Archive for the ‘Pay Per Click’ Category

An Update on Search Engine Marketing (Pay Per Click)

July 22nd, 2019 by Heather Maloney

It’s been nearly a year since we blogged about pay-per-click advertising in the search engines (‘PPC’ e.g. Google Ads / Bing Ads). A lot has changed over that short time including a new name and a completely new user interface for Google Ads; this blog is intended as an update for business owners and marketing managers to help you keep abreast of what is possible, and the best way to approach search engine marketing.

search engine marketing changes in 2019

Most of the change is around the use of AI applied to the smart delivery of targeted ads, making the customisation of ads for mobile phones much easier to encourage more advertisers to display their ads on mobile, and additional control by Google to ensure positive customer experience.

Quality Scores
I’ve been involved in search engine optimisation (‘SEO’ – the art of achieving high ranks in the search engines for relevant, popular keyword searches) since the mid 1990s and organic traffic (people finding you through searchable content) has always been the #1 priority, and PPC ads the more costly way to get immediate website traffic while your SEO efforts grow your ranks over time. Naturally, the search engines, who only make money from paid ads, don’t see it that way.

Google changes the appearance of ads on a regular basis, and gives preference to the display of ads, all in the attempt to make money at the same time as delivering valid results for searchers. It is in Google’s best interest to ensure that not only are organic search results highly relevant to the searcher, but also the ads. Google want people to be just as willing to click on an ad as they are willing to click on a ‘normal’ search result. To that end, even if you want to pay over the odds to Google for your ad in relation to particular search terms, you may find that your ad isn’t being displayed. That’s because the destination of the ad – the landing page, or web page where the searcher ends up when they click – is now also assessed by Google in determining who to show your ad to. This is referred to as the ‘quality score’. If your ad is about treating back pain, and takes you to a web page that talks about exercise without reference to back pain for example, Google is likely to give your ad a low quality score and be less inclined to present the ad to searchers, and when your ad is presented the click cost will be higher (ouch).

What this means is that you must have high quality landing pages / ad destination pages which richly develop the intent of the ad, and the ads must include appropriate keywords that are reflecting in the landing pages, which brings us to dynamic ads.

Landing pages that are congruent with your ads have been important for a long time and has driven the trend of having your landing pages not only disconnected from your main website navigation, but also omitting your site navigation in order to focus the attention of the visitor only on the action you want them to take. This latest evolution is driving the use of 3rd party platforms which make it easier for digital marketers to setup dynamic landing pages, including sophisticated analytics around visitor behaviour.

Responsive Ads [and dynamic landing pages]
The latest overhaul of the Google Ad’s platform provides seriously sophisticated functionality for creating responsive ads – that is, ads whose content programmatically incorporates the search term entered by the searcher, from a set of search terms which you specify, and configures itself to the available space. A combination of 15 alternate headlines and 4 descriptions is possible. Using our back pain example, the responsive ad functionality allows you to create an ad which might have a headline of ‘Suffering from back pain’ or ‘Suffering from a sore back’ or ‘Suffering from a back injury’ all with the one ad i.e. you don’t need to create 3 ads to achieve this. Then, if the searcher types in ‘help with back pain’ your ad will appear as “Suffering from back pain”, or if they type in ‘recovering from a back injury’, your ad will appear as “Suffering from a back injury”. The descriptions in the content of the ads can similarly be filled on the fly to match the searcher’s intent as determined by AI.

To take this one step further, specialised landing pages can be configured to receive the search terms entered by the searcher, and then display those words in the appropriate place. Obviously you need to be careful when doing this to ensure that the dynamic content makes sense in all cases, particularly if you decide to add more keywords a few month’s later. But the end result is a much more relevant landing page, a higher quality score, and additional traffic to your site at a lower cost.

The ability to create responsive ads and content takes a bit of effort to setup, but means that you can create a lot more ads for less effort over the longer term, and achieve greater ad impressions, therefore more clicks, at a lower cost. It doesn’t however take away the need for greater copywriters, creative ideas and overall campaign strategy.

Ad Format
The available ad formats continue to evolve, and now includes:

  • Basic text-only ads.
  • Responsive ads – can insert text from a set of specified options matching the searcher’s search term, transform into text or image ads and automatically adjust size, appearance and format to fit space.
  • Image ads – static or interactive graphics, animated ads.
  • Image carousel ads.
  • Instream video ads – including vertical format ads specifically for people on mobile (you may need two versions), standalone video ads or inserted in streaming video content.
  • Product shopping ads – product photo, title, price, store name+ more details.
  • Showcase shopping ads – image and description that expands when clicked to show several related products and store information.
  • App Promotion Ads – drive app downloads and engagement with app promotion ads.

The ad formats available depends on your campaign type (search network, display network, search + display networks) and campaign sub-type (e.g. standard or all features).

Targeting
How we ensure ads are seen by the right people is continuing to evolve. In the Google Display Network (where websites show Google Ads, rather than ads as a result of customer searching) the placement of ads is much more a result of prior browsing activity and demographics (by users signed into Google) and less about their search terms.

Google’s “Exact Match” setting is no longer really exact … instead it works out intent using AI (read more about the dismantling of exact match over the years). This is a little annoying as taking that control away means that we are relying on the accuracy of the AI and ultimately Google wants you to spend more. It also means that the thorough use of negative keywords (preventing your ads from displaying when particular search terms are used) is even more important. We constantly review the search terms used to display ads, and extend the negative keywords list to prevent waste of our client’s ad budgets.

With Google’s significant improvement in targeting by audiences – whereby you load your known audience (customer database) up into Google and it then targets exactly those people with your ads, or builds matching audiences of similar people – due to it’s use of artificial intelligence, using this feature to target the right customers for your ads has become more useful. You can make the best use of this feature when you have a larger customer database, and when you know where each person or segment are in their buying journey, allowing you to present appropriate ads for each person. New demographics have been appearing in the audience settings including marital status, home ownership and the like, so we expect this area to continue to expand. Although the recent $5Bn fine against Facebook could slow things down in this area?

Many businesses use Google Ads primarily for top-of-funnel (prospects at the very start of a customer purchase journey) and then use other means to communicate with the new prospect such as email nurture programs. Not surprisingly, Google wants businesses to use Google ads all the way through the process. The use of Google re-marketing – presenting a similar ad to a person who has previously clicked on your ads and visited your website – is another cost-effective way to re-enforce your message with prospects, as these ads have significantly cheaper cost per click.

Bing have launched their own audience building feature this year, which is also AI powered across data collected from Bing searches, Skype, MSN and LinkedIn usage, and is not to be ignored for highly targeted campaigns.

Configuration
Setting up ad campaigns for mobile searches (more than half of all searches are carried out on a mobile phone) was previously cumbersome, requiring advertisers to create another set of ads just for mobiles. That’s changed with the new ad platform allowing the one ad, including ad extensions, to be customised within the one place for desktop and mobile.

Goal based campaigns allows the choice of the results you want to achieve – such as increased leads, greater brand awareness or higher conversions – and then Google will provide recommendations for campaign types that will perform best for you and your budget, and provides numerous automatic bid and placement optimisations. Again this is a result of their deepening use of artificial intelligence.

Whilst Google is giving us far more recommendations to use as we configure and optimise ads, sometimes these recommendations conflict; we don’t just follow these without careful consideration to ensure that they fit with your objectives.

Ad Extensions allow extra information to be shown as part of your ads. New ad extensions include Promotion Extension – the ability to include a price or special offer – thus enticing a visitor to click your ad instead of another.

Controls
Google is much more active in the assessment and banning of ads for all manner of legal and ethical reasons. We create ads with the best intentions in mind, include images, and then may need edit after Google has reviewed.

If you are using Click to Call style ads, the business name in your ads must now really be your business name, and mentioned in your IVR or by the person answering (sounds obvious, right … you would be surprised at how less-than-honest marketers have exploited this in the past). Interestingly, with the increase use of mobiles for search, Google removed the extra charge it originally levied on advertisers using click to call ads to provide metrics and reporting such as length of call (now a customisable setting to attribute as a conversion which previously not been tracked).

Summary
Due to the complexity of the ad platforms, increasing competition for organic search ranks, priority of the search companies to drive revenue through search, and the importance of the configuration on the cost of your pay-per-click ad campaigns, it is really important to keep a close eye on your pay-per-click ad campaigns. We work with our clients with pay-per-click campaigns in a variety of models, from strategic advice all the way through to full responsibility for creation and execution of ads. We can pick up your existing campaigns from where they currently are and improve them over time, or work with you to create your first ever pay-per-click ads.

We look forward to having a conversation.

But Wait! There’s More
We haven’t touched on You Tube ads in this article (also owned by Google). With the viewing of You Tube video continuing to grow, presenting video ads within You Tube is an option more organisations need to utilise.

Google does not stand still – it tends to roll out a major update to its ad platform every 6 months. Google has already announced the many new features coming to their ad platform which will likely be rolled out during the rest of this year. Many of these relate to search on mobile phones. Here’s a short list:

  1. A new type of ad – Discovery Ads – to appear in the new Google Discovery Feed app that mobile users are likely using on their phones. Discovery Ads, because they are interrupting people in a similar way to ads inside your Facebook Feed, will have strict quality constraints around them e.g. the requirement for unique (not stock) high quality images.
  2. Images inside search ads, but only on mobile, and only in the first place – this will be called a Gallery Ad.
  3. AI will be used to create interesting 6 second videos from original, up to 90 seconds in length.
  4. Deep links from ads to inside apps.
  5. Advanced bid strategies will allow you to exclude data considered by artificial intelligence when determining when to place ads e.g. particular spikes due to out-of-the-ordinary activities.
  6. Location based ads will start appearing in Google Maps search suggestions and while a user is use getting directions.

We look forward to exploring the use of these changes and more in the Google ads platform.

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The Swiss Army Knife of Digital Marketing – Google Display Ads

January 5th, 2019 by Cameron Collins

You may have noticed that Google has recently changed the name of their advertising platform from Google AdWords to Google Ads. Name changes can be risky, but in this case we think it makes perfect sense.

Google first offered text ads at the top of their search result pages in October 2000. These ads are still popular today. For our clients, they offer those in competitive industries to opportunity to achieve exposure and traffic in relevant but hotly contested searches.

While visibility in relevant search results is highly valuable, gained by search engine optimisation, this often won’t guarantee a sufficient level of online leads or sales generated from your website. For example what if:

  • There are very few relevant Google searches for your product or service.
  • You wish to encourage your website visitors to return to your site (especially if you have a lengthy sales process).
  • You have a new and unique offering and wish to gain brand awareness.
  • Your product is visually stunning – you know your target audience will be interested if only they could see it.

Google gradually expanded their ad network offerings, with search ads being joined by display, shopping, video and universal app ads.

What are Google Display Ads?

Display ads appear throughout approximately 2 million websites and apps which are part of the Google Display Network. News websites with ads in the right side column are an example of this. Other options include ads underneath YouTube videos and at the bottom of the screen in apps.

Display ads have taken off in recent years, and for good reason. These can be used to reach your target audience at all stages of the sales funnel.

They’re highly cost effective, with the average cost-per-click at $0.63 (compared to $2.69 for search ads).

What really makes these ads stand out from other advertising channels is the unique audience targeting options which are available. You have the ability to request that Google displays these ads to:

  • Previous visitors of a particular page or pages of your website (these are the ads that “follow you” across the internet).
  • People who have recently conducted a Google search for search terms which are relevant to your product/service.
  • People who have recently visited websites similar to yours (i.e. your competitors).

This makes Display ads highly versatile. They can be used to encourage visitors back to your website, particularly when they have demonstrated a level of interest, even added a product to cart but not completed the transaction. Products which are more complex or have a higher price tag are often not purchased spontaneously and involve a longer decision making process. These ads ensure your brand isn’t forgotten about during the decision making process.

Display ads also attract visitors who are interested in your product/services but have been visiting your competitors and not your website. Again for purchases which are not made spontaneously (e.g. a new car), or product/services which are not purchased as a once off (e.g. a chiropractor appointment), this is a great way to reach your audience, alongside organic and paid search results.

If you have a new brand or product that is visually stunning, display ads provide a great way to increase brand awareness at a low price, and draw visitors to your website, when they would otherwise be searching for more established brands (e.g. a stylish new brand of watch).

Misconceptions about Display Ads

A common misconception regarding display ads is that ad blockers will eventually render this format to be useless. As of 2018, the display network has been able to reach approximately 90% of global internet users. While Google makes their money from advertising, they understand that harassing internet users with obnoxious ads doesn’t benefit anyone. Google have begun to enforce standards from the Coalition for Better Ads. These standards aim to eradicate ad formats which annoy internet users the most – such as pop up ads which block the main page content, auto-playing ads with sound, countdown ads which delay the loading of main content.

Display Ad Case Study: Select Kitchens

We were recently approached to review the effectiveness of a Google display ad campaign for Select Kitchens. Select Kitchens offer prestige, high end kitchen renovations in inner-east Melbourne localities such as Toorak and Camberwell. Their display ad campaign was failing to attract leads for their sales team. At closer inspection we found that the ads were not being clicked on. After being displayed 61,258 times (impressions) their ads had only been clicked on once.

And as you can see in the cost column, that one click costed $17.33! These ads operate on a pay-per-click format, where you pay Google each time someone clicks on your ads. Without regular PPC management, you may find that Google makes more money from these ads than you do.

After reviewing the display ads in use, we found that they failed to describe the high-end products which their target audience seek. The ads appeared dated, cheap and more representative of a low-cost renovator.

In December we paused the existing ads and implemented a new style of ad. To gauge the effectiveness of the new ad design without influence of other factors, we didn’t change the campaign targeting and displayed the ad to the same audience. The only other change we made was to reduce the allowed maximum cost-per-click from a staggering $40 to a more reasonable $3.00.

The new ad comprises a slow-scrolling animation of a modern kitchen, displaying simple key messages and ending in a call-to-action. It’s simple, elegant and stands out to those who have been searching for high-end modern and contemporary kitchen renovation companies.

The ad looks like a video, but really it’s an image which is being slowly displayed from left to right. Its design tactics like this which make ads stand out without resorting to obnoxious and tasteless behaviour.

As you can see, the new ad has resonated with the target audience. It received 188 clicks at an average cost of $2.02 per click. Select Kitchens received their first ever conversion from display ads, and with some adjusting to the audience targeting, we look forward to seeing many more quality leads.

If you would like to find out how Google Display ads can help your business, send us a message and we would love to have a friendly chat with you. Contactpoint has 14 years’ experience in providing lead generation and e-commerce solutions for Melbourne businesses through a range of digital marketing channels.

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