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Sponsored Content: Optmyzr – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Wed, 22 May 2019 13:21:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 How to check why PPC performance changed /how-to-check-why-ppc-performance-changed-316778 Tue, 21 May 2019 11:30:13 +0000 /?p=316778 There are lots of moving pieces in PPC campaigns and that can make it challenging to pinpoint the cause when performance changes. An investigation into the cause of the change can either be top-down or bottom-up. Here we’ll cover both ways to investigate the root cause and we’ll also share tools that make this process […]

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There are lots of moving pieces in PPC campaigns and that can make it challenging to pinpoint the cause when performance changes. An investigation into the cause of the change can either be top-down or bottom-up. Here we’ll cover both ways to investigate the root cause and we’ll also share tools that make this process faster.

The difficulty with investigating PPC performance changes

What makes it so hard to know why results in PPC change is that all ads run through an auction every time a search happens and every auction has different parameters — like where the searcher is located, what time it is, what else they’ve been researching, and much more. Every time the advertiser makes a change to settings, it changes how they participate in the auction and that can lead to different outcomes for the main KPIs. A few examples:

  1. The advertiser changes their bid and this causes a change in performance because their ad is now shown for a different set of queries.
  2. The advertiser enables a new ad type like RSAs (responsive search ads) and the performance changes when Google’s Machine Learning system starts to show the ad to a new audience that wasn’t exposed to the old type of ad before.

Top-down investigation

Investigating why performance changed usually starts with a question about a primary KPI. For example, you might ask, “why did we have fewer conversions last month than the month before?” Pulling this data can be done straight in the Google Ads interface by adding a second date range to the campaign pages. It’s simple enough when you want to know the size of the change but it gets cumbersome quickly when advertisers start looking for interactions between metrics in an effort to connect the dots to determine the underlying cause.

A manual investigation of why performance in an account changed involves several steps in the Google Ads interface

For example, if you find that conversions have gone up, you may want to learn why this happened. As we all know there are two direct drivers of conversions: clicks, and whether those clicks converted, i.e. whether they had any conversion rate. Next, if we want to know why clicks changed we have to look at the two primary things that drive clicks: impressions and CTR. This quickly becomes difficult in the Google Ads interface where everything is in a big table that is very wide and can’t be read without scrolling from left to right.

A tool like Optmyzr’s PPC Investigator greatly simplifies this type of top-down performance investigation. Its visualization closely mirrors the steps a PPC pro would normally go through manually.

The PPC Investigator tool from Optmyzr connects the dots so an account manager can quickly understand the main reason why their KPIs are changing. In this example, conversions are down primarily due to a drop in conversion rate.

The tool has many filters that enable a deeper analysis, like filters for campaigns, labels, date ranges, networks and device types. It takes just a few clicks to re-run the entire analysis when one finding leads to further questions. For example, when an advertiser finds a drop in conversion rate, they may wonder if this is due to differences between their mobile and desktop sites.

This further analysis is just a click away by adding a filter for device types. With a clear visualization, the advertiser can quickly understand that a poorly optimized mobile site is a big reason for declining performance. As more search volume shifts from desktop to mobile, their bad conversion rate on mobile devices is leading to fewer conversions despite the overall click volume being relatively steady.

The PPC Investigator also allows quick drill-downs into a root cause analysis where the user can get a sense of what elements of an account are major drivers of big changes in the metrics. For example, if it appears that a drop in conversions is due in large part to a decrease in impressions, a single click on the box for impressions brings up the root cause analysis that shows top movers for impressions.

With a single click on a metric that has changed, the user can find the main components of the account that are responsible for this particular shift.

Once an advertiser determines the metrics that need an investigation, they can drill down to the root cause analysis tab to see which parts of the account are most responsible for the shift.

The Optmyzr root cause analysis tab in the PPC Investigator highlights the main elements of the account responsible for a change in performance, e.g. which campaigns, ad groups, keywords, networks or device types are causing a change.

Bottom-up investigation

Another way to investigate why PPC performance changed is a bottom-up approach that starts from the most granular elements of a PPC account. While a top-down approach may hide good and bad changes so long as overall averages are steady, a bottom-up investigation will uncover these more granular changes.

An in-depth bottom-up investigation usually requires processing lots of data through a spreadsheet, a time-consuming task that PPC pros are all too familiar with.

The process of finding things that changed usually involves these steps:

  1. Download data for the date range where results changed
  2. Download data for the same entities from a previous date range where things were considered ‘normal’
  3. Combine the two sets of data by doing a vlookup
  4. Add a few formulas to calculate the amount of change and add these in additional columns to the spreadsheet
  5. Add filters and sorting to bring the most important changes to the top

While this process works great in spreadsheets, tools like Optmyzr’s Rule Engine can make it faster and more repeatable, both important considerations for time-strapped agencies and in-house PPC teams.

The Rule Engine automatically grabs the necessary data from the ad engine and offers a simple graphical UI for building if-then statements with it. The following example shows a rule where Optmyzr automatically grabs data for two date ranges, does an automatic joining of the multiple date ranges and then presents it in an easy to read report.

The Optmyzr Rule Engine lets advertisers create advanced If-Then statements to automate complex optimizations and analysis of PPC accounts.

Example rules for investigating PPC performance

Optmyzr has created predefined ‘recipes’ in its Rule Engine so that PPC pros can run common investigations and optimizations with a single click while still allowing access to the underlying methodology to those who want to customize the logic.

Drop in impressions – due to lost queries

The primary way to target ads in PPC is through keywords. But those keywords are really just a means to target the queries that users are doing. A simple change like a new bid for a keyword can impact what queries that keyword shows for. And when the results look different, it’s hard to know if the bid or the new query mix is the main cause. To investigate this, advertisers can use the Rule Engine to compare queries across two date ranges. Of particular interest may be queries that went from low volume to high volume and vice versa.

A prebuilt Rule Engine ‘recipe’ helps advertisers find queries that used to perform well but that no longer do. By writing the logic into a rule, advertisers can run the same analysis automatically on a regular basis, and apply the same methodology across many accounts.

Slow decline in performance

Another good investigation is to find entities in a PPC account that are slowly but steadily trending the wrong way. In a week-over-week or month-over-month investigation, most attention is usually devoted to things with big changes. But that lets slowly degrading components of the account slip past the manager’s attention and eventually these small changes can really add up.

Google wrote a sample script for this, the Declining Ad Groups report. And while scripts are great — Optmyzr even has many that you can simply copy-and-paste into your account — there are still many advertisers who’d rather not work with scripts. The Rule Engine is a great solution that gives advertisers the power of scripts in a more familiar interface for specifying their logic.

Rather than having to write the logic for the investigation in JavaScript code, it’s now possible to create the logic in a graphical rule builder. Taking the example script from Google, what if the advertiser wanted to find declining keywords or shopping product groups? What if they wanted to set a threshold for when a decline is significant enough to worry about? Making these improvements to the methodology is easy using Optmyzr’s Rule Engine.

 

The Optmyzr Rule Engine provides an easier way to create a report of declining performance than using a Google Ads script. The logic shown here looks for 4 straight weeks of declining CTR where impressions were significant enough to make the CTR meaningful.

Close variants

A bottom-up investigation doesn’t always need to start with a question about performance. It can also analyze whether ad targeting is remaining focused enough. In this example, a rule can be created to flag cases of exact match close variants that need to be investigated. In September of 2018, Google made close variants broader than before by allowing exact match keywords to show ads when the query is considered the ‘same meaning’ as the exact keyword.

This Rule Engine recipe finds queries that close variants for exact match keywords in a Google Ads account. It can be extended to add negative keywords when needed.

While this is just a report, the beauty of a Rule Engine is that it’s easy to take findings and act on them. For example, this rule could be enhanced and use performance attributes to decide when to add a negative keyword for an undesirable close variant.

Conclusion

Explaining why performance in an account shifts can be tremendously time-consuming for PPC teams. Whether you prefer a top-down or bottom-up investigation to find the root cause, there are tools like Optmyzr that can streamline the process and make it more consistently repeatable so that PPC managers can provide the high level of service expected by the companies whose marketing they support.

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How to keep PPC accounts healthy when using automation /how-to-keep-ppc-accounts-healthy-when-using-automation-311515 Tue, 05 Feb 2019 12:30:18 +0000 /?p=311515 Machine learning, artificial intelligence, Moore’s Law and ongoing automation by the big search engines are accelerating the evolution of PPC. So much so, the role of the PPC pro has to evolve just as rapidly. Optmyzr co-founder Fred Vallaeys recently encapsulated the new roles humans will play in an AI world to help PPC pros […]

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Machine learning, artificial intelligence, Moore’s Law and ongoing automation by the big search engines are accelerating the evolution of PPC. So much so, the role of the PPC pro has to evolve just as rapidly.

Optmyzr co-founder Fred Vallaeys recently encapsulated the new roles humans will play in an AI world to help PPC pros ride the wave of innovation to become PPC rockstars (as opposed to being PPC roadkill).

In that blog post, Fred likens the role of the PPC pro to being an airplane pilot — the crucial professional who spends a lot of his or her time monitoring vital data and events to ensure things go according to plan. That pilot is in charge of a fast, complicated, and potentially dangerous machine and has to act decisively if trouble starts brewing.

PPC pros today are much like that pilot, responsible for another type of fast and complicated system: machine learning-driven PPC. To do that job well the PPC pro requires three critical systems: Reports, Alerts, and Audits. Let’s look at how each of these solves some of the specific challenges associated with managing ads on Google or Bing.

PPC Reports

Virtually all account managers have reports of some sort set up. Most of these reports focus on what has already happened, such as how many conversions happened last month, how conversions are trending and how data compares to the same period last year.

These reports can inform the PPC Pilot whether their strategies are paying off, e.g. “Is that new bid management system improving the ROAS as expected?” These reports are also essential for keeping stakeholders appraised of the results of your work for them.

Reporting can, and should, go much deeper. One particularly helpful report in the Optmyzr library, the Annual Performance Report, keeps clients much more informed about your total value as a PPC pro. With one click, advertisers can see a summary of their 2018 PPC performance and share it as a PDF, an Excel download, or as an interactive link.

Reports are great for summarizing longer-term results and showing if management strategies delivered the expected results. (screenshot from Optmyzr)

While reporting is one essential tool for  PPC managers, it only goes so far to meet the needs of sophisticated search marketers. Because of the minute-by-minute PPC world in which we live today, many traditional reports are too static — too slow when decisions are being made instantaneously by ever-faster automated systems.

Imagine if airline pilots functioned like old school PPC managers, relying primarily on static reports. After every flight, the pilot could generate a report summarizing how much fuel they burned and how many passengers were on board. Helpful information for the airline when it comes time to report earnings and helpful for the pilot to understand if a decision to burn a little more fuel actually paid off with a closer-to-on-time arrival. Unfortunately, that basic and necessary information doesn’t help at all when the unexpected happens.

Enter the need for two other critical tools a pilot needs: automated alerts that flag performance anomalies, and indicators that show that systems are online and working. In PPC, these equate to dashboards with alerts and policy-based audits.

PPC Dashboards and Alerts

PPC is a fast-moving industry. Every search that happens on Bing or Google is a new auction with thousands of advertisers competing for a valuable top ranking. A static, scheduled report won’t be of much use when a competitor unexpectedly does a mid-month strategy shift. In this scenario, an immediate and timely interactive dashboard offers several benefits compared to a scheduled report:

  1. The data is updated almost instantaneously to reflect the current state of the business.
  2. Automated alerts draw quick attention to what the human PPC pilot needs to focus on.
  3. Interactive data lets the PPC pilot quickly investigate by zooming in and out of the data.

In Optmyzr, the MCC dashboard (shown below) provides all of these capabilities. For example, advertisers automatically get alerts for things that seem out of the ordinary, such as a huge decline in impressions or a sudden spike in cost. An agile PPC pro can also set their own thresholds for alerts when they have specific goals in mind, like a target CPA, a minimum number of clicks or any other target.

Dashboards can highlight problem areas in real-time and encourage account managers to take corrective action before issues spiral out of control. (screenshot: Optmyzr)

Alerts can have drawbacks, however. False positives can cause the alert recipient to start ignoring them. In PPC, it’s fairly common to get false alerts about CPA, ROAS or conversions when not accounting for the typical conversion lag of a campaign. For example, you can’t have a real-time alert for declines in conversions when it takes half your audience more than 7 days to go from a click to a sale.

To help reduce false alerts, advertisers can customize a date offset in Optmyzr so data from days where conversions have not yet been fully reported will be ignored. Finding out how long a typical conversion takes from click to conversion is now easy thanks to Google’s reporting metrics for “days to conversion.”

Optmyzr even offers an automatic budget pacing capability that helps advertisers continuously stay on top of whether they are on target to hit their budget targets for the month (even if they run budgets on a custom monthly cycle, for example starting the 15th of every month and ending the 14th of the following month).

Data visualizations like this budget spend projection can help account managers quickly investigate issues like a potential overspend issue in an ads account. (screenshot: Optmyzr)

When an alert warrants a deeper investigation, rich data visualizations make it easier to understand what elements of an account are most responsible for a performance shift.

Each metric is connected to the other metrics that influence it in this PPC data visualization, making it easier to understand why KPIs are shifting. (screenshot: Optmyzr)

A good alert system must have advanced dismissal capability. Imagine if the alerts on your phone kept reappearing five seconds after you’d dismissed them. The alerts would quickly become completely useless. In Optmyzr, an alert that has been investigated and addressed can be snoozed so it will only trigger another alert if the detected problem persists after the snooze period has ended.

AI is also changing how we interact with technology. Take the proliferation of Amazon Alexa devices which now number more than 100 million. Users are coming to expect to get all their answers by simply voicing their question. To allow PPC pros to get their account questions answered quickly, Optmyzr launched its Alexa skill in 2018, letting users interact with our PPC Investigator entirely by voice.

PPC Audits

Finally, a PPC expert must have an audit tool to support their role as the PPC pilot. But what’s the difference between reports and audits?

Reports tend to be heavy on metrics and show performance over time. Alerts tend to look at performance that is suddenly unexpected or, like a URL checker script, look for things that are broken.

Audits, on the other hand, examine the structure of an account for the purpose of identifying things that, while not necessarily broken, could be improved upon. For example, if all campaigns had sitelinks, the CTR could likely be improved, which might boost conversions.

Audits also help monitor account management policies. Many agencies and big advertisers have a preferred way for how accounts should be managed and those rules may encompass things like the maximum allowed number of keywords before an ad group should be split up, the minimum number of ad variants that should be active for A/B testing, what types of bid management is allowed to be deployed, etc.

With Google’s recent announcement that its Complimentary Account Management service may involve changing account settings, serious advertisers would be well advised to put in place an audit and policy monitoring tool like the one from Optmyzr to ensure any elements managed by a 3rd party, whether Google or an agency, conform to the advertiser’s policies. Audits help you, the PPC pro, navigate and retain essential control.

An audit can identify policy and structural account issues before they negatively impact account performance. (screenshot: Optmyzr)

It’s also important to note that PPC professionals can benefit from an audit system to double check their own work. We’re all human — prone to mistakes. With the potential for different tools and multiple account managers to all be working on various aspects of one account, it is truly challenging to ensure all the elements work together in the intended fashion. A simple automated weekly audit can let advertisers know if the account structure is deviating from what is intended.

Optmyzr is designed to be the tool that can take a PPC pro to PPC rockstar status. Our tools are designed to help search marketers build on the automations Google and Bing continue to roll out on a seemingly daily basis. Ironically, the more automation we see from the big engines and from AI and machine learning, the more PPC pros need advanced tools to become the essential strategist as opposed to day-to-day tactician. Check out our blog throughout this year for more context about PPC in the age of automation.

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Do you still need a PPC tool with the new Google Ads? /do-you-still-need-a-ppc-tool-with-the-new-google-ads-306627 Mon, 15 Oct 2018 11:30:19 +0000 /?p=306627 On the surface, it’s easy to wrongly conclude that Google and Bing are automating PPC pros right out of relevance. Basic PPC tasks can now happen with very little human intervention through the Google and Bing interfaces — easy enough for a novice PPC manager to create and launch pretty good campaigns. That’s terrific. The […]

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On the surface, it’s easy to wrongly conclude that Google and Bing are automating PPC pros right out of relevance. Basic PPC tasks can now happen with very little human intervention through the Google and Bing interfaces — easy enough for a novice PPC manager to create and launch pretty good campaigns.

That’s terrific. The big engines have made viable PPC accessible to the masses. Today, even a basic mom and pop shop can drive business effectively and inexpensively by tapping into the billions of searches happening daily.

The challenge, though, is that great PPC is actually becoming more challenging than ever, in part because of automation. Ironic? Yes. And while it may seem that Google and Bing have made it really easy to operate solely within their platforms, there is actually greater need for powerful third-party tools — a trend we expect to see continue.

Let’s address the obvious head-on: Optmyzr is one of those third-party tools, so, of course, we’ll say our service is needed. It’s important, though, to have an informed discussion about the true role of automation — where, how, and when to apply machines to take PPC programs from good to great.

Smart automation: The key to greatness

PPC automation via Optmyzr is fueled by machine learning and artificial intelligence. When coupled with powerful human intelligence, smart PPC pros have the power to run extraordinary campaigns with speed and agility we could only dream of a few short years ago.

Here are four powerful ways PPC pros can save time and energy automating critical tasks, freeing up time (and brainpower) to apply human expertise to strategize, refine, and elevate their craft:

Build search campaigns from e-commerce data

Yes, you can automate the lion’s share of campaign building, start-to-finish. We’re not talking about simply setting up the basics and running them. Using tools like Campaign Automator from Optmyzr, PPC pros can tap external e-commerce data, taking complex (and often messy or confusing) spreadsheets and automatically building out keyword-targeted campaigns. Essential data such as brand, price, color, size, channel — essentially any variable — can be set for dynamic insertion using templates you create.

Advertisers can specify a template and let Optmyzr’s Campaign Automator build out and maintain an inventory-driven search campaign on Google Ads.

The PPC pro can easily tie in inventory data from the Google Merchant Center Feed as well, preview campaigns to verify how they will appear and then launch. Campaign Automator even allows fully automatic campaign updates based on changes to the templates, inventory levels and a host of other attributes.

Check out our latest demos to see the automation first hand.

Streamline Shopping Ads (for Google and Bing!)

While powerful drivers of conversion, Shopping Ads can be nothing short of tedious to create manually in Google Ads and Bing Ads. The more products and product groups you have, the more time you can spend manually creating just your campaign structures. No exaggeration, PPC pros know this can take several hours, if not several days, if you’re creating Shopping Ads for thousands of products.

The Optmyzr Shopping Campaign Builder virtually eliminates the product-by-product manual creation by automating deeper levels of campaigns. Automation puts products into product groups and generates the ad groups for you. The PPC pro can then apply his or her time to actually thinking about nuances, bid adjustments and fine-tuning Shopping Ads campaigns, instead of spending arduous hours setting up the structures.

Deeper automation throughout the process allows syncing campaigns with inventory, finding product attributes that don’t perform well, changing product group bids based on various attributes and identifying negative keywords. The PPC pro still has the ability to jump in at any point in the process to apply their knowledge and skill to fine tune and make critical adjustments.

An analysis of the performance of a shopping feed for Google Ads showing the number of conversions coming from products at different price points.

Remember the tedium noted above? It gets worse. After you’re done with the manual set up in Google Ads, then you’d need to turn your attention to repeating the process for Bing Ads. With Optmyzr, the same deep automation for your Google programs can be replicated for Bing Ads.

As with Campaign Automator, spend some time getting a deeper tutorial through our latest demos.

Automate repetitive tasks with advanced prebuilt scripts

Clients of all sizes garner exceptional value implementing advanced scripts into their Optmyzr workflow. Question is — are you a PPC pro or a scripting guru? PPC pros need not spend countless hours crafting the perfect script to automate key tasks. The Optmyzr team does all of that.

By making it easy to access, find and install powerful scripts, PPC pros can find time-saving automations to improve reporting, bids and budgets, notifications, optimizations and a lot more.

Manage Google Ads Scripts without editing a single line of JavaScript code through Optmyzr.

These advanced scripts go far beyond the stock scripts available via Google Ads, adding greater depth and functionality across PPC tasks. We’ve made them really easy to install and crafted a form-based user interface that allows PPC pros to modify them to their needs — without having to do the coding yourself.

Implementing scripts is as easy as downloading the script, copying /pasting into your Google Ads account and immediately beginning to generate outputs such as spreadsheets or take actions such as pausing broken links.

One more reminder — you can find in-depth demos for the automations discussed in this article.

Cross-channel reporting

One of the most time consuming tasks for PPC pros is generating reports to keep clients informed. While Google Ads includes a reporting module, it simply cannot cover what PPC pros do on other platforms like Bing, Facebook and Amazon.

Monitoring, alerts, data visualization presets, charts and tables can all be highly automated giving extraordinary insight along with visual appeal that capture a client’s attention.

A third-party tool like Optmyzr can help with this. We routinely hear from clients who say they’ve been able to automate reports that would commonly take five hours per month per client down to 30 minutes.

Winning the paid search race

Don’t get us wrong. The automations present in the Google and Bing interfaces are great, but they only go so far. PPC Management Systems — like Optmyzr — exist to help PPC pros become PPC rockstars.

In this article, we intentionally only explored four areas of opportunity that can help you strategically automate programs. The reality is there are many more automation opportunities search pros can tap within Optmyzr’s powerful PPC management system. Most critical — look to automate tasks that eat up time and don’t really tap your brainpower.

Flexibility. Ease. Efficiency. Control. By crafting automations that go deep into the tasks and functions of paid search programs, we make it our mission to put the PPC pro in the driver’s seat of all of their campaigns. Combining the power of human intelligence and vision with AI and machine learning, smart approaches to automation will take your game to the next level and help keep your organization a step ahead in the intense paid search race.

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Expert management of Bing Shopping Ads just got easier /expert-management-of-bing-shopping-ads-just-got-easier-305005 Mon, 10 Sep 2018 11:30:43 +0000 /?p=305005 History has a knack for repeating itself. More than 100 years ago, Ford dominated with mass-produced automobiles until GM, and others eventually caught up. Apple OWNED the smartphone market with the 2007 iPhone launch, but Samsung and others out-innovated the giant to nab big market share. Today, Google remains the undisputed king of search, yet […]

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History has a knack for repeating itself. More than 100 years ago, Ford dominated with mass-produced automobiles until GM, and others eventually caught up. Apple OWNED the smartphone market with the 2007 iPhone launch, but Samsung and others out-innovated the giant to nab big market share.

Today, Google remains the undisputed king of search, yet we’re witnessing notable competitive evolution as Bing quietly, steadily boosts its market position against the giant. Without fail, the pros in the trenches must adapt as market dynamics shift, requiring broader skills, new tools and faster ways of doing business.

PPC pros are in the midst of an exciting industry evolution right now as they navigate a more complex marketing labyrinth. The emergence of Bing as a viable and powerful (Google-like) PPC platform gives marketers access to a larger and more amazing search pie — IF they are able to efficiently manage the complexities of both platforms.

Manage two search engines from one interface

Earlier this year, we discussed new Bing-specific optimization tools from Optmyzr that laid the foundation for Bing and Google management from one place. We focused on the fact that Bing had evolved to being very structurally similar to AdWords, which allowed us to streamline many optimizations and speed ads management between platforms.

Then, in late August, Optmyzr unveiled a deeper set of functionality that allows PPC pros to extend their focus to Bing Shopping Ads. We are digging deeper into this very purposefully because opportunities for PPC are expanding dramatically and businesses are seeing amazing results with the latest Shopping Ads advancements in both Google and Bing.

A recently released 2018 report by Adthena indicates US retailers now put more than 76 percent of their PPC spend to Shopping Ads and less than a quarter to Google text ads. UK retailers sway even more heavily to Shopping Ads. We expect this trend to continue as retailers captivate audiences with the richer ad experience.

Shopping ads demystified

The big engines are in a pitched battle to drive more business via Shopping Ads for pretty obvious reasons. Consumers have mastered search. They ask the engines for specifically what they want — “men’s black dress shoes,” or even more specifically, “Cole Haan men’s black dress shoes size 11.”

Examples of shopping ads on Google and Bing

The nature of a customer’s search gives us extraordinary insight about them — where they are in the funnel, their intent, price sensitivity, brand affinity (or lack thereof) and other attributes.

We’ve automated core facets of Shopping Ads to help savvy marketers crunch a customer’s willingly offered semantic insight to serve up the highly engaging, product-specific Shopping Ads. The customer, in turn, can click themselves right to the bottom of the funnel — right where you want them — shopping cart full, entering payment data and completing the order.

Working across both search platforms, however, has been difficult… until now.

Easily build granular shopping campaigns for Bing and Google

Optmyzr Shopping Campaign Builder simplifies how PPC pros set up campaign structures for optimal results. Because of hierarchical similarities between Google and Bing Shopping Ads, marketers are able to set up campaigns for both engines using very similar campaign structures. You’ll still set them up separately, but the process of building granular structures like Grip (groups of individual products) is greatly streamlined.

Automatically create shopping ads for new products

Optmyzr Shopping Ads Refresher pulls in newly added inventory to automatically create new ad groups and product groups. The capability streamlines the ability to push hot, new inventory quickly with the right bids and the required negative keywords afforded by a good account structure. Think of Shopping Refresher as an automated, digital version of the venerable endcap in those old brick-and-mortar retail locations: new stuff placed in high-visibility areas rather than in the bin of odds and ends in the back of the store. Better yet, in this case, it can be managed for both engines (Imagine controlling endcaps in Target AND Walmart).

Manage bids smartly using relevant commonalities

Evolved from the meat-and-potatoes of PPC, bid management now taps deep customization to allow marketers to discover and fix issues with bids quickly and easily. They can also manage bids for Shopping Ad campaigns, ad groups and product groups in one step. Our tools help ID product attribute commonalities that can help drive better bids. In fact, a marketer can now manage bids at scale and apply changes with a simple click — with similar types of experience and workflows across Google and Bing Shopping Ads platforms.

An analysis of shopping ads performance by common product attributes. In this example, Optmyzr has automatically grouped products by similar price and calculated the ROAS for each. This can inform better bidding and pricing strategies.

Query fencing

A well-managed shopping campaign usually takes advantage of the ability to do query fencing by adding negative keywords to shopping ad groups. Sometimes this technique is used proactively to steer brand queries to an ad group with different bids than non-brand queries.

In other cases, it’s used reactively to prevent low-performing queries from generating more ad impressions in the future. By using a detailed shopping structure with lots of ad groups, negative keywords can be more granularly assigned to the appropriate ad groups.

Optmyzr identifies when a query has triggered ads in multiple ad groups and finds the best ad group to keep to deliver more clicks, sales and conversion value. The losing ad group is then populated with a negative keyword in order to “fence the query.”

What’s going on behind the scenes

We don’t expect innovation from the big engines to let up any time soon. In 2017, Google introduced its Showcase Shopping Ads — an option that can help brands engage the more passive digital window shopper and help move them from passive to in-the-funnel with a highly engaging, immersive experience.

Think the R&D guys at Bing are any less busy? Guess again. They continue to drive their own innovations with determination to further edge into Google’s dominance. We monitor developments from both engines daily. PPC pros don’t have the bandwidth to keep tabs on every single development, and it’s easy to get too absorbed in one platform (Google) only to miss out on the millions of customers out there using Bing for their searches.

Smart PPC pros are adjusting their game to this ever-changing field of play. And while the search engines themselves are offering more automation and streamlined options, Optmyzr is responding quickly to new opportunities for both streamlining advanced account management and improving results by adding a human touch on top of sophisticated automations across the multitude of ad formats, including Shopping Ads on Bing and Google.

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If you’re not updating ROAS and CPA targets frequently, you’re missing out /if-youre-not-updating-roas-and-cpa-targets-frequently-youre-missing-out-299821 Tue, 12 Jun 2018 11:30:57 +0000 /?p=299821 Our founding CEO, Fred Vallaeys, has written extensively about how the role of PPC experts will change as more of the day-to-day ad management will be done by automated systems driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). One task that’s particularly apt to become automated is bid management because it requires lots of […]

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Our founding CEO, Fred Vallaeys, has written extensively about how the role of PPC experts will change as more of the day-to-day ad management will be done by automated systems driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). One task that’s particularly apt to become automated is bid management because it requires lots of math and pattern recognition, two tasks at which computers excel.

But as much as automated account management is improving thanks to increased computing power, setting the perfect bid sometimes requires something that the computers don’t have: deep insight into your business. We believe PPC pros can boost their results by combining their unique insights into the business with the massive computation power of Google and Bing’s AI algorithms.

The benefits of automated bidding

Google has explained in a white paper how its automated system calculates bids. It analyzes auction-time signals to predict the likely conversion rate and conversion value from a click. It does this using a massive amount of data from all ads, advertisers and the billions of clicks they get. Individual advertisers don’t have nearly as much data, let alone the power of supercomputers to analyze and act on it in real time. So leveraging Google’s AI is a smart thing to do for the typical search marketer who’s looking to improve their performance.

Image courtesy of Google.com. Factors analyzed for automated bidding.

But as great as Google’s bidding system is, the factors it analyzes are limited. So, while it might be able to predict the difference in the likelihood of a conversion from a user located in Germany at 2 o’clock in the afternoon versus from a user located in Canada at 7 o’clock in the morning, it doesn’t know about other unique aspects of the business that impact what results are likely to come from a click.

There are potentially thousands of factors that the algorithm doesn’t consider, simply because the data for those factors might be too sparse, too inconsistent between different types of advertisers or too expensive to include in the prediction models.

The benefits of human-assisted bids

Humans who manage PPC accounts can use their intuition to make some pretty good guesses about how these unique factors might impact results.

For example, a boat shop could reasonably expect to rent more Jet Skis when the following are true:

  • The occupancy rate of hotels near the beach is high.
  • The forecast calls for lots of sun and calm winds.
  • There hasn’t been a news story about shark attacks.

Google’s automated bidding doesn’t consider these factors, so it means that its bids, while good, won’t be perfect. Human account managers, on the other hand, can change bids based on their experience of how these factors normally affect rentals.

The problem is that you don’t really know if the factors Google considers are more important to performance than the ones humans would consider. But there is a way to measure the difference.

How to test if automated bids are better

To test if automated bidding delivers better performance than manual CPC bidding, advertisers can use Google’s Drafts and Experiments.

Take an existing campaign that’s on manual bidding or where automation is handled by a third-party tool, and create a new draft campaign from it. In the draft, change only the bidding strategy, and then launch it as an experiment.

Image courtesy of Google.com.

How much traffic the campaign gets and how much of that traffic is sent to the experiment will determine how soon results will be available. Once you find the winning bid strategy, you can end the experiment and revert to the original bidding method or adopt the new one.

The best bids are automated, but with lots of human input

It’s possible to get even better results by combining the strengths of humans and machines. After all, nobody said that automated bids are a set-it-and-forget-it method.

Advertisers tend to think of automated bidding as the end of their work on bid management, but we believe that target CPA and target ROAS should be actively managed. Instead of using the max CPC as a lever for optimization, target ROAS and target CPA can play that same role.

When managing CPC bids, advertisers change bids based on factors like changes in ad performance or how factors outside AdWords impact the lead-to-sales conversion rate. Likewise, ROAS and CPA targets should be managed actively based on what is happening in AdWords and with the business.

Google recommends changing CPA and ROAS targets

Even Google says this: “To accommodate … brief, anticipated changes in performance, we recommend that advertisers adjust their bidding targets (target CPA or target ROAS) proportionately to the predicted increase or decrease in conversion rate or value.”

Google is saying the algorithms need time to update their predictions and for best performance, humans should tweak the targets during periods of flux when Google’s expected conversion rate will not be close to the actual conversion rate. For example, if a special sale is expected to dramatically increase the conversion rates, advertisers should change their targets if they don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to sell more.

Here’s a simplified explanation of how this plays out with automated bids.

If a sale starts on Day 4, the actual conversion rate may instantly double, but the predicted conversion rate could take some time to catch up with the new reality.

During the time when the new actual conversion rate is very different from the old predicted conversion rate, it is likely the automated bids will still reflect the old conversion rate, and hence be incorrect (this assumes the advertiser does not change their CPA target).

Automate managing target ROAS and target CPA with Optmyzr

Fortunately, getting the best of Google’s automated bids with a layer of human intelligence doesn’t mean you have to go back to managing things manually. Tools like Optmyzr’s Rule Engine can automatically adjust target ROAS and target CPA values based on your own calculations.

A Rule Engine can be used to adjust target ROAS and target CPA bids automatically based on conditions specified by advertisers, even using data from outside AdWords.

The Optmyzr system can even be connected with your own business data, whether from a CRM, a database of product margins, a promotional calendar, the weather or something else. This data that is not available inside AdWords can then be used to make better decisions about the targets the automated Google system should hit.

Conclusion

While automated bidding tools from the search engines can take away the absolute need for human account managers to spend time on this task, there are good reasons why smart PPC pros will still want to be actively involved in changing their targets. Whereas in the past, bid management was all about changing max CPC bids, it’s now about changing target ROAS and target CPAs to optimize accounts. Tools like Optmyzr make it easier to benefit from Google’s AI while still maintaining that human touch in account management.

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Four ways to remain productive when the AdWords interface changes /four-ways-to-remain-productive-when-the-adwords-interface-changes-295547 Tue, 03 Apr 2018 11:30:14 +0000 /?p=295547 The new AdWords interface is creating quite a stir in the PPC industry because, while it’s pretty, it’s disrupting the work of lots of PPC professionals. Like Mona Elesseily says, “this is a workhorse for many of us, not a viewing platform.” Fortunately, advertisers who use third party tools like Optmyzr have a chance to […]

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The new AdWords interface is creating quite a stir in the PPC industry because, while it’s pretty, it’s disrupting the work of lots of PPC professionals. Like Mona Elesseily says, “this is a workhorse for many of us, not a viewing platform.” Fortunately, advertisers who use third party tools like Optmyzr have a chance to transition their workflows more gradually than those who rely entirely on the tools Google provides.

At Optmyzr, we know that our PPC optimization software must do two things really well: save time, and improve performance. Over the years, we’ve learned that achieving these goals requires different interfaces for different account managers. In other words, one solution does not fit all.

Because so many Optmyzr users are experts who do PPC for a living, the tools tend to have lots of ways to tweak things based on individual strategies. But even users who leverage all the customizations sometimes just want a prebuilt solution that leverages the wisdom of the entire industry. Time is often their most constrained resource, so choosing which tool to use is about optimizing time efficiency and gains in performance.

Optmyzr recognizes that account managers have limited time and will make informed decisions about which workflow is best for each scenario. Here are four ways Optmyzr gives account managers more choice about how to optimize their own time while still driving improvements in PPC on AdWords and Bing Ads.

Go broad with quick win optimizations

As much as PPC Pros might want to spend a few hours to make an account perfect, the reality is they are pulled in many directions and it can be hard to devote more than five minutes to an account at a time. Luckily, small improvements can still pay off handsomely if they are done frequently.

In AdWords, a quick win might consist of tackling one of the suggestions in the Recommendations section (known as the Opportunities tab in the old interface).

There are several third-party tools that follow this quick-win strategy from Google. At Optmyzr, we recently launched Optmyzr Express to give advertisers access to more quick wins and we added an easy to use inbox-style format.

This makes Optmyzr Express really fast, because our algorithms find new suggestions every day. When an account manager logs in, all the data is already cached and ready for instant action.

The optimizations are also very focused, so rather than going deep and fixing everything, it prioritizes the highest impact changes, making it very easy for the user to see everything that will be changed in the engine as soon as they click the “approve” button.

Go deep with One-Click Optimizations™

The second strategy is useful when a bit more time can be devoted to an optimization and it’s possible to go deeper and fix a bigger portion of an account. Whereas quick wins need to be focused on the highest priority opportunities, a deep dive based on a statistical approach can fix every opportunity, regardless of size. In AdWords this might entail downloading several reports with all account data, combining them in Excel, and creating an AdWords Editor-compatible file with the necessary changes.

A tool like Optmyzr automates all these steps and can analyze hundreds of thousands of search queries for an account and do things like automate the creation of single keyword ad groups (SKAG) for the most promising terms.

This was the original type of Optmyzr workflow, the One-Click Optimization™. We learned that as much as an algorithm can point to the validity of a certain suggestion, there are just some things that are easy for humans to pick out that algorithms have a really hard time with.

For example, an advertiser might scan a list of keyword suggestions and remember they already tried these in another account a long time ago, or that certain keywords contain competitor names and there was a recent internal policy change about what to do with these types of keywords.

Unfortunately, those things that a human can pick out very easily are often highly dependent on the vertical, or even the advertiser’s own internal policies, so it’s hard to automate it in a piece of software. So even though statistical optimizations are equally fast at generating one or a thousand suggestions, the time for a human to review the changes scales linearly.

Rather than trying to build the perfect algorithm, something that would be virtually impossible, we deploy optimizations that save time by doing all the pulling of reports, doing all the math, and all the analysis, and we leave the final step in the user’s hands.


Go deep and broad with optimization checklists

The two previous scenarios have covered options designed for when time is severely limited. But what’s the best workflow when that limitation isn’t there? Agencies sometimes have employees whose primary job is to run through optimization checklists and they tend to have more time than someone who also needs to run client meetings. They could spend a ton of time in AdWords or do things more quickly with Optmyzr’s One-Click Optimizations™, but we find that’s often not conducive to reliably high quality results.

The reason is that account managers dedicated to optimization are often newer employees who may not have the same level of AdWords skills as their counterparts who are client-facing. For them, it can be confusing to know what to do when faced with advanced interfaces like that of AdWords or Optmyzr. Knowing exactly where to click, what columns to turn on, what date ranges to select, and how to combine multiple reports to do a proper optimization is no simple task, so it may not be done consistently right.

That’s why Optmyzr developed Account Workouts, a customizable PPC workflow.

With Workouts, advertisers can add deep dive optimizations to a to-do list. The benefit of using Optmyzr rather than a generic to-do list is that it’s deeply integrated with the PPC engines. When the account manager goes through the tasks of a Workout, they are presented with the right optimizations, in the right order, with the right settings for the strategy defined by the account owners, and the right columns are shown to help inform the final decision on which suggestions to accept.

Go on vacation by putting AdWords on auto pilot

Finally, what about the scenario where we have literally no time, perhaps because we’re eager to take that long-awaited vacation. That’s where AdWords Scripts come in. We’re big fans of PPC automation at Optmyzr, but, as we said before, some automations are risky because it’s hard to build an algorithm that picks up on every nuance of a business, the way a human easily would. That said, there are plenty of PPC tasks that really don’t need that final layer of human approval since the task is so clear cut.

Take budget management for example. The business strategy may inform some of the complicated decisions about where to allocate budgets, but once the strategy is locked down, the task of making sure budgets are spent correctly is mostly a matter of checking the account spend frequently and rebalancing budgets as needed. That’s entirely automatable.

For these types of tasks, AdWords Scripts are ideal. They can check an account every hour and take the appropriate actions, whether that’s sending an email about a keyword with runaway spend, pausing a campaign that has depleted its monthly budget, or generating a back-office report about performance of the different keyword match types.

Optmyzr’s co-founder, Fred Vallaeys has written several free scripts that you can find on this site and Optmyzr also maintains the freeadwordsscripts.com blog. Anyone looking for an even easier way to get started with scripts can use Enhanced Scripts which require no knowledge of programming whatsoever.

PPC Pros need different ways to optimize accounts, depending on how much time they can devote to the task at hand. That’s why Optmyzr has created a variety of workflows to help account managers be more effective at their job. During this period of transition where legacy workflows anchored to the old AdWords interface will have to be updated, we hope to provide advertisers another option to remain productive.

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4 ways to get more out of Bing Ads /4-ways-get-bing-ads-291094 Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:30:41 +0000 /?p=291094 Sometimes Bing Ads is the forgotten stepchild of PPC. The reasons probably trace back to when Bing Ads was very hard to manage and provided very little opportunity for the effort invested, but times have changed. With now more market share and easier tools to manage them, Bing Ads can be a lucrative opportunity for […]

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Sometimes Bing Ads is the forgotten stepchild of PPC. The reasons probably trace back to when Bing Ads was very hard to manage and provided very little opportunity for the effort invested, but times have changed. With now more market share and easier tools to manage them, Bing Ads can be a lucrative opportunity for PPC pros to pursue.

These are some of the key reasons why Bing Ads deserves your attention, along with some tools to help you take full advantage.

Bing’s market share has grown six years in a row

PPC pros are busy people. Even when they use tools like Optmyzr to automate reporting, optimizations, etc, their days quickly get filled with new tasks, so they don’t have a lot of bandwidth to test different ad platforms. And with several platforms like Twitter, Amazon, Quora, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat all competing for attention, the platform has to rise above the noise if it wants any chance at getting a closer look.

Some good reasons why ad platforms don’t get an account manager’s attention:

  1. There’s not enough traffic to produce a worthwhile volume of leads.
  2. There’s good traffic, but the ad management system makes it difficult to manage the platform profitably.
  3. The platform is too nascent and still needs to prove it has lasting power in the market.

And although the first reason was what kept Bing often overlooked and perhaps a bit off-side, to say today that Bing is still “too small”, would be a complete misconception.

Bing’s share of the search market has been growing six years in a row and now reaches nearly half the US population – (according to ComScore, the Bing Network had 142 million unique searchers in July 2017) including 68M searchers that cannot be reached on Google alone.

Besides the US, Bing has also reached respectable market share in other big markets like Canada (17%) France (18%), the UK (25%), and Australia (12%), according to comScore qSearch data from June 2017.

When you put Bing Ads and AdWords side-by-side in a dashboard, like the Optmyzr MCC dashboard, you’ll notice that Bing is in fact big enough to make a sizable impact to your ad campaigns.

The Optmyzr dashboard brings together Bing Ads and AdWords accounts in a single view, making it really easy to see how much Bing contributes to your PPC efforts.

Bing Ads has become easier to manage

Bing has enough market share to warrant the attention of any advertiser looking for more conversions, and with this newfound expansion, it is only logical to wonder whether their management platform improved as well.

One of the things that troubled Bing Ads users was the difficulty in the management, and the complexity and time required to create actual profitable outcomes. Luckily, Bing realized that improving their tools was just as important as growing their market share.

When Bing Ads was introduced as an AdWords competitor, it was charting its own course and doing things differently from AdWords. But that made it hard to manage for someone who already knew AdWords well. So Bing started to make their ad platform look almost exactly like AdWords, adding similar capabilities in lockstep with AdWords. As a result, Bing Ads accounts are now so structurally similar to AdWords that they can be simply imported into Bing with the account syncing feature.

And thanks to tools like Optmyzr which streamline best-practice optimizations that experts want to do, it takes less time to optimize Bing Ads after you’ve set them up.

PPC management tools like Optmyzr make it easy to understand the engine’s data and act on it to optimize an account. In this example, the Bing Ads interface uses long tables to change dayparting adjustments. The Optmyzr interface uses a more intuitive graphical interface and even offers suggested bid adjustments.

Bing performs better when managed separately from AdWords

Bing makes it easy to copy and sync AdWords accounts. But if you get paid to manage PPC, whether through an agency or as a member of an in-house team, you might make your client or boss happier if you manage Bing on its own to drive better results. So rather than doing a periodic sync, consider Bing Ads as its own entity and use their unique data to make optimization decisions.

Frances Donegan-Ryan, who leads Bing Ads’ Global Community Engagement for Microsoft, agrees and says “You can’t just mirror what you do in Google because our audience and marketplace is unique and different.”

According to Microsoft’s internal data from July 2017, 27% of the clicks on Bing Ads come from searches that are unique to the Bing Network. So an assumption that searches on Bing are just like those on Google can lead to under-optimized accounts.

Because Bing has a different audience with different behaviors, their users may respond better to different things than what works on Google. For example, different ads may resonate with Bing searchers in a very different manner than from Google searchers, so rather than using the results from your AdWords experiments to modify ads on Bing, use a tool like Optmyzr and use Bing data to help craft the perfect ad text for Bing Ads.

Create better ads for the Bing network by using tools like Optmyzr’s A/B testing for ads to remove losing ads and quickly create new challengers.

Because the competition on Bing is different, you may also get more value by deploying a bidding strategy based on Bing’s Data rather than just copying your AdWords bids. Tools like Optmyzr make it easy to find opportunities where you can move up to the first page at a low incremental CPC, buy more traffic for well-converting keywords, or create your own custom bidding method with a rule-based optimization, even using your proprietary business data as part of your custom algorithm.

And if you’re an agency managing Bing Ads for a client, chances are you’ll have to explain Bing performance on its own. Rather than laboring over hard-to-interpret data tables in their interface, advertisers can leverage tools like Optmyzr to get quick insights about what is causing changes in performance.

Optmyzr’s Data Insights like the PPC Investigator visualize data to make it easier to understand. In this example, it illustrates why conversion volume for a Bing Ads account has changed.

Tools make Bing Ads easier

While Bing Ads now reaches more people across the globe, and has tweaked its platform to make those ads easier to manage, there are still usability gaps. PPC tools like Optmyzr address those gaps by providing time-saving solutions that help PPC pros manage accounts faster and better.

Even with AdWords, which has addressed some long-standing advertiser requests like n-gram  reports, better geo visualizations, and access to historical Quality Score, there are still significant benefits in using a tool like Optmyzr which is very focused on making this data easier to understand and act on.

With Bing Ads, many capabilities still lag a bit behind, so a tool like Optmyzr can provide an immediate impact on a PPC pro’s ability to deliver profitable results.

For example, to get a geo report in Bing Ads, advertisers download a user location report as an Excel file. This report is not interactive, making it hard to come to a useful insight because there’s no quick way to ask different questions like which campaigns have unusual geo performance.

With Optmyzr on the other hand, a Bing Ads advertiser can run a geo Data Insight to get an interactive visualization. They can then also act on the insights by using a Geo bid adjustment optimization.

Optmyzr streamlines tasks that are hard to do in the engine’s own ad management system, like analyzing performance by region and setting corresponding geo bid adjustments.

Conclusion

Bing Ads can be really easy to manage when you have the right tools, including a mix of the Bing Ads interface, their Power Editor, and a third party tool like Optmyzr. Combine this with the increasing market share that is making Bing Ads a bigger potential source of high quality leads every year, and it’s clear that Bing Ads should be part of your PPC buy in 2018.

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3 ways humans can do PPC better than machines alone /3-ways-humans-can-ppc-better-machines-alone-290437 Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:30:20 +0000 /?p=290437 Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic in PPC, but until the machines fully take over day-to-day account management, there are a few key areas where human PPC pros can still add a lot of value. Use business data for bid management Bid management can be one of the most repetitive and boring tasks of managing […]

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Artificial Intelligence is a hot topic in PPC, but until the machines fully take over day-to-day account management, there are a few key areas where human PPC pros can still add a lot of value.

Use business data for bid management

Bid management can be one of the most repetitive and boring tasks of managing PPC because after a model has been built, you are left with an ongoing task of executing on the plan, and this may involve downloading the data, putting it into the correct format, and then running it through your formulas to determine the new bid. For machines, this might sound like the perfect dinner on a Caribbean beach at sunset, but for us humans? Not so much. Repetition is dull, and since it’s a dull task, we tend to become a bit less thorough with our analysis as time goes on.

This is why both Google and Bing offer automated bid management solutions. There are also many third-party bid management solutions which aim to improve on shortcomings of the bid management solutions from an engine. Though it is a well-known fact that the engines can do amazing bid management work, their solutions are generic and can ignore aspects that the business owner knows will impact their online conversions.

There are four clear advantages to using the engine’s bid management systems:

  1. They are free to use.
  2. They are based on best-in-breed algorithms.
  3. They have access to a lot of auction-time signals that advertisers don’t get (e.g., who is the user, what did they search before).
  4. They can set bids in real time based on auction time signals.

But there are several things these automated bid systems cannot do:

  1. Know the context of the performance that is measured through conversion tracking (e.g., conversions were slow yesterday because there was an issue with servers in one of the data centers).
  2. Understand the factors that impact the industry (e.g., a plumber with 15 vans will be better able to service a distributed customer base than one with just three vans).

The ideal bid management system combines the algorithms from the engines with data from your business. To this end, advertisers should calculate their own CPCs based on in-house data and then submit these bids to the engine as an Enhanced CPC, so that Google or Bing can adjust the bid up or down based on what they know about each auction.

This is a reason why tools like Optmyzr are popular for managing bids. They can help automate bid strategies that use a combination of data from the search engine (like historical conversion rates for individual keywords) and business data (like phone sales data, e-commerce returns data, or even how the weather impacts sales).

Optmyzr’s Rules-Based Optimizations let advertisers mix business data with AdWords data to create the perfect bid management automation.

Optmyzr’s Rules-Based Optimizations for bids are also ideal for agencies that want to add value beyond what the engine’s own bidding system can do but don’t want to build complex technology in-house that they need to maintain as Google and Bing go through their frequent updates to the API. Prebuilt recipes can be installed in seconds to help advertisers reach goals like target CPA, target ROAS or target position. These recipes can be enhanced over time as more is learned about factors that impact performance, whether they’re based on Google’s data or internal business data.

Use keywords to target shopping ads

A second area where PPC pros should take back some control from the machines is with managing keywords for shopping ads. While shopping ads are automatically targeted to relevant queries that match the product in an advertiser’s feed, there is always the option of adding negative keywords.

In a rather extreme, yet interestingly practical way, you could actually target a specific keyword not by the inclusion of that term, but rather by the exclusion of all other terms.

This is the foundation of “Query Sculpting,” a PPC technique that deploys negative keywords to drive traffic to the desired target. And because negative keywords are much more explicit than positive keywords, they are the main tool.

Even in search campaigns, query sculpting is done with the addition of negative keywords. And while this makes a strange sort of sense, our logical side is still asking, “Why can’t it be done by simply adding exact match positive keywords?” Because ever since Google’s latest change to the algorithm, exact match no longer truly means “exact.”

Query sculpting for shopping campaigns was invented by Martin Roettgerding and later refined by various entities, including SmarterCommerce. Martin’s technique requires maintaining three parallel Shopping campaigns and proactively adding certain types of negative keywords.

But proactively adding extra campaigns and unnecessary negative keywords can really eat into an account’s allowance for number of keywords under management. Optmyzr, taking into account the pros and cons of both sides, has a solution that uses recent performance data to sculpt queries when it is clear they could perform better elsewhere in the account: The Shopping Negatives Tool.

The Shopping Negatives Tool analyzes the performance of the same search queries across different ad groups in a shopping campaign, finds the ad group in which the query is not performing well and recommends adding it as an exact match negative.

Optmyzr’s Negative Keyword tool for shopping ads identifies where negative keywords should be added to “query sculpt” the traffic so that more sales, and more profitable sales, will result from the budget spent with the search engine.

Using this technique, advertisers can run as many shopping campaigns in parallel as they want or keep everything in one campaign, and Optmyzr’s analysis will make suggestions for how to sculpt the traffic to drive more sales at a better ROAS.

Create better ad tests

Googler Matt Lawson has recently covered the new ways to think about A/B ad testing. Thanks to Google’s improvements in Machine Learning, there is less need to manually cull underperforming ads from an account. The premise is that the worst ad in an ad group could actually perform quite well with a subset of users hitting that ad group, which means that removing a slightly losing ad could actually be counterproductive.

But he also says, “Delete stuff whenever an ad stops seeing a large fraction of the impressions and therefore generates minimal to no clicks. Then add a new ad to the mix. It’s better to have options.”

To help with cleaning up ads that are seeing a minimal share of impressions in an ad group, you could use AdWords Scripts, like some that are part of Optmyzr’s suite of tools.

While Google is removing the need for manual testing of ads, and though they’re even doing some automatic generation of new ad text challengers, this remains an area where the human expert — someone who is close to the business being advertised — will have a leg up on automations.

You’ve heard the story that if you gave 1,000 monkeys typewriters and an infinite amount of time, they’d eventually write all the works of Shakespeare. But monkeys eat lots of bananas and tend to prioritize climbing trees before writing those famous soliloquies, so they’d most likely take forever. And though the concept of play-writing monkeys does seem very attractive, advertisers aren’t willing to wait for an infinite amount of time. That’s why we still need tools that help us write great ads in the least possible time.

Tools like Optmyzr can help with the ideation for new ads by highlighting ad text elements that have performed well historically.

Tools like Optmyzr help you create better tests in less time. Here the tool makes suggestions for ad text variations to try.

Frederick Vallaeys made the point that the PPC agencies of the future will be the ones with the best process for testing. Machine learning means computers can figure out the winners and losers, but conclusive test results will happen more quickly when using human insight to prioritize the most valid hypotheses for testing.

Conclusion

Exciting and perhaps scary times are ahead for all sorts of professions where AI will take over a plethora of tasks that used to require human intelligence. There’s a slight fog surrounding the future of human intelligence in the workplace, and though it isn’t thick enough to cover us just yet, it creates a bit of unease in many circles. What will happen when machines take over?

It’s an inevitable passage, but the more human input we give these machines throughout this transition period, the more effective they will be at helping achieve the shared goal of improving PPC performance. And in the meantime, human PPC pros have many opportunities to transform their day-to-day into something that will endure over time and set a solid foundation for working in an AI-first world.

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Four ways to spot AdWords account trouble early /four-ways-spot-adwords-account-trouble-early-281604 Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:30:59 +0000 http:/?p=281604 With a constant stream of new capabilities in AdWords, and with the multitude of settings to manage, it can be daunting to stay on top of it all, especially when managing more than one account, or when your job entails more than just doing AdWords. Luckily, there are some simple ways to spot trouble early […]

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With a constant stream of new capabilities in AdWords, and with the multitude of settings to manage, it can be daunting to stay on top of it all, especially when managing more than one account, or when your job entails more than just doing AdWords. Luckily, there are some simple ways to spot trouble early on and prevent an account disaster. I’ll share some of my favorites here.

Use the change history in AdWords Alpha to spot a lack of activity

One sure sign that your account may be headed for trouble is that it’s undermanaged and not optimized on a regular basis. AdWords Alpha makes it much easier than the legacy interface to see how actively an account is managed. Unlike the change history in the old version of AdWords, AdWords Alpha highlights the overall number of changes right at the top, broken out by type.

The new AdWords Change History view includes a table summarizing how many changes of each type were made in an account.

When evaluating changes, be sure to look beyond the totals, and look at the number of changes by type. Bid changes are often automated, so there may be hundreds or thousands every month, whereas ad text changes, which are often done manually, will probably number much lower. If you use highly scalable PPC management tools like Optmyzr to update all your ads with new inventory or promotions, you should expect that even ad text changes could add up. So be sure to consider these numbers in context of the types of tools your account team has access to.

Optmyzr’s tools for creating ads from data in a spreadsheet can dramatically increase how many changes advertisers are able to make in response to new promotions or changes in inventory.

Spot a poorly implemented strategy by counting unimplemented opportunities

An account could still be headed for trouble when there are lots of changes but they are the wrong ones. A good way to gauge the quality of work is to look at the Opportunities section in AdWords to get a feel for how many tasks haven’t been done. Just be sure to always look at the opportunities that match your account strategy.

The AdWords Opportunities tab shows the number of proposed changes and can be used to gauge how well an account is managed for a certain strategy.

At Optmyzr, we have some customers who outsource their account management but who still look at our optimization suggestions to get a sense of how many opportunities exist for a strategy they like. For example, if they notice that there are hundreds of queries that our tools indicate are good keywords but haven’t been added, they can contact their account manager to discuss this and prevent it from having an adverse impact on account performance.

The Optmyzr dashboard includes a brief overview of optimization opportunities and account insights advertisers can use to quickly understand how an account could be improved.

A big benefit of using a tool like Optmyzr to do optimizations is that all the prebuilt optimization suggestions are customizable, and there’s even a rule engine to create custom, super-advanced optimizations. Rather than relying on cookie-cutter suggestions, proposed optimizations in Optmyzr match the account strategy, so it’s a more meaningful way to see if they are not implemented as well as they could be.

Spot performance anomalies with a script

Evaluating the amount and quality of work done are great first steps to spot trouble early. But what if it’s too late, the performance is already impacted, and something needs immediate attention? AdWords created a cool AdWords Script for this, the Anomaly Detector. It will send an email if clicks, impressions or cost are unusual compared to typical performance for the day of the week and hour of the day.

If you need to run this across many accounts, Optmyzr’s Enhanced Scripts can be used to set it up for many accounts, each with their own sensitivity levels, while only having to maintain a single version of the code in AdWords. Optmyzr basically handles all the account-level details so that you don’t have to maintain different code for each account.

If you’re interested in getting these types of anomaly alerts at a more granular level than the account (which is what Google’s code does), I wrote a variation of the script called the Granular Anomaly Detector.

We created a few other scripts that can find issues as they happen, like the URL checker and Sitelink URL checker.

Use advanced PPC dashboards for monitoring

So far, I’ve covered ways to find out about account issues that are fairly manual, or those that involve working with AdWords Scripts. If you want something easier and more streamlined, and you have a bit of budget to work with cutting-edge tools, Optmyzr’s newly redesigned MCC dashboard combines several types of alerts in one place. Unlike the AdWords MCC, Optmyzr’s dashboard also includes Bing Ads, and each metric shows a graph of recent trends and their directionality.

The Optmyzr PPC Dashboard is fully customizable with unique metrics like Quality Score, custom notes between account managers, pre-emptive alerts, target-based alerts, and anomaly-based alerts.

Because different accounts may have different targets, the dashboard is flexible, and you can set targets for any metric. For example, one account could have a CPA target, another an ROAS target, and yet another could have a target for cost and CTR. When the target KPI falls outside the expected range, an alert is shown.

One thing we heard from advertisers is that they want to get a predictive alert before a KPI (key performance indicator) is missed. So, in addition to alerting advertisers after the KPI has been missed, we also alert them when the metric starts to head in the wrong direction. That way, advertisers can address any issues before they become significant enough to impact the target performance.

Then we saw that advertisers who have alerts are frustrated when alarms keep triggering even after the underlying cause has been fixed. For example, say you’ve just gotten an alert that CPAs (costs per action) are trending up and you identified the responsible keyword and fixed it. A typical dashboard will continue to show the alert because it will take some time for the metrics to return to normal. That’s why Optmyzr’s alerts have snooze buttons — so that after you fix an issue, you can snooze the alert.

Conclusion

Whether you manage an AdWords account yourself or hired someone to do it for you, it’s useful to have a range of tools at your disposal to check on the quality of work to ensure continuous peak performance. You have many ways to monitor accounts, from native AdWords tools like Change History and the Opportunities tab to free AdWords Scripts and advanced dashboards, reports and custom optimizations from companies like Optmyzr. With the four tactics suggested in this post, I hope you’ll be able to become a better PPC advertiser without having to invest more time.

 

The post Four ways to spot AdWords account trouble early appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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The perfect structure for managing profitable shopping ads /perfect-structure-managing-profitable-shopping-ads-276168 Mon, 05 Jun 2017 11:32:05 +0000 http:/?p=276168 When you start advertising on a new platform, deciding how to structure things can be scary because there’s the risk that a bad decision now could hamper your future efforts. So if you’re new to managing shopping ads, or you’re looking for some fresh ideas to revive underperforming campaigns, I’ll show you my ideal shopping […]

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When you start advertising on a new platform, deciding how to structure things can be scary because there’s the risk that a bad decision now could hamper your future efforts.

So if you’re new to managing shopping ads, or you’re looking for some fresh ideas to revive underperforming campaigns, I’ll show you my ideal shopping campaign.

The perfect shopping campaign should achieve a few things:

  • Make it easy to get meaningful reports.
  • Make it easy to act on insights from those reports.
  • Allow setting bids to meet ROAS goals.

Shopping campaign structure

Here are the key points about how to set up shopping campaigns:

  • Create “high-priority” campaign(s) for sales, clearance items, new arrivals and other products you want to sell before everything else.
  • Set up several “regular-priority” campaigns for different business lines or product types, especially ones where you expect a performance difference by region.
  • Develop a catch-all “low-priority” campaign with a conservative bid.

Here’s an example of why you need a separate campaign for product segments that have different performance across regions. Imagine the goal is to achieve a 300 percent ROAS.

As you can see, in New York the appropriate bid adjustment to meet the ROAS goal differs depending on the products. If all products were in one campaign like in the last two rows of the table, it would be impossible to set different geo bid adjustments, and the performance might suffer as a result of the less accurate bid adjustment.

Shopping ad groups

  • Each campaign should have several ad groups.
  • Ad groups should contain products for which similar queries should trigger an ad, or where you’d expect differences in performance depending on the user’s device, demographic or audience list.

As you can see, ad groups should ideally be limited to a small number of products, because that will produce the best ability to control queries and bid adjustments.

Product groups

  • Each product group should contain exactly one product.
  • If you decide against having very granular ad groups, use several layers of product group splits before eventually dividing each product into its own group.

For keyword targeted campaigns, there is a popular structure that is known as SKAGs (single keyword ad groups). The equivalent in shopping campaigns is the “Grip” structure (Groups of individual products). The reason I advocate for using the Grip structure is that it allows you to set the right bid for each product based on its unique performance.

There are a few reasons many advertisers don’t deploy shopping structures that are this granular:

  1. It’s too time-consuming to set up in AdWords
  2. When getting too granular, data sparsity can make it hard to calculate bids.

However, if you’re willing to invest time to do the more complex build-out and to do some serious reporting to inform your bids, it can put you miles ahead of your competition. And if time and people are a scarce resource at your company, tools like Optmyzr can be used to streamline tasks based on industry best practices.

While you could simply divide all products into their own product groups with no in-between segmentation, that makes your data a bit harder to read in AdWords. By adding some extra layers of segmentation, you can see rolled-up stats based on commonalities between products and in Optmyzr’s Shopping Bidder, and these intermediate groupings can even be used to do automatic data roll-ups to help with bidding.

Sync AdWords with your feed periodically

Now we have the perfect structure, but unfortunately, it will quickly get out of sync when your inventory, promotions or other parts of the data feed change.

Anything that you haven’t specifically placed in its own product group can still trigger ads so long as you’ve set a bid for “everything else,” but these generic bids are not great for the campaign’s profitability.

Here’s a simple example. A retailer structures each product in its own product group and then starts selling some new products the next day. These new products don’t have their own product groups, so they could start to get clicks from the catch-all campaign.

It would be better if these new products were in their own product groups so that they could be better managed. But finding where in the structure to add new products can be challenging, especially if you sell a lot of products.

Optmyzr’s Shopping Refresher helps with this. It analyzes the way a campaign is structured, compares this with what’s currently in the merchant feed and lets you review and apply the needed changes with one click.

Understand which product attributes drive profits

Now that we have a perfect campaign that’s staying in sync with the merchant feed, it’s time to look for some insights. Many advertisers limit themselves by looking only at ad group and product group data. For example, an advertiser selling shoes could see that sneakers outperform sandals by a factor of 2x because they made an ad group for each of these categories. That’s a good insight, but what are they missing?

Could the size, color or item group of a product impact its ROAS? Or does performance differ for products in different price ranges, or with different custom attributes like whether it’s on sale or not?

This level of analysis is much more difficult, because AdWords doesn’t support all attributes for segmentation and reporting, so the only way to get it is to combine reports from AdWords with the merchant feed.

Luckily, there’s a faster way to do this with tools like Optmyzr’s Shopping Attribute Bidder, which can run this analysis in seconds. You can even drill down several levels to gain some truly unique insights, like how blue women’s sneakers in size 10 perform compared to red men’s sandals in size 11.

Managing shopping bids for profitability

The whole point of setting up the best structure is to get enough control to drive profitability.

When using the Grip structure (one product per product group), you can make granular bid adjustments. With the shoe size example above, you could instantly identify all product groups that contain shoes of a particular size and color and push a bid adjustment. In AdWords, you could look up the corresponding product groups and use the Editor to make a bulk change, or in tools like Optmyzr’s Shopping Attribute Bidder, you can do it right from the screen where you did the analysis.

This only works when you use a Grip structure, though, because when you have multiple products in a group, they won’t always have exactly the same attributes.

Besides setting great CPC bids, our perfect structure also makes it easy to set smart bid adjustments.

Geo bid adjustments

Because we now have campaigns broken out for different types of products, we can set granular geo bid adjustments. One common misconception advertisers have is thinking they must add granular targeting for each location when they set up campaigns. Fortunately, that isn’t necessary, because Google will report metrics all the way down to the city or postal code level. So, even when targeting Australia, I can see performance data for Sydney whenever I want. And tools like Optmyzr make it easy to calculate thousands of bid adjustments for each location where ads have shown with some frequency.

Device, demographic and audience bid adjustments

Thanks to our granular ad groups, we can also look at variations in ROAS across devices, demographics and audiences to help inform smarter bid adjustments. For audience data, Google doesn’t collect it until you associate an audience with a campaign or ad group, which can be a pain to set up. But Optmyzr’s Audience Linker tool can help you link as many audiences to as many ad groups as you want in seconds. Then the data starts to accrue, and a few weeks later, you can use it to set better bid adjustments.

Conclusion

Getting a campaign set up with the right structure allows you to follow best practices and drive better results. I believe that in PPC we need to give ourselves the ability to control things granularly and also make it easy to find aggregate insights for those items where the data is too sparse to make informed decisions. And with tools like those from Optmyzr, all of these typically time-consuming tasks can be done in a more efficient manner, so that you’ll have more time to think up the next great best practice in PPC.

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