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Archive for the ‘Online Advertising / SEM / Display’ Category

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Back to Basics: Managing AdWords Ads

By | July 16, 2014

With all of changes in AdWords emphasizing the importance of ad extensions and quality score, it is easy to get caught up in those features and overlook your ads themselves. At the end of the day, they are just as important as everything else. Here I’ve outlined some tips and best practices for managing your ads, including tools to simplify your job.

Testing & Optimizing

I firmly believe in the ‘ABT’ motto: Always Be Testing. A few things to keep in mind to ensure you’re getting the most out of your tests.

  • Test vs. Control – Be sure you’re only changing one thing in each ad variation, so you can easily and clearly tell which version performs better. For example, if you want to test headlines, be sure your description lines, display URLs, and destination URLs are all the same.
  • Rotation Settings – I like using the ‘Rotate Indefinitely’ setting in Google Adwords and ‘Rotate More Evenly’ in Bing AdCenter. This will ensure your ad variations are getting shown equally and help you better understand which variation is truly performing better. Using ‘Optimize of Clicks’ or ‘Optimize for Conversions’ lets Google display the ad it thinks will get the most clicks or conversions, and doesn’t give your ad variations equal display time, resulting in skewed test results.
  • Declaring a Winner – First, be sure you’ve let your test run long enough to gather significant data. Depending on the account, I like to run at least 2 weeks or setup a click threshold before launching so I know when I can evaluate the ad variations. Next, be sure you’re reviewing the right metrics. While CPCs and CPAs are important to consider, these metrics may not tell the whole story. Looking at click-thru and conversion rates is also important, but again, they could be leaving out important insights on performance. I like to look at overall ad efficiency to determine a winning ad. To calculate this metric, multiply the conversion rate by the click-thru rate.

Let’s look at an example. The snapshot below suggests at first glance the first ad is the winner. It has a few more conversions at a slightly lower cost per conversion. With a target CPA of $100, both ads are meeting our goals. However, when looking at the overall efficiency of the two ads, the second ad looks better:


A Few Ad Reminders

Run at least one text ad with punctuation in Description Line 1 for the extended headline.

Google example:

huge selection widgets

Differentiate your ads:

  • Use trademarks and  registered marks for the terms you have registered and trademarked.
  • Try adding the Countdown Script for sales/holidays to text ads for a sense of urgency.

holiday sale

Create an ad group for each image size for image/display ads. This helps keep data around each ad size easier to see. You are able to easily manage the number of ads per ad group this way, making it much easier to test variations in your image ads. It also allows you an opportunity to “own” the page on site within the GDN. If the site offers multiple ad sizes, your ads could show in each of them if they are separated into different ad groups by image size.

Using Tools

3rd-party tools and platforms can help online advertisers greatly. Sometimes, we need that extra insight not offered within Adwords or AdCenter to help us make decisions. When it comes to ads and competitive insights, there are a few specific tools from The Search Monitor (TSM) that can be very helpful.

  • Rank Report – This report lets you see where you and your competitors are winning and losing ad ranks. You are able to compare your average rank and number of times seen versus your top competitors. You can leverage these insights in bidding decisions. For example, if your competitors are in a better rank than you, you might consider bidding up so your ad rank improves.
  • Trademark Report– This report lets you keep an eye on competitors bidding on your terms AND using your trademarks in their ad copy. If you notice a competitor wrongfully using your trademark, you can work with Google’s trademark policy team to restrict the use of your trademark within the competitor’s ads.

With tools and testing, you can rest easy knowing your ads are well managed.

If you have any tips of your own to add, please share them in the comments section … I’d love to hear them!

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PPC Budget Forecasting on the Fly

By | July 3, 2014

It’s Friday afternoon and an e-mail comes through to your inbox from your client:

 “Do you think we can spend an extra $10,000 this month? We have extra budget and would love to see what the numbers would look like if we spent it in PPC . Can you provide me an update by EOD?”

Emails like this can be a blessing and a curse. Of course, you would love to generate extra revenue and opportunities but can you really provide accurate data in enough time so that you can get the rest of your work done on top of these estimates before 5 pm on a Friday? The answer is yes!

You don’t need to get caught up in crunching numbers and pulling multiple data sets. In fact, all you really need is AdWords.

Once in AdWords, you’ll want to make sure to add both ‘impression share’ and ‘lost impression share (budget)’ columns. From there you’ll just need 5-10 minutes and a few quick calculations and then you’ll have more than enough accurate data to send your client so that you both can start your weekend early.

To get started, follow these easy steps:

  1. Set your date range to the last 30 days and export to Excel
  2. Create columns for potentials (you’ll need ‘potentials’ columns for impressions, clicks, conversions, costs, and CPA)
  3. Calculate potential impressions first by using this formula (Impressions/impression share)*lost impression share (budget)

From here, use the following formulas for the rest of the potentials:

  • Potential clicks: potential impressions*CTR
  • Potential conversions: potential clicks*Conv. Rate
  • Potential cost: potential clicks*Avg CPC
  • Potential CPA: potential cost/potential conversions

(Source: Search Engine Watch)

Now you have real data that you can feel confident about. Of course, adding additional keywords or moving targeting and settings around will help to generate additional opportunities. For now, you can use this as a guide to show clients how they can generate additional opportunities quickly with the campaigns they already have. Showing their missed opportunity could help you drive additional revenue and ultimately trust from clients in just a few minutes!

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3 Tips for Hospitals To Fuel Content Marketing with SEM Data

By | June 23, 2014

As many of us know, SEM/PPC is an established source of patient acquisition for health systems and hospitals. Fathom has certainly seen great results with structured campaigns promoting specific service lines that send users to relevant landing pages with prominent calls-to-action.

For this specific post, however, I want to focus on how paid search can help address common online challenges health systems face:

  • SEO keyword strategy without access to organic keyword data
  • Writing engaging and compelling content that your audience wants (AKA, content marketing)
  • Dealing with negative PR (AKA, reputation management)

Specifically, I want to discuss 3 ways to use PPC search queries to help support these common marketing challenges.

1. Share PPC Keyword Data to Guide SEO

It’s not news to any of us that Google Analytics no longer shows organic search keyword data. This change was a major one that makes the lives of SEOs a bit more difficult.

We encourage the sharing of data between SEO and PPC analytics, especially because the keyword performance visibility exists within AdWords.

From the PPC side, sharing keyword data with the SEO team enables it to see which keywords are not only driving traffic, but also converting most frequently.

lap band 

2. Use Search Queries to Identify Topics for SEO and Content Marketing

In addition, looking at the search query reports shows what users are searching for in relation to the keywords we’re bidding on. For example, let’s say the content team is looking for a new blog idea for the maternity service line. You can quickly go into the women’s health maternity campaign to identify search queries that have a lot of interest.

pregnancy calculator

You can then suggest to the content team writing a blog post around calculating a pregnancy due date or even adding a new page to the hospital website to provide relevant and helpful information.

Also, in order to prove the validity of the suggestion or find additional ideas, check Google Trends to see if the search query is a ‘rising search’ (and in this case, it is).

stroke symptoms

Another example of using search queries to help fuel a content marketing strategy is to consider how users are searching. Users often look for information specific to gender or age; it’s important you write content geared toward these users, especially if you are seeing significant search via the search query report:

stroke symptoms II

3. Use PPC Search Queries/Google Suggest to Identify PR Challenges

One very important threat that health systems and hospitals face consistently is reputation damage. Fathom uses search queries of brand keywords to inform clients of negative PR that can potentially be addressed by driving traffic to a positive page—either via PPC or organic/SEO. Challenges come in the form of nurse strikes, hospital acquisitions/mergers (see our guide to hospital rebranding), and even hospital closings. The best stance is to be proactive when dealing with these challenges.

hospital closing

hospital closing II

Bottom line: SEM is much more valuable to health systems than simply being a vehicle for generating appointments, guide downloads, and phone calls. You are already investing part of your marketing budget in paid advertising (and if you are not, you should), so you might as well make full use of the data you already have to create a more integrated marketing strategy for your organization.


Check out the marketer’s guide to hospital acquisition to take the headache out of rebranding:

The Art of Rebranding

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Know Thy Competitor: Using Adwords Auction Tool to Assess Competition

By | June 18, 2014

sun tzu

It is said,

  • If you know your enemy and know yourself, you will win 100 battles.
  •  If you know yourself and do not know your enemy, you will win one and lose one.
  •   If you do not know your enemy nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

            -Sun Tzu

While Sun Tzu applied this wisdom on the battlefield to win wars and conquer enemies, these lessons can be and have been used in industrial marketing to increase qualified leads. To win on the battlefield of business, we must BOTH know thyself and our enemies.

Luckily in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, Google Adwords has a fantastic tool to help you know your enemy, AKA competitors. What is this revolutionary tool? … The Auction Report!

What is an Auction Report?

An Auction report is simply a report containing a list of your competitors. More than just a flat list of names, Adwords orders the list by highest threat level to lowest threat allowing you to focus your attention on the enemy that matters most (in Sun Tzu’s time this would have been Genghis Khan and his Mongolian Hoard!!).

What can I see in an Auction Report?

Along with the list of competitors, Adwords shows you:

Impression Share – This is how often your competitor appeared when someone searched for a term you yourself are bidding on.

Avg. Position – This is your competitors average ad position. A good rule of thumb is to look for competitors ranking in the 1st to 3rd position. If they are ranking this well these competitors are most certainly taking some business from you in the zero sum game of sales.

Overlap Rate – Tells you how often ads from your competitors are appearing at the same time your ad appears. The higher this number the higher the threat they are.

Position Above Rate – The lower this number is the better for you! If this number is 100% this means that every time your advertisement appears to customers, your competitor’s ad appears above your ad 100% of the time, every time!

This is pretty much akin to Mike Tyson knocking you out with a hard right hook and standing over your lifeless body while the ref counts to 10.

Great! So where do I find the Auction Report?

Click on the Keywords tab > Details tab > Auction Insights “All”


Learn more about Google Adwords Auction tool at Google Support!


Maximize your event marketing investments with 21 Tradeshow Tips for Manufacturers:

21 Tradeshow Tips for Manufacturers

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Advertising on Social Media? Be Prepared for Mobile Traffic!

By | June 13, 2014

Advertising via social media channels can get you in front of a much broader audience. By throwing some money behind your posts (especially true in Facebook, where the organic reach of posts is rapidly declining) you can get more eyes on whatever message you have to share. One important thing to keep in mind is that if you are trying to drive folks back to your website with these promoted posts, make sure your mobile experience doesn’t suck.

Mobile has been all the rage on the search side of things. It seems like Google has been touting “this is the year of mobile” every year for the past four years. It is true, mobile search is increasing as the population becomes more and more reliant on their mobile devices. Another area where mobile dominates in usage is on social media.  Makes perfect sense, right? We see it in our own timelines and newsfeeds. Updates from the gym and the latest dish from the hottest restaurant are all posted via mobile devices.

You want people to have a very similar experience regardless of the device they choose to interact with. So it’s important to have the same content available on both desktop and mobile. If they can schedule an appointment on their desktop, they should have the same capabilities on their mobile device.  If your experiences are not the same, consider waiting on spending money until they are or leave mobile devices out of your targeting. But know that if you do, you are going to miss most of your targeted audience.

Real Life Data

I recently ran some paid social campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, and here is how their traffic broke down:

Facebook had 87% of impressions and 98% of clicks from mobile devices. Twitter had even heavier mobile activity with 96% of impressions and 99% of clicks. That means 90% of my audience saw my posts on mobile devices.

Mobile Impressions

Obviously, your audience might be different, but it’s a good example of how important mobile is to advertising on social media.  I hope this post gets you thinking about the ways you interact with the people you are trying to reach. And more importantly, I hope it gets you thinking about how the people you are trying to reach interact with you.

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