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Fraud lurks in shadows of changing digital advertising landscape warns a recent article in the Gulf News. It’s not new news, because there have always been criminals looking for ways to turn a dishonest profit in every money-making platform. It is a timely reminder, however, that honest advertisers must be vigilant about the quality of what they are buying. According to the article:

The uncomfortable truth about the $120 billion (Dh440.76 billion) digital advertising market is that the fastest-growing and most innovative part of the sector — open exchanges — is increasingly being exploited by criminals.

With concern among its clients mounting, WPP, the world’s biggest ad agency, last month said it would stop buying ad slots through such exchanges. These technology platforms, operated by Google, Facebook, AOL and Yahoo, allow marketers to place ads on hundreds of thousands of sites across the internet. But in doing so they have left the industry vulnerable to fraudsters.

Other ad agencies and marketing experts disagree with WPP’s choice to stop using ad exchanges, comparing it to refusing to surf the internet for fear of catching a virus. What does this mean to the average company owner who would like to take advantage of the promise that digital advertising offers but is wary of fraudulent clicks?

The answer is very similar to the way we use the internet: wisely and carefully. There will always be someone trying to game the system, and there will always be honest business people working to prevent abuse. Consistent monitoring referring links and other traffic is part of a professional strategy to win the fight against click fraud.

For more insights on digital marketing and PPC management visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php.

 

One of the biggest challenges when analyzing data is recognizing the difference between correlation and causation. According to the Merriem-Webster Dictionary, the differences occur when you answer the question “Why?”

  • correlation is “the relationship between things that happen or change together”
  • causation is “the act or process of causing something to happen or exist”

To say it like a statistician,  post hoc ergo propter hoc (after it and therefore because of it). 

The problem is, when a statistician says this, they are being sarcastic and pointing out a fallacy. Tyler Vigen has a popular website of Spurious Correlations full of charts showing the problems with connecting data that correlates for no apparent reason. One example shows the coincidental correlation between per capita consumption of mozzarella cheese and civil engineering doctorates awarded in the US.

Why Should We Always Ask Why?

It is very easy to look at correlations in data analysis and assume there is causation. But closer analysis may show a factor that changes the way you develop your strategy. For instance, when Google changes an algorithm it has an effect on your results, but you need to do more thoughtful research and analysis to figure out which factors are actually causing the dynamic.

The ability to filter out the spurious correlations and isolate the real cause takes experience and a human analysis. This is vital when dealing with the huge waves of data in PPC management. There are many correlations that show up, but deciding which ones are connected, how they connect, and why they happen takes an expert. Without expert analysis, you might end up wondering if eating mozzarella cheese will help your civil engineering career.

For more help on analysis and PPC management, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php.

In AdWords, your Quality Score is like a warning light, according to a quote in “Google: Stop Losing the  Forest for the…Quality Score” at PPC Hero. It shows how healthy your ads and keywords are, but it isn’t anything more than an indication to look further if it’s low. The warning light is a good illustration, because when it comes on you aren’t supposed to be examining the light itself but the system it is connected to.

This look at Google’s whitepaper on Settling the (Quality) Score (pdf) includes a nice chart on things that matter, and things that don’t. These things make a difference in your Quality Score:

  • user device matters, so think about mobile targeting and landing page experience
  • performance on related keywords matters when launching new keywords, so invest in relevant searches
  • relevance to user intention matters, so make sure ads and landing pages match what they want

However, in terms of that Quality Score, keep this in mind:

  • It doesn’t matter how you structure your account, so do what works best for you
  • It doesn’t matter which networks you target, so feel free to test new networks
  • It doesn’t matter where the ad is on the page, so don’t bid up higher positions to get a higher score–think about user experience instead

The warning light is a valuable tool when it’s used the right way, as a signal that you need to look further into the system it monitors. With the Quality Score, Google is reminding us that it is a tool, not a grade.

You’ll find more insights on PPC Management at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php.

PPC Hero has just come out with Excel PPC Heat Mapping 101, and it offers a way to look at your spreadsheets to see what is going on in one glance. Most of us are visual in the way we process information, so this helpful guide just may be of use to you in more ways than analyzing your PPC campaigns.

Conditional Formatting

Basically, this guide opens your eyes to the way that Excel’s conditional formatting can be used to adjust the cell color and reflect the data in that cell. You can springboard from that basic concept to many other ways to use conditional formatting for PPC analysis.

By individually highlighting each column and assigning color scales based on the numbers you are interested in, you will end up with a heat map that shows exactly what is happening with your data. It’s a lot easier than processing the numbers, because you can see immediately what is getting “warmer” or “cooler” in a big picture.

See Your Data The Way You See

People process information in different ways. Some of us need words, some need numbers, others need charts or visuals. Every way is a valid way to obtain data as long as the data is accurate. What matters is being able to use that data effectively.

The need to analyze data is part of a successful PPC campaign, and good managers are looking at that data all the time. It makes sense to set up your information feed in a way that will be easy to process, because the value is in analysis. Once you set it up, this heat mapping idea is a genius way to keep an eye on your PPC campaigns, and more.

You can learn more about PPC management at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is an investment of time and money, so you need to know as soon as possible if a particular campaign is successful or not. Search Engine Journal has been talking to different experts in their SEJ interview series and recently caught up with Ilya Lichtenstein from Mixrank to discuss how to run successful PPC campaigns. Here are the highlights from that conversation:

Over 80% of PPC campaigns fail, according to Ilya’s data. So you need to look at leading indicators when you first start a campaign and watch progress with a critical eye. You can usually tell in the beginning if it is going to be in that 80%.

Don’t waste your time tweaking a failing campaign to try and get it going. Good ones don’t start slow most of the time, and failing campaigns don’t resuscitate. You are better off killing the slow starters and investing in the ones that work from the start.

Figure out what makes your successful campaigns work and repeat it. Keep trying until you get some breakout successes and copy the things that work. It will take some time (remember that percentage of failures) but as you find your successful campaigns you will get better at your strategies.

One observation you could make on this advice is that you cannot be emotionally attached to your PPC campaigns. If you have a favorite that is just not taking off, the idea of pulling the plug is painful. But statistically, that failing campaign will not speed up despite anything you try.

According to this expert, you know very soon if your PPC campaigns are going to be successful. And that’s actually good, because you don’t have to waste any time moving on to the successful ones.

For more insights on PPC Management, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php

 

PPC is different than SEO because you are in more control of where your ads land. Where Search Engine Optimization is intelligently relying on keywords and algorithms, Pay Per Click advertising relies on intelligently paying for prime placement on a page.

This is an equally valuable tactic in marketing because it allows you to target specific audiences by location, interests, associations, and more. You are not only waiting for results to develop, you are being exposed as soon as your ads are live and able to adjust immediately as it’s called for when the market changes. This instant feedback is an important aspect of pay per click advertising.

Most reputable internet advertising firms will monitor referring links in order to eliminate fraudulent clicks. This is done to keep their clients from having to pay for clicks that are generated by competitors hoping to increase your expenses or site owners hoping to get paid a commission. Fraud may be inevitable, but professionals will work to avoid affecting their client’s investment by eliminating the source of the fraud.

PPC can be a defined budget item because even though you pay per click, you can set parameters in maximum spending per month. This is very attractive to those new to pay per click advertising. It’s also easy to track the various types of ads so you can see which are more effective and should be enhanced. Most businesses utilize both SEO and PPC; they are different tactics for marketing and are considered equally important.

For more information on the potential benefits of PPC, a good resource is reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php

Some of the most important metrics for pay-per-click advertisers are ad positioning metrics. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Click-through rates
  • Visitors
  • Pages per visit
  • Average duration on site
  • Conversion rates

Each of these PPC metrics weighed against your ad position can help you save money on your advertising budget. One important way this happens is by gauging your metrics for each ad position relative to other ad positions.

For instance, if you discover that your CTR for position three is higher than your CTR for position one or two, then that’s a huge benefit. But what if your conversion rate is higher for position two?

You have to determine what metric is more important for you in reaching your goals.

If you are not concerned with conversion rate but are concerned with a higher engagement with your visitors, then you might look at your pages per visit and average duration metrics. Adjust your budget to target your ad to the optimal position so that you can reach the highest engagement possible for your ads.

This is no easy task. It does require keeping an eye on your ads and performing some tests to determine the best position for the goals you want to reach.

You can get started with ad position adjustment by consulting with Reciprocal Consulting at www.reciprocalconsulting.com/pay-per-click.php

When it comes to advertising through Google AdWords, nothing is more important than your quality score. Your quality score will determine your ad placement and in turn affect future click-throughs (CTR). If you see your CTR go up and your quality score go down, the first place you should look is your landing page.

Why the landing page?

You should check the landing page because there is a good chance your ad relevance isn’t matching your PPC ad keyword targeting. For that reason, I’ve put together this short list of 3 items that are very important for your PPC quality score.

  1. Landing Page Relevance – Your keyword must match the keyword targeting in your ad. Relevance also includes making sure the product or service you are selling matches what the targeted customer is looking for.
  2. Keyword Grouping - Do you have a tight keyword grouping for your PPC campaign? If your grouping is too broad or doesn’t target narrowly enough, that could affect your Google AdWords quality score.
  3. Landing Page Design – Don’t think design doesn’t count. If you have too many images or videos on your landing page and it loads slowly, that will affect your quality score. If the images and videos don’t look right on the page, that could also affect your quality score.

These are not the only factors that affect Google AdWords quality scores, but they are important.

PPC Hero shares 15 ad networks you can use besides Google AdWords. I’d say you should definitely use the first two on the list:

  • Bing
  • Facebook

But you probably shouldn’t give up on Google AdWords either.

The thing about AdWords is it sends the most traffic to your website, if you do it well. Of course, you’ll pay more for clicks too. If you have a small budget, then you might start with Bing and Facebook. Once you increase your revenues enough to increase your advertising budget, then you can move on to Google AdWords.

Another benefit to starting with Bing and smaller ad networks is you can practice your ad writing and landing page skills. Failure will cost you a lot less than it will at Bing. Once you’ve perfected your craft, then you can spend the big dollars.

PPC advertising is only getting better. With Facebook, you can target your ads to specific demographics, which you can’t do with Google or Bing because they are more keyword-based. I highly recommend both approaches. PPC on the search engines is about finding your audience through their search habits. On Facebook, it’s about looking for them by customer persona type.

Smaller businesses don’t have to be left out of the PPC advertising game. Start small and work your way up.

When it comes to paid advertising, most people know about Google AdWords, but that’s not your only option. In most cases, Google AdWords is the most expensive option and therefore maybe not your most cost efficient option. Here are several options you can choose from when it comes to pay per click advertising.

  • Bing Ads – Bing Ads is the Microsoft equivalent to Google AdWords. The advantage is you have less competition because most advertisers are using Google AdWords. The downside is you won’t reach the same size market. Bing’s search engine is quite a bit smaller than Google’s. Still, it’s a viable option.
  • Facebook Advertising - Facebook has its own advertising model. Ever see those ads on the right side of your wall? You can target your ads demograpically, which is something you can’t do with Google AdWords. The downside is, the keyword targeting isn’t as impressive as with Google.
  • Promoted Tweets – Twitter has something called Promoted Tweets. You pay to have a tweet appear in the Twitter stream of people who fit your target profile.
  • LinkedIn Advertising – The B2B network LinkedIn also have an advertising model. If you are a business-to-business business, then LinkedIn could be a good alternative to Google AdWords.

If you’re ready to expand your PPC advertising strategy, start with these good Google AdWords alternatives.

Pay per click advertising is one of the most powerful modes of online advertising if for any reason because you can target and re-target in real time and on an ongoing basis. Don’t like the way your advertising is leaning right now? Just tweak your ads, keyword groups, and your targeting efforts and you’ll begin to see instant changes.

One of the best ways to reach your target demographic with PPC is by close and careful monitoring of your keyword groups.

In other words, if you create a tight keyword group that targets a specific demographic and point your ads for that keyword to a common landing page that is targeted specifically for the demographic, then you’ll have a powerful advertising platform. But you need to keep an eye on your keyword group and landing page. This is where you want to do extensive testing and monitoring.

If your landing page, or your ads, are off in any way, you could spend hundreds of dollars on ineffective advertising. The worst thing in the world is to target a specific demographic with a keyword group that sees no conversions.

If you do it right, however, you could see big results from your advertising. PPC is cost effective only if you see results from the money you spend. Keep your ad groups tight and your keywords tighter.

According to Business Insider, Twitter and Facebook are now earning 50% of their advertising revenue from mobile phones. Facebook took 11% of its ad revenue from mobile last year and 23% in the fourth quarter.

Naturally, BI is expecting these numbers to increase. So am I.

What is driving this increase? Native advertising. Not traditional PPC.

Native advertising is advertising that appears in the news feed of Facebook and Twitter users. It’s not something they are looking for, but it appears there based on what they normally tweet or post about on Facebook. It’s a combination of targeted demographic marketing and affinity marketing. And it seems to be working.

With this kind of powerful marketing available to them, online paid advertisers are sure to invest more into the advertising that is effective for them.

Social media advertising provides one advantage over traditional PPC. With Google AdWords, you only reach people who are searching for information related to your offering based on keywords you enter. With social media advertising, you choose the demographic you want to target. It’s more like traditional advertising, putting control back into the hands of advertisers.

Naturally, there’s no perfect advertising medium, but social media advertising represents the best of two optimal worlds. You can target your ads to a demographic you know and you can take advantage of the social media opportunity. Combine them for one great opportunity.

Search Engine Journal published an article today that discusses how the Bing ad tool can be used to make your PPC advertising on Bing and Yahoo! more effective and cost efficient. What I want to discuss regarding the article, however, has to do with the most frequently changed ad campaign changes, according to the Bing ad Editor Tool.

The top 5 most frequently Bing ad campaign items are:

  1. Keyword
  2. Ad content
  3. Negative keyword
  4. Location targeting
  5. Negative site

In that order.

This is an interesting list because it appears that keywords are changed a lot. When you consider that negative keywords are keywords you definitely do not want your ads to target, it makes you wonder why advertisers would change them. Are advertisers changing the keywords that are a part of their negative keyword lists, adding new negative keywords, or moving words from the keywords list to the negative keywords list?

Another interesting tidbit here is the location targeting change. Are advertisers changing the locations they want to target, adding new locations, or deleting locations? Probably, all of the above.

It’s hard to tell from this list and the lack of specific data whether advertisers are on the right track or wasting their time and money. One thing is for sure, if advertisers want to be successful on Bing or any other PPC ad network, changes to their ad campaigns are inevitable. PPC requires constant monitoring, and regular changes can be positive or negative.

Earlier this week, Google reported that they are making a change to how they report AdWords quality scores. It’s important to note that this will not change how your quality scores are calculated and therefore won’t affect how your ads are displayed.

This is the kind of change you’d expect Google to make from time to time. It means they are committed to providing a quality advertising product.

Your Google AdWords quality score is represented as a 1-10 number tied to three key aspects of your AdWords campaign – expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience. Let’s analyze these three factors briefly.

Expected Click-Through Rate

Note that your quality score is not tied to your actual click-through rate (CTR) but your expected CTR. This is determined by past click throughs on your specific exact match keyword relative to your ad’s position. You are graded according to “average,” “above average,” and “below average.”

You can affect this measurement through keyword selection. Make sure you use the best keywords for your ad campaign.

Ad Relevance

This measure is about how your specific keyword relates to the content in your ad. Again, it is measured by “average,” “above average,” and “below average.” If your keyword isn’t specific enough to your ad, then you could be hurting your quality score. Make sure you create tight ad groups.

Landing Page Experience

Your landing page must be relevant to the keyword people use to search for your product or service. It must also match the content in your ad. And it should provide a positive user experience once searchers find your landing page. Is it easy to navigate? Is it organized well and well designed?

All of these factors are important in determining your ad’s quality score. If your Google AdWords quality score dips too low, you could lose your ad placement and end up out-of-sight out-of-mind.

Analyzing keyword profitability isn’t as cut-and-dry as we marketers would like to think it is. That said, there are ways to judge a keyword’s potential profitability, but it involves classifying your keywords into categories.

  • Category 1 – Your first keyword category is the low-level keywords that don’t get a lot of click-throughs. Whether we’re talking about PPC advertising or organic search marketing, the keywords in this category historically don’t get click-throughs, however, their conversion rate might be high. In other words, the keywords don’t get a lot of clicks, but when they do they convert them into sales.
  • Category 2 – The second category of keywords is the category that gets lots of clicks and only a few conversions. This is a very unprofitable category because you are spending money on those clicks and not getting much of a return on them.
  • Category 3 - This is your blockbuster category. These keywords get tons of click-throughs and have a high conversion rate.

So what do you do with these categories of keywords? The first thing you should do is stop using the Category 2 keywords. They are costing you money. The other two categories of keywords may or may not be making you money. That depends on the cost of acquisition per customer.

Categorizing your keywords this way will allow you to eliminate unprofitable keywords early and fast while tweaking your paid and organic search marketing campaigns to improve the profitability on the remaining keywords.

Last year Twitter introduced its advertising program, rolling it out to businesses first then to everyone. We learned that recently they also rolled out their analytics tool publicly.

Obviously, this is a way that Twitter hopes to encourage more users to buy sponsored tweets. I hope it works.

The analytics tool is a part of Twitter’s advertising platform. But you don’t have to be an advertiser to view your stats. You just login and get the data. But be forewarned, it doesn’t tell you much – yet.

What it will tell you, however, is helpful. For instance, you can see how many mentions you’ve had on any given day. And you can also see how many followers you picked up and how many followers you lost. In addition, Twitter will tell you how many faves and retweets each of your tweets have received to date. If your links have been clicked, it will tell you how many times. And particularly helpful is a notification when a particular tweet has been getting more attention than your normal tweets. You’ll get a message akin to this:

15x NORMAL REACH

Twitter analytics is still in its infancy. I expect it to get better. Meanwhile, to start using it, go to Twitter’s advertising platform and log in.

Initially, sponsored tweets on Twitter were open only to big corporations. Now, they’re open to everyone. You can take advantage of Twitter’s self-service advertising platform in two ways:

  • Promoted Accounts – Ever see those “Who To Follow” lists in your Twitter sidebar? If so, then that’s what I’m talking about. You can have your account show up in that list for people that you target based on demographics you choose. Get more targeted followers for your business and capitalize on them.
  • Promoted Tweets – The other way to use Twitter’s self-service advertising platform is to promote individual tweets. These are also based on demographic data you input based on your preferences. The difference is that your promoted tweet will appear in the Twitter streams of the people who match your targeting preferences.

This is a new opportunity for small businesses looking to capitalize on Twitter. You can keep tweeting for free and hope to get a response from your followers, or you can reach Twitter accounts based on your preferences. These may be followers or not, but they’ll be targeted based on criteria you define.

I think now is the time to jump on this bandwagon. It is likely that the cost of Twitter advertising will increase as demand increases. At least, initially. What you’ll pay for promoted tweets two years from now may not be what you’ll pay today.

Facebook has a new tool. It’s called “Lookalike Audience.”

If you are a Facebook advertiser, then you can create a custom demographic. Facebook then gives you the option to add a lookalike audience to your PPC advertising campaign. This lookalike audience will consist of Facebook users who match the demographic criteria of your custom audience who are also not fans of your Facebook brand page.

Convenient, eh?

I think so. This is a step forward for Facebook advertisers because it means that you can actually reach more targeted customers. More easily. More quickly. More cost effectively.

You can then turn those customers, with click throughs, into Facebook fans for your page. A certain percentage of those will then see your Facebook content and be able to interact with it. It’s a great way to grow your fan base, market your products or services, and increase your conversions.

In fact,

According to Inside Facebook, advertisers in the beta are seeing lower costs per action than with traditional targeting options.

Lower costs per action translates into higher profits. With this tool you can increase your conversions, lower your costs per action, and increase your profit margin – all while expanding your reach in a sensible cost effective manner. What more could you want?

It seems that Twitter is advancing its paid tweet model pretty quickly. They’ve recently added the ability for advertisers to target negative keywords.

Negative keywords are keywords you don’t want to target but are often associated with the keyword you do want to target. For instance, if you are planning an international bacon festival and you don’t want your sponsored tweets appearing on posts where Kevin Bacon fans are going ga-ga and waxing poetic on the beauties and virtues of the movie Footloose, then you can negatively target the keyword “Kevin.” That will effectively limit your sponsored tweet showing up in Twitter feeds that are all about Kevin Bacon.

It should save you some money. Plus, you’ll more closely target the market that you’re actually trying to reach with your sponsored tweets.

Sponsored tweets are Twitter’s version of pay-per-click advertising. It’s less expensive than Google AdWords, and if you have an audience that spends a lot of time on Twitter, then it can be quite effective in reaching the right audience.

I highly recommend the use of negative keyword targeting any time you use spend money on PPC ads – whether it be with Twitter’s sponsored tweets, Google AdWords, Facebook’s sponsored ads, or any other PPC advertising. Negative keywords keep your ads targeted to the right audience. That’s precisely what you want.

As you get into managing your pay-per-click campaign, you’ll want to ensure that your landing page is optimized for search, draws the visitor in, and makes the sales pitch seamlessly with a strong closing statement – also known as a call to action.

Designing your landing page for PPC requires that you keep a focus on quality. Your quality score will determine where your ads are placed and whether or not your landing page receives respectable organic search rankings.

Here are 5 solid principles to keep in mind when designing your landing page:

  1. Attractive Page Design – Let’s start with design. Your page has to immediately be attractive to a user. If it isn’t, they’ll back out and go somewhere else. Make sure your images don’t obscure the text, make it easy to navigate or scroll through, and be sure you choose the right fonts and graphics.
  2. User Experience – Site visitors will not wait for pages to load. Make sure yours load fast. Also, include Buy Now buttons that are easy to use and functional. Every element of your page must be easy to use and encourage interactivity.
  3. Keep It Simple – Get rid of any unnecessary elements. Everything must point the user to the final sale. Include plenty of white space around the Buy Now button to make it visible.
  4. Grab Your Visitor’s Attention – Use big fonts and eye-catching colors for headlines, subheads, and calls to action. Make sure your Buy Now and Order buttons are clearly visible. Draw your site visitor’s eyes to those parts of the page you want them to focus on.
  5. Make It Social – Include social share icons on your pages to encourage visitors to share your page. And show your social proof badges as well. People respect marketers who can prove their social worth.