3 Reasons to Choose Smart Bidding Over PPC Automation to Improve ROAS

3 Reasons to Choose Smart Bidding Over PPC Automation to Improve ROAS

When AdWords first launched in 2000, manual and automated bidding were the only options. To succeed in paid search, you really had to know how to bid. You would manually set keyword bids and apply performance filters for each (manual bidding) or run scripts that defined specific criteria and adjusted bids automatically based on those criteria (automated bidding). For example, you would manually increase a bid on a keyword that you see performing well or use a script that would increase bids by Y% if your keyword position dropped by X%.

The evolution of PPC: from manual bidding to Smart Bidding

Source: Google. The evolution of PPC: from manual bidding to Smart Bidding

As you can imagine, most optimizations take a lot of time and labor — and not too much strategic thought. It is tedious and repetitive work. So it comes as no surprise that Google took all that data they’ve been collecting over the years and applied the knowledge to an algorithm that could do all that monitoring and optimizing on its own. Unlike automations, where you apply keywords bids and optimizations across all users uniformly, Google now uses this knowledge to figure out how to bid for each single search query — the most precise, granular level you can get.

In this article, we’ll look at how PPC advertisers can use Google Smart Bidding to improve their campaign performance.

AdWords Smart Bidding: automated bid strategies powered by machine learning

Smart Bidding algorithm optimizes ads for your specific goals automatically. When you create an AdWords campaign, you can select one of the Smart Bidding strategies based on your goals and let the algorithm run your ads while you sit back and watch Google optimize each and every auction in real time — what Google calls “auction-time bidding.”

AdWords smart bidding

Choose your goal and let Google’s Smart Bidding do all the work

While you can’t control how exactly the algorithm will manage your bid, you can direct the end goal, such as to pay a certain amount for each conversion or get as many conversions as possible — within your budget range. Google AdWords offers advertisers the following four bidding strategies:

  • Target CPA (cost-per-acquisition)
    Caps your cost per acquisition while maximizing conversions.
  • Target ROAS (return-on-ad-spend)
    Targets your ideal return on ad spend, which is basically how much money you’d like to get for each dollar you spend on ads, calculated as follows:
    Conversion value + ad spend x 100%
  • Maximize Conversions
    Works best for advertisers who don’t want to cap cost-per-acquisition and just spend the entire budget while getting as many conversions as possible.
  • ECPC (enhanced cost-per-click)
    Combines manual bidding with Smart Bidding to raise or lower your manual bids based on whether the algo thinks the conversion is likely to happen.
    Note: Historically, the manual bids have been restricted by the max CPC and could only be increased a bid 30% above that number. That has changed: the bid cap was fully removed last year.

You can use Smart Bidding to complement your current PPC strategy and use a third-party PPC tool for bulk edits and reporting across networks.

3 reasons to choose Smart Bidding over automated or manual bidding

1. Capture unique user context

Imagine a shopper searching on Google for new shoes. Which ad would she click, if any? Here’re a few things we want to know first.

  • Is she searching for shoes on a desktop computer at home or from a smartphone on the go?
  • Where is she based? If she’s based in San Francisco Bay Area, which part? (E.g., if the store has a physical location in Oakland or San Mateo, it may be easier for Alice to return the shoes in case they don’t fit).
  • What time is it now? Is she searching on a work day or on the weekend? Morning or night?
  • Has she browsed any specific shoes on your store’s website before? (i.e., is Alice on your RLSA — remarketing list for search ads?)
  • Is she searching for leather shoes, Kate Spade shoes, or party shoes?
  • Which language is set in default settings for her Google account?
  • Safari, Firefox, or Chrome? Where is the query coming from?
  • If she randomly sees your ad on a search network partner’s website (vs. in search results), what kind of website? Is it an e-commerce website (highly relevant) or a news website (impulse buy?)
adwords search context signals

Source: Google

If you know all these things about her, you’ll have a better shot at capturing her attention. If you only define a couple of search signals when you set up your campaign, you’re losing money: most impressions won’t convert into clicks. Yet optimizing for each user’s unique search context simply doesn’t scale.

Predictive signals used by AdWords Smart Bidding include device, location, time of day, RLSA, ad creative, interface language, browser, operating system, and placement type to optimize for anyone who types a search query in Google, considering their unique context and finding the right “micro-moment.”

2. Simplify workflow

Every year Google AdWords keeps layering new features and tweaks on top of the existing ones. Since the AdWords launch, Google has added separate bidding for its content network, quality score, tablet retargeting, sitelinks, clicks-to-call and clicks-to-message, shopping campaigns, ad customizers, customer match, extensions, Gmail ads, PLAs, RLSA, DFSA, ETAs, and more.

“Yes, you might be able to squeeze out a couple extra conversions by being more in-control and constantly doing manual bidding,” said Natalie Barreda, Director of Paid Search at Point It, a digital marketing agency. “But truly that’s not the best use of your time.”

3. Focus on adding more value

In earlier days, bidding was central to advertising on AdWords, making the PPC advertiser slave to the ever-changing tweaks and add-ons of the algorithm. If Smart Bidding indeed evolves to automate itself to make the best bets, in a Deep-Blue-vs.-Kasparov style, that shift will open up opportunities for a whole new gameplay, in which advertising will be more about empathy (with strategic targeting) and creativity (with thoughtful copy and design).

In a nutshell, if you were to bid on an ad for the online shoe-shopper Alice using manual bidding or automation vs. Smart Bidding, you’d miss out on capturing granular contextual signals, and probably spend too much time figuring out which filters to apply to your campaign.

When you shouldn’t use Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is just a tool in your PPC toolbox — it won’t as if by magic bring you leads and increase ROI. As with any other tool, you’ll need to figure out when to use it and when to choose a different tool. Here’re example situations of when NOT to use Smart Bidding:

1. When you’re just getting started with a new campaign

If you’re running campaigns with little historical data, you might want to check how it performs with a manual/automated test run first.

2. If none of the four Smart Bidding goals fit your scenario

Dan Gilbert of Brainlabs recommends using other automation when your marketing goals don’t align with Smart Bidding strategies, such as if you want to drive more traffic to your website with generic keywords.

3. For short-term campaigns or your top-performing campaigns

If you’re running a short-term campaign (such as for a flash sale) or your current campaign numbers are totally off the charts, stick with your trusty automation.


Search advertising is, perhaps, the best playground for machine learning. With so many contextual signals Google offers to make ads relevant, using PPC automation and Smart Bidding makes sense for several reasons. For starters, Smart Bidding helps advertisers get a better shot at understanding user intent for each specific query. It also frees up time for things that are really, really hard to automate — like strategy and creativity.

What’s your experience using Google’s Smart Bidding? Let me know in comments.

Google AdWords CPC Decreased 42% in Q4 2017

Google AdWords CPC Decreased 42% in Q4 2017

For Q4 2017, we’ve analyzed over 240 million Google AdWords search ad impressions across 750+ unique accounts in USD currency to uncover the average CPM, CPC, and CTR. Compared to Q3’17, we found the average CPM on AdWords search ads decreased 30%, the average CPC on AdWords search ads decreased 42%, and the average CTR for AdWords search ads increased 21%.

Google AdWords Ads Benchmarks – Q4 2017

  • The average Google AdWords CPM was $78.47
  • The average Google AdWords CPC was $0.97
  • The average Google AdWords CTR was 8.33%

Google AdWords CPM, CPC, and CTR Benchmarks for Q4 2017

*Note: these benchmarks do not include ads run on Google Display Network or Youtube.
Be sure to view the Q4 Paid Search and Paid Social ads Benchmark Report for the latest trends.

Google AdWords Benchmarks for Q4 2017

Google AdWords’s CPM Decreased 30%

Based on AdStage data, Google AdWords CPM decreased by 30% from $111.42 in Q3 to $78.47 in Q4. The 2017 trend shows that Google AdWords CPMs decreased 25% from $104.05 to $78.47 comparing Q1 to Q4.

Google AdWords’s CPC Decreased 42%

Based on AdStage data, Google AdWords CPC decreased by 42% from $1.68 in Q3 to $0.97 in Q4. The 2017 trend shows that Google AdWords CPCs decreased 29% from $1.37 to $0.97 comparing Q1 to Q4.

Google AdWords’s CTR Increased 21%

Based on AdStage data, Google AdWords CTR decreased by 21% from 6.87% in Q3 to 8.33% in Q4. The 2017 trend shows that Google AdWords CPMs decreased 2% from 8.47% to 8.33% comparing Q1 to Q4.

Google AdWords Q4 Trends

Across AdStage’s customer base, Google AdWords search spending increased by 146% year over year in Q4 2017 and by 9% QoQ. In addition, AdWords captured 91% of paid search budgets while Bing Ads earned the remaining 9% in Q4. This expansion will push Google’s share of the US digital ad market to 42.2%, according to eMarketer.

That said, Google AdWords and Facebook ad budgets are truly a duopoly gobbling up more than 60% of US digital ad investment. Looking into 2018, these trends aren’t slowing down as Google owns the #1 browser, search engine, email platform, and video network. As more performance marketers shift their focus and budgets into full lifecycle marketing rather than bottom of the funnel marketing, AdWords will continue to receive a lion’s share of the digital ad budgets.

Check out other ad networks


Google Shopping Ads: 9 Quick Tips You Need to Win

Google Shopping Ads: 9 Quick Tips You Need to Win

Google Showcase Ads display results for commercial searches above AdWords ads, creating a unique opportunity to get your product into your customer’s shopping cart. Intrigued? Here’s the lowdown on how to build and optimize Showcase Ads.

What are Google Showcase Ads and how do they work?

A Google Showcase Ad (GSA) is a shopping ad containing several related products that appear above paid Google AdWords search results. Initially, these ads would pop up only when searching a broad, general category (such as “snakeskin flats”), but after running some additional searches I was pleased to discover that they can now be very specific… and crushed to find out that I will never be able to replace my size 10, black tipped, pointed toe Franco Sarto snakeskin flats. Thanks, Google.

See Google Shopping Results Appear ABOVE Paid Ads.

See! Google Shopping Results Appear ABOVE Paid Ads.

The great thing about GSAs is that the first impression is free. Your account will only be charged if the customers expand and stay in your ad for 10 seconds or click through to your site. This function has a lot of potential to reduce your Google Adwords spending and increase marketing ROI by allowing customers to comparison-shop inside their initial search results. If pricing is competitive and your ad optimized, GSAs can be a game changer for merchants.

On the other hand, if you fail to create and optimize your GSAs, you’ve essentially handed your competition that coveted first impression, even if you have the bigger AdWords budget spend.

Google Shopping Ads display everything from large retailers to second hand sellers like Poshmark.

Google Shopping Ads display everything from large retailers to second-hand sellers, like Poshmark.

This makes setting up and optimizing GSAs a top priority for anyone selling merchandise.

Setting up your GSA 

In order to take advantage of your GSA, you’ll have to jump through a few goops (Google hoops, which I swear is a thing!), and who better to teach you how to do that than Google itself?

Before you do anything, be sure to review the requirements to set up a GSA campaign. You can then learn all about Google Shopping Ads in the AdWords Help Center “About Shopping Campaigns” section, and get instructions on how to set them up in the “Create a Showcase Shopping” section.

By mapping your campaigns to conversion data with closed-loop reporting, you can show the forces that the extra investment and new budget allocation is worth it in the long run.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Showcase ads do not work with automated bid strategies, so you’ll have to either change your current campaigns to maximum CPE bidding, or set up a separate campaign.

As mentioned before, the initial view of the GSA is free, and you will only pay when someone expands your ad for more than 10 seconds or clicks the link, so make sure that they can immediately glean the information they need from your ad.

You can only use one ad per ad group, so plan accordingly. Adding extra ones will be a waste of time and effort.

How to optimize your GSA

Pick the Right Photos

GSA’s visual nature caters to the primal parts of our brain, but also makes it harder to stand out from the crowd.  Have a look at the other photos in your category. Is there a way that you can make your product photo stand out? Adding a colorful background or using a model instead of a plain product shot (or vice versa) may help catch the buyer’s eye.

You’ll also want to make sure that your ad has enough contrast, as it is easy to scroll past ads when they are all lined up in a row.

google shopping ads

The third image almost disappears due to poor contrast.

Resize your photo with care

When setting up the ad Google will ask you if you want to use a product image or a cropped header image for the collapsed ad. If you are advertising a specific product, then use the product image that best fits the user’s search terms. If, however, you are advertising group of products rather than one specific product, then choose the cropped header image.

Use common SEO tactics

Since you are no longer bidding on individual keywords, it’s more important than ever to optimize your title by using brand name, style name, size, color, material, and other descriptive elements in the title of the ad.

Use negative keywords

While you can’t select keywords that your ad should show in, you can use negative keywords (either at the campaign level or in a specific ad group) to keep your ad from showing in irrelevant places.

Depending on what your product is, you may need to do some tracking to see where leads are dead-ending before implementing this tactic.

Update your feed daily

Google loves nothing more than up-to-date and relevant information, and you can increase your rank by allowing Google to fetch the data from your account on a daily basis, rather than the minimum required 30 days.

Add promotions to your stream

GSAs include promotional details, which can give your buyers an instant incentive to shop with on your site.

Special offers appear in Google Shopping Ads without expanding allowing you to advertise deals for free.

Special offers appear in Google Shopping Ads without expanding, allowing you to advertise deals for free.

Google offers automated extensions that fetch promotions from your website and showcase them in your GSA, alerting your customers to discounts, price drops and free shipping. It also allows you to set up other promotions, such as percentage discounts, BOGO deals and more. The merchant promotions implementation guide will get you started.

Plan ahead

Google may take up to 72 hours to review your ads to ensure they are compliant. Review their guidelines to make sure everything is in line, and give yourself a time buffer in case you are running any time-sensitive promotions or have a client deadline.

Include GTIN (if you have them)

Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN) – including UPCs, EANs, ISBNs, MPNs, etc. – help Google determine the exact brand and item you are selling, allowing them to place your product with greater accuracy. Google prefers these to other attributes, stating they make your ads richer (so we can assume that using them might also end up making us richer).

Don’t fret if your product is custom-made and doesn’t have a GTIN, as Google understands that store brands, OEM parts, preorder parts, and vintage items usually don’t have them. Instead of using a GTIN, Google recommends you submit as many attributes as you can.

Measure and automate ads

Check out our case study with the fashion watch retailer MVMT, who was able to raise revenue by 108% and double conversions using AdStage’s PPC automation software, while also lowering acquisition cost by 18%.

Turning the Tables on YouTube Audiences

Turning the Tables on YouTube Audiences

Audiences were all the rage for advertisers and marketers in 2017. No longer just a tool for social media or display network marketing, audience targets became a major focus in paid search as well. From Customer Match to Similar Audiences, In-Market and Custom Intent, the focus for SEM has already begun to shift away from the “what” of your product or service to the “who” of your prospective clients and consumers.

YouTube Viewer Audiences for Search

Amid the flurry of audience targeting options being released and expanded nearly every month last year, one unique type of audience targeting in AdWords slipped in under the radar: YouTube Viewer Audiences for Search. This new targeting enables YouTube remarketing audiences for RLSA to retarget video viewers in search.

In this post, we’ll dig into this audience type in hopes of revealing why every paid search specialist ought to be taking advantage where possible.

To guide our exploration, we’ll draw upon the words of Brian Halligan, CEO at HubSpot:

“To be successful and grow your business and revenues, you must match the way you market your products with the way your prospects learn about and shop for your products” (emphasis added).

Why YouTube Advertising and/or Content Promotion is Worthwhile

As digital marketers, we tend to be very excited about the first part, and very ambitious about the second. Unfortunately, it’s not enough just to connect to the users who are already shopping for our product or service. The goal is to be smart and cohesive in accomplishing the task of marketing both in the “learn about” and “shop for” stages. So let’s first spend a moment on why YouTube advertising and/or content promotion is worthwhile in its own right.

According to eMarketer in 2017, monthly digital video viewership in the U.S. averaged more than 221 million individuals (81.2% of U.S. internet users). Internationally, Western Europe contributed another 219 million viewers of digital video monthly (68.2% of Western European internet users).

monthly digital video viewership in the U.S.

Think about YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine…you name it. It’s not hard to believe that so many of us are voluntarily consuming digital video at least once a month.

On the other hand, eMarketer’s projections for the next 3-5 years also show that viewership growth in the near future will be consistent but marginal.

Essentially, we are seeing that the market for digital video is nearing saturation in terms of consumption. Of course, this means that the market for video advertising is only going to grow more competitive as we all begin to compete for the same placements: to get in front of these valuable, attentive eyes and ears.

Using Video to Directly Populate Audiences

It’s time to turn the tables, think outside the box, and stay ahead of the game.We shouldn’t just value digital video as an ad format for retargeting website visitors or driving new website traffic for subsequent remarketing and direct ROI.

We don’t even need to argue for YouTube’s potential to “lift Branded search traffic” anymore. Video can now be used to directly populate viewer audiences for targeting on both Search and Display.

digital video as an ad format for retargeting website visitors

As Lee Odden (CEO at TopRank Online Marketing) once stated: “Content is the reason Search began in the first place.”

This is where we connect how people learn about and shop for our products or service. If vast digital video consumption is doing the “teaching,” then our Search remarketing must be ready to capture subsequent “shopping” moments for those users.

Making the Case for YouTube Advertising

Before a YouTube Viewer Audience strategy can successfully be executed, we first need to have some kind of presence on YouTube to generate views. This requires some kind of content strategy, video content production, and of course, some level of financial investment and buy-in from company decision-makers (which may or may not fall into your job description).

To help out those who need to justify an investment in YouTube advertising, we’ve compiled a group of statistics relating to the reach, device use, geographic locations, demographics, and user behavior associated with YouTube advertising.

Beyond the stats, though, the real need for video advertising comes from the reality that we no longer live in a world of easily defined, two-dimensional sales funnels. Buyer journeys are now a web of touchpoints from multiple devices and media, each as unique as the associated prospect. Skilled marketers must be prepared to address and nurture each of these users, at all times and on all platforms.

Data suggest that users consult YouTube for help with products and services before, during and after the decision-making process. Thus, YouTube can be an active player in all stages of the conversion funnel or buyer journey.

Video Content Strategy

So, to stay competitive and create the best buyer experience for every customer, a video content strategy is truly necessary. Without it, all that potential revenue and engagement is wasted. Not to mention missing the opportunity to capitalize on YouTube Viewer Audiences.

If the above stats aren’t enough to convince your company heads, you can always ask them to consider a new perspective for YouTube advertising: a low-risk channel for feedback that cooperatively assists more traditional video marketing efforts. You can also utilize earned actions KPIs and YouTube Viewer audience behavior to show that YouTube ads are successful.

Identifying and Building YouTube Viewer Audiences

For the purposes of this discussion, we won’t dive into the step-by-step of how to link a YouTube channel to Adwords or how to create a remarketing list. Rather, presented below is a framework for approaching your YouTube Viewer audiences by building personas associated with each. There are three foundational audiences that I believe every AdWords account will benefit from building, applying, and observing: “Website Strangers,” “Acquainted Visitors,” and “Non-Converting Fans.”

1. Website Strangers

These are users who have viewed at least one video from your channel (you can decide which videos to include/exclude based on your channel content). This means they have some familiarity with your brand. They have not, however, visited your website or completed any kind of conversion action. Thus, visiting your website is a clear next step to take in their customer journey.

Target these individuals with a Website Visit invitation. This might be in the form of a Text Ad on Search, or an Image or Responsive Ad on the Display network. Depending on your typical sales funnel, a website visit might lead directly to a conversion action, or it may transition the individual from a “Website Stranger” to an “Acquainted Visitor.”

2. Acquainted Visitors

These are slightly lower-funnel than “Website Strangers,” because they have engaged more directly with your brand. These are users who have visited your website once or more, or who have engaged more deeply with your content than simply viewing a video or ad. It may be that they liked or commented on your video, or even visited your channel page.

Because these users have an even greater familiarity with your brand, they can be directly targeted with a low-risk conversion invitation. That may mean signing up for an email newsletter or promo code, creating an account for later conversion, downloading a whitepaper, submitting a request for more information, or something else specific to your industry.

3. Non-Converting Fans

Lastly, it’s important to address individuals who engage more deeply with your content, whether by subscribing to your video channel or becoming a brand ambassador by sharing your content with others. They have already engaged with your website but just haven’t taken the step to convert.

These are users ideal to target with Discount or Promotional conversion offers. You might take advantage of Countdown ads in Search to increase urgency, apply a percent-off discount to your headline, or highlight some other offer to help close that deal.

3 types of youtube viewer audiences

Looking at these three foundational audiences, you can see that each is quite easy to compose. There is a lot of power in data collection and targeting capabilities for not a lot of effort on your part. A few sub-audiences built into a combination audience and you can quickly set yourself up for success.

Time to Put it All Together

Once your audiences are created, you can start applying them to your established Search campaigns for observation (or “bid only,” if you refuse to switch over to the new Adwords UI). This allows you to see how your Viewers are engaging with your current keywords and ad copy.

Utilizing AdWords ad customizers, you can also implement audience-specific messaging with IF-functions in your ad copy. As you monitor and quantify your audience behavior, you can then make informed decisions about bid modifiers or campaign structure to best address these YouTube viewers and nurture them in their decision-making process.

In addition to Search campaign application, do not forget the potential to utilize YouTube Viewer Audiences with Display campaigns. You might run a YouTube Viewer retargeting campaign for your Acquainted Visitors or Non-Converting Fans.

The Display network can also be a channel for inviting Website Strangers to your landing page. By breaking down your audiences to consider YouTube engagement as well as website behavior, you have the power to show much more tailored creative to these subsets of your prospect list.

And of course, once you have your audience lists established and your retargeting strategies in place, be sure to stop back here and share your thoughts. We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

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How to Use Ad Extensions to Boost Conversion During the Holiday Season

Posted by in Search
How to Use Ad Extensions to Boost Conversion During the Holiday Season

Amid the flurry of holiday ads, achieving a high ad rank in AdWords almost seems like a miracle. The competition is tough! Many retailers launched their PPC campaigns very early this year to capture the growing number of online shoppers (up 18.3% YoY, as TechCrunch reported).

As a PPC advertiser, how do you stand out? Most importantly, how do you make sure you’re getting only the right people to click on your ads?

Your holiday promotions will likely be seen by very broad audiences. To maximize your budget, use extensions to expand your ad with more relevant details.

In this article, I’ll show you several ads from retail brands that dominated SERP on Cyber Monday, with suggestions and tips to apply in your next AdWords campaign.

Ad Extensions to Drive Relevant Holiday Traffic

adwords extensions example

For holiday campaigns, AdWords extensions are especially useful for a few reasons:

  • Win higher ad rank for relevant searches
  • Boost conversion and lower CPA by creating very specific callout extensions at a campaign or ad group level
  • Improve customer experience by pointing people to relevant product categories on your website with sitelinks
  • Decrease time to conversion by using call extensions to get the customer on the phone in one click
  • Improve relevance by scheduling time-sensitive sitelinks for holiday or flash sales
  • Decrease CPC by excluding comparison shoppers with price extensions

Below are a few examples of using AdWords extensions to maximize conversion and click-through rate during the holiday season.

Schedule Time-Sensitive Sitelinks

To highlight limited-time offers, you can use sitelinks and specify the dates and times you want them to show. In the example below, J.C. Penney adds a time-sensitive link to feature the additional Cyber Monday discounts.

adwords extensions cyber monday

To increase click-through rate on a flash sale promotion, you can create urgency by showing how many hours are left or announce specific product categories going on sale.

When you create new campaign-level sitelink extensions, you have the option to select start date and end date and add a schedule of when you want your ad extensions will be available to show.

how to schedule sitelinks in adwords

For example, you can add a time-sensitive sitelink to announce a flash sale or schedule call extensions to show during your business hours.

Show Unique Selling Points With Callouts

Callout extensions look like sitelinks, but don’t actually contain the links. In the first example below, it’s “Pro Tips From our Experts” and “Scorecard Earns Points.” You can use callouts to show unique selling points or provide reassurance about shopping experience (for example, “Free shipping,” “Easy store pickup,” “Free returns”).

callouts in adwords cyber monday example

adwords callouts ecommerce

In the example above, Dick’s uses callouts to highlight its in-store services where certified technicians help customers customize or repair gear (“Pro tips from our experts,” “The Pros,” “Gear Service”). In the second example, Walmart uses callouts as a reminder of the brand’s promise of high-value, low-cost merchandise with its “Save money. Live Better” tagline.

While you can certainly add generic callouts at the account level, it can be effective to create them at the campaign or ad group level to narrow targeting. For example, for a campaign targeting people who shop for shoes, callouts could feature relevant shoe brands.

zappos adwords ad cyber monday

Don’t Overdo It

It’s tempting to stuff as many keywords as you can in your expanded text ads (especially if the keyword is “Cyber Monday”). But just like an overstuffed turkey can mean either undercooked stuffing or an overcooked bird, too many keywords in your ad means less room for copy that features how your offering is different.

In the ad below, that likely isn’t an issue, because the ad is for a deal aggregator. For a retail brand though, it’s wise to use the limited number of characters to highlight additional features instead.

adwords cyber monday ads example extensions

Relevance is Key

For e-commerce brands that want to stand out in search during the holiday season, relevance is key to success, whether it’s time, location, or advanced behavioral segmentation in Google Analytics.

How are you using ad extensions in your holiday campaigns? Let us know in the comments.


5 Reasons to Write Different Ad Copy for Facebook & AdWords

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

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

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

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

1. Intent

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

Intent Ideo AdWords

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

Intent Ideo Facebook

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

2. Engagement

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

Datorama AdWords Ad

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

Datorama Facebook

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

3. Images

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

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

pipedrive facebook

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

4. Targeting

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

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

x.ai Facebook

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

x.ai adwords ad

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

5. Keywords

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

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

Economist Facebook Ad

The Key Takeaway Here? Don’t Be Lazy

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

6 Advanced Techniques to Boost Your AdWords Performance

6 Advanced Techniques to Boost Your AdWords Performance

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

1. Use Conditional Keywords

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Use Long Tail Keywords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Create “Near Me” Campaign

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

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

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

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

long island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

location groups

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

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

local ad

(Image courtesy of Google)

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

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

multiple location groups

(Image courtesy of Google)


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

local ad multi locations

(Image courtesy of Google)


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

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

4. Enable Mobile Click-to-Call

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

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

call conversions adwords

i) Call Extension

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

call extension

(Image courtesy of Google)


ii) Calls from website

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

calls from website

 (Image courtesy of Google)

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

iii) Phone click on mobile site

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

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

mobile click to call

(Image courtesy of Google)

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

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

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

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

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

5. Find & Use a Winning Landing Page

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

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

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

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

ad history

6. Bid on Competitors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now it’s up to you!

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


AdStage PPC Reporting


[The PPC Show] Episode 33: Andrew Goodman, Founder of Page Zero

[The PPC Show] Episode 33: Andrew Goodman, Founder of Page Zero

The Latest and Greatest in Adwords News

In this episode, we were excited to talk about the latest and greatest in Adwords news with the author of one of the very first e-books on the subject, Andrew Goodman. AdStage’s Director of Product, Paul Wicker, sat down with him to talk Adwords bid adjustments, expanded text ads, the new Facebook for business teams, and Twitter’s almost acquisition.

Andrew founded Page Zero Media in 2000 in order to create an SEM firm that earnestly listened to clients and offered better services than existing offerings. After a few years of general research for a book on online marketing, Andrew honed in on Google Adwords and released the world’s first “how-to” on AdWords – “21 Ways to Maximize ROI on Google AdWords Select,” in April, 2002. And then, in 2005, Andrew published Winning Results with Google AdWords (McGraw-Hill; 2nd ed. 2008), considered the leading resource in the field. If his name sounds familiar, it may be because he’s spoken at 44+ North American SES Conferences and writes a regular column for ClickZ.com.

To hear Andrew the Adwords expert’s take on current trends in the paid advertising world, listen to the entire podcast below. Enjoy!



P.S. if you’re not following Andrew on Twitter… you should be! You can find him tweeting all things AdWords here 👉@andrew_goodman

New AdWords Cross-Device Reports: 3 Things You Need to Know

New AdWords Cross-Device Reports: 3 Things You Need to Know

How to Boost ROI with New AdWords Cross-Device Attribution Reports

Over the past decade, the rise of mobile usage has made it extremely difficult to track customers as they switch from one device to another. Even more challenging for today’s digital marketer is analyzing which channels are producing the highest results and how to attribute value to each of the channels a user passed through before converting.

In an effort to help advertisers measure a consumer’s path to conversion, Google released new AdWords cross-device attribution reports. On average, consumers own anywhere from two to five devices, including their mobile phone, desktop, and possible tablet or television. A recent study from March 2016, conducted by Google and Ipsos Connect, showed that 60% of consumers start the purchase process on device and complete it on another. The path to conversion is more complex than ever and anything but linear.

The path to conversion is more complex than ever and anything but linear.

In the past, the traditional marketing funnel was simple and clear: awareness, consideration, purchase. However, with the rapid adoption of mobile tablets and devices, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers and advertisers to measure the impact of their online advertising campaigns. It’s not as simple as a user search, user click, and a user conversion on the same device. The AdWords cross-device attribution reports use device conversion data that now shows device influence throughout conversion paths.

Three New AdWords Cross-Device Attribution Reports

The three AdWords cross-device attribution reports that are now available include:

  • Devices>: showing the cross-device activity happening in your AdWords account
  • Assisting Devices: showing what device types assisted conversions on other devices
  • Device Paths: showing the top conversion paths for customers using more than one device to convert

Each of these reports can be found in AdWords in the Tools tab under Attribution as shown in the below screenshot:

New Adwords Cross-Device Reports


For savvy advertisers that are obsessive about ad measurement, these benchmarks come in handy in a few different ways. View AdStage’s Quarterly PPC Benchmarks.

Using Different Attribution Models Other Than Last Click

There are 7 main attribution models that you can use for conversion tracking:

  1. Last Click Attribution Model
  2. First Click Attribution Model
  3. Linear Attribution Model
  4. Time Decay Attribution Model
  5. Position-Based Attribution Model
  6. Last Non-Direct Attribution Model
  7. Custom or Algorithmic Attribution Model

With the new AdWords Devices Report, you’re able to quickly identify how customers use different devices on their conversion path and better serve particular ads to your audience based on the cross-device activity.

For Example:

If you notice a conversion trend across different devices, you may want to use adjust your attribution model to boost a exposure for an ad that was displayed on a mobile, but converted on a tablet.

When choosing a new attribution model be sure to account for cross-device behavior because, unlike the traditional last click attribution model, credit will be assigned across the conversion path.

Quick Note: AdWords Device Report only includes conversions that had multiple device touch points. 

Updating Your Bid Adjustments for Different Devices

The new Assisting Devices report shows the number of last click conversions and click-assisted conversions broken down by each type of device. With the new Assist Ratio metrics, you can see how many conversions were assisted by impressions or clicks on that particular device compared to the number of actual conversions.

For Example:

Let’s say your Mobile Assist Ratio for a campaign is 2.20, this means for every conversion that is reported from a mobile device, 2.20 conversions on other devices were assisted by mobile impressions or clicks.

This information can help inform your mobile bid adjustment strategy. Going with the same example, if you notice mobile is assisting conversions on other devices by 2.2x, and your tablet assist ratio is only assisting conversions on other devices by 0.25x, you may want to lower your tablet bid adjustments and increase your mobile bid adjustments to maximize value from your mobile ad impressions.

Optimizing Your Mobile Strategy

Let’s say you’re analyzing the top conversion path and discover mobile is driving more assists than actual conversions. If that’s the case, you can optimize your mobile campaign strategy to be more educational rather than transactional. Your ad can highlight copy such as ‘Learn More’, as opposed to ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Sign Up Now’.

Additionally, the mobile landing page can be optimized to show the most important benefits of your product at the top, rather than the call-to-action of sign up now. For B2B companies, this may occur quite often, as your prospects may hear about your products or services at a conference, conduct a mobile search while they’re on the go, and convert later when they are back in their office on their laptop.

As with any attribution reporting, it’s important to consider how you want to measure conversions and apply credit to each device and ad channel. You can use the Google Analytics Model Comparison Tool to compare the results of up to three different types of attribution models to ensure that the attribution model you’re using reflects your advertising goals and business models.

Top 5 Ways To Use The New AdWords Device Bidding

Posted by in Advertising, Search
Top 5 Ways To Use The New AdWords Device Bidding

How to improve your campaigns with Google’s new AdWords device bidding feature

Learn how the new AdWords device bidding tools can help you improve your conversion rate across different devices.

1. Make a base bid

Set a base bid and bid adjustments of -100 percent to +900 percent on one or more devices. You won’t have to make the same bid for multiple devices, which means you’ll have more flexibility over how you target your ads.

2. Launch separate campaigns

Customise your bids to the devices that your customers use the most. For example, if your market spends more time browsing products and services from a tablet device than a desktop or mobile, a tablet-optimised bid campaign will enable you to tap into this market and become more competitive. While a tablet-optimised or mobile-optimised campaign can help increase your ROI from those specific devices, it’s still important to make sure you have separate campaigns that effectively target all of your customers, whatever the device they use to find your products and services.

3. Identify weaknesses in your current campaign

By separating your campaigns to different devices, you’ll be able to identify any weaknesses. Were you expecting more customers to be visiting your website from a desktop? Is your mobile and tablet performance below your competitors? Whatever is working in your current campaign, integrate it into your new campaigns. Make sure you have a high Quality Score, as this will mean your campaigns have been Google-approved and will likely achieve higher rankings within the search results. A good PPC manager will be able to optmise your campaign to acheive these goals.

4. Enjoy greater control of your campaigns

When Google announced its Enhanced Campaigns a few years ago, it restricted the extent to which advertisers could customise their bids, because all desktop and tablet ads had to be grouped. So, for example, if your customers were more likely to find your products and services via a tablet than a desktop, you would have been disadvantaged. That’s because you wouldn’t have been able to optimise your ads to the device that your audience were most likely to use. This is how you create a responsive website – using HTML and CSS to ensure your content is correctly formatted for different devices. Fortunately, with tablet-optimised bidding you’ll be able to bid to an audience that is more likely to use this device. According to Laura Collins, the PPC Team Leader of the UK media agency and Merkle company Periscopix, it is estimated that tablets are more likely to be used for watching television and other entertainment, rather than work

5. Make the most of mobile

People spend more time browsing products and services online via their mobile than any other devices. That’s according to research from Google in 2015, which revealed that in the U.S, Japan and eight other countries, more Google searches were made via a mobile device than a computer. Google did not reveal the name of the other countries at the time, although it would be unsurprising if this included countries with the highest level of smartphone penetration, such as Australia, the U.K and Spain.

Want to learn more about AdWords bid adjustments? Check out their best practices here.

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