PPC Ads Series

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This is the first post from PPC Ads squeal. You are about to learn how I think about PPC ads. How you can create them automatically via Excel or PPC Bee and at the end how to effectively test multivariant ad copies against each other and the best way to automate the analysis. All with free tools included.

Why should I click on your ad?

Tvorba inzerátů úzce souvisí s výběrem klíčovách slov a už byste měli dopředu vědět, co je zákazníkova potřeba – v jakých situacích ho chcete reklamou oslovit apod.

Differ or die!

What is really the main reason (USP) why your customers use your services? That is the question you should ask. It needs to be in each of your ad. But it needs to be unique. Have a look at your competitors’ ads in SERP.

TIP: Check the auction insight first. If there are is any competitors domain that is frequently shown with your ad – it is the crucial competitor to differentiate from. Read more in Brad Geddess article.

I share the same approach as uLab presented on PPC Offline. The most important benefits or negatives of your products or service is at price comparison sites or review pages. I prefer to use the internal data from the feedback questionnaire the companies send. Usually, it is loads of individual reviews. To speed up the work, you can split the sentences into phrases of one, two or three words (unigram, bigram, trigram) and check the most frequent term or word. Later use the same wording in your ads. If you are curious how to split the reviews as I did, read the instructions at the end of this post – Open Refine.

Search term/ Search intent v inzerátu

“Every search is a story. Find it.”

Chris Nkurunziza

The ad copywriting is bounded with the keyword selection. You should already know what is the customers’ need how you can help them. However, you need to guess what is the intent behind the search term. And understanding the story is key.

Let me give you an example from the bookstore world. People buy books by searching for the authors and not the book titles. It might be that they want to buy the book, but they simply do not remember the title. Let’s test it.

Ad template “original” contained the author’s name and the client’s USPs. The second version “bestseller” contained also the title of the bestselling book of the author. As you can see bellow by the CTR and the volume impressions – the bestseller version was better (even though the search terms did not contain the title at all.

Improvement of CTR and winning more ad auctions
desktop and Google.com segment only

This is usually the same case with categories. Include the best selling product from a category and people are usually more likely to click and purchase.

‘Usually’ does not mean ‘always’. Test it yourself.

Please, be aware that common recommendations or suggestions may not work in all cases. For example, many Google case studies show that using price, discounts or countdowns in your ads works better. But from most of my analysis in 2018, the ad template with price included always lost.  For example analysis of the Philippines fashion market promoting the lowest price on the market didn’t bring the attention. Out of 5 different ad variants, it had the worse CTR.

Predicted winner had the worst performance in CTR and won least ad auctions

Emotions

Don’t be afraid of using emotions. Your ad doesn’t need to be a list of benefits. You would be surprised how well perform ads spiced up with emotions – a sentence that could be used by any of my competitors. Think of using positive emotions – like an appraisal, using the association group.

Example – Courses that change your High schooler into a college student.

Or using the negative emotions – fear, anger or disgust

Example – 15% of students fail their entrance exams. Are you ready? Check more examples by Helen Edwards in the old WordStream article to get more inspiration. But don’t forget that you should still keep within the brand scope.

Zajímavé příklady o využítí emocí popisuje Helen Edwards v starším článku na WordStream. Hraní s emocemi je limitované stylem komunikace značky, cílovkou a problémem, který váš produkt řeší. Takže než si začnete blbnout s inzeráty, tak se zamyšlete nad tím, pro koho píšete. Nejsem copywriter a o tom, jak psát psát inzeráty a další reklamní texty se dočtete zajímavější věci v jiných článcích.

Goals of your ads

Questions you need to ask yourself before running the ad copies test:

  • What is the objective of this experiment and which metrics will be the core to look at?
  • How many ad templates will I test simultaneously and in one or more ad groups?
  • What is going to be the ad rotation set-up?
  • Should I use ACE (AdWords Campaign Experiments)?

Objectives

The ad copies experiment is just another marketing test that you do. So treat it similarly. Describe what is the test about, what is your hypothesis, which metrics are the core for analysis and timing + results. If you have many ideas, or you are having some brainstorming sessions that generate many hypotheses – write it all down and prioritize with classical ICE score. Check the example bellow:

Keep track of your learnings

I manage some accounts over 3 years already and in it would be impossible for me to remember all experiments or ideas I generated. I am trying to write down every meaningful idea I would love to test and also all experiments I do with the results.

The most common objectives regarding ad testing:

  • Low quality score and I need quickly increase CTR
  • Long-term testing to get better ROAS (+ check not to hurt the quality score)
  • Which selling point resonates the most
  • Create the best brand campaigns – so the CPCs are getting lowering
  • I want to pick the best ad template that could be used for SEO metadata
  • Which ad template brings the most relevant traffic (B2B case)
  • etc.

“If you are using the wrong success metrics in your test then your time and efforts will be wasted.”

Brad Geddes

Metrics

Different objective – different metrics. However, the best is to analyze the ad results among many metrics. Most of the time it is CTR and volume of impressions.

CTR

Pros

  • The fastest way to get reasonable volume for test analysis. The volume of clicks are always more than the conversions
  • It has the biggest impact on Quality score and therefore on Ad Rank as well, which usually correlates to more successful ad auctions and lower CPC

Cons

  • It is at the same time hard to analyze because there are many traps you might fall in. CTR doesn’t only reflects the text itself, but also the ad position, network, and used device.
  • Moreover, CTR affect Ad Rank. The better Ad Rank the more ad auctions are successful and you get an impression. However you can win ad auctions for less relevant search terms (since the search intent is less relevant, the CTR gets lower) So in the end the better ad could have lower CTR when you aggregate all the search terms. But this trap could be overcome with segmenation as I describe in the last post about ad analysis.
  • Better CTR doesn’t mean the same conversion rate. You might just buy more people who are not interested in your product – you should be aware of it especially in B2B segment (check this article to learn more)

Volume of impressions = volume of successful ad auctions

Pros

  • The more impressions = more successful ad auctions

Cons

  • When you test completely new ad with “old” one – ad that has “established” some quality score and Google can expect the CTR. The new ad is in worse position. It needs to prove that it has higher CTR but at the beginning it might lose some ad auctions because Google doesn’t trust it yet.
  • This metrics alse doesn’t say anything about the quality of the traffic. That is ahy Brad Geddes is strongly against this metrics (check his webinar from 2018). The only thing that matters to him is profit.

Conversion rate

Pros

  • It finally reveals the quality of the traffic and business importance

Cons

  • It doesn’t tell you much about CPC and CTR (which might cause drop in quality score)
  • CTR influences many factors, however, it is still nothing compared to converion rate that might be shaped by different factors than ad copy.
  • To overcome this con you need to have a lot of data and it could take some time till you can really tell which ad copy is the best based on business metrics.

PPI: Profit per impression

Brad Geddes really loves this metrics and since his first edition of book Advanced Google AdWords it has become quite popular metrics in the SEM community.) Check the details. But I don’t find it very useful – in theory it works just fine. But have you tried it? You need to have the same volume of impression (ideally from the same network, device and search term)

Pros

  • It is combination of CTR, CR and AOV

Cons

  • You need way more data
  • Since it is an impression-based metric, you can fall in the same trap as with CTR – so segmenting is really important. But that would mean another load of data.

What is wrong with impression based metrics?

The CTR and PPI is based on impressions. However, if the ad is performing better, it wins more ad auctions (even the less relevant ones) and therefore worse CTR and PPI. You can check this post from Bloomarty about why any impression based metric could be misleading.

But is there any solution?

You can create campaign which has only exact match keywords. So theoretically there will be no less relevant search terms that your ad with high ad rank would be featured. However, now when exact match is not that exact anymore it might cause you troubles to keep exact campaigns really in exacts. And if you have bigger accounts it is almost impossible to use so many excluding keywords for each search term that is not in exactly the keyword.

Other metrics

Bounce rate – it oftens reveal “fake” winners in CTR. The easiest check of the traffic quality.

CPC – I do not really use this metrics

Quality score – It would be great to see the quality score of your ad teplates. But for that you would need to have ACE (AdWords Campaign Experiments). I have never used ACE just for ad testing. It is way too time consuming when you can check the CTR in segmented way and estimate the impact on QS anyway.

Simple or multi ad group testing?

Multi-Ad Group testing

You aggregate data from all ad groups and you can find the results faster than test each ad group individually. The main obstackle here is to pick only the “homogenous” ad groups aka don’t compare apples and oranges.

Just specific categories

“Running shoes” and “Adidas running shoes” might sound similar, but that you would be surprised how different are “just” categories compared to categories + brand. It’s not only in the conversion rate but selling points used in ad copy differ as well.

Just product with similar USPs

Discounted products require specific ad templates then the non-discounted. The same applies for products in stocks on in preorder. Therefore I recommend to separate the specific products in PPC Bee ad generator.  

Single Ad Group testing

This is way easier. But you need to wait longer. This strategy pays off only for the most important ad groups that generate the biggest volume.

“5% of Ads Account for 85% of Impressions”

Larry Kim 2018

The very basic is brand campaign. That is something that most of you do, spend a lot of money and the conversion rate is the highest. Why not to boost

How many ad templates should I use?

It depends how different they are. If you want to get more general overview what matters for people who are already searching for your products, you more ad templates. The ad templates could be very different from each other. When you define the hypothesis and your ad copy is clear. You can get some interesting market data. Such as

  • Does matter having location in the ad?
  • Does work having there shipping fee (shipping from X €) – or does it discourage the users
  • Using the benefits I am the strongest or use the benefits and I have same with my competitors – which resonates more?
  • Should I stress quality or quantity?
  • Which CTA should I use? Are the users already ready to buy? (using buy now) or do they need still consider the options (learn more).
  • How strong is my brand – should I have it in the ad or not?

As I said. The more different the ad templates the better. So if you have a chance to change the H2 do it there.

How to track the ad templates?

The best way is to use labels. However, tools like PPC Bee won’t let you add label to the ad. But it allows you to have URL parameter appended to the URL www.exmaple.com/product&ad-template

Watch out if you have auto-tagging enabled. Because this solution might ruin your GA data if you are using manual tagging set-up. Some people use manual tagging for specific campaigns. The set-up is in GA.

But you should be even more cautious, that you are running the ad teste simultaneously. Not one week with ad A and ad B paused and another week with ad A paused and ad B running. The result would be more influenced by the CPC changes, your competition and other factors than the ad text. But I hope this is clear already 🙂

Advanced options with ad testing

Ad customizers

When I need to add price, discount, number of products, etc. the best way is to use Ad customizers. Classical, right. The easier way to import feed to Google ads is through PPC Bee which has this feature for free.

Function IF a COUNTDOWN

The COUNTDOWN, is a must-have for short period promotions. It is also great for events – like courses, conferences etc. You can even use COUNTDOWN within IF function.

The IF function is great when you are serious about your “audience management”. Do you have different target groups with different needs but using the same search queries? Do you have a huge user base and you want to show them different ad copy but you don’t want to duplicate the campaigns.

It could be really time-consuming to create the IF ads. But was it worth it? The evaluation is not that easy. How to measure it?

Device

  • Ad  1: {=IF(device=mobile, Create your bank account without leaving your phone): Bank account with the best interest rate!}
  • Ad  2: Bank account with the best interest rate!}

Take both ads – segment device mobile and compare the performance of Ad 1 and Ad 2.

When it works, you might test 2 different ad copies for mobile devices

  • Ad 1: {=IF(device=mobile, Create your bank account without leaving your phone): Bank account with the best interest rate!}
  • Ad 2: {=IF(device=mobile, Check the new internet banking app): Bank account with the best interest rate!}

Or test just the desktop versions

  • Ad 1: {=IF(device=mobile, Check the new internet banking app): Bank account with the best interest rate}
  • Ad 2: {=IF(device=mobile, Check the new internet banking app): The Bank of the year 2019}

Audiences

Testing different ads for different audiences is more complicated. Stay with the bank. They want to have different ad based on the audience – current users vs. users of another bank

  • Ad 1: {=IF(audience IN (Current Users),Lovely to see you again.):Change your bank and get better interest rate!}
  • Ad 2: Change your bank and get a better interest rate!

However, in the Google Ads is nothing like “audience” segmentation. So you can’t use this method of having 2 ads. What can I do? Have only 1 ad with the audience IF function and compare the performance of the specific audience before and after the ad change. Try to avoid any major changes in the campaigns.

Or if you want to test it simultaneously (to avoid external factors) you might:

Use ACE (AdWords Campaign Experiments) and use the IF ad in half of the cases

Select only half of all the ad groups ad change it there

The good thing is that you can group the performance among selected ad groups already in the Google Ads UI – just select Segment > Group rows by Audience

DKI – Dynamické keyword insertion

Watch out, some PPC specialists believe that DKI adds the search term into the ad, however, it is your predefined keyword that you use in the campaign. So remember DKI means “dynamic keyword insertion” not “dynamic query insertion.”

  • I personally do not use DKI anymore. I have either generated campaigns and ads exactly as I need for each product (either using PPC Bee or Power Query) or I just use DSA campaigns.
  • A usual mistake in DKI is that the keywords are often longer than the left space in the ads and therefore the keywords in the ads are not used at all.

10 rules for PPC ad copies:

  1. Do not use exclamation marks or dots in the headlines. Just don’t.
  2. When you want to use some delimiter use vertical bar (|)
  3. Do not write the headlines (1,2,3) as one sentence (or even worse – do not split any words into 2 headlines). The third headline is featured only in some cases.
  4. Do not use all caps. Google hasn’t specified how many letter in row you could write in capitals until the system disapproves your ads. But the Sklik allows only maximum of 7 letters in capitals.
  5. Watch out for declension (changing the wordform) in ad customizers. This is not really problem with English, but in other languages the declension changes a lot.
  6. Set up 2-3 ad copies already at the beginning when you are creating the ad groups
  7. Do not forget the visible path in the URL
  8. Do not use word like “click here” that directly call the user to click on the ad. Google’s algorithm doesn’t like it.
  9. Your ads should attract only the relevant users. So try to discourage the irrelevant users from click (this matters for B2B advertisers in search terms which might be relevant for both B2C and B2B clients)
  10. Use only the most relevant URL – if you miss the landing page, ask for it and do not make URL from your internal search

How to make unigrams, bigrams and trigrams in Open Refine

The unigram is already in Open Refine under word facet. But how to create bigrams or trigrams?

The first step is to change capital letters to lowercase: Edit cells > Common transforms > To lowercase

From the reviews column create bigrams:

forEachIndex(value.split(" "), i,v,value.split(" ")[i-1] + " " + v).join("¤")

or trigrams forEachIndex(value.split(" "), i, v, value.split(" ")[i-2] + " " + value.split(" ")[i-1] + " " + v).join("¤")

Split the result by delimiter ¤

You got it. You can also cluster the most similar words by using Cluster and edit function

And create text facet to have it sorted 🙂

If you want to learn how to make the most of Open Refine – I must recommend workshop from Filip Podstavec, founder of Marketing Miner.

Now you know what to use in your ads. Let’s create them – The easies is to use PPC Bee which will be described in the following post.

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