41 posts categorized "Google AdWords"

November 05, 2010

Google Call Tracking is Here!

I’ve always found it strange that Google didn’t make it easier for advertisers to track AdWords generated phone calls. Obviously, showing advertisers more value from their investment makes a lot of sense, and besides that, Call Tracking is essential for measuring ROI in the emerging Mobile and Local markets that have been such a large part of Google’s overall strategy lately. 

Phone TrackingWith that in mind, I posted last year that Google Voice would eventually lead to Call Tracking in AdWords, and even though it took a lot longer than I expected, that day has finally come! Earlier this week, Google announced Call Metrics for AdWords, a call tracking system powered by Google Voice. From Google:

Using the technology behind Google Voice, call metrics assigns your campaign a unique phone number which is automatically inserted into your ad on both desktop and high-end mobile devices, where the number is clickable…When a user calls the number in your ad, the call is automatically routed to your business, and AdWords notes that this call took place. Then, when you look at your AdWords reports, you’ll see the number of calls generated by each campaign, call duration, and in the near future, caller area code.

This is great news for advertisers. We’ll now be able to track the calls being generated by our AdWords spend right in the AdWords interface and finally get an accurate picture of the additional offline conversions that we are generating. At this point, Call Metrics works in two ways:

Ad Text Call Metrics: This places phone numbers below your ads and can be easily enabled within your AdWords account. Google will automatically generate the tracking number for you, so you don’t have to worry about setting up a Voice account or picking a number. Setting this up is as easy as checking a box in the Ad Extensions tab, under the Phone Extensions view. Now, I’m not sure how much this will help with campaigns enabled for desktop users only (they’d have to see the number on the search results page and dial it from there), but for mobile campaigns this is a must.

Website Call Metrics: This is the big one. After implementing some additional code from Google, the phone number on your site will change dynamically to a Google Voice number when users click through from an AdWords ad. With the new number in place, Google will be able to identify how many phone calls are being generated through AdWords and register those in the interface. Obviously, this one requires a little extra setup (and isn’t open to as many users as the Ad Text version at the moment), but if you get any sort of call volume, knowing which of those are coming from your ad spend makes it well worth it.

Google will be rolling Call Metrics out to all advertisers over the next month, and if you can’t see it in your account yet, you might be able to speed things along by contacting your Google rep or registering at Google Ad Innovations.


Posted by Kevin Hill

October 06, 2010

The Value of Bidding on Brand Terms in Paid Search

Bigstock_Brand_2611077 If you’ve been in paid search any amount of time, you’ve heard the question that goes something like this:

“Why are we bidding on our brand if we already show in the top position?”

Some people just can’t believe that potential customers would click anywhere but that natural link, and the belief persists that paying extra for these terms is not an effective use of money. Obviously there are arguments both ways, but as with most things in paid search, this is an argument that can be solved with a simple test. We recently did just that for one skeptical client, and the results are definitely worth sharing!

We created a Brand campaign for this client, and ran it for three weeks. We then took that three weeks of natural and paid search data and compared it to two separate, seasonally similar three week periods when the brand terms were not running to get a range of data, and here's what we saw:

Range Natural Clicks Natural Conv Total Clicks Total Conv
Baseline Period 1 31,857 1,368 45,200 1,473
Baseline Period 2 31,423 1,269 45,555 1,375
Brand Test Period 31,058 976 51,168 1,626

Compared to the two periods without brand terms, bidding on Branded terms:

Decreased Natural Clicks by just 1% to 3%
Decreased Natural Conversions by 23% to 29%

Increased Total Clicks by 12% to 13%
Increased Total Conversions by 10% to 18%

So yes, the paid search results did pull a significant number of orders from the natural links, but they barely touched natural traffic. This means that we weren’t paying for clicks we would have gotten for free at all. Instead, we were paying for extra clicks, and this extra traffic led to an impressive increase in total orders of 10-18%, an amount of revenue that represented an ROI of 12-20x the cost of the campaign itself.

That’s a huge win! It’s not every day that you find a way to increase total search orders by that much, and it’s even rarer to find a strategy as simple as bidding on brand terms to get you there.

Now, for those of you still fighting the good fight, I know it’s not going to be as easy as showing this post to your boss to get clearance for that long awaited brand campaign. Sometimes it is hard to believe that people won’t just click that top natural link, but the fact is, search engines are ridiculously complex and are littered with potential distractions and pitfalls. Competitor’s paid and natural results, shopping results, review sites, coupon sites, and other “places of interest” are all lurking in the search results, waiting to pull in your potential customers and prevent them from making that final order. When you couple that with the nuances of language and the idiosyncrasies of people in general, you are left with a situation where you need to be doing everything you can to get the people who have searched for you to your site as quickly as possible.

If you’re still having trouble winning your boss over- run a test! Build a brand campaign and run it for long enough to get statistically significant data (at least 2-3 weeks). Once you’re done, compare your traffic and orders to similar time frames and see what effect the brand terms had. If you see anything like the retailer in our test, take that number to your boss and thank me later!


Written by Kevin Hill,  Search Account Associate

August 04, 2010

Google Extends Trademark Policy to Canada, the UK, and Ireland

Last year, Google updated their trademark policy in the US to allow increased use of trademarks in paid search advertising. In a welcome change, they have now extended this policy to Canada, the UK, and Ireland.

Though a change of this type can be confusing, in the US we've found the changes simplify and enhance advertising by allowing retailers to use trademarked terms in their ads more often, and without getting specific permission from the trademark owner in most cases.

Google details the new policy here: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2010/08/update-to-canadian-uk-and-ireland-ad.html

To learn more, you can read what we wrote last year about these changes here: 

Trademark Policy Overview http://www.searchmarketing.com/searchmarketing/2009/05/google-trademark-policy-update.html

Update Your Ads: http://www.searchmarketing.com/searchmarketing/2009/06/friday-task-update-your-ads-for-trademarked-products.html

Clearing Up Confusion: http://www.searchmarketing.com/searchmarketing/2009/09/googles-trademark-policy.html

Posted by Jason James, Paid Search Product Manager

August 11, 2009

Paid Ads Shifting to the Left on the SERPs

When i got in this morning and ran a few queries on Google, I noticed that the ads on the right side (we'll call them RSA) appear to be shifted to the left.  I confirmed that this was the case with a few other members of the Search Services team here at ChannelAdvisor.

Below is a screenshot taken around July 31:

Ad copy

When pulled up in a browser, there is about 1-2" of white space to the right of the RSA.  Also, what you'll see on this screenshot is that 'Sponsored Links' is justified to the center of this area of the page.

Below is a screenshot taken today on the same query:
True Reliion_ad copy_20090811-2
What you'll notice here is at least 2" from the right side of the browser and 'Sponsored Links' is justified to the left.

This test obviously is an attempt to increase the focus on Paid Ads, and Google's hoping that this will translate to higher CTR's.  It's an interesting test, and it definitely diminishes the value (and shelf-space) of the Algorithmic links, by truncating the description to ~100 characters per line.

The test is also consistent with other 'revenue maximization' efforts we have been noticing on the Google Product Search and Trademark Policy front.

Written by Andrew Belsky (andrew.belsky (at) channeladvisor.com)

July 21, 2009

Utilizing the Google Advanced Bidding Feature with a 3rd Party ABM

Automating bid management for your paid search campaign can play a key role in optimizing your ROI and while minimizing the time you have to spend analyzing individual keyword bids.  While just about every 3rd party paid search management software utilizes some sort of ABM, they usually focus on bidding at the keyword level.

Google’s advanced bidding feature can compliment an ABM by allowing you to select campaigns that you would like to increase/decrease bids based on dayparting.  You can access this feature through the “Settings” tab at the campaign level in Adwords.  In the new Google UI, go to “Advanced Settings” section and select “Ad Scheduling”.  From there, you can increase/decrease your bids by the percentage of your choice as well as time and day.

A frequent question is – “What happens if Google changes my bids and my ABM reverts them back?”  Here is your answer…. 

The Advanced Bidding feature will begin at the time you select. If you select a day, then it will begin at midnight in the time zone of the
account and run through the entire day. The bidding is associated with the account time zone and not with individual campaign targeting.

Every time you change the bid during the day/time selected for Advanced Bidding, either manually or through an ABM, the Advanced Bidding rule will apply. For instance, if you set the Advanced Bidding to increase 10% on Saturday and Sunday, and then you change a bid during the day on Saturday, a 110% multiplier will be applied to the new bid you set.

Therefore, every time your ABM updates your bid, Google will then add the multiplier on top of that bid.

Written by Dennis Hayes (dennis.hayes at channeladvisor.com)

June 12, 2009

Friday Task: Update Your Ads for Trademarked Products

Starting Monday, Google’s new Trademark policy will go into effect, and that means you can finally replace those “Buy Brand Name Widgets” Ads with something a little more relevant.  To review: under Google’s new policy, any advertiser that sells or provides information on trademarked products or services will be allowed to use trademarked terms in their ad copy.  Previously, advertisers could only use certain trademarks if they were explicitly whitelisted by the companies that owned the trademarks.

If you missed the announcement on May 14th you can find it at the Adwords Blog and it would also be worth reviewing Andrew’s take on the winners and losers in this new policy.

Now that this change is right around the corner resellers and trademark holders should make sure they are prepared for the new ad landscape.

Resellers: Check your ads! Dig into your branded campaigns and ad groups and update any generic ads with more specific versions. Check your coverage too- some of those brands that you couldn’t make money on before might work a lot better now that you can serve relevant ads.  

Are you wondering what Brands Google identifies on your site? Check it with the Search Based Keyword Tool. You’ll see a list of brands on the left side of the page and clicking into any of those will pull up a list of keywords that have been extracted from your site, along with the page they were pulled from.

Trademark Holders: You’re going to see more competition on your brand terms as resellers roll out new, more relevant ads, and your click through rates might take a hit. Where you might have been the only relevant ad on the page before, you’ll have to work harder to distinguish yourself now. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from policing your trademark use yourself, so if you still don’t want resellers using your trademark, remind them that while Google’s policies may have changed, yours have not.

Whatever you do, remember that this is one of the biggest changes Google has made to the way they displays ads in some time, and it will make a big difference to the affected parties. Get ahead of the game, make your changes today, and be ready to hit the ground running on Monday! 

Written by Kevin Hill (Kevin.Hill at ChannelAdvisor.com)

May 14, 2009

Google Trademark Policy Update

In a move that no one saw coming, Google has just announced that they WILL allow advertisers to have trademarks in their ads even if they are not the owner.

Make no mistake, this is a big deal.

Currently the policy is that advertisers are allowed to advertise on trademarked terms, but they are not allowed to use it in their ad copy.  As you can imagine, bidding on trademarked terms and not having the ability to use that trademark in your ad tends to get pretty expensive in terms of higher CPC's from low CTR and low Quality Scores.  An example of this would be bidding on a term like 'yamaha speakers' and having to use some general, loosely relevant headline like, 'name brand speakers.'  Obviously when the user sees the general ad, he/she is not sure if you are selling yamaha speakers or selling other brands of speakers.  This has long been a very big pain point for many resellers of trademarked products.

Here are the types of advertisers that will now be able to bid on trademarked terms:

  • If you are a reseller of trademarked goods or services

  • If you sell components or replacement parts for trademarked products
  • If you run an informational site as long as you are providing non-competitive and informative details about the products or services

Starting on May 18th you can submit ads with trademarks, and these ads will begin to show on Google on June 15th.

So let's talk about the winners and losers.

1.  Increased query to ad text relevancy = higher CTR = more clicks from same level of traffic
2.  They can drop their painful editorial process that is costly and labor intensive

Better CTR's and better Quality Scores!

Trademark Owners
With everyone being able to use trademarked terms in ad copy, it will now make their ads blend in with the rest of the landscape.  Previously, the trademark owner benefited by being the only ad with bolded text on the page, thus having a distinct CTR/Quality Score advantage.

To take full advantage of this policy update, we recommend auditing your campaigns to identify which trademarked products/categories that you are currently promoting.  Once you complete this, submit new ads incorporating the trademark and leave them in Active status so they go live as soon as Google opens up their filters.  Also - make sure to not do a hard cut-off on your existing ads, as Google will slow down the delivery(as they build up Quality Score) of these new ads when they are launched.

Written by Andrew Belsky (andrew.belsky at channeladvisor.com)

April 01, 2009

Why Google Voice will be Good for Advertisers

No one’s going to argue with the trackability and accountability of Google Adwords advertising, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Yep, I’m talking about call tracking. With the web and the phone being more or less the only two ways for customers to purchase from the ecommerce businesses that dominate the sponsored links, I’ve often wondered why Google only bothers to support conversion tracking on one of those channels.

Of course, in the good ol’ days when bankers were fair and honest and the Dow was above 14,000, most businesses were quite content in the knowledge that as good as their Adwords return on investment was, it was probably even better once all the conversions that they couldn’t track were taken into account. For those that wanted more, there are businesses that offer call tracking services and creative workarounds for implementing it themselves.

Nowadays, as budgets tighten and conversion rates level off, the number of businesses that are content to know that their Adwords campaigns are probably driving phone orders is dwindling. As budgets tighten, it is becoming more and more necessary to see results from every penny spent. 

Enter Google’s new phone service, Google Voice. Announced earlier this month Google Voice is the reworking of the GrandCentral acquisition from 2007. Including impressive features like a single number for all your phones and the transcription of voicemails (making them searchable), this new service offers a lot to get excited about.

Obviously, this could just be one more step towards the day when voyeuristic Google employees will know all of our deepest darkest secrets. (My favorite headline so far: “Google Voice: Press 1 to Invade Your Privacy”). Or maybe it’s just one more high traffic property for Google to serve ads on. I think there’s more to it though, I think this is the first step in Google getting serious about call tracking.

I’ve always thought it was inevitable that Google would integrate call tracking into Adwords, and the stars seem to be lining up for that move to come soon. Google’s not immune to the economic downturn, and logic dictates that the more revenue companies can tie back to Adwords, the more they’ll spend there. I’d imagine that this idea has been kicking around the Googleplex for some time, and if they are actually going to roll out this functionality in 2009, it couldn’t come at a better time.

Written by Kevin Hill (Kevin.Hill at ChannelAdvisor dot com)

March 27, 2009

Google Improves Billing Flexibility with Make a Payment

On Tuesday, Google introduced a small change to its Payment options with Make a Payment. For those advertisers using the Postpay billing option, you will now have more flexibility in how you pay off your account balance.

Instead of waiting to hit your billing threshold, you will be able to pay off your whole balance or a smaller portion of it at your convenience. This will be helpful primarily for advertisers who would like to break up their payments into smaller amounts or who need to spread the amount of their bill across multiple forms of payment.

You will also have the option to prepay an amount that is larger than the amount you are billed for. This could be useful for advertisers who hit their billing threshold multiple times a day or even multiple times a week. With Make a Payment, you can fund your account for a longer period of time, and eliminate some of the hassle of frequent payments.

To sign up to use Make a Payment just fill out this form, and watch for an email confirmation from Google once it is active in your account.

Written by Kevin.Hill at ChannelAdvisor dot com

March 25, 2009

What Does Google's Update Mean for Advertisers?

Yesterday, Google introduced two new enhancements to their result pages. While neither of these enhancements affects advertisers directly, they do affect the overall search experience and provide some insight into the direction Google is heading as they further innovate on their search experience. Advertisers should consider how these new features may come to influence the way their targeted traffic acts after performing a search, and adjust accordingly.

The first change that has been made is to the Related Searches that are generally (but not always) found at the bottom of the SERPs. According to Google, the technology that identifies appropriate related searches has been beefed up, and is now better able to recognize searches that are associated with your initial search, without being directly tied to it through shared keywords. This is different from similar results at Yahoo and Live that basically just add additional words to your initial keyword query.

For retailers, the related searches will probably not have a noticeable impact at this point. However, it is conceivable that the “related searches” may begin to creep up the page or be integrated in other ways as Google becomes more comfortable with their quality. Before that happens, take a look at the related searches for your highest traffic terms, and make sure that the ones that are relevant to your business are included in your campaigns.  That way, if the user can’t find what they’re looking for on the second search, you’ll still be there to scoop them up.

The next change affects the length of the “snippets”, the lines of text below the blue headlines of each search listing in the organic results. Typically two lines long, Google will now be showing snippets of three lines or more on longer, more detailed search queries. The idea here is that by showing more text from the page, the user will better be able to find pages that are relevant to their query.

We’ve posted before about the diminishing returns of long search queries, and it is conceivable that this update might lead to that effect becoming even more pronounced. After all, since many queries beyond 5 words in length get very little volume and clicks anyway, imagine how many fewer clickthroughs they’ll get once searchers are better able to find what they are looking for in the organic results. Of course if your account is 99% effective, then by all means, build out some longer keywords. For the rest of us, our time will be better spent in other areas.

What do you think about the new improvements? How do you see them affecting the search experience? Leave a comment below!

Written by Kevin Hill (Kevin.Hill at ChannelAdvisor dot com)