Laura Collins – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Sat, 28 Aug 2021 00:25:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Common PPC mistakes and how to avoid them /common-ppc-mistakes-avoid-258198 Wed, 14 Sep 2016 14:14:00 +0000 http:/?p=258198 Columnist Laura Collins lays out five mistakes she commonly sees in paid search and explains how to avoid them.

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I was once asked to list my favorite PPC mistakes. To me, this seemed like a contradiction in terms; I don’t hold any of the mistakes I’ve made in particularly high regard. Perhaps a better phrase to use would have been common PPC mistakes. Because mistakes, no matter how hard we try, are common.

We’re all human and therefore capable of human error. And the world of PPC is rapidly evolving with new, ever more sophisticated features and updates. With all those shiny new bells and whistles to explore, it can be easy to forget the basics.

Here I take a look at what I’ve found to be the most common mistakes in PPC accounts, along with some guidance on how to avoid them.

Two kinds of mistakes

There are two main categories into which the mistakes I’ve listed below could fall: accidents, or misuse of best practices.

Accidents are the result of human or occasionally technological error, where there is no question that a mistake has been made.

On the other hand, some readers may find themselves disagreeing with some of the best practice “mistakes” I’ve included in here. A lot of people run PPC campaigns differently, whether we’re comparing agency-level best practices or individual account management techniques, but I believe avoiding the mistakes I’ve listed here will benefit the overall health of your campaigns.

Common PPC mistake #1: using broad match

Many people — including Googlers — would disagree with me here, but I think using broad match is a mistake. When auditing or taking over new accounts, it’s consistently the biggest cause of wasted spend and irrelevant traffic. It simply doesn’t provide you with enough information about a user’s intent to serve them the most appropriate ad.

Even if we take ridiculous search queries out of the equation for a second (I once saw a search for “margarine” matched to “body butter” in broad match), there are still problems. Broad match leads to regular cross-matching between ad groups.

The example below shows how a search for “red dresses” could trigger an irrelevant ad for red skirts. The keyword “red skirts” has a higher ad rank than “red dress” and is broadly related to the search query “red dresses.” This means the user is served the wrong ad, meaning they’re less likely to click through — and if they did, they’d end up on the wrong landing page.

Cross Matching

Of course, adding “red dresses” as a negative keyword to your “red skirts” ad group could solve this problem, but that would be incredibly time-consuming across all keywords and ad groups. And it could be avoided altogether by using phrase match.

Common PPC mistake #2: not using audiences correctly

The mistakes it’s possible to make with audiences could fill an article themselves, but there are a few that regularly pop up in account audits.

Incorrect targeting settings

Think very carefully about what you’re trying to achieve with your RLSA or customer match lists when applying them and choosing from these two options:

Target and bid

“Target and bid” means that only users who are in your remarketing lists will see the ads in this ad group. This is a great option to choose if you’re bidding on terms that would usually be too expensive, and you want to limit your exposure to a narrower audience — or if you want to serve specific ad messaging to previous visitors. “Bid only” is the right option if you just want to adjust bids for previous visitors in response to performance.

It is incredibly easy to make the wrong choice here or accidentally leave the default setting of “Bid only” enabled. This could result in either a sudden drop in traffic and revenue from a key area or huge spend where you weren’t expecting it. So make sure to double-check this for every ad group.

Using audience exclusions

A robust remarketing strategy, whether in search or on the Google Display Network, will most likely involve the creation of multiple lists, many of which could overlap with others. An “All Visitors — Last 30 Days” list, for instance, will contain the users that also sit in the “All Visitors — Last 7 Days” list.

That in itself is not a problem, but when it comes to creating your campaigns, you need to remember that ideally, you only want a particular user to be targeted by one ad group. Otherwise, your data is meaningless, and you could end up paying more for users than is necessary.

This means always excluding shorter/more granular lists from ad groups that are targeting broader audiences. So if you have two ad groups, one targeting visitors from the last seven days and the other visitors from the last three days, make sure exclude your three-day list from your seven-day ad group. If your two ad groups are product viewers and basket abandoners, exclude the basket abandoners from the product viewers ad group. Everyone who’s abandoned a basket must have viewed a product before that point, so no need to target them twice.

Building the right size lists

You need 100 users in a remarketing list to use it for GDN activity and 1,000 to use it for search. Outside of those limits, it’s pretty much up to you. But it’s all too common for people to get carried away building every list they can think of without considering what size they could be.

Many end up too granular and are unusable in search campaigns, in which case you need to stretch out your durations or look at less granular audiences. There probably isn’t a need for a list of people who abandoned a DVD in their basket last Tuesday — the last 30 days might do.

Abandoned Basket

Conversely, that robust remarketing strategy I mentioned above does require the creation of multiple lists. The results you’ll see from a user who visited your site and bounced straight off 29 days ago will differ hugely from results from someone who abandoned their basket yesterday; don’t just target them all with a blanket bid and creative in one ad group.

Let the volumes of traffic that you’re seeing on the site indicate just how granular you can afford to go with your remarketing lists. And make sure to check on and react to list volumes, rather than letting redundant lists languish in your account.

Common PPC mistake #3: using accelerated ad delivery

This one is the source of much debate among PPCers: standard or accelerated delivery. Do you set a daily budget and let Google decide how to distribute that budget across the day to ensure you’re on all day? Or do you allow your ads to serve as often as possible, even if that means your daily budget runs out at 9:00 a.m.?

At first glance, option one seems better; but when you think about it, what does that option really mean? Let’s simplify for the sake of argument and say your campaign budget is £24/day, and your bids are set at £1. If Google estimates you’re going to gain one click per hour throughout the day, it may only serve your ad, say, 30 times per hour.

But what if 1,000 searches are occurring for keywords in that campaign every hour? You’re missing out on 97 percent of them because Google has decided you can’t afford it, and you have no idea how valuable those impressions could be for your business.

On the other hand, if you were using accelerated delivery, then learned the day after you launched your campaign that your budget had run out after the first hour, you could take action. Clearly, you need to decrease your bids or increase your daily budget in order to appear for the entire day.

Standard delivery creates the illusion that you can “afford” to be appearing all day. But you can’t — Google is deciding when to show your ads instead of you. Whichever delivery method you choose, you run the risk of spending beyond your means. But accelerated delivery alerts you to this fact much more quickly and puts the control back in your hands.

Common PPC mistake #4: setting up automated rules incorrectly

Sales don’t always occur between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.; even if they do, it may be in a completely different time zone. But thanks to automated rules, there’s no need for anyone to be up until 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve making ad changes. It can all be set up to run in your absence without a hitch — as long as you’re careful.

First of all, make sure every setting on your “Create rule” screen is correct. And by that I mean double-check yourself, and get someone else to check over the settings for you. A load of sale ads going live on the wrong day can lead to huge problems:

Auto Rules

Are you applying the rule to selected ads or to all ads in a campaign? Should the rule be limited to ads with a specific label? Is this rule running daily, or just once? There is no such thing as being too careful here.

Also bear in mind that your rule could run at any time during the hour you’ve set. So if your sale ends at 2:00 p.m., and you don’t want sale ads potentially still live at 2:58 p.m., then leave yourself an hour’s grace at either end.

Common PPC mistake #5: going over budget

Nothing is surer to annoy a client or boss than overspending, but it is often and easily done. Speaking from experience, an account manager could, at any one time, be managing several clients and hundreds of different campaigns. This makes it almost impossible to manually keep track of budgets and spot potential overspends yourself.

Instead, you need to make budget tracking as simple and automated as possible so that it can be monitored easily and excessive spending reined in quickly.

By creating a script to export month-to-date spend into a Google doc, in combination with some simple Excel formulas, anyone can have a budget-tracker document for each client. It looks at previous spend and calculates projected spend for the month, giving you an indication of whether you need to increase or decrease spend.

If you work to an overall budget, it can be very top-level, or you can work to specific budgets for different campaign types, as long as you use consistent naming conventions across all campaigns, e.g., if you have a budget for remarketing campaigns which you need to keep track of, make sure “remarketing” is in the name of every campaign that needs tracking.

Budget Tracker

Final thoughts

One mistake certainly doesn’t make a bad account manager. Unless you’re reading this on your first day, you’ve probably been there yourself. But there are small changes we can all make to ensure those little mistakes are happening much less often.

Using a combination of care and attention, automation and another set of eyes should help to keep your campaigns in check and make for a happier workplace.

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Should you hitch your campaigns onto the sporting bandwagon? /hitch-campaigns-onto-sporting-bandwagon-255524 Tue, 16 Aug 2016 14:42:49 +0000 http:/?p=255524 Capitalizing on sporting events can be a great opportunity for advertisers, but will this strategy work for everyone? Columnist Laura Collins looks at the results of some recent campaigns to find out.

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For any of you out there who aren’t sports fans, this probably isn’t shaping up to be the best summer of your life. Between Euro 2016, Wimbledon and the Olympics, we’ve been bombarded with reminders that our weekly half-hour at the gym probably isn’t cutting it.

But, whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that events like these bring people together on an international scale that can scarcely be rivaled.

You only have to take a look at Google trends and the enormous surge in traffic around sporting events to see what a huge opportunity this is to connect with people:

Euros Google trends Olympics Google trends

I can think of few advertisers that wouldn’t love to take advantage of huge spikes in public interest like this, but is it appropriate for everyone? Where’s the line between effectively tapping into that public interest to better performance and just jumping on the bandwagon for the sake of it?

A handful of Merkle|Periscopix clients chose to run activity specifically related to sporting events this summer. Here, we take a look at what strategies they implemented and whether they achieved success.

The online bookmakers

Few advertisers seem more appropriate for running ads related to sporting events than online bookmakers. Football fans across the UK were gambling themselves into a frenzy for the entire duration of the month-long Euro 2016 championship (despite enthusiasm declining slightly after England’s swift exit), and we implemented a comprehensive strategy for one of our clients, including:

  • expanding our competitor bidding and bidding more aggressively on competitor terms (a common practice in the gambling industry) for the duration of the tournament;
  • increasing bids on generic and competitor terms before, after and during key matches; and
  • updating ad copy on a daily basis to reflect the latest fixtures and odds.

It’s not surprising to see that traffic and costs increased in the lead-up to key matches:

Clicks & Cost Around Games

But what’s great to see is that first-time deposits (their most important KPI) also increased around those games. Even better, we could see that the proportion of conversions coming from non-brand terms was significantly higher during those games. This showed that our increased investment in generics and competitors had paid off.

FTDs around games

With a client so intrinsically linked to sports, implementing specific strategies like this was a huge success and certainly something we would do again.

The supermarket

A well-known British supermarket had produced some tongue-in-cheek video content which they wanted to use to promote their online delivery service to users who may be having friends over to watch a game. The message was to avoid running to the shops at the last minute by ordering online beforehand with ease.

The obvious choice for making the most of this video asset was TrueView. We chose a variety of targeting options including:

  • Euro 2016 video placements;
  • the “Soccer Fans” affinity group; and
  • football anthem video placements.

This campaign was designed strictly for brand awareness and as such, was targeted with achieving over one million impressions and a view rate of above 20 percent. In fact, it beat its impression target by 28 percent and achieved a view rate of 22 percent, so it was a success in that respect.

The football anthems placements performed particularly well, with a view rate of over 40 percent! It seems the tongue-in-cheek nature of the video ad resonated much better with audiences that enjoyed novelty football songs than those looking for serious football content.

It’s worth noting that while this worked well as a brand awareness strategy, it achieved only a handful of conversions despite spending almost £9,000. Conversions weren’t a KPI in this case, so this didn’t pose a problem, but it’s not too surprising to see that when the product or service being promoted isn’t as closely related to football, direct response is much lower.

The obscure ones

A few clients decided to get a piece of the action despite their products’ relevance to sporting events being, in some cases, tenuous at best. The thinking behind this was that with all that buzz and traffic out there, surely it makes sense to try and tap into it however we can.

One telecommunications company specializing in SMS marketing wanted to target bars and pubs showing Euro 2016 matches. The aim was to get them to sign up for the SMS marketing service so they could alert their customers to particular matches or offers that were on at any time.

In order to do this, we utilized domain targeting with Gmail ads. We targeted the domains of known drinks suppliers, from whom their target audience were likely to have received emails. Unfortunately, we came across two problems with this strategy:

  • The audience proved too niche and the targeting too narrow. The whole campaign generated a very small number of impressions and clicks.
  • What little response it achieved was very expensive. The CPA for this campaign was 360 percent higher than that of other prospecting activity run via Gmail during the same period.

Another client, a luxury goods retailer, secured a deal to sell official team GB merchandise, including bracelets and cufflinks. Again, with a product that wouldn’t already be well-known to users, search was out of the question, and it was decided to promote these items via Gmail ads. There was a host of sporty targeting options at our disposal, such as:

  • team GB/Olympics keywords;
  • topics like Olympics, Swimming, Sports News; and
  • interests like running, health & fitness and tennis.

Despite the seemingly perfect marriage of official Team GB merchandise and sports-loving audiences, in the three weeks prior to the Olympics, the campaign spent almost £700 but failed to secure a single conversion.

On reflection, vast numbers of people could fall into the audiences being targeted here, but a love of sport was no strong indication that they’d be interested in buying such a niche product.


People are incredibly passionate about sports. Whether they’re watching live, cheering along to the TV with their friends or posting about it on social media, few things will get that kind of reaction from so many people.

And while that passion can translate into engagement and sales for products and brands with a clear affinity to these sporting events, it’s obvious from our experiences that it doesn’t work for everyone. Passionate fans can smell insincerity a mile off, so don’t try to shoehorn a sports-related message into your offering thinking you can magically get anyone watching an event to buy into your brand.

If your products or services can truly enrich a user’s experience of these kinds of sporting events, then, by all means, get involved with that buzz. But otherwise — as I think to myself when watching the 100m finals from the sofa — leave it to the professionals.

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Expanded Text Ads: Are they living up to the hype? /expanded-text-ads-living-hype-253872 Tue, 19 Jul 2016 14:30:55 +0000 http:/?p=253872 Expanded Text Ads will be available to all AdWords advertisers by the end of the year, so how might this impact your accounts? Columnist Laura Collins shares some data from Merkle|Periscopix clients.

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Just as the numbers 4-4-2 will be immediately familiar to any soccer fan, 25-35-35 is a combination few people who’ve ever worked in PPC could easily forget.

A 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines have been the building blocks of AdWords text ads since day one. We’ve all slaved away trying to fit compelling copy into these strict limits, desperately tried to knock one character off the first description line to add a full stop at the end, scoured the thesaurus for a shorter synonym… the struggle has been real.

So it was with near-delirious excitement that we at Merkle|Periscopix met Google’s announcement in May that, after testing Expanded Text Ads in a closed beta, they would be rolling them out to all advertisers over the course of this year.

What are Expanded Text Ads?

Previously, we’ve been able to give ad headlines a boost in size, but only at the expense of the description lines. If your first description line ended in a full stop, exclamation or question mark, the ad could be eligible for first line promotion. Your description line was bumped up to the headline ad, and your share of the search results page increased:

1st line promotion

But what Google has now given us is 47 percent more characters to play with. Instead of a 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines, we’ve got two headlines (two!) of 30 characters each, plus an 80-character description line. That bigger headline doesn’t come at the expense of your description lines: everything has been super-sized.

Normal to ETA

As well as increasing the character limits, display URLs have also changed with Expanded Text Ads. Rather than manually entering any URL you like (as long as it matched the domain of the final URL), it’s now automatically extracted from your final URL, and you can customize the rest of it with up to two paths (e.g., /Clothing/Dresses).

Why has Google done this?

Google has been stingy with character limits for years — why the sudden generosity?

It all appears to be part of Google’s shift in focus towards mobile. Mobile is growing, and the AdWords that was built 15 years ago — when all you could do on a phone was talk to someone (imagine) — simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

Step one towards creating a more unified, streamlined experience across devices was the removal of right-hand side ads from desktop in February of this year. This left room for extra text and paved the way for ads which look more uniform across desktop, mobile and tablet.

The ever-evolving power of mobile devices means the lines between them and their desktop/tablet counterparts will continue to blur. Google is acknowledging this with a change that, luckily for us, means significantly more copy with which to get our message across.

How are Expanded Text Ads impacting accounts?

At Merkle|Periscopix, we’ve been implementing Expanded Text Ads in our accounts as soon as they’re available and keeping a very close eye on performance. We looked not only at how well these ads were performing compared to standard ads, but also at how often they were appearing.

It’s still a little too early to draw many definitive conclusions, but some early observations include:

  • The percent of impressions for Expanded Text Ads varies dramatically from client to client and from week to week. We’ve seen it vary from as little as 20 percent to around 90 percent for one finance client — although this soon settled to a less dramatic 45 percent:
% Served
  • Variation in performance between Expanded Text Ads and standard ads can look quite different depending on if you’re looking at “top” or “other.” One travel client found that CTR on Expanded Text Ads was 32 percent higher when appearing in the banner but only 10 percent higher when appearing at the bottom of the page.
  • Some clients have even seen worse CTR from Expanded Text Ads, which is a real surprise — not dramatically worse, but it’s still worth bearing in mind that they may not necessarily have a positive impact on your account.

What to remember when implementing Expanded Text Ads

Expanded Text Ads are worth testing in any AdWords account. I can think of few instances where the ability to add more content to your ad could be a negative. And remembering a few handy tips should mean you’re able to make the most of them:

  • Don’t assume they’ll achieve better performance than your standard ads and forget about them once they’re implemented. As we’ve seen at Merkle|Periscopix, there are instances where performance can be worse, so ensure that you’re checking back regularly and analyzing performance.
  • Label both your Expanded Text Ads and standard ads carefully to make analysis simpler when you’re looking at performance farther down the line.
  • Remember, they’re still text ads. Don’t forget to add and optimize your extensions!
  • Ensure the data you collect is statistically significant; if Expanded Text Ads are only being served a small percentage of the time, it may take a while before you can draw reliable conclusions.

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Big changes to device bidding in AdWords: What could they mean for your accounts? /big-changes-device-bidding-adwords-mean-accounts-251203 Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:26:37 +0000 http:/?p=251203 Columnist Laura Collins discusses the impact of individual device bid adjustments in AdWords, an upcoming change recently announced during Google Performance Summit in San Francisco.

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Anyone who runs PPC campaigns will be well aware that behavior varies across devices. Even if you don’t manage PPC accounts, you need only to think about yourself as a user (and what device you turn to for which actions) to appreciate the difference between mobile and desktop behavior.

Acknowledging these differences and adjusting your strategy and bids for mobile devices is vital for campaign success, and Google has recently announced updates which could have a huge impact on your accounts if used effectively.

Here we’ll look at exactly what those updates are and consider what they could mean long term.

What’s changing?

Before enhanced campaigns were released in 2013, it was possible to create separate campaigns for each device you wanted to target. However, multiple versions of each campaign complicated things, and as device usage proliferated, Google simplified the situation with enhanced campaigns.

With just one campaign for all devices, you set your base bids for desktop and tablet together and then were able to apply a bid adjustment to mobile (-100 percent to +300 percent).

Over the coming months, Google will be rolling out a change to enhanced campaigns that will allow you to set your base bids for any device and set bid adjustments for the others. Tablet has broken free of the shackles of desktop, and you get to choose which device is most important for your campaign and should thus act as the baseline.

It should come as little surprise that Google felt the need to update enhanced campaigns when you think about how much mobile usage has changed in the last three years.

Mobile traffic has now overtaken desktop, so having your mobile bids anchored to desktop and tablet had begun to seem antiquated. Plus, I’m sure many of you will know the frustration of seeing vast differences in performance between desktop and tablet and being able to do nothing about it.

What will the impact be?

Well, nothing — unless you choose to take advantage of this change and use it to help your business. But here I’ll take a look at historical data from Merkle|Periscopix clients and think about how these two big changes could affect them.

1. Tablet bidding

People often talk about how users behave on mobile and desktop: research or purchase, on the move or at a desk, fat thumbs or widescreen. But much less thought has gone into how people use their tablets. This is most likely because for three years, we’ve not had the ability to make actionable distinctions between tablet and desktop, as AdWords has lumped them in together.

In theory, tablets serve a different purpose from desktops. From my own experience, I’d say a tablet is:

  • more likely to be used for entertainment, not for work;
  • more likely to be used as a second screen while watching television; and
  • a research tool — but one that, thanks to screen size, I’d be more likely to purchase on than a mobile.

That’s just me, of course, but Merkle|Periscopix data would support the idea that desktop and tablet actually have very different uses:

Tablet vs Desktop Stats

In Q1 2016, bids were identical across desktop and tablet in all of our accounts, but interestingly, CPCs are 46 percent cheaper on tablet than desktop. It’s likely the higher CTR on tablets could have contributed to this, with a higher Quality Score meaning lower CPCs. Also, inventory may be cheaper on tablets in general.

It’s perhaps not too surprising to see that conversion rate is lower on tablets as, much like mobiles, people tend to use them for research before converting on a desktop. However, the CPCs are so much lower that despite the difference in conversion rate, tablet CPA was 25 percent lower than desktop.

This isn’t the case for every client, though; in some instances, a much lower conversion rate on tablets means a significantly higher CPA than on desktops and/or smartphones.

When it becomes possible to apply bid adjustments to tablets, for some clients we’ll be able to afford to be more aggressive with bids and significantly increase our impression share while still maintaining a lower CPA than on desktop. Not only could this help to drive more conversions on tablets themselves, but with them often being the first step in the user journey, it could end up driving conversions on desktop as well.

For others, it might mean we can finally bring tablet CPA in line with other devices and improve the efficiency of our campaigns.

2. Base bids on any device

We’re all used to desktop being the star of the show, bidding-wise. We’ve had the choice to do anything from excluding mobiles altogether to increasing bids by 300 percent. But in cases where mobile performance differed drastically from desktop, this could prove very restrictive. And when you think about user behavior and the prevalence of mobile device usage, it’s about time we were able to focus our efforts on the devices that really matter.

At Merkle|Periscopix, we’ve seen what is a very common trend: mobile impressions growing to the point where in April of this year, they overtook desktop for the first time. Desktop made up just 36 percent of client impressions last month, compared to 57 percent in May 2015. And while tablet hasn’t seen the same meteoric rise as mobiles, impressions have grown by 20 percent YOY.

Impressions by device

You can now create campaigns that only target mobile or tablet, should you so choose. While going back to the days of separate campaigns for each device may not be prudent, in some instances the ability to implement device-specific strategies in this way is a really exciting prospect.

Final thoughts

With these changes, Google further acknowledges that not all devices are created equal and hands back a level of control which was taken away with the release of enhanced campaigns. It would be wise at this point to identify areas of your accounts which could benefit most from these changes, so that when they’re rolled out you’re already to take full advantage of them.

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Dynamic remarketing: not just for retailers anymore /dynamic-remarketing-not-just-retail-247389 Tue, 26 Apr 2016 15:01:03 +0000 http:/?p=247389 Think dynamic remarketing is only for retailers? Think again! Columnist Laura Collins explains how non-retailers can set up these campaigns and discusses the success her agency's clients have seen by utilizing this tactic.

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It would be every advertiser’s dream for a user to convert on the first visit to their website. You’d only pay for one click; there would no need for attribution. Oh, how simple things would be!

Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality in any vertical. Whether it’s buying some shoes, getting a mortgage or requesting a product demo, people like to do their research, and in fact will very rarely convert after that first click.

But that’s not to say they won’t eventually choose to convert with you instead of your competitors — you may just need to give them a reminder. That’s where remarketing comes in.

Creating the most personalized, bespoke ad copy possible is a surefire way to yield better results in any channel, which is why dynamic remarketing, in particular, is so valuable.

For the last few years, dynamic remarketing has become a vital part of any online retailer’s marketing strategy, serving users ads dynamically populated with products that they’ve previously viewed. At my employer (Periscopix, a Merkle Company) we often see dynamic remarketing yield conversion rates up to two times higher than with standard remarketing for retail clients.

Dynamic remarketing works by linking up your Google Merchant Center (GMC) feed to a campaign and adding custom parameters to your remarketing tag which associate users with the unique IDs of the feed items they’ve viewed. When that user is later served an ad, the image, description and price of the products they’ve viewed are then dynamically inserted into the ad template.

Dynamic Remarketing ad

At one time, this dynamic option was only available to retailers, as it required a GMC feed, but in October 2014, Google released dynamic remarketing across verticals. This allows non-retail advertisers to utilize what they know about user behavior on their site to create personalized ads to draw people back in.

Here, I recap how to set up these campaigns, discuss the types of clients I’ve seen benefit from them and look at some results.

How to dynamically remarket without a GMC feed

While non-retailers don’t need a GMC feed to run dynamic remarketing, you will still need to create a feed of your products or services, including attributes like images, prices or unique IDs. This essentially acts as a database of information that can be used in your dynamic ads.

You’ll need to populate the rows with products or services (e.g., different flights that a user could have viewed) and the columns with attributes like the corresponding URL and price.

Google provides feed templates tailored to different verticals, as well as a custom option for anything that doesn’t fit into their predefined business types. Once created, you can upload your feed into the “Business data” section of your AdWords shared library.

Shared Library

Once this feed is linked to a remarketing campaign, you are then ready to start serving people dynamic ads based on their on-site behavior.

Would this work for my business?

We’ve tried dynamic remarketing on a variety of clients at Periscopix, and while we’ve experienced a few teething problems with feed and campaign setup, there have also been some promising results.


For a client specializing in jobs in higher education, we created a feed of available job roles with attributes including job title, salary and location.

Not long after launch, the campaign was achieving a CPA (cost per action) of just £4.36, which was 30 percent lower than search. In fact, dynamic remarketing proved to be a great option for several recruitment clients, and consistently across the board, we found the CPA to be lower than that of corresponding search campaigns.

Commercial property

Another client, which rents office space across the country, built a feed with location, pricing and images for each of their office locations to dynamically target users who’d viewed a location but not requested more information.

After some initial problems with the feed, which recognized every office within the M25 (a ring road that nearly surrounds London) as just “London,” the team got the campaign working as needed and saw conversion rates 14 times higher than with standard remarketing!


A client that runs a variety of worldwide corporate events had initially tried remarketing relevant ads to people who’d viewed a specific event manually, but this proved incredibly difficult to manage.

Creating a feed with the details of each event dramatically cut the hours involved and achieved a conversion rate 146 percent higher than their standard remarketing campaign.

Final thoughts

There’s compelling evidence from our wealth of dynamic remarketing experience with retail that serving people ads based on what they’ve viewed on site significantly increases the chance that they will come back and purchase. So it’s little surprise that we’re seeing a similar pattern with other verticals.

If you’re a non-retail advertiser with a wide range of products or services, adding a dynamic campaign to your remarketing strategy could have a big positive impact on conversions. With Google’s simple-to-use feed templates and easy setup, what have you got to lose?

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Customer Match: Common Questions & How To Answer Them /customer-match-common-questions-answer-242789 Tue, 01 Mar 2016 15:38:31 +0000 http:/?p=242789 Feeling apprehensive about using Customer Match? Columnist Laura Collins tackles some frequently asked questions about this relatively new targeting feature in AdWords.

The post Customer Match: Common Questions & How To Answer Them appeared first on Search Engine Land.


When Google released Customer Match last year, PPCers got very excited. For years we’ve been seeing a noticeable shift in focus from keywords to audiences, and this audience-focused tool promised to revolutionize the way we’re able to communicate with customers.

All that customer data locked away in CRM databases for years could now be tapped as a way to create highly targeted, personalized campaigns. Google has built another section of the bridge between offline and online data.

At my employer (Periscopix, a Merkle Company), we were keen to start using Customer Match across a wide range of clients. But some recurring questions have meant implementation has been slightly slower than expected.

Here we look at some of the main concerns raised by ourselves and our clients, and how these have been addressed.

The Basics

Customer Match is essentially a new way of building remarketing lists in AdWords. First of all, you need a list of email addresses provided to you by customers: this must be first-party data.

This list can be anything — from every customer you’ve ever had to just people who purchased a particular brand of jeans last spring — as long as there are at least 1,000 emails in it.

Creating a list

Google then spends up to 24 hours matching those addresses with Google accounts and creates an audience list that sits in your shared library. That list can then be used to target those users on Search, YouTube or Gmail. Unfortunately, at the moment, this option is not available on the Google Display Network.

It’s understandable that any targeting option using customer email addresses could ring alarm bells, and there were a variety of questions to answer before we could start using Customer Match for our clients.

Does This Mean Google Can Store & Use These Email Addresses?

Google is acutely aware of people’s concerns about data security, and the company provides several reassurances around Customer Match.

Data won’t be used for any purpose other than matching email addresses, which means no sharing with third parties or other Google teams or for enhancing profiles about customers. In fact, once the matching process is complete, the email addresses themselves are deleted seven days after being uploaded.

If that doesn’t allay your fears, the email address lists can be encrypted with the SHA256 algorithm, which is the industry standard for hashing data. That means Google has no visibility whatsoever over those email addresses, and again, all data is deleted after seven days.

Can I Only Upload Gmail Addresses?

The simple answer is no. Uploaded email lists can contain email addresses from any domain, which are then matched by Google. Several B2B clients have expressed concern that very few of their customers would have provided Gmail addresses, so they wouldn’t get a high match rate.

But Google is able to match to any address which is the primary email address associated with a Google account, which can very often be an address on a company domain. It’s true that we’ve seen lower match rates for B2B than B2C, but by no means low enough to say it isn’t worth exploring for those clients, as well.

What Match Rate Can I Expect To See?

This can vary hugely from one client to another. We’ve seen anything from 25 percent for B2B to 62 percent for retail. Unfortunately, there’s no concrete way to predict this.

Google requires a minimum of 1,000 emails in a list for upload into AdWords, but in this case, we’d say bigger is better. First, the minimum remarketing list size requirements of 1,000 users for search and 100 users for YouTube/Gmail apply after matching, so if you’re uploading a list of 1,500 users and only 50 percent matched, you won’t be able to target those users via search.

At Periscopix, we recommend guarding yourself against low match rates by uploading a minimum of 10,000 emails in each list.

What If Someone Opts Out Of Our Database?

Users have to give permission for their email addresses to be used, and, of course, they have the right to revoke that permission at any time.

Managing these changes can be done in one of two ways: via the AdWords API or manually. As with anything involving the API, there’s some development work involved in implementation, but where that isn’t possible, manual updates are fairly simple.

Simply find the remarketing list you created using Customer Match within your shared library, click on the title and then the pencil icon to edit:

Editing a list

And you can then upload a new list of email addresses to add to or remove from your current list:

Add new emails


So it’s quick and simple to make sure the email data you’re using is up-to-date.

Why Use Customer Match, When We Already Have Standard Remarketing Lists?

While AdWords remarketing lists are commonly the foundation of any good remarketing strategy, they’re primarily URL-based, so they’re relatively limited in terms of segmenting people by specific behaviours.

I detailed in an earlier blog that GA remarketing lists offer some more sophisticated options like creating lists of highly engaged users, or lists based on purchase behaviour. But if your CRM data is up to scratch, Customer Match could provide that next level of granularity and enable you to target previous customers based on highly specific criteria that would never have been possible before.

Also, if someone purchased something from you over a year ago, that would immediately rule them out of any RLSA activity, as the membership duration limit is 180 days. With Customer Match, there’s no such limit. You could choose to upload a list of users who purchased products to celebrate the new millennium if you wanted (although I’d advise against that). This could be particularly useful for subscription-based services or seasonal products.

Finally, one of the most exciting new options we’ve been able to explore is remarketing with Gmail Ads, which isn’t possible with AdWords or GA remarketing lists. Having already seen great results from highly engaging Gmail Ads, we’re hoping the addition of remarketing lists, whether just for adjusting bids or for specifically targeting previous customers, will help maximise performance and ROI on what is traditionally more of a brand awareness tool.

Final Thoughts

People get very nervous about Personally Identifiable Information. So much so that some advertisers may rule out Customer Match completely. But to do that is to miss out on a valuable new tool for connecting with your customers.

I hope this column has helped to reassure some doubters out there. And if you still don’t feel comfortable with directly targeting users with their email address, I’d highly recommend uploading email lists and making use of the similar user lists which will then be automatically created by Google. It’s a low-risk way to make use of Customer Match and potentially find some relevant new users.

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Get Your Priorities Straight: Structuring Google Shopping Campaigns /get-priorities-straight-structuring-google-shopping-campaigns-240785 Tue, 02 Feb 2016 15:21:07 +0000 http:/?p=240785 A good campaign structure can have a significant impact on performance, but what structure is right for your business? Columnist Laura Collins discusses some options that have worked well for her clients.

The post Get Your Priorities Straight: Structuring Google Shopping Campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.


I’m a big fan of Google Shopping. As a user, it provides an easy-to-use platform for comparing products and prices at a glance. Instead of clicking through to eight different websites to find the item I want at the right price, I could make my choice before I even leave the search results page.

Shopping campaigns are invaluable for any e-commerce retailer. At my employer (Periscopix, a Merkle Company), we consistently see them outperform generic search in terms of revenue and cost of sales.

Shopping campaigns have taken many shapes over the years, as Google has responded to demand and made improvements. Many of you may remember Product Listing Ad (PLA) campaigns, Shopping’s previous incarnation.

While creating a campaign structure based on your feed was possible, it certainly wasn’t as simple and intuitive as it became when Shopping campaigns were launched in spring 2014. Also, a brand-new feature was the ability to use campaign priority settings in order to preferentially serve particular products over others, without the need to increase bids.

While at first, the more complex options at your disposal with Shopping seemed daunting in comparison to relatively simple PLAs, we soon found that they enabled us to create campaigns that reflected our clients’ needs, were easier to optimize and performed significantly better.

There are a variety of ways you could choose to structure your Shopping campaigns, but how do you know which one is right for you?

With our diverse range of retail clients, we’ve had the chance to try out dozens of different structures and analyze performance. Here, I’ve collected some of the best and hope to provide inspiration for anyone who’s struggling with deciding which structure is right for them.

Campaign Prioritization

One of the most exciting new possibilities with Shopping campaigns was the ability to assign different priority levels to campaigns, in order to favor certain products over others. We’ve explored several ways of prioritizing our campaigns to achieve the best results. There are a few that we’ve found to be highly successful.

1. Promotions/Generics/Brand

This is a structure based on the need to (a) promote sale products over those offered at full price; and (b) to report on generics and brand separately. Adding a “Sale” custom label to any products on offer within the feed allows us to add those products to a high-priority Shopping campaign.

This means if someone searches with a term that could apply to two products, one on sale and one at full price, the sale item will be favored. We know a discounted item is more likely to encourage someone to buy, so we’ve found this helps boost conversion rates.

The medium- and low-priority campaigns are then divided by generics and brand respectively. Adding all brand terms as campaign-level negative keywords to a medium-priority campaign filters brand traffic down to low priority. This gives the ability to optimize towards different KPIs for brand and generics, and it makes reporting more transparent.

2. Promotions/Best Performers/All Products

This structure has proved useful when pushing best-performing products is a top priority. The high-priority campaign is the same as above, created using custom labels applied to sale or promotional items.

Then the medium-priority campaign is built by splitting products with the strongest performance down to item ID level and leaving everything else to filter into the low-priority “all products” campaign.

Regular analysis of the low-priority campaign helps identify items that are performing well, which can then be moved up into the Best Performers, ensuring products to which we know users respond well are appearing in the Shopping results most.

3. Long Tail/Short Tail/Brand

This structure was thought up as a way of increasing impression share on generic terms without wasting spend on users too far up the purchase funnel. The high-priority campaign was designed to capture people who’d already done their research and knew exactly which product they wanted to buy (e.g., someone searching for “size 8 red striped maxi dress” rather than “dress”).

This was achieved by excluding short-tail search terms and maintained by regularly checking search query reports to ensure just long-tail search terms were being captured.

Short-tail queries then filtered down into the medium-priority campaign to capture users who were still in their research phase. Brand terms were added as negative keywords to both the high- and medium-priority campaigns to allow brand traffic to trickle down into low priority.

By segmenting search queries in this way, the team was able to prioritise long-tail search queries and increase generic impression share specifically for those terms, where they knew they were more likely to lead to a conversion.

Once you’ve decided how to use campaign prioritization, you need to think about what structure you’re going to use within each campaign.

Ad Group Or Product Group?

Whereas in a traditional search campaign, you would build your structure on ad groups and keywords, in Shopping, you’ll find ad groups and product groups. However, that doesn’t mean product groups are the same as keywords.Product or Ad Group

Product groups let you carve your feed into smaller segments to allow for more granular optimization. If you didn’t add any keywords to a campaign, you’d be targeting nothing, whereas your Shopping campaign would target everything within your feed without product groups in place. They allow you to build a logical structure that is easier to manage and optimise and to exclude any products you don’t want included.

While you can set bids at both product group and ad group level, there are several instances where you may need to use ad groups. Mobile bid adjustments, promotional text and negative keywords are all applied at this level, so it’s a good idea to group different product ranges into different ad groups to allow for relevant promotional text and easy exclusion of irrelevant traffic.

Subdivide All Products By… What?

Once you’ve created your first ad group within a Shopping campaign, you’re given the choice to subdivide “All products” into separate product groups, which you certainly should do. While an “All products” ad group is useful as a catch-all tool to ensure complete Shopping coverage, relying on it entirely leaves you with no ability to analyze performance and optimize.

Shopping Segmentation

So which option do you choose for subdividing your products?

  • Category. This is probably our most commonly used option. It allows you to divide your campaigns by the Product Category attribute within your feed. The picture below is an example of what a typical product category structure could look like for an online clothes retailer. So in order to create a product group for maxi dresses, you would need to subdivide into Womenswear > Dresses > Maxi Dresses. This relies on a healthy feed with logical Product Categories in place, so if this type of subdivision isn’t working for you, it could be time to make some improvements to your feed.
Product Category
  • Brand. This is particularly useful for retailers that sell multiple brands and want to bid or report on them separately.
  • Item ID. This is the most granular you can get. Unless you have a very small selection of products, subdividing to item ID level certainly isn’t necessary for all of them. However, it can be useful once a campaign has been running long enough to gather data, if you notice particularly strong or poor performance from specific items.
  • Condition. Condition is relevant for retailers selling both new and second-hand/used products.
  • Product type. This allows for more granular categorization of products within your feed, if the options within the Product Category attribute aren’t specific enough for your needs. With a similar hierarchical structure, you can subdivide by Product Type in the same way as with Category.
  • Custom labels. These labels can be applied to products within the feed in order to separate them within Shopping when it isn’t possible using any of the options above.

Finding the campaign, ad group and product group structure that works best for you should provide you with highly granular Shopping campaigns which are easy to manage, analyze and improve.

Final Thoughts

There is no “right” way to structure your Shopping campaigns. It depends entirely on your business’s reporting needs and KPIs.

The great thing is that there are so many options at your disposal now that with a little consideration, you should be able to find the perfect one.

The post Get Your Priorities Straight: Structuring Google Shopping Campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Making the Most Of Google Analytics Audiences Within Your Search Campaigns /making-google-analytics-audiences-within-search-campaigns-239054 Tue, 05 Jan 2016 16:27:32 +0000 http:/?p=239054 Search marketers, have you been using Google Analytics in conjunction with Remarketing Lists for Search Ads? If not, columnist Laura Collins is here to explain the benefits.

The post Making the Most Of Google Analytics Audiences Within Your Search Campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.


Since its launch in 2013, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) has become such an integral tool for PPC marketers that it’s hard to remember what our campaigns looked like without them. Did we just… use the same bid for everyone? Madness.

Things got even more exciting in June 2015, when Google announced they were allowing Google Analytics remarketing lists to be used in search campaigns (where they’d previously been restricted to use in display).

As you may know, there are many more options at your disposal when building remarketing lists in Google Analytics (GA) than in AdWords, so this opens up a range of new possibilities for your RLSA activity. But how exactly do you get your GA account ready for RLSA? And with so many options to choose from, how do you decide which lists are right for you?

In this article, I’m going to examine some of the most successful GA + RLSA strategies we’ve implemented at Periscopix, a Merkle Company, and how to go about setting them up.

Getting Started

Before you get carried away with brainstorming strategies and creating GA remarketing lists, you need to make sure that your GA account supports remarketing.

This is a very simple process for anyone with “edit” access to the account: In the admin tab, just navigate to the correct property and click Tracking Info, then Data Collection. Then it’s as simple as flicking a switch to enable data collection for both display and search remarketing.

Enable Remarketing

Once that’s done, you can get started on building your remarketing lists. Much like in AdWords, where remarketing lists are automatically created as soon as your code is implemented on-site, GA offers up some inspiration for audiences you could be targeting.

Under the remarketing tab, you’ll find a selection of preconfigured audiences that can be easily created with just a few clicks. Or if you’ve got some specific audiences in mind, you can choose to create a new audience or import a segment that has already been created within the account.

Audience Builder

At Periscopix, we’ve had a few months to try out a range of GA + RLSA strategies, and here are a handful of those that we’ve found to be most successful.

Google Analytics Smart Lists

Smart Lists are one of the handy preconfigured audience types at your disposal in the remarketing tab. They’re lists automatically created by Google based on machine learning and conversion data — which, in theory, should contain users highly likely to convert on a subsequent visit.

There’s already been compelling evidence of the benefits of using these audiences within your display remarketing campaigns, and it seems they’re proving just as successful in search. Some of our clients are seeing GA smart lists achieving conversion rates up to 20 percent higher than other audiences when applied to search campaigns.

But in fact, it’s Shopping campaigns where these audiences are really excelling. Several retail clients have applied smart lists as audiences and seen conversion rates 58 percent higher than their other audiences and 138 percent higher than users outside their remarketing lists.

These strong conversion rates mean cost of sale for smart lists is up to 59 percent lower than overall Shopping performance, meriting the use of some large positive bid adjustments to maximize the revenue from these audiences. With these adjustments only recently put in place, it’ll be fascinating to see the true impact the use of Smart Lists in Shopping will have on performance.

User Engagement Lists

Another very popular strategy when using GA remarketing is to create audiences of your most highly engaged users. While AdWords remarketing lists can be great for retargeting people who’ve visited the site, simply visiting a particular URL may be no real indication of whether someone is the right customer and therefore worth re-targeting.

In particular, this can be a problem for certain industries where you’re battling with an uneducated market. Hosting is a perfect example of this: someone searching for “hosting” could be your next big customer or a teenager looking for a new place to host his next game of Minecraft. If that teenager ends up on your home page and in your “all visitors” list, you certainly don’t want to bid more for next time he completes a similar search.

By creating lists in GA based on user engagement, you can help to filter out those irrelevant users and drill down to the visitors really worth spending extra money on. A few of our most successful engagement-based audiences have been:

  • Spent more than X minutes on site
  • Visited more than Y pages per session
  • Bounces = 0

If you’re not seeing a significantly improved performance from your current audiences, why not go one step deeper and make sure you’re only using those brilliant RLSA strategies for your most engaged users?

Enhanced Ecommerce

Enhanced Ecommerce is a plugin that enables retailers to measure user interactions with particular products on-site. This can be anything in the funnel, from viewing a product on a category page to actually purchasing.

It can provide fascinating insights into how users are behaving, how different products are performing, and also where people are falling out of the sales funnel.

Not only that, it enables you to build remarketing lists based on those interactions. If you’re using Enhanced Ecommerce, a new tab will appear in your Audience Builder, where you can create lists of users who have added a certain brand to their basket, spent over a threshold or purchased a category of product, to name but a few categories.

Enhanced Ecommerce

At Periscopix, we’ve started building remarketing lists using Enhanced Ecommerce for several clients and have big plans for how to utilize them in both display and search.

For one retailer, “Back to School” season is one of their busiest times of year — but with capped budgets and a highly competitive search ad landscape, we couldn’t afford to be in position 1 at all times last summer.

However, in our arsenal for next year are lists of users who have already purchased a school uniform. When summer 2016 arrives, we know we can afford to increase bids for those users, as they’re highly likely to purchase from us again.

Things To Remember

There are so many audiences you can create in GA that simply wouldn’t be possible in AdWords, so it can be difficult to know where to start. I hope this article has provided some inspiration, but there are a couple of things to bear in mind.

First, you can’t use lists based on demographics or interests in search campaigns. Also, each remarketing list you create can only be linked to one AdWords account, so if you’re dealing with a large number of accounts, some logical naming conventions and a bit of patience may be in order.

And if I haven’t given you enough reasons to try out GA + RLSA, then remember that unlike building AdWords remarketing lists, it won’t even entail any changes to your site. Almost any advertiser could start building and using these lists tomorrow. So what are you waiting for?

The post Making the Most Of Google Analytics Audiences Within Your Search Campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.

TrueView For Shopping: Making YouTube The Next Big Shopping Destination /trueview-shopping-making-youtube-next-big-shopping-destination-237137 Tue, 08 Dec 2015 14:45:11 +0000 http:/?p=237137 Want to enhance your video ads? Columnist Laura Collins discusses the impact that TrueView for Shopping has had on client shopping campaigns.

The post TrueView For Shopping: Making YouTube The Next Big Shopping Destination appeared first on Search Engine Land.


Shopping campaigns, or Product Listing Ads (PLAs), have proved revolutionary for AdWords e-commerce. They combine a visually engaging experience on the search results page with the ability to instantly compare prices across retailers.

In fact, these ads have been such a success that Google has continued to invest in them, and as a result, we’ve seen them evolve into an absolutely vital tool for any online retailer.

In 2014, Google actually started putting Shopping results above text ads on the search engine results page (SERP), as you can see in the example below. This reflected what they’d started to see in their data and hear from advertisers: Shopping was often outperforming traditional search.

Shopping Results

Meanwhile, TrueView, the YouTube advertising platform, has been more of a slow burner. TrueView campaigns have only recently moved from their own interface to sit alongside other AdWords campaigns, meaning before now it was easy to overlook them as an option.

With four billion views on YouTube every day, there’s no denying the fantastic reach it provides. Its position in people’s lives provides a unique opportunity for advertisers to connect with users as they are living their lives online, rather than just when they’re going online looking for a product.

With the same fairly broad targeting options you’d see on the Google Display Network, I’ve personally never found it an appropriate tool for generating direct response; if you want reach, views and increased brand awareness, however, then TrueView could be the answer. (But if you’re not in a financial position to be running activity without a strong return, perhaps not.)

So what if we could combine the reach we see from TrueView with the selling power of Shopping? Well, Google has.

TrueView For Shopping

Released just a few weeks ago after being in beta for several months, TrueView for Shopping campaigns allow you to serve product listing ads alongside your TrueView in-stream video ads.

As you can see in the screenshot below, whilst users are watching your ad, they also have the option to click through to particular product pages on the right-hand side.

TrueView Ad Screenshot

Setting up these campaigns is very simple. Create a new video campaign within AdWords, and you’ll be provided with the option to make it a Shopping campaign. Then you just link it up to your Google Merchant Center feed, as you would any other Shopping campaign.

Campaign Set Up

The usual rules apply here. Your feed and campaign must be targeting the same country, and currencies within the feed must correspond with those on your site.

Although the option for a Product Filter appears in the settings, this isn’t currently functional, so unfortunately, there’s no way to select which products will appear alongside your ad.

However, there is the ability to use dynamic remarketing to serve your previous visitors the products that they’ve been browsing on your site. Simply apply audience lists in the Video Targeting tab as you would with any other YouTube remarketing campaign.


At Periscopix, a Merkle Company, we’ve trialled TrueView for Shopping campaigns for some of our large retail clients and seen some very promising results.

For one value clothing brand, we had previously been running in-stream TrueView ads to promote their Spring/Summer and Back-to-School collections. By using a combination of both interest targeting and remarketing, we were gaining a wide reach and achieving a strong return. But by adding this shoppable element, in the space of just a month, conversion rate increased by 40 percent, and cost of sale decreased by 58 percent.

We also saw that the view rate of the videos increased by 15 percent, despite the content of the videos themselves not changing at all. By using that combination of prospecting and remarketing alongside product listing ads, the campaigns managed to achieve more than 100 million views and £138,000 in revenue at a cost of sale of just 9 percent.

Another client, this time a luxury toiletries brand, ran TrueView for Shopping to promote a special “friends and family” event they were running over a weekend. Again, the team saw significantly higher view rates, conversion rates and returns than that of traditional TrueView activity run in the past. It became clear that by choosing TrueView for Shopping, they were making people more inclined to watch the whole video and also to click through to the site and purchase.


Although these early results seem to indicate TrueView for Shopping is a highly effective tool for improving the performance of your YouTube campaigns, there are a few things to consider.

Google has specified that product listing ads will not show up alongside your video every time a TrueView in-stream ad is served. But at present, they’re not offering any visibility over just how often that is occurring. Without this knowledge, it’s hard to judge precisely what kind of impact the shoppable element is having.

The results I’ve specified above could well be the result of the PLAs only appearing half the time, in which case these are slightly watered down. Of course, even so, it’s clear we’re seeing an impact — but for accurate reporting, it would be helpful to know exactly how shoppable that TrueView for Shopping campaign really is.

One would hope that as more advertisers start implementing these campaigns and seeing success from them, Google will opt to serve the PLAs alongside video content more often, and we’ll have even richer data to hand. Or at the very least, the addition of a “percentage served” metric or similar would be extremely helpful.

Another key thing to remember is that, unless you’re using dynamic remarketing, you’ve got no control over which products are appearing alongside your ad, as product filtering still isn’t working. For an advertiser who just sells one type of product, like clothes, showing all products might not be a problem.

But if you have a wide range of varied products, TrueView for Shopping might only be appropriate for fairly generic, brand-led video content, rather than anything product-specific. Your users are going to end up confused if they’re watching an advert about children’s toys and suddenly a set of PLAs for washing machines pops up.

Final Thoughts

This is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting developments for TrueView campaigns in years. The gap between a potential customer browsing video content and purchasing on your site just got a lot smaller, thanks to TrueView for Shopping.

If you’ve run campaigns on YouTube before and been disappointed with your return, it could be time to give it another go. And if you’re already seeing success promoting your video content, get your feed linked up and see if you can’t also boost conversion rates and return from those campaigns.

The post TrueView For Shopping: Making YouTube The Next Big Shopping Destination appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Get To Know Your Users With Audience Insights From AdWords /get-know-users-audience-insights-reports-adwords-234368 Tue, 10 Nov 2015 14:57:32 +0000 http:/?p=234368 What do you really know about your audience? Columnist Laura Collins shows how the Audience Insights report feature can help you better target your users -- and perhaps even discover new ones.

The post Get To Know Your Users With Audience Insights From AdWords appeared first on Search Engine Land.


It goes without saying that as an advertiser, the more you know about your audience, the better. When you know your customers well, you can make informed decisions about your marketing campaigns and create a tailored experience for the user. In today’s world, where that user is more fickle than ever, it’s never been more crucial.

Google’s product stack already provides a wealth of user data for advertisers, but in September 2015, they released the new Audience Insights report. These reports are found within the AdWords interface and provide aggregated data on users in your remarketing lists, to help advertisers gain more insights about their audiences.

What Insights, Exactly?

In order to access these reports, you need to have added AdWords remarketing code to your site and built some remarketing lists. To find the insights for a particular audience, simply go into the Shared Library and select the appropriate remarketing list. Underneath the remarketing list summary, you’ll find a report that looks like the below.

Audience Insights Report

The Top Insights tab provides a handy snapshot of the highlights of the whole report. But you’re also able to go a level deeper and look in more detail at the different types of audiences your users fall into by selecting any of the tabs along the top. So what kind of insights can you gain about your visitors here?

In-Market & Affinity Audiences

These are probably familiar targeting options for anyone running campaigns on the Google Display Network (GDN). In-Market Audiences allow you to target users who’ve recently shown an intent to purchase a particular product or service, while Affinity Audiences target users based on their lifestyle and interests.

Within these tabs, you can see into which audiences your users fall. Also, by clicking onto a particular audience, you can see how your users compare to the general population. In the example below, we can see the 19.7 percent of users in the selected remarketing list are classed as in the market for “Baby & Children’s Products,” compared to just 3.6 percent of everyone in the UK.

In Market Audiences

While some of the audiences you’ll see here will be obviously related to your brand, you could also find a few surprises. For instance, using audience insights, Sony PlayStation found that classical musical enthusiasts were likely to engage with their brand. Without these reports, they might never have known that lots of users out there were choosing Bach as their background music to Call of Duty.

Demographics, Locations & Devices

Demographic, location and device data are available in both Google Analytics and AdWords, but these tabs enable you to see this data specifically for your remarketing lists.

You might wonder, are most of the visitors to the menswear pages on my site actually men? Or is it women purchasing for their other half? Are more site visitors on mobile than converters?

These tabs are where you’ll find the answers. And, as with the GDN target groups, you can select any particular audience and benchmark your users against the wider population.

What Can I Use These Reports For?

These reports can provide fascinating and surprising findings about your users, which for data-lovers out there can be enough of a reward in itself. But they’re more than just interesting reading. They can also provide actionable insights for advertisers to help optimise and expand their current campaigns.

If you’re running any activity on the GDN, these reports can be a great source of inspiration for new targeting options to trial. You may have noticed looking at the Baby & Children’s Products audience above, the report actually tells you how many of your current ad groups are targeting it.

Ad groups targeted

If, as in this case, it’s none, why not try it out in a new ad group? If your own users are significantly more likely to be in the market for a product, this is a great opportunity to expand your reach and see if the rest of that in-market audience would respond well to your brand.

There are opportunities to use these findings in your search campaigns, as well. If your insights report is telling you that most of your converters are men aged 24–34, then what about tweaking your ad copy to appeal more to that demographic? If your current generic coverage is fairly limited, you could even get some ideas as to where to start expanding your coverage, based on the preferences and interests of your current customer base.

Final Thoughts

Most advertisers have an idea of who their “typical” customer is, whether it be a 25-year-old health nut, a bargain-hunting clothes addict or an affluent middle-aged parent.

But the truth is never quite so simple. It’s likely your customers are diverse and unpredictable, so the more you can learn about them and the way they behave online, the better position you’re putting yourself in. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. And whatever they say, ignorance isn’t bliss.

These reports are easy to interpret and readily available to anyone with remarketing lists set up. I’d recommend looking at the Audience Insights report in your own accounts. Not only could you learn some surprising things about your users, they could help to improve performance, as well.

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