.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, especially when you think about … You’ve mentioned it several times and I don’t think … We could definitely break this dow with like the discovery aspect of it, is really thinking through, like people are coming here because they’re trying to discover a new idea, find a new idea or they’re trying to find ways to accomplish something. And I think it’s a very different type of intent.

I’ll even give you personal examples. And then, even for myself, I like to go in for like DIY, so my wife and I might be wanting to do something with our kitchen or we might wanna remodel. And you’re just going to get ideas like, what is possible? Or maybe I want a DIYs standing desk. I don’t wanna necessarily buy one but hey, maybe I can create one. So I have pins like that or … It’s always nice to see those latest fashion trends for men, even though I don’t really follow them, but it’s always nice to see. So I follow those kind of things and I just kind of scroll through it. So maybe when I am ready to buy, I’m at least informed enough to feel like I can make, what we would call a “compulsive buy” because I’ve already been educated.

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah. Absolutely. And that actually leads us onto something that I think is so incredible about the Pinterest platform, is that long tail so, people are coming to plan. My wife and I were planning our little one-year-old daughter’s birthday, completely on Pinterest, it was totally there. And we were planning and then we even purchased somethings. But we’ve been planning this, I shouldn’t say we, my wife has been planning this for the last year, and I’ve been kinda helping. But those pins have stayed on the board for a long time.

So the way I think about Pinterest is this long tail. All of the pins that we’re gonna run as ads have to live organically first, and one of the cool things is that unlike Facebook or Twitter or a lot of the other platforms where the half life of an ad minimizes, so once you scroll by that Facebook ad it’s very difficult to go back to it, if not impossible. Whereas Pinterest it lives on so, the half life increases. And this is one of the coolest things about the platform is, you can run an ad and you can get a whole lot of impressions and saves and then that ad will continue to live on and continue to expound on it organically, which is great.

So, one of the things you have to think about when you’re coming to the platform, especially in eCom, is people may be saving those pins with the intent to purchase six months, nine months down the road. And so you really wanna be thinking about that long tail. Make sure that the creative, that it would be just as relevant this year as it is next year.

So, maybe it’s not goals for 2018 resolutions it’s maybe, New Year’s resolutions, is the tagline in some of those and even in eCom being careful about that text because those pins will live on for a long time, and you want people to save those and come back to them. You want them to be continually inspired down the road. And that’s also one thing I would think about in terms of attribution, is that when you’re saying, “Does Pinterest work against Facebook?” Maybe not looking specifically at the conversions but your engagement, your saves, your … Looking at the things that people are engaging and looking at the pins specifically and pinning it to the boards. Because those things are gonna live on for a lot longer than just running your Facebook or Twitter ad.

JD Prater:                     Yeah. And they give you much different engagement, like close ups. So, you can be, “How many people?” Your pin, it’s stopped the scroll, someone clicked on it, and what that means is like, it blew up in the feed. That’s a close up. Those people are dissecting that image and determining, “What should I do? Should I save this to a board? Do I wanna click through?” And just even tracking that conversion rate, I always fount to be really beneficial. But on thing that you were saying with organic, that’s also free. That’s one thing I like. So you pay for the clicks right?

Vernon Johnson:          Yup.

JD Prater:                     But any of that organic stuff, that’s free. That’s just added bonus. Like, thank you so much.

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and it lives on for a long time. I call it the long tail. Yeah, it’s great. It’s one of the best features of Pinterest. [crosstalk 00:13:23].

JD Prater:                     Very cool. And so, one of the other things I wanted you to kinda break down for us, is they have some different types of campaign objectives, but also different ways that we can target. And so, break down some of the different types of objectives because they really have expanded what they’re offering to advertisers and then maybe just even some ways that you kinda think through how to target.

Vernon Johnson:          Sure. Absolutely. Yeah, so breaking down the campaign objectives is much slimmer than some of the other platforms, which is great. They have a total of five. So, you have a traffic campaign, an awareness campaign, you have an engagement campaign for engagement on pins, a mobile app installed campaign, and a video campaign.

So, I’m guess that the primary audience especially if you’re talking about eCommerce or direct response is gonna be in that traffic campaign area. And so that’s probably where you’ll the bulk of the campaigns are gonna be. Awareness, really will get great impression and low CPMs. Engagement can also be really great if you’re looking just to get those saves, get those close ups, the engagement rate on some of those pins. Maybe you’re looking to boost some organic content, that would be a great place to put it. And the mobile app install, which I’d love to get into a little bit and then also video. Video’s fairly new for Pinterest. It’s actually a little bit behind.

I know you’ve said on the show before that 2017 is the year of video and 2018’s the year implementing video. I think Pinterest is maybe a little bit behind in that realm. So they have a specific video campaign though. I haven’t personally found it to work very well for direct response ads. I think from a branding standpoint it works really well. I think there’s some testing to be done in that space, and I think it will come to the point where we can use videos for DR really well on Pinterest as they continue. But I think right now, I haven’t personally found that, that would. If there is somebody listening and they found great success, I’d love to hear what you guys are doing.

But so far traffic campaign I think is really where the bread and butter is for eCom clients and direct response advertising. And within that you have this ability to target in different ways. You have interest targeting, which Pinterest is really known for their interest graphs, so they know what you’re interested in based on what you’re pinning. And so it’s really easy to get into some of those categories. And they have a wealth of them, so when you go in to start your traffic campaign, or one of the other campaigns you target interest, I encourage you to search. Because they’ll have a list of boxes that you can check and you can go underneath, but actually they don’t show you passed the second level of that hierarchy. So for instance, if you go in and you type in, “Face cream” you’re actually gonna get a whole lot more interest than if you had just select the drop down.

So definitely search within the interest categories. And then secondly they have keywords, which is I think, one of the reasons people come to Pinterest to begin with because they wanna capture that intent of people on Pinterest. But one of the things I’d be really careful of … And with all programmatic advertising, you really wanna split this out, because you can’t do a really great job of breaking it out in the dashboard. So make sure if you’re running an interest campaign, run interest first and get the performance, understand that, don’t run that along with keywords and all these other things because it can be really difficult to determine the performance of those.

So running an interest campaign and then a keywords campaign, you have the option to place that in the search feed or the browse feed. Now this is super important because a lot of times people come to Pinterest they say, “I wanna get in people’s search, I wanna get that intent,” and so they select “Browse” and “Search” and they run a keywords campaign. But what we’ve found when we’ve looked at the data is that when you select both placements, only 10% of the pins will actually show up in the search results.

And I think part of this is Pinterest overall has a lower daily audience use than some of the other channels like “Search” obviously you can kinda see a whole list of … You can see like giant search terms and that, but I think Pinterest is a little bit smaller. There’s a lot more “Browse” placement so they end up sticking your pins there more often. So what I would highly suggest is making sure you split out “Search” and “Browse” placement. So when you’re in the search, you’re just getting that intent driven placement essentially when you’re running search and all your money’s being put behind “Search”.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, definitely lower in the funnel’s what you’re saying there?

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

JD Prater:                     Okay.

Vernon Johnson:          And I would even test, run them separately, if you’re gonna do keywords run “Browse” and then also run “Search” and get the performance difference there, because I think you’re gonna see a difference in performance. Especially that way you can also control spend to search and you can increase that if it’s performing really well or browse and vise versa.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, nice. And something with too … And I think a lot of people may not realize is, Pinterest has a pixel as well. So they’ve got a website pixel, they have a conversion pixel, which allows you to kinda run even these app install campaigns because you can tie in some of these third parties. So talk to us about even running app install campaigns on Pinterest, which is one of those like, “Really? App install [crosstalk 00:18:01]?”

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah. Yeah, it’s amazing. So touching on the pixel, they’ve actually even recently updated, so it’s almost identical to Facebook pixel if you’re familiar with that. They have the standard events, they have the base code. So, really easy to implement. They make it really easy, in fact I think it’s a little bit easier than Facebook in terms of they just select the parameters, you can insert custom fields like value, quantity, things like that for ROAS on eCommerce clients. So it’s very easy to install, highly suggest installing it.

The only bummer is that on Pinterest right now, you can’t optimize towards the pixel event, you can see it’s conversion value and things like that, but you can’t actually optimize towards it. Then, when we’re talking about the pixels, so overall you can get the data, when you’re looking at the campaign level insights on the dashboard, which is great. And I my hope is that one day you’ll be able to optimize towards that pixel a little bit better, and I’m sure that’s coming. So that’s exciting. But you are able to see all of the conversion values within the dashboard, which is great.

And then as you mentioned, mobile app install is a little bit of a weird topic on Pinterest. We’ve seen the ads and things like that but one of the neat things about mobile app install is you get a really big install button when you run this. And when we’ve tested this with mobile app clients, we’ve actually seen a lower cost per install and cost per registration than we have on Facebook.

And I think one of the reasons is, is that, this particular channel works really, really well if you have a really broad demographic. So if your app is fairly ubiquitous, I’ve found that Pinterest actually can perform much better than a lot of other channels. And so the reason is, is we’re able to target keywords and interest categories separately. So one of the things we’ve done without mobile app clients is, is we’ve done broad key word packs, which are like 2000 plus keywords, so it’s just showing up in a lot of places and also some narrow keyword packs. In the broad keyword packs, we’ll have a really low CPI overall, we’ve found.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, so with the app install, you’re talking about like these broader packs and are you saying that you guys are putting in like 2000 keywords like into an ad group or do you guys break those out into like … Are those keywords bundled into different ad groups I guess?

Vernon Johnson:          Well, no. We do if we have different types of broad keyword packs, we’ll separate those. It’s pretty general because when you get 2000 keyword packs, obviously that size will have a really broad targeting. So it might be workout related and have tons of stuff around there and then maybe more like home DIY type related. So those we’ve gotten really good help, if you have a Pinterest rep, they can give you really good access to keywords, otherwise talking with search … And there’s also Google Search keyword tools, keyword planners, so those type of things are really, really beneficial in this particular area, so finding those keywords and putting them in.

So generally speaking, we might split them out, but the purpose of the broad keyword match is just to get that mobile app campaign in a lot of different feeds. And what we’ve found is that it just works really well. Pinterest can really optimize towards that mobile app install, the people who are installing it, and we’ve just found really great success with that. One of the things I will note is that if you are running a mobile app install, you have to run with one of their mobile measurement partners, their MMPs. So this is Kochava, AppsFlyer, TUNE’s, those type of thing. I think they have five total that you have to work with. So if you don’t have an MMP, you definitely have to get one set up before you run on Pinterest.

JD Prater:                     Yes. And if you don’t have one please just go get one.

Vernon Johnson:          Just get one, yes. Get one anyways regardless of Pinterest, yeah.

JD Prater:                     Awesome. So kinda moving forward, one thing I wanted to quickly talk about, before we get into the really fun hacks is, green marketing. So one things that I’ve found with on Pinterest is, it actually lets you re-market to audiences and it’s also another great way to probably also get started. Like we found, even like AdStage. AdStage is “B to B”, it’s advertisers, and when we kinda think through our audience, we’ve found that 30% of our audience was actually on Pinterest just by putting the pixel in place and then just building an audience. And we were like, “Wow. 30%. That’s pretty good. That’s not bad.” It’s not as good as Facebook but hey, it’s not as big as Facebook so I wouldn’t expect that.

But some really cool things that we found was, actually you can set up these really cool sequences. Because you can actually say, “If you’ve seen this pin, exclude this audience.” You can kinda build these different types of audiences and kinda sequencing. Are you guys doing anything like that or have you guys seen success with re-marketing?

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah. Remarketing is super powerful on Pinterest. And I’m so glad you brought it up because one of the key aspects of Pinterest is being able to re-market and we have a really low CPM on Pinterest. I think that’s one of the things I’m most excited about right now, is it’s in the early stages like Facebook was two to three years ago where the CPMs are just really low, we’re talking two to five dollars compared to Facebook. So in general, it’s low so re-marketing itself is that much lower when you’re just running it.

And as you mentioned, running those sequences is great. Like I said, when they installed the new pixel, and we now have the ability to create all subsets of those audiences so you can have even on your site, if you wanna break it down by people who’ve been to specific pages, specific blog posts, taken specific action. So if you have a conversion event but you’ve put in a content type in the pixel, you can sequence those out. So there’s a ton of things you can do with the Pinterest re-marketing pixel and then the audiences that you set up there and being able to track those.

One of the things too that I think is really powerful, especially on a platform like this where people are going there to purchase, is find out what your re-purchase rate is. Figure out what that is and when people are starting to repurchase and then put ads in there of people who’ve purchased that long ago, the 60 days ago or whatever that re-purchase rate is and start running ads for a couple weeks. Again, I think that’s another really powerful tool that you can use Pinterest re-marketing with.

JD Prater:                     Nice little tip there. I like that one. That’s a good one. It’s one of those things where it really is … We’re unrolling all these tips and tricks and it’s like I really hope everyone listening hopefully is gonna give it at least a second thought maybe.

Vernon Johnson:          A fair shake. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

JD Prater:                     Go in, test it out. So, let’s get into some of these really cool hacky things that you have found. I’m not a big fan of the word hack, I’m gonna say, tips and tricks, unicorns, whatever it may be. So talk to us about your two favorite ones..

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah, okay. I got a few nuggets for Pinterest that we’ve found that we really like. The first one is, is if you’ve ever gone into Pinterest and searched, you search shoes or pants or whatever, they’re gonna give you a whole string of other search terms. You’ll see there’s like those funny colored boxes right underneath. Those are the long tail search terms. Those are great, especially when you’re searching for something, you don’t hit it spot on, there’s other great options that you can search for. I’ve found it really helpful just in the personal use.

But one of the things you can actually pull into for instance, your search campaigns is you can pull all of the string of keywords that they’ve attached to that one. So for instance, when you put in “Budgeting” and you get a whole bunch of college budgeting, college planning, all of those subsequent keywords, you can actually pull … And at 3Q we built a tool that pulls all of those. So you put in the search term and it pulls all of the long tail of those keywords and you can dump those right into a search campaign or even you can even pull those into a Pinterest campaign, obviously. Those can be really, really beneficial if you’re looking to get those keyword packs.

And so that’s just a little hack that you’re able to pull because Pinterest already does the legwork of figuring out what other people have searched for when they put in that search term. And so it just is kinda capitalizing off of that benefit that they give us.

JD Prater:                     That’s pretty cool. And you were saying too, that you can also … And you’re sharing those insights with your search team as well?

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. Yup. And you can pull this outside of having a Pinterest campaign. So anyone on search can pull it as well so I really strongly suggest people, if you’re doing keywords on Pinterest, keyword targeting to do that as well. But yeah, sharing those insights I think is a really good tool. And this is just when you put in a search term and it shows you what other people have searched for. So very similar to a keyword tool but just Pinterest version and I think it’s been really helpful.

JD Prater:                     Yeah nice.

Vernon Johnson:          And the second hack, that’s probably one of my favorites, is utilizing one-tap. So one of the things that makes or breaks a Pinterest campaign is click through rate. And generally speaking, you have to keep in mind that that click through rate on Pinterest is gonna be lower than other platforms, so we’re talking a good click through rate is like .5 to one is really good. So when we’re talking about click through rate, it’s just a little bit different and that’s because people are on Pinterest to save and plan and think about the future. So if they’re really clicking through, the people who are clicking through are the ones who are ready to purchase right now but not everyone on the platform is, so you have to think about that.

So one-tap enables you, it crosses out that close up feature of a pin, so when you click through and it expands, one-tap essentially eliminates that, so when you click the button, the pin, the small pin, it takes you right to the link or the desired action. So one of the things is obviously, it’ll take down conversion rate, because when somebody expands the pin, they might get a little bit more information and then they decide, “Oh, this is something that I really wanna purchase,” and they would go through. So it will take down conversion rate but your click through rate, because click through rate is measured to that desired action, will actually go up.

So one of the things that we’ve found is when we start a campaign, we’ll actually start it on one-tap. We’ll start it on one-tap initially and when we get to a click through rate of .3 to .5 generally, I’ll then go in and take it off. So we essentially bump up that click through rate for Pinterest’s algorithm and then we pull it off so that we increase conversion rate and end up having the campaign spend throughout. Because that’s one of the things you’ll find is that if you run and click through rate is low, your campaign will just come to a dead halt, the spend will just completely stop. Because creative makes or breaks your campaigns on Pinterest so enabling that click through rate a little bit, especially on creative that you know is good can really help a campaign.

JD Prater:                     Nice. Man that’s a really good one. I haven’t really thought about that one. I really like that. Thanks for that tip. That one’s a winner. Yeah. No, the only other thing that I got. Is just kinda thinking through the platform, for those listening too. Pinterest even themselves, don’t really consider themselves social media. It really is like a almost private, almost intimate type of, you’re saving to your board. You’re not really interacting with other people per se. And so it really is all about you. It really is kind of your inspiration, your idea boards. And

I think that’s something that we should consider within marketers is, even whenever we get people to save our pin, that’s a really valuable thing, that’s a really valuable action. And so whenever you’re looking at measurement, think through that. Vernon mentioned, longer windows, look 90 day windows, look at your organic reach post. And one of my favorite new things they’ve launched is Lens. Have you played around with Lens at all?

Vernon Johnson:          Yeah. It’s super cool. And I can’t wait to see what the future of Lens is. So as you mentioned, it’s the ability to take a photo of something and then it’ll bring up pins that look like that. So you like somebody’s table, you’re at their house eating dinner and snap a photo of it you can then visually search that specific style.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, my buddy had a tee shirt and I really liked it, it said, “Bikes, Coffee, Coffee, Coffee,” And I was like, “Oh, that’s a sweet shirt.” I pulled out Lens, no joke, pulled out lens, snapped a photo, it was available. The person making it was on Pinterest and it was just like a quick product, boom, boom. I think I, maybe five clicks total and I had bought a shirt off of Pinterest using Lens. So, that’s my …

Vernon Johnson:          You may have to send me a link to that shirt, I think. In cycling, which is fun.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, for sure. It was a really good one. I’ll send you a pic of me wearing it and then you can use Lens to then do it. [crosstalk 00:29:30] There we go.

Vernon Johnson:          [crosstalk 00:29:30] you.

JD Prater:                     Full circle. Full circle. Love it. All right man. Well, thanks again for coming on, sharing some amazing Pinterest ads, best practices. Getting in there for your creative, getting into analytics. You went into objectives, you went into the pixel. You went into setting it all up. So I think that was a fantastic overview. If there was anything that you could kinda leave the audience with, what would be your one thing for them to do?

Vernon Johnson:          Honestly, with Pinterest it’s just to get started. Try something. It’s a testing platform, you gotta get in, you gotta try, you gotta get your hands dirty. Don’t be nervous about it. Put a little bit of budget behind it and give it a fair shake. I think if you haven’t tried Pinterest yet, I definitely think it’s worth testing and I’m really excited to see where it’s gonna go in the future as well as what you guys do with it. With that also, 3Q is actually releasing a Pinterest playbook. At the time of this recording it may or may not be out. It’ll be in the show notes either way and so definitely check, the website. We have a full playbook, so if you’ve never run Pinterest ads, or you’re just looking to kinda get in and update yourself, if you’ve run a little bit, this is gonna be really, really helpful. So it has tips on campaign structures, on ad types, on testing methodologies. So just, it’s super thorough and it was a lot of fun to put together so definitely check that out. It will be there in the show notes or on 3Q Digital’s website.

JD Prater:                     Yeah, definitely. As soon as that link is live, we will make sure that it is tagged in the show notes.

Vernon Johnson:          Awesome.

JD Prater:                     All right. Well Vernon, thanks again man for coming on, sharing all your knowledge that you have gained while you’ve … Advertising on Pinterest so thanks again.

Vernon Johnson:          Thank you so much JD. It was super fun being here man.

JD Prater:                     All right. All right everyone, that’s our show for this week. Again, that was Vernon Johnson from 3Q Digital talking about Pinterest ads. We’ll see you next week.


The Big YouTube Problem [Podcast]

The Big YouTube Problem [Podcast]

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

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

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

Stay tuned to learn:

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

Listen to the Episode

John Belcher

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

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

Transcript and Show Notes

JD Prater:                     John, welcome to the PPC show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Belcher:               Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Belcher:               It’s pretty exciting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Belcher:               Cool.

JD Prater:                     Thanks again man.

John Belcher:               Awesome. Thanks again.

JD Prater:                     See you.


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

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

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

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

Stay tuned to learn about:

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

Listen to the Episode


Andy Taylor

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

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


JD Prater:                     Andy, welcome to the PPC Show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy Taylor:                 Sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JD Prater:                     Again, signals, signals.

Andy Taylor:                 Exactly, exactly. Directionality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy Taylor:                 Yeah. Thanks so much, JD.

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


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

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

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

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



Facebook Unveils Trip Consideration For Travel Advertisers

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

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

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

Twitter Tests Integration With Outside Buying Platforms

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing Custom Ads on Yelp

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

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

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

What is ROI and How to Calculate it [Podcast]

What is ROI and How to Calculate it [Podcast]

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

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

Stay tuned as he covers:

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

Listen to the Episode

Who is Andrew Breen

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

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

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

Show Notes and Transcript

JD Prater:                     Andrew, welcome to the PPC Show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Breen:             Awesome.

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

What is ROI in B2B SaaS?

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

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

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

How Far Do you Track Metrics Down the Funnel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Do You Change Reports Based on the Stakeholder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Breen:             Yeah.

JD Prater:                     Sorry. No, go ahead.

Automated Bidding

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

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

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

JD Prater:                     Right, right.

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

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

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

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

Where Do You See 2018 B2B Headed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Breen:             -owning the ecosphere.

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

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

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

Key Takeaways on Tracking ROI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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