Google announced that advertisers will no longer have the ability to add “Other interests” as a targeting method for advertising on the Google Display Network (GDN), effective January 15, 2015. This news comes in the wake of Google’s rollout of more sophisticated interest-based targeting options over the past couple of years: “Affinity” and “In-market” audiences, and the more recent introduction of “Custom Affinity audiences” in October of this year. Although there will no longer be an option to add “Other interests” after January 15th, existing AdWords campaigns already targeting those categories will continue to do so until June 2015, at which point the targeting will be automatically upgraded to the new audiences. With the upgrade right around the corner, it is important to have a thorough understanding of interest categories and a PPC management strategy to take advantage of them.
Being the broadest of the interests methods, Affinity audiences are primarily used to raise brand awareness while reaching new potential customers. According to Google, Affinity audiences “show your ads to unique audiences based on their lifestyles, buying habits, and long-term interests”. Since it has the ability to reach consumers in large numbers, frequency capping and CPM bidding is recommended, but not required. Pairing Affinity audiences with other display targeting options such as keywords or placements could be an effective way to not only raise brand awareness, but also generate conversions.
Custom Affinity Audiences:
Don’t see any Affinity categories that are applicable to your product or service? – Use Custom Affinity audiences to find niche segments and create audiences tailored for your brand. Instead of selecting interests from a list, you define them yourself by entering specific interests (as if they were keywords) and/or adding URLs that that contain content related to the interests of your potential customers. This allows AdWords advertisers to raise brand awareness and drive consideration for a product/service to a large, but clearly defined, segment of users. The recommended bidding strategy for Custom Affinity audiences can vary depending on the amount of information you provide; CPC bidding may be best for detailed lists with many custom interests and/or related URLs added, and CPM for less specific audiences.
When targeting In-market audiences, Google will find and show your ads to users that are actively searching out the products or services you provide; reaching consumers across the GDN when they are ready to make a purchase. At this time, there is a limited amount of categories to choose from, but I predict a customizable list of some sort in the future. Google recommends not adding any other targeting method while using In-market audiences, as it will limit the volume of impressions and cause you to miss out on possible conversions. Since generating conversions is what In-market audiences is designed to do, CPC bidding should be used along with conversion tracking in order to measure the effectiveness of the targeting.
Even though the “Other interests” categories will be available until June 2015 (if already in use), making proactive changes to the interests categories before the forced upgrade would be optimal to ensure the transition goes smoothly and that you are the targeting audiences that will get you the most out of your Google AdWords advertising budget.
Last month Google announced callout extensions, a new type of ad extension in AdWords. The callout ad extension allows advertisers to include additional text that provides details about their website, before potential customers even click an ad. Businesses can draw attention to specific products and services they offer, such as free shipping, price matching or anything else that might make them stand out from competitors. Callouts appear below text ads and can also be shown with other ad extensions.
Google requires a minimum of two callout extensions per account, campaign or ad group. However, they do suggest creating four callouts per level to ensure as many callouts as possible are available to show with the ad.
With a little PPC management, callout extensions are updated very easily. For example, you can keep your special offers and sales current without having to create or edit text ads. And unlike text ads, if you edit callouts, you won’t reset any of the performance statistics!
Comprehensive reports allow you to see the number of clicks on your ad when the callouts appeared at the campaign, ad group or ad levels. They can also be scheduled, allowing you to select the day or time callouts show. The reporting and scheduling features are available from the Ad extensions tab.
There are some best practices to keep in mind. Google has discovered that ads using sentence capitalization perform better than those with title capitalization. For example: “Free shipping” vs. “Free Shipping”. In addition, callouts may have a maximum of 25 characters, but Google recommends keeping text short, using a maximum of 12-15 characters. Callouts should be like a bullet point, using specific details to help customers decide whether or not your website is the one they are looking for.
Callouts started rolling out September 3rd, and should now be available to all AdWords accounts. Take advantage of this valuable, additional ad real estate.
My co-worker Cary blogged about effectively supplementing your conventional keyword-targeted campaigns with AdWords Dynamic Search back in August. But now we need to discuss some potential pitfalls of this type of campaign, and review how to refine them to be the most effective.
Google AdWords Dynamic Search Ads campaigns are far from “set it and forget it.” They need to be monitored closely and refined to avoid potential wasted clicks and spend. For example, if you find that that your DSA campaign accounts for 40% of your spend but only 15% of your revenue, there are definite refinements that need to be made to the campaign to make it profitable.
Negative Keywords Are Critical:
Since, by their nature, Google AdWords Dynamic Search Ads are dynamically generated and therefore less in your control, the addition of negative keywords to the campaign is critical. You can use the Search Terms Report feature on the Auto Targets tab to view the search statements that triggered clicked ads.
You’ll want to create negatives of any keywords that have proven unrelated to the goods or services you sell, as well as possibly excluding keywords that you have paused in your regular search campaigns due to low profitability, out of stock or seasonal items.
Block Undesirable Landing Pages:
The Search Term Report will also show you landing pages automatically generated in your Dynamic Search ads. You can easily exclude any undesirable landing pages by using Dynamic Ad Target Exclusions from the Auto Targets tab. You’ll likely want to keep the served landing pages to those that actively feature products or services, and exclude those that include reviews, shipping and return information, contact information, etc.
Find Valuable New Keywords:
The Search Term Report can also provide new keywords to add to your AdWords campaign. Those search statements that produce results can be valuable additions as keywords in your keyword-targeted search campaigns.
Refine Your Targeting:
Choose from categories, URLs, page titles and page contents if you want to assert greater control, and give yourself the capability to break down categories of products for budget control or seasonal availability. Also, by grouping highly-related pages together (much like highly-refined ad groups in a traditional search campaign) and products of similar values together (high-price, high-margin products vs. low-price, low-margin products), the relevance of your ads will increase and an increase in ROI will likely follow.
Remember to check your campaign regularly and take advantage of the tools available to assess if there is wasteful spend. Google AdWords Dynamic Search Ads are not a panacea for all marketers, and regular review and refinement will enable you to determine if they are a good fit for you.