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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

AdWords Conversion Tracking - Don't be Fooled

An associate of mine who dabbles in AdWords for a small business he runs called me this past weekend with an AdWords conversion tracking question. He indicated he had started using the AdWords conversion tracking so he could get a better handle on what keywords were actually generating sales. Anyway, here was his question;

"I noticed my AdWords account showed two conversions yesterday but I only made one actual sale. Is conversion tracking broken or did I miss an order somehow? I spent $100 with AdWords and the Cost/Conversion column showed $50 so I assumed that meant I made two sales. The other reports I created in AdWords show two conversions too."

I jumped into his AdWords account and started poking there and in his logs...then I was reminded of a scenario I had encountered sometime last year. Turns out the scenario I ran into is exactly what had happened to him - a person who made a purchase at his site had clicked on two different AdWords ads prior to making a purchase so AdWords was showing conversions for both keywords.

For example;

Joe searches Google for blue widgets, clicks on your blue widget AdWords ad and arrives at your site. He browses around for a couple minutes then realizes he actually needs a red widget. Joe leaves your site, goes back to Google, and searches for red widgets. Joe clicks on your red widget ad and is back on your site. This time he places an order for a red widget. In a scenario like this, AdWords will show conversions for both blue and red widgets even though the customer only bought a red widget.

My advice: always look at your internal sales reports and use a more robust analytics solution the minute you can afford it. Don't base spending decisions solely on conversion data reported via AdWords conversion tracking.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Ad Denied: "Landing Page Not Relevant"

In anticipation of AdCenter's increased traffic delivery I started adding more campaigns to AdCenter over this past weekend. Because MSN's AdCenter is still beta/pilot I've been adding campaigns slowly based on what's working in other PPC applications.

This weekend I got a taste of AdCenter's ad review process and have to say I'm disappointed. I had a number of ads denied and the reason given was "landing page content not relevant".

I don't know who is making that call but in my opinion they need to reevaluate what's relevant and what's not. The ads/keywords that were denied are my top performers (in terms of conversion) in AdWords and that tells me the users (people searching) find the landing page content to be VERY relevant to what they were looking for.

I think MSN should let the ads through and let the market sort out what’s relevant and what's not. If the people clicking on them don't find the landing page content relevant to what they are looking for they will not buy and I will discontinue bidding on those keywords.

Friday, February 24, 2006

More AdCenter Traffic Starting Feb 27

I was notified a few minutes ago...

"I want to share some good news regarding the adCenter pilot - we’re now ready to increase traffic to adCenter campaigns. We’ll be increasing traffic by approximately 70% from our current levels.

If you’re a pilot user, this means that your budget may be impacted due to the increase. Also, as more traffic is directed to adCenter, you should expect a decrease in traffic from your Yahoo! Search campaigns. You will be notified about the size and timing of additional traffic increases as we move towards launch.

The traffic increase is scheduled to begin on Monday February 27th. Pilot users should begin to see an impact on Tuesday February 28th, however, it may take several days to perform the increase."

Look for official announcement tomorrow at the AdCenter Blog.

Great news for a Friday afternoon!

AdWords Down Tonight (Reminder)

On Friday, February 24th, the AdWords system will be unavailable from approximately 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. PST due to system maintenance. While you won't be able to log into your accounts during this short downtime, your campaigns will continue to run as usual. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

MSN Seeks Questions For SES

The title says it all...MSN has started a thread at Search Engine Watch where users can post questions they would like answered/discussed at the SES New York show.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Google, I Want to Tell Your Story

Over the weekend I decided to put together a quick campaign to sell a few digital copies of the book, The Google Story.

I received the standard "possible trademark violation" warning when I tried using the word Google in the ad title or copy, so I decided to leave it out and just bid on the book name using all available matching options.

3 days later and no impressions...time to check into a few things. I did a search for "The Google Story" and guess what, the only two AdWords ads were for and an eBay ad. Cool, I'm not the only one being blocked.

Next I just decided to search for "Google" and see what came back. I got three ads for make money at home type services and one website hosting ad.

None of the ads in either search used the word Google in the ad title or text.

My question is how did the work at home and website hosting ads show up for a search for the word Google? Are they flying under the radar or did they actually get an exception to bid on the word Google?

Google, I'm just trying to tell your story. Could you cut me a little slack;-)

AdCenter Besting AdWords and Overture(Yahoo)

Quite a few reports circulating today about the "better results" users are seeing with AdCenter in comparison to the other major PPC engines. Quoted from here;

"Were seeing better results on MSN than on Google or Yahoo," Dave Williams, chief strategist of search engine marketing firm 360i, is quoted as saying.

He says the reason is the demographic data, including age, sex and home city, that adCenter makes available - and Google and Yahoo don't, at least not yet.

I've interacted with a few people using AdCenter and no one I've spoken with has bothered with the demographic targeting at this time, at least not on a large scale. I've tinkered with the demographic targeting but with practically no competition on keywords at this time (about 2,000 people in the pilot) I haven't seen the need to use it - just about every keyword I'm bidding on is 5 cents so I'm making money regardless.

The demographic targeting will become more important as the number of advertisers, and CPC's, start climbing later this year and advertisers need to better target their audience.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Conditional AdWords Ads

I spent the past weekend doing a ton of campaign work in AdWords. While creating and revising hundreds of campaigns I started wondering why AdWords doesn't have any "conditionals" you can assign to ad groups or campaigns.

I set up a ton of "test" ad groups. By test I mean an ad group that may or may not work. If the ad group is for a new product or service that I don't have experience in promoting I like to test the market and see what's out there in terms of potential traffic, conversions and competition.

Most of the time these campaigns are short lived. Once they hit certain levels, i.e. meet certain conditions, they are either paused or modified to better maximize the ROI.

Wouldn't it be cool to set up a set of conditions during ad group creation that could accomplish your goals automatically? For example, you could create a new group with the following rules:

Trigger: 10,000 impressions
Variable: Conversion
If less than x% conversion pause/delete campaign
If conversion is between x% and x% continue campaign "as is".
If conversion is greater than or equal to x% raise minimum bid by x% and up campaign budget by x%.

Of course you would be able to break everything down to various levels of detail - i.e. setup different rules for content vs search network.

Maybe some third party apps out there offer this functionality already but I tend to be leery of third party apps right now - AdWords is too important to my business to have "all my eggs in one basket" with a third party management tool.

Will AdWords ever offer this type of functionality in their standard interface? One can wish....

Friday, February 17, 2006

AdCenter Update on February 18, 2006

From adcenter411 at Digital Point:

"The new adCenter release is currently planned for tomorrow - Saturday, 2/18/06. The update starts at 3 A.M. Pacific Standard Time (PST) and will take approximately 24 hours. During this time, you will not be able to sign in to adCenter, but your ads will continue to be served and be tracked for reporting."

AdCenter Killing AdWords

Anyone who's been following the chatter AdCenter has undoubtedly heard users of the pilot say that while the traffic has been low the conversions have been great. I've said the same thing on a number of occasions...and wanted to share something along those lines today.

I've been running a small test - AdCenter vs AdWords for the past week. While I won't share specific numbers I will make this statement in relation to my test:

Based on current conversion trends if my AdCenter campaign delivered 25% of the traffic (which it doesn't at this time) that AdWords delivers at the same average CPC it would generate 3 times the amount of revenue.

Apply that same metric to a few thousand ad groups....:-)

AdWords Print Auction Deadline Extended

I just found out the deadline for submitting a bid to the AdWords print auction test has been extended. The new deadline is February 24th. The only reason I can think of that would cause them to do this is due to a lack of interest/bids...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New AdCenter Features

On Feb 14 2006 I had the chance to get a sneak preview of some of the new AdCenter features that will be rolling out later this month. Overall I think the changes will be well received.

I would also like to add that I am pretty impressed so far with how the AdCenter team is not only soliciting, but actually implementing, feedback they have received from the PPC community. They have even gone so far as to hire a community support analyst who will be responsible for interacting with the community on forums and blogs. Being a borderline forum junkie myself i think that's pretty cool.

Here are some of the highlights of the upcoming release:

1) Simplification of the new order creation process. Process is now 4 steps: Order Settings, Ads, Keywords and Pricing.
- Order Settings tab now incorporates targeting elements.

2) All budget, bidding, and incremental pricing options are edited in one place — the new Pricing tab.

3) Integration of research into order creation:
- Suggestions, demographic and pre sales data have been added.
- Keyword research and idea tool added to the Keywords tab so it's available when you create your keyword lists.
- New Keyword Research Tool available

4) Improvements made to the usability of managing ads and keywords
- The Ads page now allows you to create (or edit) ads in a left-hand pane with a real-time preview on the right.
- The text field for ad text and titles are now updated with character limits as you type.
- Reason codes added for all keyword/ad rejections.
- “Ad Description” field renamed “Ad Text.”
- “Negative match” option renamed “excluded keywords.”

5) Change to Incremental bidding from a specified dollar amount to a relative percentage applied across all keyword bids.

6) Negative keywords can now be applied at the order level.

7) Base bid amounts can be applied across all

Last but not least, the screenshots:

The AdCenter Campaign Tab (First Screen After Login)

AdCenter Order Settings with Targeting

AdCenter Ads Screen (Real Time Ads Preview)

AdCenter Keyword Tool & Charts

AdCenter Pricing Tab

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Can't See Your AdCenter Ad on MSN Results?

During the AdCenter pilot some users have expressed frustration with not being able to see their ad on MSN search results pages. The primary cause for this is that AdCenter ads are only being served 25% of the time right now.

I have seen a few of my ads on MSN but those instances have been few and far between. I found out today that the ads (AdCenter or Yahoo based) people are served on MSN are the result of a cookie on the users machine. I must have deleted my cookies and have a cookie that causes me to see the Yahoo based ads now.

Anyway, ads shown in the results of searches from here are all AdCenter driven ads:

If your an AdCenter user and like to see your ads in action from time to time that's the place to do it.

New Official AdCenter Blog

That's the new official AdCenter blog. Check it out.

The second post is about a new UI for AdCenter. Having seen the demo today I'm pretty impressed - big improvements from where we're at today.

More to follow in a bit.

You vs Google

Avmango started a thread at the Search Engine Roundtable asking:

"I have a client who currently has their adwords account managed by Google.

They have retained me to sit in on a meeting with Google and the client to basically see where either:

1. Google needs to improve their work
2. Determine how I can take over the campaigns...

The issue are many but.:

A. Google manages for "free" based on their 10K plus a month media spend
B. I obviously charge for my services so I will need to make the case by hiring me beyond the retainer, I will either save them money, or help make them more sales which I am confident I can do..."

I've never gone head to head with Google to try and win over an account but I think it would be fairly *easy* to do. Show the client how you can give them more value and a better return - I've seen some of the campaign work Google does for clients and it's not the best work I've seen out there...

Anyway, swing by the forums if you've walked this road before and help Avmango out.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Graphic/Video Ads on Google

Despite previous promises of "No Graphic ads on Google", searchers looking for information about the Olympics on Google will see just that - a graphic/video based ad at the top of the search results.

You could debate the classification of this graphic as an ad...but let's be honest - it's an ad.

As much as I dislike the graphic ad in Google's search results I'm sure this is not the last we'll see of this ad format.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Overture More Effective than AdWords

Another DP thread, Google vs. Overture/Yahoo Marketing , is a comparison between Yahoo's PPC marketing program vs. Google's PPC program.

To me this thread demonstrates that different programs work better in different markets. If I were to write a comparison it would be the exact opposite of what was written in jcfinc's thread - I find the Yahoo/Overture system to almost completely ineffective in comparison to AdWords (and even AdCenter at this point!)

Anyway, it's Friday and I figured since I never post anything positive about Overture/Yahoo I'd slide this one in.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Frustrated and Need Advice

Reading over at Digital Point today I came a across a thread by Ian - Hey guys, frustrated and need advice.

Ian says:

" I've been looking to grow our business using PPC campaigns, and have been experimenting with Adwords both on a PPC level, and with CPM Site campaigns. I've been focusing now more with search ads with keywords related to our site and the products we're trying to sell.

Our conversions have been around 3% from organic search results, so I'm frustrated with my experience so far with Adwords as so far after two days I've spent a bunch of money with no return.

My next step is to try and run a campaign with Overture, however I've found the interface tedious to use, and obviously as everyone knows you have to wait for the campaign to go live. However, I've also read that e-commerce sites have enjoyed success with a lower cost per sale using it."

Basically Ian's looking for some advice from people who have already blazed the path using PPC to promote and e-commerce site.

Think you can help? Stop by and let Ian know your thoughts.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Brushing Up - The AdWords Learning Center

I was responding to a post today about preparing for the AdWords Qualified Individual program today and was reminded of the AdWords Learning Center.

If you're considering AdWords or have been having trouble getting things working the way you want head over to the Learning Center and get the info you need, or just a refresher course.

All PPC programs should have a robust training area like the Learning Center...but they don't:-)

Sorry for the light posting - busy day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

AdWords in Magazines

Earlier today I came across "Your ads in print at the price you set" at Google.

Google has been working with a small group of advertisers for quite some time testing the viability of allowing AdWords uses to run print ads in magazines and other publications via their AdWords interface.

They're auctioning off ad space in some very reputable magazines in this public test including Car and Driver, PC World, Information Week, Computer Shopper and some others. In total there are 28 magazines in 3 categories.

Here's how Google is running the first auction:

"Choose your publications

You can review the available titles below to decide which ones are right for your ads.

Set your price
For each publication in which you'd like to bid for space, tell us how much ad space you'd like to use and the maximum price you're willing to pay for it. Your bid will compete against other advertisers' bids to appear on the publication's page. If yours is a winning bid, we'll email you by March 3, 2006 and work with you to fill your ad space effectively.

The deadline to submit a bid is February 20, 2006. We wish you luck as we work together to explore the possibilities of print advertising. "

I plan to put some bids in on a few of these publications and will let everyone know how it goes.

You can get more info at the Inside AdWords Blog or the FAQ.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Is There a Good AdWords Tutorial?

I see this question quite often, and usually respond with the same link:-)

AdWords Learning Center

If you're just getting started, heck, even if you're a pro already it's a great resource for learning new things or brushing up on topics that you don't often face in your AdWords campaigns.


Monday, February 06, 2006

No Titles on AdWords CPM Ads

I'm seeing quite a few CPM ads on webmaster forums today that are being displayed without titles. I wonder if it's intentional or an error. I know I've always been required to enter a title when creating a CPM ad.

What do you think? AdWords Test or AdWords error?

I've seen the same format across a number of ads so I don't think it's just a creative image based CPM ad.

Friday, February 03, 2006

AdCenter's Quality Score

I've been catching up on my PPC related reading today after an incredibly busy week.

One post that caught my eye was made by Al Scillitani of Search Engine News. Among other things, the post discusses AdCenter's 'Quality Score" and some of the factors that are used in determining what it is. Here's the snippet that grabbed my attention:

"They look at Cost Per Click, Click Thru Rate, and Landing Page Relevancy which is very similar to Google.

The difference between MSN and Google is this, the Landing Page Relevancy in MSN goes one step further. If the actual keyword you are bidding on is not found on the landing page, your ad may actually be declined."

It's that last line that I'm wondering about. I did a quick review of my account and a decent potion of my approved ads are using keywords that are not found on the landing page. The lack of the keyword on the landing page doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact on the ad's CTR or subsequent conversion rate either.

To take this a step further I would pose the following scenario as an example as to why, at a global level with no room for exceptions, this policy would not be beneficial to MSN or its advertisers.

Let's say for example McDonalds wanted to advertise via AdCenter. They want maximum exposure so they bid (among other things) on what they feel to be a term that will help reach their target audience - "fast food". Now they don't want that term in their ad nor does it appear on their landing page - they're busy trying to shake the image of being a "fast food" restaurant but realize a significant portion of their target audience still views them as a fast food restaurant. They need to get into that market as part of an overall strategy to shake that image.

Should the ad be denied?

Food for thought. Have good weekend.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

More on the AdWords Editor

I received an invite yesterday for the new AdWords Editor. At some point today I hope to find the time to install it and give it w whirl. After I get a few hours of experience under my belt I'll report back here with my thoughts.

Until then, there's a lengthy thread over at WMW talking about the AdWords Editor.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Common AdWords Misconception Explained

Sort and to the point - there's a great post on the Inside Adwords blog talking about a very common question a lot of AdWords publishers ask:

"I advertise a niche product, and I'm the only advertiser on many of my keywords. I thought I could bid the minimum CPC of $0.01 on those keywords, and have my ad show. Yet, my minimum bid is much higher. What's up with that?"

Have you found yourself asking that question? Check out the answer from the AdWords team on the Inside AdWords blog.

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