FREE: 3 Tickets to PPC Training Workshop at OMS

Next week, I will be joining Bryan Eisenberg in a super charged and fun PPC training workshop at the Online Marketing Summit.

The workshop is titled: PPC Optimization: The Road to Recovery and will cover:

  • The 7 most common PPC mistakes to avoid
  • 4 hot metrics you should be monitoring and including in your monthly reports
  • A powerful 3 step process to increase Click-Through-Rates (CTR) and relevancy of your ads and landing pages
  • How to boost your Quality Score rankings and lower CPC costs
  • The simple technique that will make you stand out from your competitors
  • A 12-Step process to optimize and improve your PPC management process

We are giving away 3 FREE TICKETS, one to each of the following cities:

Ready to learn how to take your PPC to the next level? Get in touch and let us know which city you want to attend the workshop in. First-come first-served!

Cool activities at Acquisio!

Wear it Pink!

Click for Photos of June Activities

The past few weeks have been quite exciting! For one, on May 27th, the girls were all wearing their Acquisio pink t-shirt as it was “Wear it pink day”! This day is organized by the Jewish General Hospital to promote the Weekend to End Women’s Cancer’s Walk. Our colleague Laura will be participating in this fundraiser event next August. This was our way to show our support!

Get out, Get Active.

On June 4th, we had an Awesome Event. We all went to play outside for a part of the afternoon. It was hot and sunny and we started by playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee. It was initiation time for most but we discovered lots of talent. We also played a game of soccer, had time to talk with everyone and enjoyed the picnic.

Dragon Boat Competition.

June 13th was our Dragon-Boat competition. Our colleague Annie is going to attend the World Championships next July in China and was organizing this great event to raise money. So we got a chance to try this amazing sport on the St-Louis Lac in Lachine. Perfect day, perfect sport…very cool! Many thanks go to Annie for bringing this sport to us! And good luck to her and her team in China.

Want to see the full photo album of our June activities? Click here!

Acquisio Partners with The Trade Desk to Offer Integrated Search, Display Marketing

Leading PPC Management Software Partners with New Display Buying Platform Created by Ad Exchange Pioneer and Former AdECN Founder

Montreal, Canada and Ventura, California–(PRWeb)—June 22, 2010

Tracking customers throughout the sales cycle and the sales funnel presents challenges for even the savviest marketer—until now. …

Active/Enabled Only in ClickEquations

Paid search accounts are filled with history and failures. Campaigns we’re no longer running, keywords that didn’t work, and text-ads that failed or just wore out.

Many of these aren’t ever deleted, they just kind of linger, cluttering our reports and screens.

The ClickEquations custom filters allow you to remove these items. You can choose the statuses you want to show, and leave off those you want to hide.

To make this even easier, create a named/saved filter. To do this:

  1. Open the Edit Filter dialog box. (In Manager, under the Filters and Views pop-up)
  2. Click the black arrow next to Status to open the status choices.
  3. Choose the Active, Enabled, and On status options.
  4. Click the check box next to ‘Save As’
  5. Give your filter a name like  ’Active/Enabled/On Only’
  6. Click OK.

Now you can get remove all paused, inactive, deleted, and off items from any tab by just choosing your new filter from the Apply Saved Filter menu.

Secret Truth Series #18: Effective Text Ad Testing

Text ads are trying to answer questions.

Writing text ads is difficult because you have only 95 characters to stand out from a sea of competing messages and persuade the searcher that you’re the ad to click.

There are many strategies and tactics to accomplish this, and both technical skill and creativity are required. The process takes considerable time and effort.

And there is only one way to measure success. Testing.

But testing requires more than simply running a couple of ads simultaneously. It requires the conditions for a fair test, a clear goal, and valid measurement and analysis. Much of what passes for text-ad testing in paid search lacks one or more of these requirements.

Let’s look a little closer at each to better understand how to properly test text ads.

Conditions For Text Ad Testing

Text ads cannot be effectively tested too early in the process of optimizing your account or ad groups.

If you haven’t yet optimized the keywords, match types, ad group organization, and negatives then the search queries coming into the ad group will be too diverse. If people are asking 25 different questions it’s impossible to compose any single answer that will satisfy all of them. If you try to test text ads too early, you won’t be able to trust the results. Maybe you’ve got a lousy text ad, or maybe the ad is just running against a lot of very untargeted or unqualified search queries.

So before even beginning to worry about text ad testing, make sure you’ve read and implemented Secret Truths #1#8. When the vast majority of the queries coming into an ad group are similar, you’re read to test text ads.

Of course, you have to write some text ads when you setup an ad group. And you should monitor and review their performance and make changes as necessary. But hard core text-ad testing – statistical comparisons – isn’t reasonable or necessary until the ad group has been properly constructed and intelligently optimized and – in terms of search queries – stabilized.

What You Can and Can’t Control

Another factor to consider in text-ad testing is the reality that paid search is a dynamic environment. Keywords get added, negatives expanded, bids change, competitors impact average positions, and other account modifications take place on a regular basis. There are variations in activity and results based on day of the week, week of the month, month of the year, weather, news events, sales, inventory, competitor promotions, and more.

So in the time it takes your ad group to get a sufficient number of impressions or clicks for a good test, how can you be sure that it is the ad copy that you’re really testing?

The answer is that you really can’t. There are no static environments in PPC. But all the ads in the test are subject to almost all the same environmental conditions, so many would argue these external influences don’t influence relative performance. That may be true, it may not. But you can’t control for many of these variables, so we ultimately have to accept them as a fact of life, a limitation in the system.

Whenever possible however, try to limit those changes you do control during deliberate text-ad tests. Don’t introduce new keywords or negatives or dramatically shift bids. Chance are if you find the need to make radical changes of any of these types you’d be better off making them and then restarting your tests.

Clear Text Ad Testing Goals

The goal of text ad testing is to determine which ad copy delivers the best click-through and/or conversion rates.

  • Most ad testing focuses on CTR. That’s clearly the direct goal of the ad, and helps to drive up quality score.
  • Conversion rate should be tracked and considered, even if CTR is the primary goal. There are many ways to incite a click, but Google gets paid for clicks while you get paid for conversions.
  • The conversion-per-1000-impressions metric (CP1K) is a great way to blend these two goals and find the truly optimal ad copy. (I hope to write more about CP1K in the near future).

Statistically Valid Text Ad Testing Analysis

Assuming you have a clear goal in mind and a stable testing environment, test data becomes the next hurdle. How many impressions and clicks does a set of text ads need for a valid test?

The answer to that relatively straightforward question has eluded most PPC managers for years. I assume this is due to the fact that most of us aren’t trained mathemeticians or statisticians. (I’m certainly not.) And most of the software we use to create and edit text ads does not provided the statistical support we really need.

So we’ve slithered forward based on the conventional wisdom that suggests tracking ‘at least 100 impressions or 10 clicks before there is enough data to declare a winner’. Unfortunately this really isn’t very accruate or useful advice.

Statistically, it turns out that those of us who’ve been reacting to text-ads with anything near 100 impressions or a dozen or so clicks have regularly made essentially random decisions. We’ve paused the better ad many times, letting the loser run. We’ve sabataged our own results. Repeatedly. Over long periods of time.

Consider the example shown at right: Three text ads running in an ad group. About 500 impressions each.

Is there enough data to make a wise decision?

It seems pretty clear. The first ad at 1.98% CTR appears to be our winner. But the statistics tell us that it isn’t that clearcut.

I looked at the statistical significance and confidence intervals for these ads. We can only be 80% confident that the CTR difference between the first and second ad are actually different. Same for the difference between the second and third ad.

80% confidence is not very high.

It’s not considered high enough to be sure something is true in most activities where statistical confidence is considered. For scientific activities a 95% rate is the desired standard.

To understand the potential error in accepting these numbers, look (below) at the range of possible CTRs for each of these ads that we can be sure of with a 95% confidence.

The first ad may actually be as low as 0.82% CTR, or could be as high as 3.14%. That’s a pretty wide range – we just don’t know yet, with a high level of confidence, what the CTR of this ad is going to be. You can see similarly wide ranges for the other two ads, and in comparison see there is plenty of overlap in the potential which means if we really let this test play out, we may get a very different result.

So how many impressions would it take to get 95% confident in the differences?

If we let these ads run until they had around 1000 impressions each they’d achieve a 90% confidence. It takes nearly 1500 impressions per ad to hit 95% confidence.

The actual number needed for any given set of ads depends a lot on the CTRs and their relative difference. But it’s a rare circumstance when anything like 100 impressions or 10 clicks is adequate.

You can check the numbers on your own ads using two great tools:

Making The Grade

Everything we do to create and optimize paid search accounts is done in hopes of showing the right people the right ad at the right price.

Their reaction to our ads is feedback on how well we’ve done at targeting them and organizing our accounts as well as on how aligned our answers are to their questions.

Fortunately for us if we do things right – in setting goals, creating testable conditions, and accurately measuring and analyzing we can get this feedback in clear, powerful, and actionable form.

Text ad testing isn’t just another wise and important step in paid search management. It’s the crucial step that pays off all the others.

This blog post is part of a series extending and amplifying the ideas in our free ebook ’21 Secret Truths of High-Resolution PPC’.

What they’re saying: “Everything you know about AdWords is the basics Google wanted you to know. Just enough to get you hooked. But what if there was fundamental secrets that they neglected to share? Would you want to know them? Now you can! 21 Secrets Truths is what you must read, no, act on, before your competitors do.”

- Bryan Eisenberg Conversion Expert and New York Times Best-Selling Author ’.

Download Your Copy Today
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Search Ad Management Firm Acquisio Offers First Seamless Google Analytics Integration

Marketers and Advertisers Have New Metrics, Stats to Measure Campaign Success and ROI

Montreal, Canada and Toronto, Canada–(PRWeb)—June 9, 2010—PPC management software provider Acquisio today announced at SES Toronto a full integration between the Acquisio SEARCH ad management platform and Google Analytics, the world’s most popular web analytics solution….

Guess Who Just Hooked Up!

Solving the Marketing Puzzle
Think of your marketing efforts as a rubik cube. You can’t possibly solve the puzzle without being able to see all sides. In your traditional marketing efforts, you cannot unfortunately see all sides. It’s incredibly challenging to try to focus on one aspect, be it your search, analytics or website, without ignoring the others. So how do you look at all sides and solve your marketing puzzle?

Whether you’re an analyst or a HiPPO, you’ve got some sort of reporting to do. The bottom line is: you want to know how well you are performing based on how much you are spending. This goes beyond average metrics like of cost per click or ROAS. Because average metrics yield average results. And average results lead to average decisions.

What we’ve really been missing is a way to seamlessly combine our PPC and Analytics data together to have more meaningful metrics. Sure, Google Adwords and Google Analytics have started playing nice recently. But it’s still not the type of seamless integration you need. And what if you are advertising on search engines other than Google?

The Hook Up
So how do you pull all this data together and make sense of it? You throw them in a tool and let them make love to one another. We usually don’t use our blog to promote our tool. But integrating Google Analytics into Acquisio SEARCH, is well… it’s kind of a big deal!

It’s Kind of a Big Deal
Whether you’re a publisher, run an eCommerce or B2B site, it’s kind of a big deal! You suddenly have this new way of looking at metrics where you can measure almost Anything per Anything. Here are a few sexy PPC and Analytics metrics that can make your reports just a little more provocative.

Sexy Publishing Metrics

  • Cost per Page View
  • Cost per Visit, Visitor, New Visit
  • Cost per Bounce

Sexy eComm Metrics

  • Average Revenue per Item
  • Average Revenue per Transaction
  • Average Value per Goal Completion
  • Average Item Revenue per Click
  • Average Goal Value per Click

Sexy B2B Metrics

  • ROAS per Item Revenue
  • ROAS per Goal Value
  • Bounce Rate per Click
  • Page View Rate per Click
  • Visits, Visitors, New Visits per Click

You can even drill down and get as granular as you need to by measuring cost, rate, revenue and ROAS per campaign, ad group or keyword. The possibilities are endless. And remember: Average metrics yield average results. Are you basing your marketing decisions and spending your dollars on average metrics?

In the next blog post, we will look at an example of how combining PPC and Analytics metrics can help you make better marketing decisions.

Quality Score Says: “That Keyword Is Not For You.”

Tomorrow June 8th @ SMX Advanced in Seattle I’m digging deep into AdWords Quality Score in the 10AM Session. But I’m not going to have time to cover the issue of what to do with poor performers. This post offers some thoughts on that topic, as an addendum offered in advance. I’ll post some version of the entire presentation online next week.

In the dark ages of AdWords, (before quality score) you couldn’t just bid on any old keyword. There was a minimum CTR requirement. When a new keyword was added to your account, Google gave you about 1000 impressions to prove that you could earn a click-through rate of at least 0.05%. If you didn’t meet or exceed that CTR level the word was paused. Game over.

Yes, they did allow you to try to improve by writing a new text ad, or editing your bid to test a higher position. But after another 1000 impressions or so, if one-half of one-percent of the users didn’t click, the keyword was shut down again.

The Age of Quality Enlightenment

In the AQ era (after quality score) things are more complex. Poor performing keywords are sometimes denied all impressions, but more often they’re pushed down in position and generally shown less frequently but still shown occasionally.

More importantly, you are allowed to compensate for bad quality with high (or extra-high) bids, and still get your ads shown regardless of performance.

Protection From Yourself

There are many ways to look at this change. Advertisers didn’t like being denied the ability and opportunity to run ads in the rather abrupt way of the old .05% CTR threshold. It wasn’t entirely fair – obviously there is not one ‘good’ CTR for the many categories and business – and it didn’t recognize the different goals and success thresholds of different advertisers.

But the willingness and even bravery of Google to deny advertisers the ability to advertise should be considered.

They did it to protect user experience – if you couldn’t satisfy or at least interest that tiny percentage of the people that you’re targeting, it does pretty clearly suggest that your ads are disinteresting to a whole lot of people.

I think they also did it to stop advertisers from wasting good money after bad, and ultimately having a poor experience themselves. If some of your keywords perform and make money, you keep those and wish you could find more. But if they allowed you to aimlessly run poorly performing ads, at some point it’s likely that you (or whomever is writing your checks) decides that this channel really isn’t working and cuts off all funding.

This creation of scarcity – only a limited number of keywords work for you – leaves you willing to bid up those remaining keywords to maximize volume, and builds a desire to work harder to find additional keywords that do perform adquately. But in this world they have to perform or they’ll be turned off.

That was a clear signal, and it seems a lot of advertisers needed it.

The Freedom To Waste Money Endlessly

Today, there is a line below which your ads are ‘not showing’ because your advertising is failing on that keyword. It’s ostensibly based on quality score, but we all know that quality score is just a fancy way of saying click-through-rate. But it’s a more complicated calculation and is highly customized to the keyword – it’s clearly advanced from the old 0.05% and you’re out days.

But the line is far lower down the performance spectrum. We’re talking quality scores of 1, 2, and maybe 3 here. These are hideously low CTRs or keywords with terrible relevance.

The everyday bad performers are allowed to keep running. Keywords where something is very clearly wrong: those with quality scores of 3, 4, 5, (and even long-standing 6′s). Keywords where you are clearly and plainly underperforming other advertisers. Keywords where your ad copy is not compelling, your offer is not relevant to very many searchers, or something is just wrong.

By keeping these keywords running you’re wasting a lot of money. You’re over-paying on a per-click basis for the right to keep these stinkers in the game. And you’re lowering your account CTR history to the detriment of all your good performing keywords.

Google lets you pay up and keep spending. You’ll get less impressions per keyword, but with broad or phrase match they’ll find some crazy queries to match you to. You’ll get some clicks and spend spend spend.

But how many keywords with quality scores below 7 have ROI’s above 100%? Very very few.

So Why Do It?

Wouldn’t it be better to turn those keywords off. You tried. It didn’t work. Cut your losses and move on.

What is it you expect to change or improve over time?

I can think of only three valid reasons to let keywords with quality scores below 7 keep running:

  • Profitable. It happens. If you’re making money then more power to you. Let ‘em run.
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  • Rehab. If you’re really working on them, testing new creative, removing any relevance or landing page warnings, refining keywords and negatives and match types to find a winning combination – then by all means keep working while improvement is possible.
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  • High Cost Low Conversion. As discussed in this earlier post, there are situations, often in B2B primarily, where it makes more sense to focus on conversion rates than CTRs. Managing PPC in this case plays be a different set of rules.

If you really can’t muster the willpower or courage to turn off failing keywords when one of these aren’t true, you really should consider opening a second AdWords account and move them there. At least that way it’s easy to see and measure the cost of this decision, and more importantly the collateral damage of poor lifetime CTR is avoided in your main – and hopefully moneymaking – main AdWords account.

Siftable Reviews ClickEquations

We had a chance to sit down with James Green of Siftable to chat about ClickEquations, the state of the search market and the search marketing problems with think software is uniquely capable of solving.

James profiled our software in his platform review and our built-in Excel tool, ClickEquations Analyst:

ClickEquations had a separate Excel plug-in, which is included in the cost, called ClickEquations Analyst that is used for reporting. All I can say about this is – “Holy Crap”. I’m not much for urban slang but this piece was off the hook. Essentially what they do is have a set of canned reports (they’ll create custom reports to your business upon request) with some customization which is pretty cool but where this excels (pun intended) is in their integration with Excel.

It’s one of our favorite pieces too :-)

James and I sat down for lengthier talk about search marketing in general and the search tool market:

We, as the advertising community, need to demand from Google transparency and control. They’re taking our money and therefore, we have a say. They’ve spent all the money on the marketplace that we profit from, but they’re also profiting from our participation in that marketplace.

We, as the advertising community, constantly need to be pushing the boundaries with Google and constantly need to be pressuring them to give us the level of transparency and control that we want. I think all the tools in our market, including ClickEquations, help because they push Google to align themselves better with our business goals. If Google was offering all these things we were doing, there wouldn’t be a market for tools like ours, but they’re not because the way we serve the advertising market and community isn’t necessarily what serves Google’s purposes.

Read Siftable’s ClickEquations review and interview with me. Thanks James!

If you’d like to interview anyone at ClickEquations, please email me, acohen @ clickequations.com