Searching Beyond the Paid

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Funny AdSense Ad Of The Day

I was reading my Gmail today when this short and sweet ad caught my eye:

I was intrigued by the ad copy, but even more so by the display URL: Say it out loud. ORK ORK!

I should send this to Bob & Tom.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Google Revises Adwords Trademark Policy

Well hallelujah and the saints be praised - Google has finally come to their senses and modified their Adwords trademark policy to allow the use of trademarked terms in ad copy. It's about flippin' time!

I've written about this a couple times, most recently just over a month ago. This trademark thing has bordered on the ridiculous many times, as anecdotes about people not being able to use the words "target" or "daddy" or "next" or other common terms abounded on forums, blogs, and Twitter. Now all that silliness has been laid to rest. From the Inside Adwords blog post:

Imagine opening your Sunday paper and seeing ads from a large supermarket chain that didn't list actual products for sale; instead, they simply listed the categories of products available - offers like "Buy discount cola" and "Snacks on sale." The ads wouldn't be useful since you wouldn't know what products are actually being offered. For many categories of advertisers, this is the problem they have faced on Google for some time.

Hey, that sounds familiar. In my post Trademark Trials and Tribulations, I wrote (emphasis added):
What I don't understand is why this is such a big deal in the search space. I mean, can you imagine JCPenney running a newspaper ad for Levi's or Carter's or Samsonite or any of the hundreds of other brands they carry in their stores - without using those names in the ad?? How silly would that look? And how many people would be compelled to shop for "great brand name jeans" or "cute brand baby clothes" or "super durable luggage" after seeing such an ad? Where would all the grocery store circulars be without using brand names and logos? What about TV ads for just about anything? What about magazine ads??

I won't go after Google for paraphrasing me. I'm just glad they've finally seen the light and modified their policy - it's long overdue.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Google Conversion Optimizer Observations

Back at SES Chicago in December, I heard a lot of good things about Google's Conversion Optimizer, which (in a nutshell) allows you to set a desired cost per action instead of cost per click on your PPC campaigns. You only pay for conversions (not clicks), and theoretically, Google's algorithm adjusts your ad serving in order to show the ad at times when it's most likely to convert. Sounds great, right? Why aren't we all using it, then?

Well, I tried it a few months ago on a client campaign that wasn't converting as well as I thought it could. To me, this is the ideal campaign for Optimizer. However, it totally bombed. Campaign trafffic dropped to next to nothing, and we got 0 conversions - that's right, 0 - in over a week of testing. I canceled the test and decided Optimizer was flawed.

But I've been mulling it over in my head ever since. That particular client had a limited PPC budget which was well below the available search volume on their keywords. And the recommended cost per conversion that Optimizer suggested was about double what their daily budget was! I had to set the cost/conversion at their daily budget limit, which severely limited Google's ability to generate conversions & traffic. I suspected this was the fly in the ointment.

So, last week I decided to try again with a different client. This client has been doing PPC for years, and they get very high conversions (both volume-wise and conversion %-wise) because their goal is lead generation (email signup). But there was one campaign that I thought could do better. So I decided to try Optimizer again.

It's only been a week, so the jury is still out, but early results are promising. Here are some early observations:
  • The campaign is getting higher impressions, clicks, and CTR with Optimizer.
  • Average ad position is slightly higher (but only very slightly).
  • Conversion rate is 10% worse with Optimizer, and cost per conversion is 22% higher.
I know, you're thinking "Cost per conversion is 22% higher? Stop the test!" That's what I thought, too. But there's a caveat. The client drastically reduced their budget for this campaign earlier this week (a planned reduction). The lower budget has been in effect for 2 full days. (Yes, I know my test is now skewed. Keep reading...) Observations over those 2 days:
  • At the lower budget level, CTR and conversion rate are nearly double what they were at the higher budget level.
  • Cost per conversion is about half what it was at the higher budget.
Of course it's too early to draw any real conclusions, but what I suspect is going on is that now that the budget is lower, Optimizer is forcing ad serving on only the best-quality searches. Impression volume is about 1/6 of what it was before, but I don't care about that. I care about conversions.

  • Optimizer seems to work best for campaigns with lots of conversions (i.e. way above the 30 per month minimum required to use Optimizer) and a decent conversion rate (i.e. 10% or better).
  • If your budget is enough to max out impressions & clicks, you may not get as favorable a cost/conversion with Optimizer as you do with a more limited budget. However...
  • If your budget is too restrictive (i.e. impression share less than 50%) and your conversion rate is low, Optimizer is unlikely to work well for you.
I'll be running the test for another week or so to see if these observations hold true. I'd love to hear other observations about Optimizer - post them in the comments!