PPC Marketing

Here at Acquisio, we're crazy about PPC search engine marketing. In fact, it's where we got our start. In this section of the blog, you can learn all kinds of tips and tricks to managing your pay per click marketing campaigns. From bid management to retargeting, we'll help you squeeze that little extra out of your PPC budget. And if you're really into PPC marketing, you might even consider checking out our PPC bid management software.

Alternative PPC Success Metrics You Should Be Using

Success Metrics

The amount of cool stuff you can do with advertising in the digital space is mind blowing, but as PPC specialists I find that we get pigeonholed out of “advertising” and pushed into the dark corner of direct marketing. All too often, the C-suite sees PPC as an ROI machine only; Put dollars in, get more dollars out. That’s awesome, and surely something PPC is good for, but we’re much more.

If we’re stuck with one definition of success, we’re selling ourselves short of what PPC can really do for a brand. I’ve outlined a few alternative success metrics besides form submits and whitepaper downloads, these metrics were inspired by a few recent client conversations and Gary Vaynerchuck calculating the “ROI of your mother”:

Revenue Per Impression (RPI)

We have a long running client who is obsessed with valuing impressions. It puzzled me for years, but after getting insight into the exec team the proverbial light bulb illuminated over my head. Historically this client spent their entire marketing budget on Yellow Pages (the old school, doorstop version), Billboards and other offline media.

This long running team had been conditioned over the years to think in x-per-impression. Over time, the client slowly shifted to a near 75% digital budget, but they still needed to make the case to their board. Enter revenue per impression.

The client has three major product types, each with different values; call them $5 cats, $10 dogs and $50 lions. We know that it’s going to take longer for someone to buy a lion than a cat (read: CPL may be higher) but using RPI as an indicator metric helps find the most effective way to allocate budget. We can then go to the board and say “hey, we earn 31 cents per ad impression on cats, 23 cents per impression on dogs and 19 cents per lion impression.” We guide spend towards the less sexy product (from a sales perspective) because we spoke a language that the executives understood.

Marketing Dollar Efficiency

Imagine this; an in-every-mall retailer wants to move their entire newspaper budget online; they have no way to tie store sales to offline. What are you gonna do, say “nope, can’t measure success?” Not if you want the project!

Let’s unpack how a traditional advertiser could measure return. You know the cost of newspaper ads. You know how much revenue the store made. Simple, right? Why try to reinvent the digital wheel? You know how much PPC ads spent when you moved everything online. Which was more efficient?

You get the picture; revenue divided by marketing spend equals efficiency. It’s not perfect by any means, but it can tell a story. Taking it a step further in this (true) scenario, you could conceivably split test thanks to the power of geo-targeting. In half of the locations, continue to buy newspaper ads as usual. In the other half, 100% digital. Who wins? My money’s on digital.


No, I don’t mean likes, video views or tweets, I mean how many people actually did something with your site, page, graphic or content asset. It doesn’t get the true “how much did I make from this” answer that so many C-level folks want, but to Mr. Vaynerchuk’s point, some things you just cannot measure.

Engagement is a great way to measure success for something like video ads, sponsored stories or sponsored updates on LinkedIn, something that typically wouldn’t lead to an immediate conversion. For industries with a long lead cycle it can be a gold mine. If a prospect engages with an ad, the sales team has an outbound opportunity (and target). In my mind, that’s just as good as a lead form.

There’s a myriad of other alternative metrics available; page views per session, view through actions (yes, they’re useful), return visits, video views et al. I ask you fine Acquisio readers, what other success metrics have you used in the past?And no, “traffic” and “click-through rate” alone are not success metrics.

It may be time to dust off the old ROI routine and start measuring PPC success in a new, more dynamic, way.

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!

The Science Behind Bid and Budget Management

bryan minor science smx review header

Search Engine Marketing events are perfect opportunities for marketing professionals to share knowledge and learn from one another. The Acquisio team frequents some of the top industry events across the globe and one of the favorites is SMX Advanced, Seattle.

This year, Chief Scientist, Bryan Minor, Ph.D., shared some of the science secrets behind Acquisio’s automated Bid & Budget Management solution (BBM) and the response was overwhelming. Industry experts were lining up to hear more.

To satisfy demand, it’s time these insights were shared with the public.

The Problem

The problem most businesses want to solve is how to optimize SEM efforts. More specifically, companies want the lowest cost per click with the highest generation of clicks or conversions. Finding that balance, while effectively spending the budget, is what Acquisio’s automated Bid & Budget Management system (BBM) does. Here’s how.

How does BBM work?

Algorithm expert, Bryan Minor, postulates that adjusting bids and examining budgets many times a day generates better results. Why? Because SEM optimization is a non-linear problem; it’s highly dynamic.

Once a day adjustments are like shooting a cannon ball – shoot, see where it lands and adjust the cannon. Constant bid adjustments are more like a cruise missile – so accurate they can go through a window of a building 2000 miles away. That’s because cruise missiles steer onto their target the whole time by making small adjustments every short period of time.

No, Acquisio doesn’t use cruise missile algorithms (although the brain behind the bid and budget management solution did work on space and rocket technology from a theoretical standpoint). The algorithms simply take the data provided and make the best decision scientifically possible.

The idea is not to steer all the way to the solution, but to steer towards it, adjusting to changes as they come. The algorithms are able to deal with changes in:

  • Time of day market changes for bidding
  • New constraints (maxCPC, avg. Pos.,…)
  • Creative changes
  • Google Settings changes
  • Google algorithm changes

This proves to be a more accurate way of getting the most clicks and conversions for the lowest CPC.

Other BBM features

With BBM, the daily budget is guaranteed to last all day, running out just before midnight. For example, if it is Black Friday and businesses are paying out the ear for clicks, the BBM system automatically lowers the bid. When other brands have exhausted spend by noon, BBM optimized campaigns last the whole day and pay far less per CPC, especially those at the end of the day, resulting in far more clicks for the same daily budget (resulting in significant saving).

Also, budget precision is plus or minus 2 percent meaning spend is, on average, 98 percent of the budget for every campaign, even ones with small budgets. And when working with groups of campaigns that share a monthly budget, the automated bid and budget management solution fairly competes the campaigns, so each one gets a chance to spend the daily budget without the use of hard allocations.

More science, less sales

This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a science talk. So here’s the work Bryan Minor did to get BBM to where it is now.

abc graph

Dr. Minor wanted to find a way to always know the lowest CPC for the highest return on clicks and conversions, that way determining what to spend and bid would be much clearer. His algorithmic quest to discover the sweet spot of SEM resulted in this ABC graph:

  • The X axis shows CPC, or what was paid, on average, per click.

  • The Y axis shows how many clicks a day were bought given the average CPC.

  • The red dotted line below C shows all the cases where no clicks were received. Below a certain bid ads will not appear on search, and this red line represents the minimum average CPC paid that is necessary for ads to be seen. Its value varies widely depending on topic.

  • The blue line, C, represents all the cases where the entire budget was not spent (underspend).

  • The green curve, B, represents all the cases where the daily budget was spent.

  • Point A, where B and C meet, is the ideal. It is the point where the entire budget was spent and the most clicks per day were received.

A is the point the BBM “cruise missile” steers towards. It offers the maximum number of clicks for a fixed daily budget obeying all constraints.

This graph is meaningful because it explains how the algorithms approximate where A is as a function of CPC. For example, this graph helps determine how the maximum number of clicks per day varies with daily budget, and what is the associated CPC. The process of continuously steering to A not only provides validation of the methodology used but over time reveals a deep understanding of the true advertising opportunity.

Not just a theory

Here is real data from a client over the span of a few months with BBM.  The B data is represented by the oval points fitted around the curved line. The C data is represented by the hexagon points fitted around the straight green line. The intersection of these two lines is the  first estimate of A. This real life example clearly validates the ABC theory.


These graphs may seem complicated at first glance, but the key point is that the data matches the ABC theory, and this validates the use of this information as the basis for BBM. The system can confidently decide what to pay for CPC in order to achieve the most clicks, so campaign managers don’t have to.

Here’s a clearer example.


This is what Bryan Minor calls an “X graph” because of the distinct inversion between cost and clicks. The blue line represents the number of clicks, the orange line represents the CPC, and the yellow rectangle shows where the client started optimizing with BBM.

After a two day period of initial learning, the client quickly started to see more clicks for the same amount of money, resulting in a much lower CPC. With just 29 clicks per day as a starting point, BBM doubled the clicks to 56 and cut the CPC in half for the same Daily Budget.

What’s interesting about this example is that the client isn’t asking for hundreds or thousands of clicks but tens, and the system still works – it works for any sized business. Plus, the volatility diminished after optimization, showing that making many smaller and more frequent adjustments to CPC targeting results in more precise control of campaign performance.


Google settings and algorithm changes cannot be controlled, and new constraints cannot always be predicted, but just as the cruise missile doesn’t know why the tank driver turned left, it doesn’t matter. The missile turns left without knowing the reason, and the BBM system adapts to changes without any justification or explanation as well.

The algorithms simply use the data to make the best decision possible, and that’s quite literally the best available solution for SEM optimization thus far.

Have a question?

“A talk can always be judged by the questions,” explained Bryan Minor.  After he presented this information at SMX Advanced, Minor had a lineup of intrigued SEM experts waiting to ask him more about BBM. It’s only natural to have a question after this presentation.

Leave a comment and get an answer. It’s that simple. Bryan Minor has many more scientific secrets to share.


Bing Ads Express – There’s Still Hope

bign ads express

With the recent announcement that Bing Ads Express is shutting down, Marc Poirier, Acquisio founder and SEM expert, looks into what went wrong and offers his suggestions on how Bing could turn the tables and potentially revive the Express Ads program in a new way.

The Announcement

“On July 30th, we will sunset the Bing Ads Express product and will offer search marketing opportunities to our customers only through Bing Ads,” announced Bing this week, on June 16th, 2014.

The Bings Ads Express program launched last October, 2013, and allowed SMBs to set up ads without fussing over any of the campaign details. Businesses simply filled out a short form with their basic company information, set their budget and the Bing team did the rest of the work.

The goal was to help out small businesses that didn’t have the time or the expertise to manage their paid search campaigns. In theory, taking all the stress and work out of paid search was great, but in reality, Bing Ads Express just didn’t sync with users. Here’s why.

What Went Wrong

For one thing, Bing Ads Express presumably wasn’t being used by its intended clientele.

Bing wanted to target businesses with limited experience in paid search, people who didn’t know what keywords to use or how to manage their ads. But SMBs with limited experience and a limited budget more often than not invested their money in paid search they recognized and trusted – like Google.

Instead, Bing was likely working with SMBs who were” too savvy” for the Bing Ads Express program, explains SEM expert and Acquisio founder, Marc Poirier. “Likely the businesses advertising on Bing only knew about the search engine because they already had sufficient spend or experience with Google AdWords and they wanted to experiment with some other advertising route.”

In that case, the simplicity of the program would not appeal to the more experienced SMBs using it. Suddenly the entire premise of the system becomes a problem. Clients wanted more control over their ads. The SMBs wanted to decide where their ads were showing up, what keywords were being used and so on, and that kind of input was not compatible with the Express model.

Another problem Bing Ads Express faced was traction. “Bing would have had to spend a fortune acquiring new relationships with their clients, setting up accounts and supporting them,” said Poirier. Bing would have to spend a lot of time and money convincing SMBs to advertise with them, and it just wasn’t worth the effort.

One last problem Bing Ads Express faced was the limitations of their product. Express was a PPC program, but SMBs don’t care about clicks as much as they care about calls and conversions. There are no call tracking features with Bing Express Ads, and the basic features that come with the program didn’t do much to maximize conversions for local or mobile. True, these are not basic features, and true, Google Adwords Express has these same issues, but without offering too much in the way of paid search, it was difficult for Bing to attract new businesses and draw SMBs away from Google Adwords.

Express Ads 2.0?

Is there still hope for the Bing Ads Express product? It’s been retired, and reporters are saying R.I.P, but Marc Poirier feels there’s still a glimmer of life there.

“Working with resellers is the way to go,” explains Acquisio’s founder. “Removing the SMB facing portal doesn’t mean Bing won’t keep a lot of the work they did and use it for resellers. Bing Ads Express for resellers is still on the table.”

Trying to address SMBs one by one didn’t work. It will more strategic for Bing to work with resellers who already have thousands of clients and can introduce a new product, like Bing Ads Express, easily.

Plus, it will be better for Bing to work with resellers who you can incentivise to promote their product to SMBs. That way, instead of selling to SMBs themselves and making little headway, resellers can help Bing push their product on already existing clients.

Bing may have lost the Express Ads battle so far, but they’re still fighting the paid search war. According to Poirier, with smart strategies and partnerships, the underdog might just come out on top.


Acquisio’s Mad Scientist of Paid Search, Bryan Minor, to Present at SMX Seattle

bryan header
tshirtYou can always trust Acquisio to be at SMX Seattle with our stand-out t-shirts (come grab one from our booth), but this year we’re excited to have Chief Scientist, Bryan Minor, share his story and insights along with the other “Mad Scientists of Paid Search” on Day 1 of the Expo.

Since last year’s SMX Seattle event we at Acquisio have many things to be proud of, including our ever expanding team, making the Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ Program list as one of Canada’s top 10 fastest growing technology companies for the third consecutive year, and our resident rocket scientist, Bryan Minor’s, game changing Bid & Budget Management technology.

Listen to Minor describe the experiments, testing and analysis behind his insanely successful discoveries and creations at Acquisio and beyond, and learn how you can uncover similar insights at your own business.

Search Marketing Expo – SMX Advanced 2014

9:00am -10:15 am
Room 11B
Paid Search Track
The Mad Scientists of Paid Search
Sponsored by:
channel advisor

About Bryan Minor
Bryan Minor, Chief Scientist, Acquisio (@BryanMinorPhD)

Bryan’s entire career has been focused on developing algorithms. He previously worked with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) on space physics nuclear threat mitigation and with many top flight biotech firms (Merck, Pfizer, ABI etc.) before focusing on internet marketing.

In 2001, Minor formed ScienceOps, a division of Tethers Unlimited Inc, to service algorithm development software projects for private industries. Over time ScienceOps clients evolved from space physics and biotech firms to internet advertising agencies.

In 2007 Bryan came up with the concept for AdMetrica for optimizing Google Display advertising and, at Ad-Tech SF in 2012, Bryan met with Marc Poirier of Acquisio. This resulted in Acquisio purchasing ScienceOps. Minor then formulated the idea of using AdMetrica technologies to optimize Google Search with Bid and Budget Management, and hence Acquisio’s BBM was born.

BBM continues to grow, with thousands of clients using it successfully every day.

Thanks Bryan and good luck at SMX! We’re looking forward to it.

Acquisio provides digital marketers with a performance media platform that enables them to optimize the results of their search, social, mobile, and display marketing programs with speed, accuracy, and efficiency, and with full control over every aspect of their online marketing initiatives.

Measuring Does Matter: Acquisio’s New Agency Level Reporting


You asked for deeper more aggregated internal reporting for your SEM agency and you got it. Agency Level Reporting allows your agency to build reports on both client and staff performance to see which accounts and employees are excelling.

This internal reporting feature was our most requested feature ever and we promise it won’t disappoint. Our updated reporting system will help your agency’s performance go from good to great, or better yet, from great to greater, thanks to all the new report components.

Using the new Agency Level Reporting feature from Acquisio will:

  • Allow account managers to translate the relevant data into profitable changes and improvements within the agency.
  • Measure progress of accounts and employees in a way that surfaces how individuals are doing and how the agency is doing as a whole.
  • Create clear and customizable reports, that Admin users can feel comfortable with, to better organize, present and share all the agency data.

For these reasons, and so many more, good internal reporting is essential for SEM agencies.

What have we added to our internal reporting?

In addition to new report components like the Top Accounts grid, you can now leverage old time favorites such as Line/Column Charts, Pie Charts, Executive summary and Pivot Tables at the agency level.

With Agency Level Reporting you can now:

  • Calculate the amount of revenue each client account generates for your agency, based on markups
  • Show agency revenue by account and by month
  • Show how much global ad spend your agency has
  • Aggregate agency level trends so you can easily find your average CTR
  • Show cost by publisher
  • List the accounts with the top agency revenue

and too much more to list.

How does this help your SEM agency?

To get you started, a best practice template has been pre­loaded to the new Agency Templates tab in the Report Manager. It is there for your convenience but you also have the power and flexibility to build your own templates and reports to ensure that the information most valuable to you is highlighted and clear.

For example:

  • You can build multiple templates, including agency wide templates to track performance
  • You can now build reports that span all accounts or a subset of accounts
  • You can regroup reports by campaign manager

These additions will reveal everything you need to know about your SEM agency’s performance and will clarify where your agency’s strengths and weaknesses are. This will make it clear where additional effort should be focused in the future.

Lastly, these agency level reports can be manually shared via published URLs. Everything in this new Acquisio feature is designed to share insights and make internal reporting easier and more beneficial for your SEM agency.

If you want to learn more, or try it for yourself, check out Acquisio’s Editions.

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.

Boost your site’s visits by 66% with AdWords review extensions


Hayley Coutinho, a PPC expert at Receptional Ltd shares her experiences using Google AdWords review extensions.  This article includes advice on how to setup review extensions to get the most out of them.

The Google Adwords Review Extension is a must-have for businesses looking to boost their return on investment. Our trials of review extensions have seen improvements in click through rates (CTRs) of up to 66% – a significant increase.

The review extension does what it says on the tin – allows users to opt to display website, service or product reviews as part of the Google AdWords PPC advertisement. After all, what business doesn’t want to let the world know when they’ve got a host of 5-star ratings to their name?

After its initial beta release in 2013, the review ad extension has now been rolled out universally, so anybody with an AdWords PPC campaign can opt in. Yet many businesses haven’t grabbed the opportunity to amplify their ads’ CTRs using this simple but effective tool.

Quick, Easy and Effective

Since around 90% of consumers claim that online reviews influence their buying decisions, when it comes to displaying your stellar reviews in premium advertising space, it’s a complete no-brainer.

Just as call extensions (telephone number), sitelinks (website address) and location extensions (address) add vital data into a Google AdWords PPC ad, the review extension provides the opportunity to display another vital piece of information that will build trust and entice potential customers to make that all-important click through.

Using the example of a fictional gym company, here’s how the review extension looks in situ:

AdWords Extension Ads

Adding the information into the review extension is a relatively painless process:

New Review AdWords Extensions

A beneficial investment

For the sake of a few minutes’ work, there are a whole host of benefits to be reaped from opting into review extensions.

Firstly, with many paid search advertisers yet to take up the review extension, there is an opportunity for early birds to stand out from the crowd.

Secondly, implementing review ads could set off a positive chain reaction – the increase in CTR provides an opportunity to really boost conversions and increase traffic to your website, which in turn can positively impact quality score, ultimately resulting in a reduced cost per click (CPC).

The review ad extension also presents an opportunity to enhance customers’ perceptions and preconception of the brand. And with around 44% of shoppers having abandoned orders at the shopping cart, bolstering brand recognition and building trust is a core component in obtaining successful conversions.

Setting up review extensions

Google’s policies on review extensions are relatively strict, so make sure you’re appropriately prepared before making the final review extension submission. Here are some top tips:

  • Reviews must be generated by a third party, which excludes paid endorsements, individual user comments or reviews from sites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp.
  • The review extension should relate to a specific award or accolade
  • The review extension should also link directly to the third-party source of the review. This means that only online reviews can be utilised in the extension, so any outstanding offline recognition, reviews or awards in newspapers, magazines or journals have to be discounted.
  • You will also need to be aware that the review ad extension will include a link to the third party review. In terms of user experience, the third party link could be mistakenly selected, instead of your ad’s title. So you really need to make your ad title pop to drive traffic in the right direction.

Putting review extensions to the test

We put review extensions to the test over a 4-5 week period, during which time we collected some enlightening results. Initially, the ads running the review extensions were shown on about 10% of all ad impressions. In terms of CTR rates, the evidence was generally positive, with one review extension increasing CTR by 66%. The upward trend was also evident in terms of conversion rates.

Review ad extensions are one of the most effective ad extensions available, and should definitely be trialed. Positive reviews can only serve to increase credibility, brand recognition and brand loyalty, all of which have high potential to increase CTR.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the different ad extensions that are available (we reckon there are 16 types), you can download Receptional’s free PDF: The Complete Guide to Ad Extensions.

Bidding to Win: The Art of Building a Great Bid Rule


“And the winner is….. The guy in the yellow hat!”. We’ve all been in auction environments where we’ve heard an auctioneer declare a winner with the chant above. As PPC managers, we actually deal with this situation every day. The difference from a regular auction, of course, is that we’re dealing with thousands (if not millions) of auctions every single day, as we bid on keyword phrases to drive traffic and conversions. With so many keyword phrases doing so many different things in a dynamic auction, it’s all but impossible to keep track of things accurately by hand. That’s where campaign automation comes in.

At its core, campaign automation, as its name suggests, automates the process of setting your bids. Essentially, you (as the PPC manager) develop a rule (or set of rules) and then apply it to specific campaigns or ad groups. A bid rule basically takes the work that you’d do manually and automates the tactical bid changes that you’d be forced to implement manually into AdWords, Bing Ads, or even Facebook. While it sounds great in theory (and it is!), keep in mind that bid rules will simply automate what we tell them to automate. So it’s up to us to define our rules properly.

There are four core components of a bid rule:

  • Scope – This refers to the set of campaigns or ad groups that the rule will apply to. Keep in mind that different campaigns across publishers often have different goals and targets… So it’s rare that a single rule will apply properly to all of the campaigns in your account. Just as we group similar keywords together into ad groups, you should group similar campaigns together into bid rules. You can apply bid rules at the campaign or ad group level.
  • Lookback Period – This is one of the most important parts of the bid rule. Essentially, the lookback period is defined as the amount of data (in terms of days) that the rule will look at to make a decision. You need to determine the lookback period based on a number of factors:

• Volume of clicks and conversions – If your account gets a high volume of clicks and conversions, you’ll generally need a shorter lookback period to get to statistical significance. That is, you don’t want your bid rules making decisions off of only 1 or two clicks, so you may need to set a longer lookback period for a rule that’s scoped to low-flow campaigns or ad groups. I like to use Thumbtack’s A/B calculator  to estimate statistical significance on an ad group or campaign level to determine if my lookback period is appropriate

• Conversion Cycle – Some businesses have longer conversion cycles than others. If your company has a longer cycle, be sure to use a longer lookback period. Remember to integrate in attributed data into your bid rules so that you are factoring in keywords and ad groups that may introduce or influence (rather than close) conversions. In a future blog post, I’ll cover how to actually define the length to conversion for a website using data from Google Analytics as well as paid search.

• Seasonality of the business – Businesses that see seasonal trends need to change their lookback periods incorporate the seasonality. If, for example, your company is a retailer that sees a major uptick during Q4, you don’t necessarily want to use data from 90 days ago to make a decision.

  • Execution Frequency – Quite simply, how often do you want your rule to run? This goes hand-in-hand with lookback period, generally. Typically, you won’t want your rules to run every day off of 14 days of data (for example), as there won’t be enough variance to make a good decision. As a starting point, I like to set my execution frequency to the same time as my lookback period
  • The Actual Rule – Bid rules work on a series of “if, then” statements. Examples:

• If cost >$50 AND conversions <1, THEN decrease bid by 15%
• If conversions >3 AND ROAS >2.5, then increase bid by 20%

Rules Image

I want to leave you with a couple of other tidbits of information about setting the perfect bid rule:

  • Don’t be afraid to integrate in data from different sources. You can use click conversion data, phone call data, and even engagement data from Google Analytics (or other web analytics packages) to make your rules richer and more targeted to your goals.
  • If your account is comprised of many long tail phrases which don’t each send a lot of traffic, you should consider setting bids (and your bid rules) at the ad group level rather than the keyword level, so that you can aggregate statistics together to get to a higher degree of statistical significance. This does require that you have a good account structure so that you can be sure that all of the keywords in your ad groups behave similarly. Also, you’ll generally want to have a longer lookback period for rules scoped to long-tail ad groups or campaigns, so that you have more data to work with in making a bid decision. I actually like to have totally separate rules for my long tail ad groups.
  • Don’t overlap rules. This is one of the most frequent mistakes that I see. You don’t want too many rules touching the same ad groups or keywords. You won’t know which rule is driving a change in performance. Keep your scopes clean.

So there you have it… A couple of surefire ways to automate the process of bidding on millions of keywords in a dynamic auction. Set up your rules properly, and you’ll not only win the auction, but you’ll win a higher ROI on your campaigns as well.

Reach Users in Specific Locations More Easily with Location Group Targeting


The world of PPC advertising is a tumultuous one, with numerous changes, updates, and “enhancements” coming down the pipeline from the search engines we all hold so dear. Just last week, Google made a big announcement regarding several new features that will be coming to AdWords over the next several months. But not every new feature rollout gets a big fanfare announcement. Some just sort of appear and you hear about them through the grapevine. One such feature is Location Group targeting.

Where and What Is Location Group Targeting?

Location group targeting allows you to set your location targeting according to special location conditions, allowing you to reach customers based on their proximity to certain place types or by certain demographics. There are 3 different location groups to choose from: places of interest, location extensions, and demographics.

You can find location group settings by navigating to the Settings tab of a given campaign, clicking the “+Locations” button, clicking “Advanced Search,” and then choosing the “Location groups” tab. Support for location groups is not currently part of Editor, so you will need to add location groups manually to each campaign in which you’d like to run them. Local Targeting

Location Group Types

Targeting by places of interest allows you to select targeting areas around airports, universities, or “central commercial areas” within a given geographic region. Say, for instance, you were advertising for a New York car rental company, you could set targeting for airports within the New York metro, knowing that your customer base may be searching in that specific area.

If you have brick-and-mortar locations loaded into your account as location extensions, you can set up your targeting to reach users within a given radius of those locations. Want to increase foot traffic to your pizza shop on North 3rd Street? Specifically target users within a mile or two of that exact location. Want to increase phone orders and deliver within a 5 mile radius? Set your targeting to 5 miles around your location to reach all users that location covers.

Targeting by demographics is limited right now, with the only option being to set your target based on household income data. This setting is based on data from the US Internal Revenue Service, and, thus, is only available for targeting within the US. But if, say, you’re advertising high-end luxury vehicles, you can target locations that fall within the top 10% estimated annual household income. Advertising financial assistance? Perhaps targeting locations within the lower 10% estimated annual household income is a good choice.

Modifying Bids by Location Group

After you set up your location group targeting, you can then set bid modifiers for these groups. For example, if your car rental business operates throughout New York, but you know business is best near the airports, maybe you want to set your airport bid modifier to +50%. I’d actually recommend setting bid modifiers to location groups to +1% for a few weeks in order to see if performance within these regions actually warrants special bid modifying, then apply a larger bid modifier if the performance supports the idea.

Location group targeting should be available to everyone, so get in there, try it out, and let us know how it goes in a comment.