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3 Easy steps to complete your annual PPC checkup

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The crazed dash to wrap up 2019 and close the books on a banner year for PPC may have left search marketers feeling wiped out right about now. Buck up, search marketers! 2020 is here and those who want to dominate search marketing need to start the year on the healthiest footing possible.

Great planning and powerhouse strategies require deep analysis of what has been working and what hasn’t. You need to identify early signs of problems, know where opportunities exist, and be even more crisp at keeping key stakeholders posted about how your hard work is ensuring the overall health of their campaigns. Sounds a bit like an annual checkup at the doctor!

2020 promises to be another year of change for the tech and data we rely on daily, so our team has developed a health plan for your paid search programs — a 2020 checkup that can put your programs on the right trajectory from day one.

From checkup to preventive care to reporting, with the right technology, it may be easier than you think to make your PPC account the healthiest it’s ever been.

The Account Checkup: Assess your overall changes in health

The first thing a doctor does before developing a plan for your physical health is order a full health assessment. This can be tedious in PPC if done manually, but tools can make the process virtually painless.

Optmyzr has a powerful one-click annual report to review last year’s account health. For those who have been using Optmyzr reports for a while, the assessments run quite deep with a variety of unique data visualizations in addition to all the standard PPC reporting widgets one would expect.

While the one-click annual report for 2019 in review is a great first step, PPC pros will want to take advantage of multi-account reporting capabilities that tap into the data across all accounts and campaigns to provide a flexible view into the most critical data about all PPC programs. Of course, good PPC pros excel at ongoing reporting for clients at regular intervals, whether daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. Great PPC pros, however, use the transition to a new year to do a more full-blown assessment for their own well being.

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What can the annual one-click report tell us? More than you might think.

Start with year-over-year data. Compare how 2019 overall stacked up against 2018. This full-year view can unearth a lot about subtle trends, cyclical activities by client, slow erosions across critical metrics, and much more.

For PPC agencies, the full-year report may help identify aggregate changes by industry, efficiency gains or gaps in how clients are managed, performance comparisons across Google, Bing, Facebook, and Amazon, or a wide range of other views into the overall health of the business.

Here’s a prime example.

In this screenshot from an Optmyzr report, one can see that conversions went up despite a decrease in clicks. This points to a more targeted ad buy in 2019 compared to the year before.

As with your personal physician, the longer you keep seeing a great doctor and follow her advice for getting healthier, the more you’ll see improvements to your overall health. The same holds true for Optmyzr. The longer you drive your PPC programs through our tool, the better optimized the account will be and the deeper your own insight into your PPC health.

Preventive care: Set benchmarks and track them

Account audits foster exceptional discipline and adherence to plans. Trouble is, fully auditing a wide range of campaigns and programs can appear to be a daunting task. As a result, many PPC pros think of audits as a year-end concept — one of those “must do” items that feels more like drudgery than anything else.

Break that line of thinking and redirect to a productive, strategic cycle in 2020.

Auditing accounts is much easier than you may think. In fact, auditing should be viewed as part of the ongoing practice of running accounts across all clients. The Optmyzr Audit tool can serve as the year-round guardian for search marketers, uncovering mistakes, anomalies, and other issues long before they become big problems.

The PPC Policy & Audits tool makes it easy to set up repeatable audit reports that scour your portfolio of projects. It automates analysis of critical structural elements and overall campaign metrics at a much deeper level. Use the tool to uncover structural problems earlier, such as not having sufficient ad variations in ad groups, repeating the same headline too often, using the wrong attribution models, or finding which ad extensions are being used inconsistently across campaigns.

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If you’d like to see a sample audit for an account you manage, you can try the tool for free here: https://tools.optmyzr.com/free/signup

The following example underscores the value of regular auditing.

This screenshot shows a detail from an Optmyzr audit and policy report and points to a possible issue with geo targeting where some campaigns are targeted overly broadly.

The more frequent audits are done, the faster you and your team can redirect and solve problems. Far too often, PPC pros find themselves in Q4 thinking “I wish we knew about that back in Q1.”

Audits are the key to effective preventative care and maintenance throughout the year.

Reporting: Surface the data and metrics that improve your life

When you meet with your physician throughout the year, they keep the critical data points close at hand. Having the complete picture of health is essential, including a view into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Think of this framework for how you structure reporting throughout the year. Avoid the temptation to only report on the things that make you look good. If a physician only reports back to a patient that they have lost weight while ignoring dangerously high blood pressure, they do their patient a gross disservice.

In PPC, holistic reporting is essential for long-term success and growth. Critical metrics on a single dashboard with capability to maneuver within the data for cause-effect relationships can build trust with clients and empower the PPC practitioner to become much more strategic and a value-add in the marketing mix.

Optmyzr Campaign Reports include data insight visualizations that go beyond numbers in spreadsheets. They illustrate trends and knowledge through trend charts, geo heatmaps, hour-of-week performance, Quality Score tracking, and word clouds — just to name a few.

The n-grams word cloud from Optmyzr is a data insight that uses a visualization that helps advertisers more quickly understand the data from a table, like which word pairs are getting the most clicks (the biggest terms) and which ones are best at driving low CPA conversions (the most lightly shaded terms)

Powerful reporting uses easy to understand visuals that use commonly understood terms rather than industry jargon to help clients and internal stakeholders see the full picture (literally) and keep everyone on the same page. PPC pros become higher value strategists, with the ability to author defensible strategic recommendations based on data and insights that everyone can better understand. Powerful reporting then allows that same PPC pro to prove or defend their strategic decisions.

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An apple a day…

The old adage about apples being the key to good health may seem like something Grandma would say, but it holds very true in many areas of life. Take that same concept to the world of PPC for unprecedented foresight in 2020. Start early with the one-click report for your full health checkup looking back at 2019 and even earlier. Get yourself on a preventative care regimen with tracking and auditing that keeps you in-the-know about PPC health much faster than in years past. Then set up essential reporting that illustrates critical information in an easy-to-use format.

Optmyzr has invested heavily in tools that promote great PPC health. They are designed to be easy and fast to set up and use. The end result can yield exceptional results and keep you several steps ahead of problems that, if left unchecked, could be devastating.

Healthier PPC living in 2020 with Optmyzr. Check out how easy it is with a free trial, or talk with one of our reps. We want to make this year your healthiest and most prosperous one yet.

About The Author

Optmyzr’s PPC management platform provides intelligent optimization suggestions that help advertisers across the world manage their online advertising more effectively. Optmyzr connects with AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Google Analytics, Google Merchant Center and Google Sheets. The company was founded by former Google AdWords executives. The Optmyzr PPC suite includes over 20 tools to improve Quality Score, manage bids, find new keywords, A/B test ads, build new campaigns, manage placements, automate budgets, and automate reports. Optmyzr’s excellence in PPC management software was recognized at the 2015 US Search Awards and the 2017 MENA Search Awards.

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Ad Fraud Warnings to Look Out for in 2022

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Ad Fraud Warnings to Look Out for in 2022


Advertisers spend $455 billion in online advertising per year and $42 billion of it lost due to ad fraud in 2019, according to Juniper Research. In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported that 28% of all web traffic likely comes from “non-human” bots.

Why hasn’t ad fraud been stopped yet? 

In short, it’s still difficult to detect. 

Fraudsters are using far more sophisticated techniques today than in the earlier days of the web and a single advertiser can run millions of ad impressions across hundreds of websites, making it extremely difficult to spot irregularities at such a large scale. 

It’s not a secret that ad fraud remains a major problem. But are advertisers aware of it and, if so, are they doing anything about it?

Fraud Blocker, a click fraud protection software, sent out a survey to PPC marketers to help answer some of these questions as they plan for their 2022 campaigns.

What is ad fraud?

Ad fraud is a means to defraud advertisers by using techniques that inflate the total number of ad clicks or views for financial gain. 

With click fraud, malicious actors can employ robots or low-wage workers to repeatedly click on ads illegally. Unaware of the fraud, advertisers then pay for the clicks as if they were real humans with actual buyer intent.

Another type of ad fraud, impression fraud, is often done by serving ads in places that are invisible to the human eye. This can be done by stacking ads on top of one another, loading them in tiny iframes, or serving them in the background of a mobile application.

Here are a few of the most common types of ad fraud today: 

  • Ad Stacking: Multiple ads are stacked on top of one another where only the top ad is visible, however advertisers are charged for the non-viewable ads.
  • Pixel Stuffing: A malicious publisher loads ads, or an entire website, inside a 1×1 pixel. The ads are non-visible to the human eye.
  • Click Farms: Attackers hire a group of individuals whose job it is simply to click on ads throughout the day. Click farms use techniques that give the impression that each click is from a different user and device.
  • Click Bots: One of the most popular methods of click fraud is done by web robots. These bots can be simple programs that click on ads repeatedly or they can be large operations that are installed with malware on user’s devices and click on ads unknowingly in the background.
  • Location Fraud: The geographic location of ads are spoofed using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This makes ads appear to be shown in a more desirable location, such as in the US, despite actually being shown in a less desirable country.
  • Video Viewing Fraud: The popularity of video channels can be easily faked to appear more appealing to advertisers, much like social media followers. Advertisers ultimately end up paying based on the view counts which a large portion of may not be from real humans. 
  • Affiliate Ad Fraud: Fraudsters manipulate the cookies on a user’s device to wrongly credit an associated affiliate as the source of purchase without the user’s knowledge.
  • Source Spoofing: The data detailing where an advertisement ran is altered to appear as a more trustworthy publisher or mobile app. 
  • Domain Spoofing: The domain name is changed to falsely appear as if the ad came from a more premium site, such as changing from junknewssite.com to WSJ.com.
See also  3 Connections Between Paid Search and CRO

Visit here for more details on the different types of ad fraud.

Ad fraud still remains a large concern for advertisers

In the new survey, PPC managers were asked about their awareness of ad fraud, their overall level of concern and, what role in marketing they held to see if there was any correlation. 

The vast majority of all respondents, 70%, stated they were somewhat or very concerned about ad fraud. 

The survey also showed that more experienced marketers had a larger concern about fraud. These particular respondents may be able to identify fraud more frequently due to their dedicated marketing and analytics experience relative to more general business owners and consultants.

Ad fraud continues to significantly impact campaign performance

All respondents to the survey had direct experience managing PPC ad campaigns and most of them reported seeing a large amount of fraud. 

74% of those respondents experienced more than five percent of fraud in their ad campaigns and an incredible 11% of marketers experienced greater than 25% of fraud. Even a small amount of fraud can have a tremendous impact on an advertiser’s budget and performance.

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The types of ad fraud, and their marketing channels, still vary wildly

Historically, click bots were often the most commonly mentioned type of fraud, but today the survey shows “ad stacking” and fraudulent URL sources as the most common problems for PPC managers. 

Click bots and “pixel stuffing” were the third and fourth most commonly mentioned and over 10% stated that competitors clicking their ads was a major problem for them.

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The respondents also experienced fraud across every channel in nearly the same amount. Even newer technologies, such as over-the-top streaming TV (OTT), reported sizable issues of ad fraud. This could be due to it having less mature ad tech that creates a greater potential for exploits. 

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Experienced marketers use third-party software to help prevent fraud 

Eliminating ad fraud entirely can be very difficult, but advertisers can rely on a few techniques to help save their budgets and improve their performance.

See also  Amazon Advertising is now TAG certified

The first is to simply follow best practices to help identify bots, such as adding a “honey pot” to lead forms, or by frequently monitoring data from clicks, views, and leads to find irregularities and then adjusting advertising campaigns accordingly. However, these require experienced marketers to be able to identify the bad data and it can be labor-intensive to frequently monitor and take action. 

Another option is to rely on anti-fraud services provided by ad networks, such as Google Ads. This can be effective; however, there is often a conflict of interest the ad networks generate revenue from each click or impression regardless if it’s fraudulent. Reducing their fraud clicks thus reduces their revenue. Some ad networks also provide very little transparency of invalid activity in their reports and then the burden can be up to the advertiser to request reimbursements if fraud is discovered. 

Some ad networks, such as Google Ads, provide “invalid clicks” in their campaign reports for advertisers, but one man sued Google after allegedly discovering his invalid clicks were far greater than what the Google reports were showing. 

When the survey respondents were asked if they believed Google Ads blocked click fraud, only half of the respondents, 49%, believed Google did. This should be a major consideration for advertising in 2022.

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The final option is to use a dedicated, independent ad fraud detection software. There are several players on the market that can help advertisers detect, block fraud in real-time and the survey showed that about 50% of advertisers use these services, or have considered using one.  

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Overall, the results of this survey indicate the prevalence of fraud in advertising campaigns today is still very high. As marketers plan for 2022 they should consider taking action against this fraud to improve their ad performance and extend their ad budgets.

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Methodology

The Fraud Blocker survey was conducted by Pollfish and concluded on December 1, 2021. It was sent to a randomized group of PPC marketers and media buyers in the US and UK who purchased digital advertising in the prior 24 months. 200 respondents completed the survey. Pollfish is a leading survey company with a pool of over 480 million mobile audience members worldwide that participate in their surveys.





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Use Customer Lifetime Value to Find More Clients

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Use Customer Lifetime Value to Find More Clients


With new privacy rules continually changing the landscape of third-party data, brands are increasingly becoming more focused on understanding their current customers in order to make more sophisticated marketing decisions. One approach to this is utilizing customer lifetime value (LTV) to segment your best customers and ultimately find more of them. In this article, we’ll provide a brief outline of LTV but you’ll want to attend Hero Conf 2022 in Austin, Texas for a more in-depth breakdown with key takeaways.  

What is customer lifetime value?

The lifetime value of a customer, or customer lifetime value (LTV), represents the total amount of money a customer is expected to spend in your business, or on your products, during their lifetime. 

*Note on calculating LTV*

Now to be fair, there are a number of varying ways to calculate LTV going from relatively simple, to complex and complicated. This article will not be focused on evaluating the best approach or even how to calculate LTV.  I do have some preferred tools which I’ll share at Hero Conf- but ultimately finding the best tool that works for your brand is important. 

Large brands like Amazon and Starbucks have documented how their understanding of LTV has influenced their marketing and overall business decisions. Smaller brands who often have limited resources in their pursuit of growth often overlook LTV or don’t truly appreciate how helpful it can be to their overall growth.

Which campaign is performing better?

Take a look at the chart below – at a glance – which campaign appears to be performing better?

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Campaign A Campaign B
Clicks 2,000 2,000
Purchases (Conversions) 1,000 780
Cost/Click (CPC) $5.00 $6.50
Cost $10,000 $13,000
Cost / Acquisition (CPA) $10.00 $16.67

Most digital marketers, including myself, would say campaign A.  More purchases (revenue), lower CPC, and lower CPA. Seems pretty obvious. 

But a question that’s worth asking is – what if campaign B focused on acquiring a better quality customer?  Someone who purchased a higher average amount bought more frequently, and stayed, is a customer of the brand for a longer period of time.  Ultimately, a customer with a higher LTV.  The question of which campaign is performing better looks a lot different when LTV is factored as a metric and could lead to very different marketing approaches.  

Looking beyond CPCs & CPAs

These are conversations that more brands should be having. Looking at CPCs, CPAs and the revenue from the first purchase are all very common KPIs, but they can be misleading and myopic. Factoring in LTV provides a more holistic approach to making marketing and overall business decisions.  

Going a step further, brands that decide to utilize LTV often come across the hurdle of how to efficiently segment their best from worst customers. In the workshop, I’ll share the most effective analysis that we’ve found.  For brands on Shopify, we’ll take it a step further and offer a valuable app that will both help solve LTV and segment your customers as well.  There are a number of apps in the Shopify App Store that can help calculate your LTV and effectively segment your customers for you, but there’s one that we’ve found to be leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.   

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Finally, once you’ve segmented your customers, you now have the ability to supercharge your marketing efforts to find more of your best customers, while also excluding targeting anyone who you believe might be exclusively bargain hunters or cherry pickers.  

Summary

If you’re interested in scaling your brand, you’ll want to attend this workshop.  Understanding LTV and how to find more of your best customers will be an invaluable tool that will help move the needle for your brand in 2022.  Key takeaways will be: 

  • How LTV has shaped the decisions of large brands we all know
  • How LTV provides a more holistic picture of success within paid search
  • How we’ve helped a women’s apparel and homeware brand find more of their ideal customers
  • Tactical insights (including apps/tools) on how to implement an LTV strategy within paid search

Hope to see you there!





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Tips for Optimizing a Localized PPC Account

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Tips for Optimizing a Localized PPC Account


Before jumping into the components of a local PPC account and why it matters, we should first define what constitutes a local PPC account. The basic definition is that it targets customers within a specific region. The strategy for localized PPC specifically involves using local keywords and geotargeting.  One would quickly assume that only brick and mortar businesses like a neighborhood pizza shop, dentist’s office, or boutique retailer would run local campaigns, but that isn’t always the case. Even if you have locations around the world,  you can serve and sell to potential customers virtually, by using a localized approach. 

The Value in Running Localized PPC

As PPC marketers, one of our biggest responsibilities is to optimize campaigns. The term ‘optimize’ may sound like a broad term, but it really represents many tactics. The biggest areas of focus for optimization would likely be to improve the engagement via click-through rate, improve the return on ad spend via sales leads or transactions, and make each dollar in the budget go just a little farther. In national campaigns, it may sometimes be a little bit harder to find pockets of wasted spend, like geographic targets for example, but in local campaigns with a laser focus, inefficiencies are easier to spot and/or avoid. If the budget is tight and you can’t afford to spend money on clicks, you have to optimize toward what works.

How to Optimize for Local PPC

Source: Google Ads Manager user interface

In terms of local PPC, the biggest way to optimize campaigns would be to focus on performance by geographic area. More often than not, when you dig into the data, you’ll find these areas of opportunity. In Google Ads, location reporting provides insights into not 

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only your targeted locations but also your matched locations (where activity has been attributed to). Reviewing these location reports is a great way to discover new pockets of results-driving zip codes or DMAs, which can be leaned into with a positive bid modifier to increase traffic, or conversely, excluded from your campaign altogether if they are wasting budget by not driving conversions. Additional geographic reporting available in Google Ads includes the distance report, which shows how the distance from a location impacts search ad performance.

Here are a few reasons why optimizing for location is so crucial in PPC:

  • Nearly 30% of searches for something in a specific location will result in a purchase (Source: Valve and Meter, via Google).
  • In 2020, 93% of Americans used the Web to find local businesses. (Source: BrightLocal)
  • Almost one-third of all searches made on mobile phones are location-based (Source: The SEM Post).

Source: Crimson Park Digital

There is so much more to local campaigns than just their location settings, however, a huge factor that contributes to performance is intent, via localized keywords. These are phrases that not only include the words “near me,” “local,” or “nearby,” but also zip codes, town names, and other localized signals that show “near me” intent.  

Did you know? 

  • 82% of smartphone users are actively searching for businesses near them (Source: Search Engine Land)
  • 76% of people who search for something nearby on a smartphone will visit a business within one day (Source: Google)
  • Almost 70% of searchers on mobile will call a business using a link from the search (Source: PowerTraffick, via Google).
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Localized searches are not just siloed to mobile, even with such strong mobile statistics,  it really depends on the industry, offerings, business, and how that type of customer behaves by device. Is your business in higher demand when customers are already on the go? Or are your services something that needs extensive research ahead of time, before leaving home? These are questions to ask before dialing up the mobile bid adjustments. 59% of consumers still prefer to search for local information on a desktop versus other smart devices.





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