Google Tag

19 May Google AdWords Opens the Floodgates

Today Google AdWords announced a small change in their Search Query Performance report that will turn into a gold mine for long tail search terms. Let me explain.

Search Query Performance Reports

Since AdWords began offering this report I have always felt cheated. I would run the report and see the terms that triggered a lot of traffic (which were usually already keywords in my accounts) and then the mysterious line item titled “Other unique queries”. This line item usually included a majority of my conversions and had exceptionally high CTR, so I was understandably frustrated when I couldn’t view it.

What’s New?

Today’s post on the Google AdWords blog announces that Google has done away with the “Other unique queries” and will show all terms. This is made much easier with their new user interface (which I quite like actually) and gives the user greater insight into the exact search terms triggering ads and converting. No more hopping back and forth between your Google Analytics and AdWords account to add new keywords.

As a small caveat I would like to take partial credit for this announcement. It was just a couple weeks ago that I was telling a friendly Googler my frustration about this very thing and, Voila!, it’s fixed. Hey Google, if you’re listening, I’ve got more good ideas where that came from. You know my number (and probably a whole lot more).

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15 May Google to Begin Allowing Trademarked Terms on June 15

In a post yesterday on the Google AdWords blog, the GOOG announced they will adjust their US trademark policy to allow the use of trademarked terms in ad copy. Their reasoning was that too many ads are overly generic without the aid of the trademarked term.

But Which Trademarks?

My first question was “Which trademarked terms are allowed and which will still be off limits?” In typical Google fashion (cryptic to the point of being worthless) they published their updated US Trademark Policy, which didn’t clarify the matter at all. I am resigned to the fact that I’ll just have to start using trademarked terms to see what passes and what gets disapproved.

Lastly, if you’re reading between the lines you’ll see this is a move to improve revenue. Ads without trademarks are too generic (meaning they have low CTR), so Google (at the expense of trademark owners) will allow trademarked terms to help boost CTR (which makes Google more money). I guess after their disappointing Q1 they decided they needed to get drastic to keep the stock price up. It would be embarrassing to start looking like Microsoft with normal earnings reports.

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30 Apr New Google AdWords Interface First Impressions

Over the last couple weeks I’ve been using the Beta version of the new AdWords interface. Most people now have access so I thought I would give my 2 cents.

What I Like

  • Navigation – Getting around your account is faster and easier now. The left side navigation allows you to go to any ad group in any campaign at any time. Add in the tabbed navigation in the center section and you can see pretty much any info you want with a click or two.
  • In-line Editing – I’ve always been annoyed at the number of pages you had to go through to make a simple edit to an ad, keyword bid, etc. Now you just click the appropriate item (which you navigated too rather quickly) and edit. Very helpful.
  • Integrated Reports – One of the most underutilized reports in AdWords in the search query report (I mentioned this in one of my Deadly Sins of AdWords posts here). Google must have noticed because now, when in the Keywords tab, you can just click the “See Search Terms” drop-down box and generate it right in the interface. Brilliant!
  • Graphs – For those of you who like visuals (or have bosses who like visuals) now AdWords has pretty graphs like Analytics to allow you to see key statistics at a glance.

My Complaints

  • Columns – The ability exists to edit which columns you see, but I was a little bugged by the fact that I had to change the columns for every tab (Ads, Keywords, Networks, etc.) separately. If I don’t want to see the many-per-click conversions for Keywords, would I want to see them for Ads? I say no.
  • Width – This issue is somewhat related to the columns, but for archaic PPC managers like myself who still only have one monitor (in my defense it is 22″) the new AdWords interface requires me to have the browser set to full screen. Otherwise I must use the dreaded side scroll.

Overall I understand this is a beta product and is still being fine-tuned. For now I give the new AdWords Interface a B+. No doubt Google will get to an A+ product since AdWords is the cash machine that powers Google and they are doing everything possible to make spending ad dollars easier for advertisers. I’m considering putting together a couple of how-to videos for using the new interface but I want to gauge interest. Leave a comment of what you would like to see.

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28 Apr Why I Don’t Trust Google and You Shouldn’t Either!

Okay, I have always had a healthy skepticism of Google, especially relating to AdWords. I set all my campaigns to rotate ads instead of optimize. One reason is to test more accurately and the other is simple suspicion that Google is really just optimizing their bottom line, not my results. And lest you attribute my suspicion to mere paranoia, I submit the following evidence:

Exhibit A

These stats were taken from a client’s account yesterday and covers the month of April. Keep in mind that this campaign is set to rotate ads evenly. A screenshot is not provided to protect privacy.

  • Ad #1 – Served 68% of the time with a 1.45% CTR
  • Ad #2 – Served 32% of the time with a 1.32% CTR

Obviously Google is serving Ad #1 more frequently to help me get more clicks. Any idiot can see it gets a better CTR. However…

  • Ad #1 – Receives a 4.01% conversion rate at a $7.48 cost/conversion
  • Ad #2 – Receives a 6.37% conversion rate at a $4.85 cost/conversion

Now we see Google’s true colors. They aren’t optimizing to help me, they’re optimizing to help themselves and I have a hard time believing that Google’s engineers can’t program the ad optimization algorithm (which technically shouldn’t be messing with this ad group because it is set to rotate) to have conversion statistics override click-through rates.

So there you have it judge. I rest my case.

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19 Mar The Tortoise and The Hare: adCenter vs. AdWords

If asked to describe AdWords as an animal, most would probably call them the 800-pound gorilla. However, yesterday I had the distinct thought that maybe Google is more like the hare from Aesop’s fable and surprisingly, Microsoft may very well be the tortoise.

“Slow and steady wins the race”

Before burning me at the stake for PPC heresy, hear me out. On Monday adCenter released updated tracking code that will fix a long-standing problem; the double-count. Despite the best efforts of PPC marketers and webmasters to place conversion tracking code on pages that can only be seen once, many users are unpredictable and illogical enough to somehow load thank you pages more than once, resulting in duplicate conversions (thus throwing off all your metrics). The new code from adCenter gives you a couple of different options for counting your conversions to give you numbers that aren’t too hot, aren’t too cold, but are just right.

Next I came across a story on TechCrunch about Microsoft PubCenter’s beta results. The beta testers they spoke with were reporting better revenue than AdSense (likely due to Microsoft’s generosity on revenue splits) and that PubCenter gave them more liberty on creative. Add in the fact that the ads were as well targeted as AdSense and you have a legit competitor to AdSense.

Can Microsoft Win?

Microsoft has the money and they are willing to spend it. While slower than AdWords, adCenter has released an off-line ad management tool, improved their tracking code and developed a legit competitor to AdSense. Slow and steady definitely describes Microsoft’s efforts (8% search share?) but can they really win the race?

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