PPC roundup: March

Welcome to Colleen’s first blog post – a slightly tardy synopsis of some important changes in the PPC world from the previous month. All of the memes in this post come from the ineffable PPC Memes Tumblr (I’m a little obsessed with it).

google display network improves management options

By now, you may have heard about the new interface within AdWords which was recently rolled out to better enable marketers to keep tabs on their display campaigns. Basically, the Display Network data is getting pulled into a brand-new tab which will allow you to view progress at the keyword level, not just the ad group level. Ideally, this should make buying into display advertising as easy as traditional search. Perhaps Google has recognized the general opinion held of the display network by many marketing companies (as exemplified by the above meme) and hope to broaden their display client base by encouraging advertisers to stop disabling the option to utilize it.

PPC Hero are extremely optimistic about the change, opining that it will help AdWords users better target and optimize their display campaigns.

Rather helpfully, Dent provided us with an in-depth guide to AdWords Display Marketing, which is a great read for anyone who isn’t already a banner ad guru. From my perspective, it’s quite interesting to read about the pros and cons of non-text ad options and whether to choose high-traffic websites with large readerships or small websites that sharply target interests.

adwords expands campaign limits (again)

Digital marketing types will undoubtedly be thrilled to hear that Google has further expanded upon their campaign limit expansion of last year: from 500 to 10,000 possible campaigns per account. The logic is to make it easier to manage your campaigns from a single place; the reality is while aimed at helping bigger advertisers, most will already have their AdWords activity separated into several different accounts and managed through an MCC. I shudder at the thought of a single AdWords account getting even remotely close to the new campaign limit!

general downturn in ad spend

In other news, search and display spend was down during the last quarter of the year, according to Kantar Media.

Interestingly, it seems like some of the most expensive sectors in which you can invest in PPC (insurance, financial etc.) have cut back in the most significant way. One commenter hypothesizes that these “digital dollars” may have moved away from tried-and-tested locales “ towards emerging and unmeasured digital platforms”. I’m sure this will be the case to some degree, but Search and Online Display are still a long way off from plateauing.

feeling negatively about microsoft?

With AdWords being the major player in the paid search arena, many marketers simply duplicate their accounts into adCenter with the same settings. Poirier makes the point that while (in AdWords) you can set negative keywords at the campaign level in order to apply them to all of your ad groups, this structure will not apply to adCenter. This means that if you had set a negative at the ad group level, none of the campaign-level negatives would have applied to that ad group.

Late last year, Microsoft brought in an exact match option for negative keywords and a Negative Conflicts Report — and just recently, they’ve allowed users to set negatives at the campaign level (which will apply to the ad group negatives). Essentially, they’ve brought their product closer in line with what AdWords has come to offer, which is what advertisers have come to expect. The article offers some recommendations about how to check and tidy up your account in the wake of these recent changes. I’m not entirely sure to what extent Microsoft are pioneering or imitating, or whether it’s the best development choice that Microsoft could make, but it certainly makes managing adCenter less annoying – and presumably, adCenter feel that making things more accessible for Google acolytes might help them carve into the enormous piece of pie (well, almost the entire pie) that AdWords occupies.

adcenter changes geo targeting

On top of this, adCenter has been making changes to their location targeting – by planning to remove over 10,000 cities from their options, ones that don’t have significantly measurable traffic. Marketers will simply need to choose from a list of three nearby cities to target, instead, as Microsoft don’t want to bother with the citizens of those smaller cities that haven’t interacted with their network. However, it’s important to note that any geo-targeted campaigns for these cities will be paused and defaulted to “worldwide”. This currently only applies to the US and Canada – we’ll keep you posted when this starts in Europe!

alliances strengthen between google’s competitors

Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL are now reselling each other’s unsold media across their entire display networks (branded sites and partners). Each organization has expanded its reach by offering access to all of their cumulative inventory and ad space in the hopes of appealing to media buyers who want a broad and complex marketplace to work with. Together with the forthcoming merging of Yahoo! Search Marketing and adCenter, this truly marks the end of an era.

why you need to maintain the momentum of your ppc

From what I’ve been reading, I’ve noticed that some advertisers seem to think of PPC as only a temporary fix — just a stop-gap while their SEO campaign gains momentum, dropping their paid ads once the organic results start performing well.

If you hold to any of these viewpoints, it’s time to change your way of thinking!

The Google Research team has been studying how organic search results impact upon ad impressions and clicks and published findings that show 81% of ad impressions are served in the absence of an associated organic result on the first page. If a search ad is paused, half of the clicks that it would have gained will NOT be replaced by organic clicks. A staggering 96% of ad clicks are incremental for those appearing in the organic position of 5 or lower.

Parker has posted some good infographics about why you need to maintain the momentum of your PPC account. Good SEO practices will obviously increase the number of clicks you get through organic results, but dropping your paid aids can cause you to lose up to 85% of the traffic you enjoyed while running your AdWords campaign – and the organic clicks don’t come anywhere close to compensating for this loss. Even if you decrease your ad spend, some of the “displaced” clicks will go through to your organic results but most of them will simply be lost. On the flipside, if you start your PPC campaign from nothing, you can gain a massive increase in incremental clicks. So don’t get complacent about your paid ads! Even if you build up a lot of brand identity, your competitors can  still step in to occupy that space at the top of Google if you choose to vacate it, so keep testing and optimizing those ads!

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