In the last several months I have heard ‘modern search’ enter the marketing lexicon. Paid search has been around for 15 years, and while it’s one of the oldest digital media tactics around, the practice has undergone massive changes in the last 12-18 months. New technologies and features have been introduced at a dizzying pace, not to mention an entirely new AdWords UI rolled out 12 months ago, and will replace the existing AdWords UI at some point this year (once the two UI’s arrive at feature parity).
I love digital marketing because of the rapid pace of change and the sense of accomplishment I get with helping businesses meet and achieve their business goals. I’m here to share with you five new tools, features and products that are relatively new (within the last 18 months) that I see many of my customers underutilizing, or not adopting period.
If you have any questions or need tips, reach out to me on Twitter, at jimarmstrong_@.
Call Bid Adjustments in the New AdWords UI
I’m amazed at how few advertisers are leveraging this new bid lever in the new AdWords UI. The feature has been around for over a year (since the new AdWords UI rolled out in beta). For years, customers of mine bemoaned the fact that they were serving in Position 1 on the Search Results Page, yet were unable to control how frequently their call extension served. For my direct response advertisers, who are looking to generate reservations, sign-ups and leads, not having the ability to control how often they were able to serve the call button on mobile search ads was frustrating.
Advertisers now have this ability to bid up on their call extensions on mobile, and increase their interaction coverage percentage, or in other words, the amount of times they serve the call button with their ad. I see too many advertisers with an interaction coverage percentage of less than 50%. The bid adjustment is a no brainer to test, since the average CPC is weighted by the percentage split between the clicks to the headline and to the call button. The net/net is that you will be able to generate a ton more calls for your business, at a very nominal cost.
Automated Bidding Solutions in AdWords
Marketers rightly want to dive into the weeds, and understand every knob and lever there is to pull in AdWords and across other channels, products and ecosystems. We hesitate to give up control, thinking that we need and want to understand the nuances of every campaign, ad group and keyword. The approach to manually bid on keywords in the spirit of ‘maintaining control’ is quickly becoming an anachronism, and a poor use of your time.
Those advertisers that are embracing automated bidding, are embracing the improvements in machine learning that power Google’s bid algorithms. For those that want to dip their toe into automated bidding, we recommend starting with enhanced CPC (eCPC). eCPC is a bidding feature that adjusts your max CPC bids for each auction to get you more conversions at or below your target CPA. This bidding feature estimates if a particular auction is more or less likely to convert than the average auction for that keyword, and bids up or down accordingly. To make these determinations, eCPC is accounting for the following auction-level signals:
- Whether a user is on an audience list
- Geography of user
- Language settings of user
- Browser settings
- Time of Day / Day of week
- Predicts conversion rate of the auction
At the very least, small, performance-focused businesses should be testing eCPC to drive additional conversions at the same CPA. More broadly, you should always be testing and learning, and iterating on your current approach.
For the last 12 months, we have been keenly focused on helping advertisers go back to the basics, and understand the nuts and bolts of creative excellence. Most advertisers aren’t nailing these basics, and we felt the need to underscore the fact that with all of the below components in place, advertisers are able to map to more queries and generate (on average) 15% more clicks.
Creative Excellence is composed of the following three metrics, all of which must be present in an ad group and campaign:
- 100% of your ad groups are in campaigns using an optimized ad rotation
- 100% of your ad groups have 3 or more expanded text ads
- 100% of your ad groups are in campaigns with 3 or more ad extensions (core extensions include Sitelinks, Callouts and Structured Snippets)
Go back to your campaigns to ensure that you have all of the above components in place, and while you can’t cleanly measure the impact of these changes, follow performance closely. You will be surprised at what you find once you check the boxes on these three components.
Free Mobile Tools Available
Most advertisers’ mobile websites stink. 53% of consumers will leave a mobile site if they’re forced to wait for longer than 3 seconds. This statistic actually increased in 2017, up from 40% in 2016. What we’re finding is that today’s consumer is increasingly becoming more curious, impatient and demanding. We’re finding that queries for previously low consideration items such as ‘travel pillow’ and ‘best toothbrush’ are up in the triple digits Y/Y. Consumers expect to get information quickly, even for low consideration items. And the kicker is that she expects a brand to be assistive, fast and helpful throughout the process of procuring this information.
Below are resources to help you evaluate the state of your mobile site, and identify the issues that may be present.
Dynamic Search Ads
Many of you (heck all of you) don’t have endless amounts of time or resources to regularly add new keywords to your search campaigns. It’s a never ending spigot of keywords that come through via the Search Terms tab, which exists as a sub-tab when you navigate to the Keywords tab. I have good news for you – you’re now able to add Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) ad groups into existing search campaigns, to catch these long tails terms that you don’t have time to manually mine and add into the appropriate ad groups.
Prior to a few months ago, you were able to set-up separate DSA campaigns, but now you have the ability to set-up DSA ad groups within a search campaign. As practitioners, we know that queries and search are constantly evolving. On any given day, 15% of queries that show up in Google have never been seen before, which is led in part by how consumers are interacting with their devices, and the increasingly screen-less and assistive experiences that enable us to search.
Bottomline: DSA is a solution that enables you to find potential customers who are searching for your products or services, without the need to manage keywords or create tailored ads for every landing page. To learn more about Dynamic Search Ads, learn more in our AdWords support hub.
I hope you found these five resources and tips helpful, and I look forward to regularly contributing my thoughts to Bite Sized Media on a monthly basis. If you have any digital marketing topics you would like for me to cover in the future, don’t hesitate to drop me a line on Twitter. In the meantime, good luck modernizing your search program with these tips, products and resources!