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What Is Header Bidding?

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What Is Header Bidding?

The header bidding technology started to develop in 2015, and has since helped many publishers to grow their revenue by as much as 40% (and even, in some cases, to levels of 100% or more.)

What Is Header Bidding?

Header bidding is a cutting-edge technique where publishers offer their ad inventory to many ad exchanges, also called Supply-Side Platforms (or SSPs), simultaneously before making calls to their ad servers.

Here are the steps a publisher needs to pass to have this technology power up its monetization.

  • Apply to SSP partners and get approval.
  • Implement Prebid.JS on website.
  • Configure ad server.
  • Choose a consent management system.
  • Test and debug.

Applying To SSP Partners

There are hundreds of SSP partners available in the list to apply, but I would like to mention what I believe to be the most popular ones:

  • TripleLift.
  • Index Exchange.
  • Amazon UAM/TAM.
  • Xandr (formerly AppNexus).
  • Teads.
  • Pubmatic.
  • Sovrn.
  • Verizon.
  • Magnite (formerly Rubicon).
  • OpenX.
  • Sonobi.
  • GumGum.
  • Sharethrough.
  • Unurly.

One needs to find their online application form and pass through the company’s verification process. For example, in the case of Xandr, the contact page looks like this:

Screenshot from Xandr, December 2022 Xandr tool

Pay attention to the minimum inventory size required to be eligible for applying.

Yes, that is a staggering high of 50M ad impressions a month.

You may need quite an impressive website to be able to apply to some of the ad networks. We will call them further bidders, as they bid on inventory in real time.

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However, not all SSPs have such high thresholds for application. For example, Sharethrough only requires 20M ad impressions.

Besides, they consider also audience quality, traffic geolocation, how much time users spend on the website, etc.

It typically takes a few weeks after applying to be approved and onboarded with them, so it can be a fairly time-consuming process that may even take months to finish.

How Does Prebid.js Work?

In nutshell, here is how Prebid.js works.

When a user opens a webpage, an ad request is made to all bidders (SSP partners).

Bidders respond with their CPM bids – let’s say $1 and $1.50 – and Prebid.js makes a request to the ad server, with the highest CPM targeting. In this case, that would be $1.50.

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At the ad server, in our case, Google Ad Manager, the request is received and it knows that someone is paying $1.50 USD CPM for an ad. It runs another auction with Google Adsense or AdX.

If Google offers a higher CPM, then the Google Ad will be served.

If not, our ad with $1.50 CPM will win, and be served by our SSP partner.

Header Bidding Working SchemeScreenshot from Google Ad Manager, December 2022Header Bidding Working Scheme

The trick here is that auctions happen in real-time, which creates buying pressure on Google AdX to pay the highest CPM possible.

If Google AdX doesn’t have any competition, it will offer the lowest CPM possible –as it wants to buy inventory for the cheapest price possible.

With header bidding, bidders are able to compete and push CPMs (and therefore revenue) up.

There are two ways to implement header bidding:

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  • Client-side: When the auction runs via JavaScript in the browser.
  • Server-side: When the auction is run on the server.

Let’s discuss client-side header bidding.

How To Implement Client-Side Header Bidding

In order to set up header bidding, we need to implement Prebid.js on our website and configure our Google Ad Manager (or ad server).

Implement Prebid.js On Your Website

Prebid.js is a header bidding platform that has more than 200 demand sources integrated.

You need to select the SSP partners you are working with from the customize page and download the library built for your specific configuration.

Don’t forget to select Consent Management modules to comply with GDPR and GPP privacy standards.

Below is the sample code taken from the official documentation.

<html>

    <head>        
        <script async src="https://www.googletagservices.com/tag/js/gpt.js"></script>
        <script async src="https://your-customized-prebid.js"></script>
        <script>
            var div_1_sizes = [
                [300, 250],
                [300, 600]
            ];
            var div_2_sizes = [
                [728, 90],
                [970, 250]
            ];
            var PREBID_TIMEOUT = 1000;
            var FAILSAFE_TIMEOUT = 3000;

            var adUnits = [
                {
                    code: '/19968336/header-bid-tag-0',
                    mediaTypes: {
                        banner: {
                            sizes: div_1_sizes
                        }
                    },
                    bids: [{
                        bidder: 'appnexus',
                        params: {
                            placementId: 13144370
                        }
                    },
                     { 
                      bidder: "conversant",
                       params: {site_id:"122869",secure:1}
                     }
                   ]
                },
                {
                    code: '/19968336/header-bid-tag-1',
                    mediaTypes: {
                        banner: {
                            sizes: div_2_sizes
                        }
                    },
                    bids: [{
                        bidder: 'appnexus',
                        params: {
                            placementId: 13144370
                        }
                    },
                    { 
                     bidder: "conversant",
                     params: {site_id:"122869",secure:1}
                    }
                     ]
                }
            ];
            
            var googletag = googletag || {};
            googletag.cmd = googletag.cmd || [];
            googletag.cmd.push(function() {
                googletag.pubads().disableInitialLoad();
            });

            var pbjs = pbjs || {};
            pbjs.que = pbjs.que || [];

            pbjs.que.push(function() {
                pbjs.addAdUnits(adUnits);
                pbjs.requestBids({
                    bidsBackHandler: initAdserver,
                    timeout: PREBID_TIMEOUT
                });
            });

            function initAdserver() {
                if (pbjs.initAdserverSet) return;
                pbjs.initAdserverSet = true;
                googletag.cmd.push(function() {
                    pbjs.que.push(function() {
                        pbjs.setTargetingForGPTAsync();
                        googletag.pubads().refresh();
                    });
                });
            }
            // in case PBJS doesn't load
            setTimeout(function() {
                initAdserver();
            }, FAILSAFE_TIMEOUT);

            googletag.cmd.push(function() {
                googletag.defineSlot('/19968336/header-bid-tag-0', div_1_sizes, 'div-1').addService(googletag.pubads());
                googletag.pubads().enableSingleRequest();
                googletag.enableServices();
            });
            googletag.cmd.push(function() {
                googletag.defineSlot('/19968336/header-bid-tag-1', div_2_sizes, 'div-2').addService(googletag.pubads());
                googletag.pubads().enableSingleRequest();
                googletag.enableServices();
            });

        </script>

    </head>

    <body>
        <h2>Basic Prebid.js Example</h2>
        <h5>Div-1</h5>
        <div id='div-1'>
            <script type="text/javascript">
                googletag.cmd.push(function() {
                    googletag.display('div-1');
                });

            </script>
        </div>

        <br>

        <h5>Div-2</h5>
        <div id='div-2'>
            <script type="text/javascript">
                googletag.cmd.push(function() {
                    googletag.display('div-2');
                });

            </script>
        </div>

    </body>

</html>

Let’s break down the code above.

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  • The first lines load all required JS files and our customized Prebid.JS file.
  • Ad slots are defined in the adUnits array variable.
  • In the adslot definitions, you can see the SSP partners’ names and IDs you will be given when onboarding when them.
  • googletag.pubads().disableInitialLoad(); is called to disable ad request to be sent to Google Ad Manager until Prebid.js finishes the auction.
  • pbjs.requestBids function calls SSP partners and determines the winner.
  • initAdserver() function is called to send an ad request to the Google Ad Manager with hb_pb key, which contains the winning CPM value, e.g. hb_pb=”1.5″. (This step is connected with setting up Google Ad Manager in the next step.)
  • When Google Ad Manager gets the request with the winning bid, it runs its own auction in Google AdX, and sends back either the AdX ad with a higher CPM, or the ad of the winning SSP.

For your specific case, you may need to code differently and change the setup, but the principle stays the same.

Other than that, I would like to quickly go over how to implement lazy loading, because it is a little different.

How To Implement Lazy Loading

The Google tag for publishers has a lazy loading framework which will not work in the case of header bidding.

This is because you need to run an auction, and determine and set key values before sending a request to the ad server.

Because of that, I would advise using the Intersection Observer API to determine when to load the ad in the HTML <div> tag when it is about to enter into the viewport.

options = {
root: null, // relative to document viewport
rootMargin: '1500px', // margin around root. Values are similar to css property. Unitless values not allowed
threshold: 0 // visible amount of item shown in relation to root
};

your_observer = new IntersectionObserver( observer_handler, options );
your_observer.observe( goog_adslots[i] );

In the observer_handler call back function, you can run the prebid auction and call the ad server.

function observer_handler( entries, observer ) {

dynamicAdUnit =[{
code: 'your_html_div_id',
mediaTypes: {
banner: {
sizes: [728,90]
}
},
bids: [{ bidder: 'appnexus', params: { placementId: 13144370 } }, { bidder: "conversant", params: {site_id:"122869",secure:1} } ]
}];

pbjs.addAdUnits(dynamicAdUnit);

slot = window.googletag.defineSlot('/1055389/header-bid-tag-0', [728,90], 'your_html_div_id' ).addService(googletag.pubads());

lazySlotPrebid(slot, 'your_html_div_id')

}

function lazySlotPrebid(slot, div_id) {

pbjs.que.push(function() {
pbjs.request bids({
timeout: PREBID_TIMEOUT,
adUnitCodes: [div_id],
bidsBackHandler: function() {
pbjs.setTargetingForGPTAsync([div_id]);
googletag.pubads().refresh(slot);

});
});

} 
}// endd of initDynamicSlotPrebid

Now, let’s jump on setting up the ad server using Google Ad Manager.

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How To Set Up GAM For Header Bidding

Ad servers need to have dozens of price priority line items with key hb_pb targeting all possible CPM values, such as hb_pb=0.04, hb_pb=0.03, etc.

hb_pb key valueshb_pb key value targetinghb_pb key values

This is the key point that makes the header bidding engine work.

  • The auction runs in the browser on page load.
  • The winning SSP partner is sent to GAM with a key value targeting hb_pb = 2.62.
  • Since the order has the same CPM value, GAM understands that there is a bid at $2.62.
  • GAM runs an AdX auction and has to pay more than $2.62 in order to win the bid and display a Google Ad.

As I mentioned above, you would need to build line items in GAM with certain granularity, say 0.01 – and for the CPM range $0-$20, you would need to create 2,000 line items, which are impossible to do manually.

For that, you would need to use GAM API.

Unfortunately, there are no solid solutions that you can simply download and run in one click.

It is a somewhat complex task, but thanks to contributors who built API tools (even though they are not actively supporting them), we can still modify it a little and make it work.

Let’s dive into how to set up Google Ad Manager and understand the following:

Step 1: Enable API Access

In the Google Ad manager Global > General settings section, make sure API access is enabled.

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Click on the Add service account button and create a user with the sample name “GAM API USER” and email “[email protected]” with admin rights.

GAM general settingsScreenshot from Google Ad Manager, December 2022GAM general settings

Step 2: Create A New Project

Navigate to Google API Console Credentials page.

From the project drop-down, choose Create a new project, enter a name for the project, and, optionally, edit the provided Project ID.

Click Create.

On the Credentials page, select Create credentials, then select Service account key.

Select New service account, and select JSON.

Click Create to download a file containing a private key.

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Google API Console Credentials pageScreenshot from Google API Console Credentials page, Deccember 2022Google API Console Credentials page

 

Service account detailsScreenshot from Google API Console Credentials page, Deccember 2022Service account details
Fill in the service account details you’ve created above.

Assign the role “owner” and create the service account OAuth2 credentials.

Then, click on the created user and create JSON type key, and download it.

Service account JSON keyScreenshot from Google API Console Credentials page, Deccember 2022Service account JSON key

Step 3: Download Project

Download the project zip file and unzip it, directory (alternatively, you can use the git command tool to clone the repo).

Install composer for your operating system in order to build the project.

Step 4: Change your PHP.INI

Change your php.ini (located at /xampp/php/php.ini ) file and enable “extension=soap” by removing “;” in front of and set “soap.wsdl_cache_ttl=0” and restart Apache from the control panel of XAMPP.

Step 5: Create Subfolders And Build The Project

Once you have everything set up and unzipped, open composer.json file and change “googleads/googleads-php-lib”: “^44.0.0” to use the latest version “googleads/googleads-php-lib”: “^59.0.0”.

Check for the most fresh version at the moment you perform this.

Search and replace in /app/ folder of the project “v201911” with “v202202”, because that git project wasn’t updated since 2019, to use the latest version path of libraries.

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Open the command line of your PC and switch to the directory where you’ve unzipped the files (using cd command or right-click inside the folder “Git bash here” if you have git installed), and run composer update in the PC terminal or git terminal.

It will create subfolders and build the project.

Step 6: Set Up Your Google Ad Manager Credentials

Move the downloaded JSON key “gam-api-54545-0c04qd8fcb.json”  file into the root folder of the project you’ve built.

Next, download adsapi_php.ini file and set up your Google Ad Manager credentials in it.

networkCode = "899899"
applicationName = "My GAM APP"
jsonKeyFilePath = "D:xampphtdocsdfp-prebid-lineitemsgam-api-54545-0c04qd8fcb.json"
scopes = "https://www.googleapis.com/auth/dfp"
impersonatedEmail = "[email protected]"

jsonKeyFilePath is the absolute directory path to the JSON key file in the folder root.

Step 7: Set The Content Of The File

Finally, navigate to the file /script/tests/ConnexionTest.php and set the content of the file like below:

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putenv('HOME='.dirname(__DIR__)."/../");
require __DIR__.'/../../vendor/autoload.php';

$traffickerId = (new AppAdManagerUserManager())->getUserId();

if (is_numeric($traffickerId)) {
echo "n====Connexion OK====nn";
} else {
echo "n===Connexion KO====nn";
}

In your terminal (or git bash console) test the connection by running the command (if you are in the /script/tests/ folder).

php ConnexionTest.php

You should see a message “====Connection OK====”

Step 8: Configure The Parameters

Navigate to the file /script/tests/ConnexionTest.php in your project and open it.

Copy and paste the below code into that file, and configure the parameters in the $entry and $buckets arrays per your needs.

putenv('HOME='.dirname(__DIR__)."/../");
require __DIR__.'/../../vendor/autoload.php';

use AppScriptsHeaderBiddingScript;

$bucket_range = array();
$Your_Advertiser_Name="Sample_Advertiser";
$buckets =
["buckets" =>[
['precision' => 2, 'min' => 0, 'max' => 4.00, 'increment' => 0.01],
['precision' => 2, 'min' => 4.01, 'max' => 8.00, 'increment' => 0.05],
]
];

foreach ( $buckets["buckets"] as $k => $bucket ){

$request_bucket = array( 'buckets' => array( $bucket ) );

$order_name="Your_Order_name ".$bucket['min'].'-'.$bucket['max'];
// echo $order_name.'<br/><br/>';


$entry = [
'priceGranularity' => $request_bucket, // can be 'low', 'med', 'high', 'auto','dense', 'test'
'currency' => 'USD',
//'sizes' => [ [1,1] ,[160, 600], [250, 250], [300, 250], [300, 600], [320, 50], [320, 100], [300, 100], [336, 280], [728, 90], [970, 90], [970, 250]],
'sizes' => [ [250, 250] ],
'orderPrefix' => $Your_Advertiser_Name, //prebid advertiserName
'orderName' => $order_name
];
$script = new HeaderBiddingScript();
$script->createGlobalAdUnits($entry);

}

Optionally you can also specify ‘geoTargetingList’ => “dz, pk, ke, pt” or custom key value targeting customTargeting’ => [‘amp_pages’ => yes’] if you want your header bidding to work only when the custom key value is set.

Run the command below and it will start creating line items per the bucket settings you’ve specified.

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php ConnexionTest.php

There is a tool using Python that is used similarly; you may want to give it a try as well.

Debugging

For debugging, there are a few browser add-ons you can use to see if the auction runs without errors.

Alternatively, open your webpage URL using “/?pbjs_debug=true” parameter at the end of the URL, and watch console logs messages.

You need to make sure that hb_pb key values are passed to Google Ad Manager. Use “/?google_console=1” at the end of the URL to open the GAM console, and click on “Delivery Diagnostics” of each ad unit.

You should see that hb_pb values are set and passed to the ad server.

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GAM Deliver DiagnositcsScreenshot from Google API Console Credentials page, Deccember 2022GAM Deliver Diagnositcs

Choose A Consent Management System

Users’ privacy is one of the most important factors, and you want to make sure that you comply with both GDPR and GPP.

The detailed instructions on how to set up a consent management system in your wrapper are here.

There are many providers which comply with IAB’s latest standards, and here are a few of the most popular ones:

Conclusion

You may find it surprising that setting up header bidding involves so many steps, but it is really worth it to implement. It can easily boost your revenue by +30% or more by creating selling pressure on Google Ads.

This guide is for technically savvy users – but if you have questions and issues, there is an Adops slack channel you may subscribe to and ask questions to the community.

I hope that after reading this article, you will find it easier to set up header bidding and enhance the monetization of your website.

More resources:

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Featured Image: Search Engine Journal

var s_trigger_pixel_load = false;
function s_trigger_pixel(){
if( !s_trigger_pixel_load ){
setTimeout(function(){ striggerEvent( ‘load2’ ); }, 500);
window.removeEventListener(“scroll”, s_trigger_pixel, false );
console.log(‘s_trigger_pixel’);
}
s_trigger_pixel_load = true;
}
window.addEventListener( ‘scroll’, s_trigger_pixel, false);

window.addEventListener( ‘load2’, function() {

if( sopp != ‘yes’ && addtl_consent != ‘1~’ && !ss_u ){

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s)
{if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function(){n.callMethod?
n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)};
if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n;n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version=’2.0′;
n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0;
t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,document,’script’,
‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’);

if( typeof sopp !== “undefined” && sopp === ‘yes’ ){
fbq(‘dataProcessingOptions’, [‘LDU’], 1, 1000);
}else{
fbq(‘dataProcessingOptions’, []);
}

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fbq(‘init’, ‘1321385257908563’);

fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);

fbq(‘trackSingle’, ‘1321385257908563’, ‘ViewContent’, {
content_name: ‘header-bidding’,
content_category: ‘programmatic’
});
}
});

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WordPress Releases A Performance Plugin For “Near-Instant Load Times”

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WordPress speculative loading plugin

WordPress released an official plugin that adds support for a cutting edge technology called speculative loading that can help boost site performance and improve the user experience for site visitors.

Speculative Loading

Rendering means constructing the entire webpage so that it instantly displays (rendering). When your browser downloads the HTML, images, and other resources and puts it together into a webpage, that’s rendering. Prerendering is putting that webpage together (rendering it) in the background.

What this plugin does is to enable the browser to prerender the entire webpage that a user might navigate to next. The plugin does that by anticipating which webpage the user might navigate to based on where they are hovering.

Chrome lists a preference for only prerendering when there is an at least 80% probability of a user navigating to another webpage. The official Chrome support page for prerendering explains:

“Pages should only be prerendered when there is a high probability the page will be loaded by the user. This is why the Chrome address bar prerendering options only happen when there is such a high probability (greater than 80% of the time).

There is also a caveat in that same developer page that prerendering may not happen based on user settings, memory usage and other scenarios (more details below about how analytics handles prerendering).

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The Speculative Loading API solves a problem that previous solutions could not because in the past they were simply prefetching resources like JavaScript and CSS but not actually prerendering the entire webpage.

The official WordPress announcement explains it like this:

Introducing the Speculation Rules API
The Speculation Rules API is a new web API that solves the above problems. It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation. This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them.”

The official WordPress page about this new functionality describes it:

“The Speculation Rules API is a new web API… It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation.

This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them. Also, with the Speculation Rules API, “prerender” actually means to prerender the entire page, including running JavaScript. This can lead to near-instant load times once the user clicks on the link as the page would have most likely already been loaded in its entirety. However that is only one of the possible configurations.”

The new WordPress plugin adds support for the Speculation Rules API. The Mozilla developer pages, a great resource for HTML technical understanding describes it like this:

“The Speculation Rules API is designed to improve performance for future navigations. It targets document URLs rather than specific resource files, and so makes sense for multi-page applications (MPAs) rather than single-page applications (SPAs).

The Speculation Rules API provides an alternative to the widely-available <link rel=”prefetch”> feature and is designed to supersede the Chrome-only deprecated <link rel=”prerender”> feature. It provides many improvements over these technologies, along with a more expressive, configurable syntax for specifying which documents should be prefetched or prerendered.”

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See also: Are Websites Getting Faster? New Data Reveals Mixed Results

Performance Lab Plugin

The new plugin was developed by the official WordPress performance team which occasionally rolls out new plugins for users to test ahead of possible inclusion into the actual WordPress core. So it’s a good opportunity to be first to try out new performance technologies.

The new WordPress plugin is by default set to prerender “WordPress frontend URLs” which are pages, posts, and archive pages. How it works can be fine-tuned under the settings:

Settings > Reading > Speculative Loading

Browser Compatibility

The Speculative API is supported by Chrome 108 however the specific rules used by the new plugin require Chrome 121 or higher. Chrome 121 was released in early 2024.

Browsers that do not support will simply ignore the plugin and will have no effect on the user experience.

Check out the new Speculative Loading WordPress plugin developed by the official core WordPress performance team.

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How Analytics Handles Prerendering

A WordPress developer commented with a question asking how Analytics would handle prerendering and someone else answered that it’s up to the Analytics provider to detect a prerender and not count it as a page load or site visit.

Fortunately both Google Analytics and Google Publisher Tags (GPT) both are able to handle prerenders. The Chrome developers support page has a note about how analytics handles prerendering:

“Google Analytics handles prerender by delaying until activation by default as of September 2023, and Google Publisher Tag (GPT) made a similar change to delay triggering advertisements until activation as of November 2023.”

Possible Conflict With Ad Blocker Extensions

There are a couple things to be aware of about this plugin, aside from the fact that it’s an experimental feature that requires Chrome 121 or higher.

A comment by a WordPress plugin developer that this feature may not work with browsers that are using the uBlock Origin ad blocking browser extension.

Download the plugin:
Speculative Loading Plugin by the WordPress Performance Team

Read the announcement at WordPress
Speculative Loading in WordPress

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See also: WordPress, Wix & Squarespace Show Best CWV Rate Of Improvement

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

Whether you are new to paid media or reevaluating your efforts, it’s critical to review your performance and best practices for your overall PPC marketing program, accounts, and campaigns.

Revisiting your paid media plan is an opportunity to ensure your strategy aligns with your current goals.

Reviewing best practices for pay-per-click is also a great way to keep up with trends and improve performance with newly released ad technologies.

As you review, you’ll find new strategies and features to incorporate into your paid search program, too.

Here are 10 PPC best practices to help you adjust and plan for the months ahead.

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1. Goals

When planning, it is best practice to define goals for the overall marketing program, ad platforms, and at the campaign level.

Defining primary and secondary goals guides the entire PPC program. For example, your primary conversion may be to generate leads from your ads.

You’ll also want to look at secondary goals, such as brand awareness that is higher in the sales funnel and can drive interest to ultimately get the sales lead-in.

2. Budget Review & Optimization

Some advertisers get stuck in a rut and forget to review and reevaluate the distribution of their paid media budgets.

To best utilize budgets, consider the following:

  • Reconcile your planned vs. spend for each account or campaign on a regular basis. Depending on the budget size, monthly, quarterly, or semiannually will work as long as you can hit budget numbers.
  • Determine if there are any campaigns that should be eliminated at this time to free up the budget for other campaigns.
  • Is there additional traffic available to capture and grow results for successful campaigns? The ad platforms often include a tool that will provide an estimated daily budget with clicks and costs. This is just an estimate to show more click potential if you are interested.
  • If other paid media channels perform mediocrely, does it make sense to shift those budgets to another?
  • For the overall paid search and paid social budget, can your company invest more in the positive campaign results?

3. Consider New Ad Platforms

If you can shift or increase your budgets, why not test out a new ad platform? Knowing your audience and where they spend time online will help inform your decision when choosing ad platforms.

Go beyond your comfort zone in Google, Microsoft, and Meta Ads.

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Here are a few other advertising platforms to consider testing:

  • LinkedIn: Most appropriate for professional and business targeting. LinkedIn audiences can also be reached through Microsoft Ads.
  • TikTok: Younger Gen Z audience (16 to 24), video.
  • Pinterest: Products, services, and consumer goods with a female-focused target.
  • Snapchat: Younger demographic (13 to 35), video ads, app installs, filters, lenses.

Need more detailed information and even more ideas? Read more about the 5 Best Google Ads Alternatives.

4. Top Topics in Google Ads & Microsoft Ads

Recently, trends in search and social ad platforms have presented opportunities to connect with prospects more precisely, creatively, and effectively.

Don’t overlook newer targeting and campaign types you may not have tried yet.

  • Video: Incorporating video into your PPC accounts takes some planning for the goals, ad creative, targeting, and ad types. There is a lot of opportunity here as you can simply include video in responsive display ads or get in-depth in YouTube targeting.
  • Performance Max: This automated campaign type serves across all of Google’s ad inventory. Microsoft Ads recently released PMAX so you can plan for consistency in campaign types across platforms. Do you want to allocate budget to PMax campaigns? Learn more about how PMax compares to search.
  • Automation: While AI can’t replace human strategy and creativity, it can help manage your campaigns more easily. During planning, identify which elements you want to automate, such as automatically created assets and/or how to successfully guide the AI in the Performance Max campaigns.

While exploring new features, check out some hidden PPC features you probably don’t know about.

5. Revisit Keywords

The role of keywords has evolved over the past several years with match types being less precise and loosening up to consider searcher intent.

For example, [exact match] keywords previously would literally match with the exact keyword search query. Now, ads can be triggered by search queries with the same meaning or intent.

A great planning exercise is to lay out keyword groups and evaluate if they are still accurately representing your brand and product/service.

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Review search term queries triggering ads to discover trends and behavior you may not have considered. It’s possible this has impacted performance and conversions over time.

Critical to your strategy:

  • Review the current keyword rules and determine if this may impact your account in terms of close variants or shifts in traffic volume.
  • Brush up on how keywords work in each platform because the differences really matter!
  • Review search term reports more frequently for irrelevant keywords that may pop up from match type changes. Incorporate these into match type changes or negative keywords lists as appropriate.

6. Revisit Your Audiences

Review the audiences you selected in the past, especially given so many campaign types that are intent-driven.

Automated features that expand your audience could be helpful, but keep an eye out for performance metrics and behavior on-site post-click.

Remember, an audience is simply a list of users who are grouped together by interests or behavior online.

Therefore, there are unlimited ways to mix and match those audiences and target per the sales funnel.

Here are a few opportunities to explore and test:

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  • LinkedIn user targeting: Besides LinkedIn, this can be found exclusively in Microsoft Ads.
  • Detailed Demographics: Marital status, parental status, home ownership, education, household income.
  • In-market and custom intent: Searches and online behavior signaling buying cues.
  • Remarketing: Advertisers website visitors, interactions with ads, and video/ YouTube.

Note: This varies per the campaign type and seems to be updated frequently, so make this a regular check-point in your campaign management for all platforms.

7. Organize Data Sources

You will likely be running campaigns on different platforms with combinations of search, display, video, etc.

Looking back at your goals, what is the important data, and which platforms will you use to review and report? Can you get the majority of data in one analytics platform to compare and share?

Millions of companies use Google Analytics, which is a good option for centralized viewing of advertising performance, website behavior, and conversions.

8. Reevaluate How You Report

Have you been using the same performance report for years?

It’s time to reevaluate your essential PPC key metrics and replace or add that data to your reports.

There are two great resources to kick off this exercise:

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Your objectives in reevaluating the reporting are:

  • Are we still using this data? Is it still relevant?
  • Is the data we are viewing actionable?
  • What new metrics should we consider adding we haven’t thought about?
  • How often do we need to see this data?
  • Do the stakeholders receiving the report understand what they are looking at (aka data visualization)?

Adding new data should be purposeful, actionable, and helpful in making decisions for the marketing plan. It’s also helpful to decide what type of data is good to see as “deep dives” as needed.

9. Consider Using Scripts

The current ad platforms have plenty of AI recommendations and automated rules, and there is no shortage of third-party tools that can help with optimizations.

Scripts is another method for advertisers with large accounts or some scripting skills to automate report generation and repetitive tasks in their Google Ads accounts.

Navigating the world of scripts can seem overwhelming, but a good place to start is a post here on Search Engine Journal that provides use cases and resources to get started with scripts.

Luckily, you don’t need a Ph.D. in computer science — there are plenty of resources online with free or templated scripts.

10. Seek Collaboration

Another effective planning tactic is to seek out friendly resources and second opinions.

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Much of the skill and science of PPC management is unique to the individual or agency, so there is no shortage of ideas to share between you.

You can visit the Paid Search Association, a resource for paid ad managers worldwide, to make new connections and find industry events.

Preparing For Paid Media Success

Strategies should be based on clear and measurable business goals. Then, you can evaluate the current status of your campaigns based on those new targets.

Your paid media strategy should also be built with an eye for both past performance and future opportunities. Look backward and reevaluate your existing assumptions and systems while investigating new platforms, topics, audiences, and technologies.

Also, stay current with trends and keep learning. Check out ebooks, social media experts, and industry publications for resources and motivational tips.

More resources: 

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Google Limits News Links In California Over Proposed ‘Link Tax’ Law

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A brown cardboard price tag with a twine string and a black dollar sign symbol, influenced by the Link Tax Law, set against a dark gray background.

Google announced that it plans to reduce access to California news websites for a portion of users in the state.

The decision comes as Google prepares for the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill requiring online platforms like Google to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

What Is The California Journalism Preservation Act?

The CJPA, introduced in the California State Legislature, aims to support local journalism by creating what Google refers to as a “link tax.”

If passed, the Act would force companies like Google to pay media outlets when sending readers to news articles.

However, Google believes this approach needs to be revised and could harm rather than help the news industry.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s VP of Global News Partnerships, stated in a blog post:

“It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content.”

Google’s Response

To assess the potential impact of the CJPA on its services, Google is running a test with a percentage of California users.

During this test, Google will remove links to California news websites that the proposed legislation could cover.

Zaidi states:

“To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

Google Claims Only 2% of Search Queries Are News-Related

Zaidi highlighted peoples’ changing news consumption habits and its effect on Google search queries (emphasis mine):

“It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form videos, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.”

Despite the low percentage of news queries, Google wants to continue helping news publishers gain visibility on its platforms.

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However, the “CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments,” Zaidi says.

A Call For A Different Approach

In its current form, Google maintains that the CJPA undermines news in California and could leave all parties worse off.

The company urges lawmakers to consider alternative approaches supporting the news industry without harming smaller local outlets.

Google argues that, over the past two decades, it’s done plenty to help news publishers innovate:

“We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.”

Zaidi suggested that a healthy news industry in California requires support from the state government and a broad base of private companies.

As the legislative process continues, Google is willing to cooperate with California publishers and lawmakers to explore alternative paths that would allow it to continue linking to news.

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