About Eric Cholette-Dufour

Entrepreneur and Founder at Planning Media, an internet advertising company that helps ad agencies and businesses to acquire, maintain, and retain customers via the internet. I am passionate about internet/digital/mobile advertising, and aviation. Everything is managed by data and passion: internet campaigns & aircraft.

5 Steps to Measure Purchase Decision Period with Paid Advertising

Purchase Decision Phase

Deciphering the time between the first brand interaction and the actual purchase has always been a challenge for marketers. Being able to forecast such data is key for brands to better understanding their customers, for setting client’s expectations, and for being able to predict the outcome of each ad dollar.

With more and more available platforms offering remarketing and conversion tracking (pixels or rules), digital marketers are increasingly more capable of capitalizing on the purchase decision period.

Here is a basic guide to help you start effectively measuring the purchase decision period.

1) Dedicate a landing page to each product or service you wish to sell

Building a specific landing page for each of the products or services you wish to sell or acquire leads for is easy to do but very time consuming. Luckily, it’s worth the work. The key to creating effective product landing pages (and deciphering the purchase decision period) is to not oversell or attempt to cross sell. If you build a purely dedicated landing page that avoids exits to other products or services it will be easier to track.

2) Pixel tracking 

Insert a remarketing tag on your landing page and clearly identify which product that tag is attached to (you can use a tag or create a rule using URLs). Also create a unique conversion tag to be placed on the confirmation page that shows when a user becomes a lead or a client for the specific product. Clear tracking on simple pages will allow you to gain understandable insights on the purchase decision period.

3) Link your campaigns properly (account architecture)

Make sure your account architecture is properly built. Use different campaigns for each product and isolate your branded and competition keywords in separate campaigns. You can also use different campaigns depending on geography in order to measure the purchase decision period for customers located in different areas. It just depends what you want to learn.

PPC Campaign for Product A > Landing page for Product A >Remarketing Campaign for Product A

In order for your measurement to be accurate, use very targeted keywords and make extensive use of negative keywords to avoid skewed results. It’s all about precision and clarity.

4) Measure the first click and the first conversion

Once your architecture and tagging is up and running, you can now calculate the period between the first click and the first conversion. It is important to monitor if clicks-to-conversions occur using only PPC or a combination of PPC and Remarketing. Using multiple channels is very important, so build your campaign across Search, Social, and Display to make sure you know which media affects the decision most.

5) Build your prediction model

Keep track of every single action and create a timeline of each occurrence. The objective of all these steps is so you can tell your client, in plain English, that their customers take on average X days to complete a purchase for product “A” at a CPA of X$.

Once you know this, and your client knows it, you can forecast Ad Spend more effectively and build automation using attribution. The steps to take in order to get clear and meaningful data are very basic, so it’s important to put these steps into practices.

Getting ahead of the curve

This quick procedure will help you make better decisions, influence the creative process, and transform raw data into useful insights. If you are not already building campaigns this way, start now! You’ll see just how simple and profitable it really is!

Bid Management for Niche Products: Low Traffic and High Profit Margin B2B Clients


A successful bid management strategy for low traffic & low converting B2B campaigns can be a challenge to deliver and will require a bit more of your attention. Here are some recommendations and ideas to improve your bid management strategies for low traffic and high margin niche products.

1) Revenue is key to your bid management strategy.

Make sure to implement revenue within your conversion tags or Google Analytics Goals when you set your conversions. Even though conversions are not necessarily sales in a B2B campaign environment, it helps to measure potential profit margins and lead valuation.

When you ask your client their closing rate and margin per closed lead, follow this rule:

If the client tells you that a closed lead generates $10,000 in profit over a 12 month period and their effective closing rate is 10%, your effective revenue per conversion should be set to $1,000 and not $10,000. You can use this revenue percentage instead of profit margin, depending on the client’s PPC accounting measurement. Using this quick easy measurement in your bid management campaign can help you set bids and monitor CPA properly.

2) Higher bids means higher CPA

In general, B2B has been known to have large margins and recurring revenues over medium to long term time frames. This affects bid strategy because the break-even CPA is often high. Rather than focus on a low CPC at the beginning of the campaign to save money, with this type of B2B it is better to invest more in CPC in order to get the #1 position in search engines and dominate the niche industry. Hence a higher CPC, or higher bid, will get more exposure and a higher CPA that the niche client needs.

This campaign strategy is quite different from highly optimized low CPC/CPA business-to-consumer campaigns. With B2B and low traffic niche clients the campaign manager has plenty of ad dollars to reach the conversion, so why not go for the big fish?

3) Make use of the Display Network

Should very niche B2B products take advantage of the display network even though their  target audience is smaller? The answer is Yes! Build nice graphic ads with a strong call to action, as well as text ads, and build custom audience targeting . I usually recommend starting with at least 3 to 4 different type of display campaigns:

1 – Placements + Keywords

2 – Topics + Keywords

3 – Similar to Remarketing list + Keywords

4 – Placements + Topics + Keywords.

Use CPC bidding and bid high to start, then enlarge or refine your target based on the metrics. The Display network is definitely a channel you want to use, whether you are niche or not.

4) Use local Bidding

Even though B2B products or services are more “national” like SaaS Companies, it’s best to divide your campaign into sales territories. The client’s sales data can help you when building your geo strategy. You can increase or decrease bid based on the lead generation volume of each sales territory. If the profit margin is high, do not be shy using large incremental percentage, such as 50% to 75%.

5) Build a predicted Bid Strategy with your client

We always pride ourselves as being top of the line in the field of optimization (we lower CPC or CPA and increase Conv. Rate). For B2B campaigns with high margins and low traffic, this optimization concept remains true, however the time to success might be different than the B2C campaign for an Online Financial Service for example. Under promise, over deliver! Set your client’s expectations using this example of a predicted bid strategy graph.




Notes: This is an example of Conversions & CPA projections. You can see the bid management is aggressive at the beginning and as we move along the graph, it becomes slightly less aggressive. It is also assumed that the average position is 1.00. CPA is slightly below the objective threshold at the first conversion point and goes down for the second one with regular optimization.

(Your clients’ campaigns may differ from this example depending on the product or service complexity, the niche market, the profit margin, the sales volume andother factors.)


In summary, the essential points to keep in mind for your bid management approach are:

  • Go big to get the first conversion and set a solid footprint in the client’s industry PPC environment.
  • Then use the data to exceed the client’s objective. Remember to build this model with your client’s participation as they have a lot of sales data and projections.
  • Lastly, remember to under promise and over deliver.

Native Ads: New Buzzword, Old Concept.


Native ads is a new buzzword that seems to be very popular these days. Especially since Facebook has turbocharged its advertising model with this new channel.  But Facebook isn’t the only one moving forward with this concept; all major newspapers are implementing native ads channels along with Twitter, Yahoo and Google with its +Post Ads.

The term “Native Ads simply refer to promoted or paid content. Even though the term has became a buzzword, it is simply an advertorial. So, if you look back at the media history, it is not a very new concept, just an old traditional media channel that has been rejuvenated with a social and data layer.

I recently attended a SEMPO Canada event organized in Montreal. The subject of the conference was Native ads. Here are some of the key points that came up:

Content matters. The context matters even more.

We used to (and still) deliver display and text ads based on audience/page/site content.  With native ads, we have to look at the context to which our ads will be published. It is important to not just look at the on page keywords or theme in an automated way. We have to take a closer look at the actual context to which the on page keywords or theme are published (tragic news, product banned, or destructive critics).  In any cases, make sure the context is useful and serve your strategy.

Ad formats are different.

As PPC Managers, we are used to the regular text ads limitation, display ads formats, and Facebook more traditional right hand side image & text. Depends on the publisher, your native ads become a deep content research with talented copywriting, careful image selection and getting ready to respond to comment (if a social feed is attached to your paid content). This brings new challenges to campaign managers including better copywriting and research.

Mobile Success

Mobile advertising has been a huge challenge for marketers. The 320×50 banner is simply not cool! Native Ads are part of the content and get a much better click-through on mobile devices.  You can leverage powerful converting mobile campaigns using this channel without compromising the user experience or getting irrelevant clicks because someone accidently clicked on the bad positioned 320×50 mobile banner.


A whole new level of ad engagement.

native-ads-3If you have been using the newsfeed ads on Facebook, you probably have noticed that people have the opportunity to like your ads or even comments and share them. This brings a new level of interaction with users and also a brand control over who shares and what are the comments. Depends on the product or service you sell, you might not want to have people commenting directly on your ads.

It is the same story for newspaper native ads. Once published, users can provide feedback. If the context is not right, the content is not well produced and you do not have the resources on your side to reply to comments, it can end up being a bad brand experience for the users.

It is definitely a channel you want to explore.

Let’s face the true; since Facebook has introduced the newsfeed ads, we don’t really see the value of the right hand side ads unless they are delivered into a remarketing campaign. Native ads on Facebook have changed the way content and social media connections are used by marketers. We see Facebook campaigns with +1% CTR and much higher conversion rates. Twitter is also a great source for native ads campaigns. For those of you who watch the 2014 Superbowl both on television and Twitter, Budweiser did a very good job at promoting a series of contest on twitter leveraging a massive reach using the hash tag #SB48.

Data, analytics, and optimization.

Of course one of the massive changes from the old fashion advertorial to the native ads are data and analytics. Marketers have the opportunity to measure and optimize  (the same way we do for our PPC programs). The only difference is native ads are embedded into content. People can consider them as regular content and comment or share. It makes optimization achievable but less responsive and you have to spend more time into the research and planning to increase to a maximum your chances of targeting the right mix (context/content/audience/destination).

In conclusion, native ads are great and powerful, but as internet marketers, we need to adapt to include more contextual data, improve copywriting and being more responsive in the case of comments and share. Remember, native ads are paid pieces of content, not actually “ads”. It does make a huge difference for the user.

Stop Being Sad and Use the Facebook Custom Audience


For us who manage complex multi-channels PPC campaigns, the Facebook custom audience is as awesome a tool as we could ask for!  It allows us to create highly targeted audiences based on specific actions or content that we actually control instead of a post written on a page by a user or some unverified information….

Mobile Display Adverting – A Direct Response Game



I recently gave a presentation at the Montreal Google Office for a SEMPO CANADA meeting on Mobile Display Advertising. I’ve outlined the key elements of maximizing your chance of success with prospecting potential leads using mobile as an advertising channel here.

Quality Score: Priority or Main Objective?

keepcalmjobI was recently at the Google Office for training on the Quality Score. I was not really motivated to follow this education session since I consider myself pretty savvy on this specific subject. However, the 3-hour session was very interesting since it brought me back to the basics of Quality Score and the priority we should attribute to this kind of metric.

Here is a short review of what learned….

Campaign Setup: The Perfect Architecture

PPC campaign setupHave you already set up a campaign that’s a hit from the very start? The kind of campaign where your campaign architecture is so well planned that as soon as you create your first 5 day report, the campaign has all the metrics you need to optimize for the real deal (Lower CPA / Increase Conv. Rate).

We recently did some research on how to reduce time-to-REAL-optimization and time-to-success. Here’s what we found out:…

Finding and Optimizing Purchase Behavior Using Custom Attribution Models

ppc-attribution-modellingWe recently had help from the Attribution feature in Acquisio to try to outsmart the market in a specific and very competitive industry: New Condos Marketplace. The campaign was targeted to Montreal and was promoting a new condo project.

The challenge we had was to build a new strategic way to buy media on a performance basis given a medium to long-term buying cycle (Condos purchase can take from six months to a year). As most of the players in the industry are simply investing their entire budget in Adwords Search and Adwords Remarketing creating a massive increase in CPC, we decided to reverse engineer the market trend and find a path to invest more wisely across search and display with the data we had on hand….