Paid Search

Why You Should Bid On Branded Terms & Let Resellers Bid, Too


Many companies utilize a network of resellers and/or affiliates to help them generate more customers. These resellers are usually paid some kind of bounty on an agreed upon action (sale, install, appointment).

This is true in telecommunications, medical, home products, education, and many other categories you can think of. The key here is to know who is selling, how they are doing it, and to be able to control it as best you can. If you are the brand, you get to set the rules. If others want to sell your wares, they need to play by those rules, or lose the privilege. Here's how to manage your pay-per-click rules & keyword strategy to protect your brand:

Who gets position 1 in branded search?

One thing is for sure, your affiliates shouldn’t be bidding for placement above yours in branded search. You are the brand, so you get to be in first place. Depending on what article you read, paid search gets as much as 41% of the desktop clicks on the search page. The lion’s share of those clicks go to the top paid position. Clearly that’s where you need your ad to be. And as the brand, you pay less for your clicks than anyone else does to be in the top position (a little more on that below).

RELATED CLASS: Who's Got the Time? How to Save Time & Better Prioritize Your PPC Efforts

In the example below, Brooks Running Shoes is below Zappos in the paid listings for the branded query, "Brooks Glycerin 11 Womens".

Who gets positions 2 and 3?

Is it okay to let resellers bid on your branded terms for positions 2 and 3? It is okay, and you should allow it. Why? One primary reason is it can help you manage your competitors by keeping them out of those spots. You probably don’t need to allow more than two resellers to bid on your brand, since there are only three paid positions in total, and you already are taking one. If your resellers can earn money from you by taking one of those positions, they’ll spend more to get there.  And if they are spending more, your competition may decide not to bid for those branded terms (NOTE: Companies often bid on competitive branded terms so that if a potential customer is searching on another brand, their name will still turn up as well).  If you aren’t in the top three positions, your competitors are getting clicks and sales that should be yours.

RELATED CLASS: Google Shopping Overview: Strategies and Tactics for Success

But I haven't controlled this in the past!

What if your current PPC landscape is a free-for-all? My advice is that you take everyone out of the market except for your top two sellers. You can’t physically prevent someone from bidding on your branded terms. However, if you are paying resellers, you can create your agreements to say that if they want to earn bounties, they cannot bid on your branded terms. And if they are already doing so, simply contact them and tell them to stop.

If I don’t have affiliates, do I still need to bid on branded terms?

Yes and here’s why, even if you are already number one in organic:

1. You will pick up more clicks if you are in position one in paid and position one in organic.

It’s a fact that has been proven over and over again. If you are unsure, try testing it. If your clicks (and conversions) don’t improve, then stop the campaign.

2. Branded terms are affordable—if you're the brand!

Branded terms are really inexpensive when you’re the brand because your quality score on branded terms will be higher than anyone else’s. That means that you’ll pay far less per click then the next guy pays for your branded terms (this is significant, say $.40 per click if you’re the brand, to $4 per click if you’re not).

3. You’ll be able to manage your competition better (see above).

If you aren’t bidding on your branded terms, there’s nothing to stop the competition from doing so.

What about mobile?

The same principals apply to mobile. The big difference is that mobile only has 2 paid positions available. You still want the top position and one of your resellers can take position 2. With the Google Enhanced Campaigns that launched earlier this year, you can no longer create a mobile only campaign. You’ll need to manage your mobile bids as a part of your overall campaign. You can read more about that here.

And of course, you do need to be in mobile. Half of all searches are conducted using a mobile device (source: Microsoft), and 90% of those searches lead to action, with 50% of those leading to a purchase (source: Search Engline Land). You can’t afford NOT to be there.

Learn how to drive more ecommerce transactions with Google Product Listing Ads.

Watch Google Shopping Overview: Strategies and Tactics for Successand start leveraging Google Product Listing Ads (part of Google Shopping) to drive more transactions today. You'll see how to integrate Google Product Listing Ads into your current search strategy, and get expert tips for optimizing your PPC spend. Get instant access now


Boost Revenue this Holiday Season with Google Product Listing Ads


It’s that wonderful time of year again when merchants scramble to implement and solidify their Q4 holiday shopping season strategy. The most profitable time of the year for all retail, Q4, consistently poses new challenges to merchants as ecommerce technology grows and the online retail space becomes more crowded. And now more than ever, Google has its large hands in ecommerce.

Enter Google Product Listing Ads.

Comparison Shopping Engine Product Advertising

One of the most effective ways to market products during Q4 is to advertise on comparison shopping engines. With consumers flocking online to make their holiday purchases, the increased traffic is driven to sites like Nextag, PriceGrabber, Shopzilla, and These are paid price comparison websites, meaning retailers pay the popular shopping sites a cost per click (CPC) bid for every click through to their own store.

The increase in traffic during Q4 greatly benefits both retailers and comparison shopping engines alike, but in the course of just 1 year, Google Product Listing Ads has cast a very large shadow over this process. Since transitioning to a paid model in May 2012, Google Product Listing Ads have become the absolute superstar for product advertising. RELATED CLASS: Google Shopping: Strategies and Best Practices for Success

Google Product Listing Ads Performance Data

Also known as Google Shopping or Google PLAs, Google Product Listing Ads’ performance is well-documented in CPC Strategy’s The Comparison Shopping Report. During last year’s holiday shopping season (Q4 2012), Google Product Listing Ads:

  • Drove 61% more traffic than 2nd place PriceGrabber
  • Had the lowest cost of sale (COS) with 11%
  • Had the lowest average CPC rate with around $0.31
  • And was also 1st in overall revenue generated

Not surprisingly, Google Product Listing Ads was ranked the #1 comparison shopping engine in overall Q4 performance.

But the data gets more astounding.

Everyone knows Q4 is THE peak performing quarter for sales numbers. That’s why it was so surprising to see that from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013, Google Product Listing Ads generated 82% more traffic and 30% more revenue than it did during the holiday shopping season. Additionally, Google Product Listing Ad conversion rates increased from 2.4% to 3.30%.

And the growth only continues into Q2 2013. Google’s paid CSE grew 40% in traffic and 66% in revenue generated from Q1 2013. Conversion rates also increased from 3.30% t0 3.41%. Below is Google Product Listing Ads’ Q2 2013 traffic stacked up against the rest of major comparison shopping engines.

Google PLA’s steady, fast rate of growth combined with the traffic-heavy (and growing) holiday shopping season makes it a ridiculously capable marketing channel. So, yeah, Google Product Listing Ads is poised for some big things this Q4 2013.

Google Product Listing Ads Best Practices

For this Q4 2013, it’s important to revamp your Google Product List Ads strategy a bit to compensate for the increased traffic and competition. You should be familiar with general Google PLA best practices, but here are a few quick ones for Q4 2013:

  • Bidding: An aggressive bid strategy is key here. It’s most important that you aggressively bid higher on your top-performing products. Consequentially, you need to raise your ad spend budget for q4 to compensate for your increased bids. You need to put more money out on the table if you hope to cash in big. Also be sure to bid up on seasonal products (items usually given as presents, winter apparel, Halloween products, Christmas-related products, etc.)
  • Free Shipping:  If you don’t already, figure out a way to offer free shipping even if it’s just for the holiday season. Google Product Listing Ads makes it very easy to filter by shipping, which is an extremely common practice for online shoppers. As always, make sure your fulfillment department is ready to handle the natural increase in orders.
  • Feed: The last thing you want is for your PLA campaign to stall because of a faulty feed. There are a couple reasons why this can happen: you have included restricted products in your feed, or your feed isn’t formatted correctly. Google Merchant Account suspensions can be fatal, so familiarize yourself on how you can overcome these.  Also, be sure to include as much relevant content in your feeds as possible to account for long-tail, specific queries (which are common during holiday season shopping).

Oh, and if you didn’t get the point yet, you should really consider getting started with Google Product Listing Ads.

Learn how to drive more ecommerce transactions with Google Product Listing Ads.

Watch Google Shopping Overview: Strategies and Tactics for Successand start leveraging Google Product Listing Ads (part of Google Shopping) to drive more transactions today. You'll see how to integrate Google Product Listing Ads into your current search strategy, and get expert tips for optimizing your PPC spend. Activate trial now.


How to Use the New Google Offer Extensions in AdWords


Google Offer Extensions, AdWords' latest new advertising extensions, is now being rolled out to all AdWords advertisers and can be found under the “extensions” tab. The new feature merges discount deals with search ads—exciting!

Offer Extensions enables AdWords advertisers to post a rebate, coupon, or discount to their regular Google search ads. Here’s a peek at what they look like:

Google Offer Extensions

Clicking the offer will take users to a landing page, detailing the logistics of the offer and how to use it. From there, users can print out the offer or can save it for later by saving it to the My Offers section of Google Offers.

There are plenty incentives for this new ad extension – it lets advertisers easily enter the ever-popular deal space without contending with Groupon and Living Social-esk sites.

Offer Extensions also mean more search ad real estate, broadcasting discounts that are likely to bring in better click-through-rates, although the cost-per-click will be the same as it would be for a regular ad.

Setting Up Offer Extensions

AdWords Offer Extensions can be created at the campaign level or ad group level, and are fairly simple to set up. You’ll need to start first with an “enhanced campaign.” Once the campaign is created, click Ad Extensions à  Offer Extensions, and then “Create New Extension”.

From there you fill in the details concerning the redemption dates, the offer headline, redemption details, etc. Make sure to follow best practices to get the most out of your Offer Extension.

The offers won’t show up in every SERP – only when an ad already appears in one of the top three ad positions, and only if Google think the offer is relevant to a searcher’s query.

What Does Offer Extensions Really Mean?

Offer Extensions cuts advertisers a pretty sweet deal for a number of reasons:

  • Advertisers can post “deals” without going through deal sites and using the familiar AdWords landscape.
  • Extra Google Search ad space that has the potential to stand out and be more clickable than regular text ads.
  • Online activity can now affect offline activity – a simple Google ad offer can drive business to a physical brick and mortar store.

Is This the End of Groupon?

Could AdWords ad extensions spell out the end for Groupon? Sites like Groupon and Living Social post business deals on their site, relying on their name to bring in potential customers. However, Google Offer Extensions does one better, matching an advertisers’ offer with relevant users who are ready to make a purchase, increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

Groupon is known as being a difficult group to work with – they are known for taking a big cut of deal profits, and often deal sites bring in one-time users who are just looking for a good bargain. Google Offer Extensions only shows discount offers to users who already are interested in what you are selling, therefore bypassing the frugal rebate wranglers who are just looking for a deal.

Advertisers should keep their eyes out for this new ad extension – it could mean big changes for the existing deal space, and offers a lot to AdWords advertisers.

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3 Things You Need To Know About the New AdWords Enhanced Campaigns


If you haven’t heard by now, on February 6th Google announced the new AdWords Enhanced Campaigns, which combines mobile and desktop search in every campaign. This is a major change in the fundamental organization and behavior of AdWords campaigns. From the AdWords blog:

“Enhanced campaigns help you reach people with the right ads, based on their context like location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns.”

While there is intense debate from both sides we’ll focus on how to move forward since Google isn’t going to change its mind. Here are 3 important things you need to know about AdWords Enhanced Campaigns:

1. No More Tablet Targeting

AdWords added tablet targeting in July of 2011.

With Enhanced Campaigns desktop and tablet search will be combined. As Google says, “consumer behaviors on tablets and desktops are becoming very similar.” I know that many PPC managers dislike losing the control and granularity this change entails. However, for basic users this will simplify the experience.

2. New Conversion Types

Conversion tracking is one of the most attractive features of PPC advertising. Knowing exactly which keyword and ad version got the conversion allows advertisers to optimize their ROI. To improve conversion tracking AdWords will be adding a couple of new conversion types directly into AdWords reports:

  • Calls (you can set how long the call must be before counting too)
  • App Downloads

Since many advertisers haven’t yet gone “all in” on mobile advertising, these additional conversion types can help justify spend and demonstrate the effectiveness of mobile PPC.

3. When Will It Happen?

If you’re an early adopter, you can get started right away. I’ve already started seeing a message in AdWords to upgrade to Enhanced Campaigns right away.

If you’re comfortable with the current setup and don’t like change, the news is both good and bad. The good news is that you don’t have to change right now. The bad news is that Google plans to upgrade all campaigns in mid-2013 (probably starting around June and then phasing into all accounts).


As with all big changes there are pros and cons. While many lament the loss of control and transparency, there are many advertisers that will benefit from the simplified campaigns and additional conversion tracking options. What do you think of the changes?

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AdWords Conversion Tracking vs. Google Analytics Goal Completions


adwords goal completionsWondering what's the difference between AdWords conversion tracking and goal completions in Analytics? For starters, they are not reporting the same data, so do not expect the two to match. Because of this, both tracking codes can be on the same page without interfering with one another.

The difference between AdWords Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics Goal Completions

Goals in Analytics count a completion at the exact time a visitor reaches the goal completion URL location. For example: a prospect fills out the lead generation form and is taken to the /thank-you.html page to receive the white paper download – at that moment that action is counted.

This is unlike AdWords conversion tracking which attributes ‘the win’ to the time of the last ad click BEFORE conversion. Meaning a person clicks an ad, bookmarks the landing page, clicks off the site but within 30 days came back to the website via bookmark and filled out the lead generation form – that original click on that ad (even though the success action happened days later), was just attributed as a conversion.

Analytics would have counted that action as a non-paid goal completion since the visitor left the site and their last action BEFORE the conversion was by clicking on the bookmark, which brought them to the landing page, but not from an ad.

Oh, let the data discrepancies begin!

But don’t be deterred. If you understand what each tracking code is reporting you’ll be better suited to use the data to tell two different stories of which paid campaigns or landing pages are best performing.

Goal completions can be attributed to any traffic source, where conversion tracking only counts users if they clicked on an ad from the AdWords account. This means you would need to apply an advanced segment in Google Analytics to separate goal completions attributed to paid traffic from the remaining traffic sources like organic, referral and direct.

Setup goals in Analytics and import them into AdWords if you:

1. Want to track if an event occurred from Google Search paid traffic which does not result in the visitor being directed to a unique thank you page, like:

  • Downloading a file
  • Starting a live chat session
  • Watching a video

2. Want to report on which goal completion URL a visitor ended up on, because you’re not too concerned about what ad copy got that visitor to the site. It’s more important that you know what pages a visitor clicked through, what date they completed the goal, and what form they filled out.

3. Use a template landing page creation tool where Google Analytics is setup to track each landing page for bounce rate and total visits, but you'll also need to report on the conversion rate percentage per landing page. Since AdWords conversion tracking attributes the conversion to the ad that was clicked on, you'll want goals setup in Analytics and imported into Adwords to be able to track how many people visited the landing page and converted.

Conversion tracking is configured within AdWords and is useful when you need to track:

1. Whether this ad led to this sale on my ecommerce website, and because each sale is important, I want to know if that one ad may have possibly resulted in multiple purchases (many-per-click conv.). Analytics would count each purchase separately.

2. How many people clicked on my ad and then at some point within 30 days filled out a form. It doesn’t matter when someone completed the form to receive more information; I just need to know which ad campaign got them there.

3. Sales within an ecommerce platform which do not have a clearly defined ‘thank you’ success URL like /receipt.html, but instead creates a dynamic purchase confirmation page unique to every customer that buys from the website.

The biggest difference is to remember that you will not be able to track Analytics conversion rate percentages based on AdWords clicks or ad spend if you do not import your goals into AdWords. The goal completions would be measured based on URL paths setup in GA, and AdWords conversions would be contained with the AdWords platform and report actions solely completed by paid traffic.

The above were just a few of the scenarios where you'd want to configure one tracking method over another, and of course you can set up both and pull the numbers from each to tell their different stories if needed. In the comments below, share what you’re using the different data sets to say about your site visitors’ engagement rates.


4 PPC Tips for B2B Marketing


There are some major differences to keep in mind when running a PPC campaign for as part of your B2B digital marketing plan. Although the features and capabilities of AdWords is the same across all PPC campaigns, regardless of products or services, it’s how you use them that will determine the effectiveness of your campaigns.

1. Set Clear Conversion Goals

For starters, understand what goals or conversions are useful for tracking. If someone isn't likely to go and purchase a $25,000 enterprise solution from an e-commerce site, then don’t optimize for that conversion. Instead optimize for the “Request More Info” form or other key pages or touch points, like a good old fashioned phone call (using a unique phone number you can track).

2. Create Ads for Each Stage of the Sales Cycle

Second, understand the lifecycle of your products or services and at what point your ads are shown in that lifecycle. For most B2B services, the lifecycle is rather long – anywhere from three months to a year depending on the cost and research going into finding a solution. Chances are if your ad is shown based on a search term it means they’re in research mode.

3. Segment by Audience

Third, figure out who is searching for your products or services. Is it board directors? Highly technical people? Key decision makers? Certain industry leaders? From there, determine the best way to reach those people. It might mean exploring the display network but it will definitely mean adjusting the keywords you use and bid on.

4. Bid on Industry Terms

This leads me to my fourth tip: Adjust your PPC keywords to better reflect the B2B industry terms. For instance, I’ve found that using variations of keywords that include “industrial”, “enterprise”, and “professional” (and using them in the ad copy) helps to distinguish that your products are meant for the B2B market and not the everyday consumer.

A few other keyword tips include:

  • Actively use the search query report (found on the keywords tab, then under Keyword details) to find additional keywords. Google does a great job at showing your ads to searches it deems as relevant. In some cases you’ll find that Google may be showing your ad for a term you completely missed, and the interface allows you to easily add it.


  • At the same time, use the same search query report to determine negative keywords. Examples of negative keywords might include similar-named but irrelevant products or brands, consumer focused terms, events in the news, etc.
  • Make sure to narrow down the keyword lists to very specific, highly relevant terms. Start by setting the keywords to phrase match or exact match. Broad matched will likely gather a lot of irrelevant search terms.
  • Consider day-parting to conserve budget. Limiting the your ad exposure on the weekends increases the available budget during the week (when most B2B industries are actively researching products online), but be sure to review your Analytics data before you decide to shut anything off.

Just like with any PPC campaign, be sure to optimize and refine every few days to ensure your campaigns are performing properly. Remember, with a long sales-cycle typical of B2B companies, the return on investment from PPC might not be seen for a few months.

Ready to learn more about PPC campaign management? Enroll in OMI's elearning center and watch on-demand classes like: The Business Case for PPC


What are Google Adwords Shared Budgets?


It can get overwhelming to manage multiple budgets across many campaigns. This is especially true when certain campaigns always hit their daily budget and others don’t. Factor in news events or promotions and that can drive up search results. Sometimes the day of the week will make an impact and you’ll find yourself rearranging each campaigns budget on a daily basis. The good news is Google Adwords just recently announced a new option for managing budgets like this called Shared Budgets.

Shared Budgets allows you to automatically move leftover budget to campaigns that are near their daily limit. If you identify which campaigns usually near their daily limit, you can opt them into the Shared Budget option found under "Shared Libraries".

This is a great option if, for example, your Remarketing campaign hits its daily budget consistently on the weekends. By implementing the Shared Budget option and identifying other campaigns that the Shared Budget can take from, you’ll eliminate the likelihood of your campaigns going dark for a few hours each night.


Google Sitelinks – Time To Review


Last week, Google announced they are going to begin more strictly enforcing their sitelink policy that each link must go to a unique landing page or destination URL. Now you may be thinking what is a sitelink and why do I care?  Sitelinks are part of the pay-per-click ad to allow searches to find specific content on your site. Below is an example from Zappos for a search for “Women’s Shoes,” and below the traditional text ad are 4 sitelinks to help the searcher further refine what additional options Zappos has. Zappos has added these four options through their Adwords account most likely because they are top categories of women’s shoes.

Why use sitelinks? They help increase the options a searcher has to come to your site. Suppose I was searching a generic term like women’s shoes but I really was looking for flats. By having the site link for flats I could go specifically to the content I wanted right away, and therefor be less likely to drop off the site before making a purchase. Also, by making your ad bigger you take up more real estate on the page and stand out more to searchers as they decide which ad or organic listing to click on.

Google’s Updated Policy:
If you currently use sitelinks it’s time to review your sitelinks and make sure they are going to the unique destination URLs. If you’re thinking about adding them to your campaign keep in mind that they need to go to unique destination URLs.


Google Product Listings – Will Your Company Join?


Recently Google shifted its shopping search to a pay-for-play model by introducing Google Product Listings. Companies that sold products online used to have shopping ads appear for free in search results by simply having a Google Merchant Center account with a product feed.  With this new change the listings below in the right hand column are now CPC ads and companies must build out a Google Adwords campaign to show to up in this section.

As you can see below in a search for a sleeper sofa you can see 8 companies have added product listings for this specific sofa to their PPC campaign. Some companies, most notably Amazon, have opted not to pay for these listings, but in my experience the CPC is lower and the ROI has been higher than standard text ads shown here on the left.

Product Listing Highlights

  • You must have a merchant center account and Adwords account to run these ads and have them linked together
  • The cost per click is fairly low due to lower competition for these ads, but this may change as more companies get on board with running these
  • While traffic to these ads are fairly low the conversion rate for the product listing ads is fairly high

As with all new paid search options I always think a test it worth the effort. In my experience these product listings have not increased traffic dramatically but in terms of ROI and driving ecommerce these new listings have performed very well for my clients and are well worth the small expense.


AdCenter: PPC’s (not so evil) Step-Sibling


Microsoft AdCenterWhen talking about PPC, it’s not uncommon to constantly reference Google, AdWords, Google Places, Google Analytics, etc. - you get the idea. After all, they’re the big players in the PPC industry and have continually been a successful source for client’s PPC efforts. As a result, search marketers generally recommend starting with PPC campaigns in Google and gaining momentum before eventually launching into MSN. When taking the leap from Google exclusive PPC campaigns to MSN campaigns there are a few things to keep in mind.

Before shifting all your eggs into the other basket, start with duplicating your top campaigns from Google into AdCenter. AdCenter actually provides one-click upload capabilities for such a task. Download your top campaigns from Adwords Editor and upload that exact file to your account.

Speaking of bulk upload tools, AdCenter also has a version of Adwords Editor allowing for fast, bulk optimizations or campaign builds. If you decide to run campaigns on MSN I highly suggest downloading the Microsoft AdCenter desktop tool.

Not all features in Google are available in MSN. And if they are, it’s safe to say that you won’t be able to implement it yourself. It will require the use of an MSN or AdCenter support person. Take for instance Remarketing in Google. Often times, Remarketing is the top performing campaign in Google. In order to get the AdCenter equivalent (called Remessaging) you’ll need to work with the help center in order to get it activated in your account whereas Google you can experiment and set it up yourself. Remessaging also requires a minimum spend.

UTM codes will save you in AdCenter. Because AdCenter isn’t a Google product, it isn’t fully integrated into Analytics the way your Google Adwords campaigns are. Meaning if you want to attribute any sort of goal, lead, or sale back to an MSN campaign, you’ll have to tag the campaign’s landing pages with a UTM code that labels it ‘MSN’ or ‘AdCenter’ or whatever label you want to use to distinguish it. Yes, the AdCenter interface includes conversion tracking by adding a small piece of code on specific pages, but in my experience, it’s easier to see all leads in one place like Analytics and report from there.

The resulting traffic from AdCenter will vary. Bing and Google are used by very different users. Historically, a majority of MSN/Bing users skew older. Keep that in mind when looking at results and bear in mind your product or services.

For the most part, many of the Google best practices and tricks of the trade can be applied to AdCenter. Daily optimizations like bid management and ad copy refresh should be performed on a regular basis just like you would with any other PPC campaign. Moving forward, we’ll likely see AdCenter take larger strides at making the user interface more manageable and more efforts with customer service to increase user satisfaction with MSN/Bing products.