How to outdo the PPC robots in shopping ads

Automation driven by improvements in artificial intelligence and machine learning will bring significant changes to how we manage pay-per-click (PPC) in 2018 and beyond.
There’s still a role for humans to play, one of which is to use what we’ve learned from years of experience to bring an account as close to perfection as possible before letting the machines take it from there.
Shopping ad performance may appear to be largely dependent on how well the automated algorithms work, with little room for account managers to optimize things. This is because the targeting is done automatically by Google, based on whatever products are in the merchant feed and how those relate to shoppers’ queries.
But there are still ways for account managers to tweak things to move the needle in the right direction.
In today’s post, I’ll explain seven ways to improve the performance of shopping ads.
Eliminate ambiguous and expensive queries
I remember several years ago, one of our customers wrote about

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To make every conversion count, count every conversion

Conversion measurement is complicated. More devices, channels and touch points mean that data is exploding, and yet cross-device behavior and the use of different identifiers, like cookies across browsers, can muddy measurement on the web.
With all of that imprecision comes a thought that might keep you up at night: You might not see all of the conversions driven by your marketing. They’re still happening, but you just might not capture them in your reporting.
As a performance marketer at heart, I’m frustrated any time my measurement is incomplete. Lost conversions are just about the saddest thing I can think of, but Google (my employer) has measurement tools designed to help you make the most of your conversion tracking.
Tracking every possible conversion in AdWords
Back in the desktop era, advertisers simply installed a conversion pixel on their checkout page, and the combination of redirects and third-party cookie reading at conversion-time accurately captured performance.
To keep up with changes in browser technology

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Giants collide: Google’s impending showdown with Amazon

Talk in the digital advertising space has traditionally focused on Google and Facebook’s digital duopoly, each fighting for more of your advertising dollars. But for Google, the real competition is coming from elsewhere.
Over the last few years, Google has pushed further and further into the retail space. Simultaneously, Amazon expanded its advertising platform. In the end, they both want the same thing: your purchase intent.
As these two tech behemoths continue to get more and more similar, who will lead? And more importantly, what should you do about it?
Google’s bid to become a retailer
We’re used to thinking of Google as a search engine. For advertisers, Google’s search engine results page (SERP) is composed of text and product (Google Shopping) ads. The popularity of these product ads with digital marketers has grown in popularity. According to Adobe’s Digital Index, spend on Google Shopping has surpassed that of text ads in every market.

This is especially true when it comes to

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What’s different about digital marketing in the cannabis industry?

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing in the US, with a diverse and exciting startup landscape. And yet, it faces an uphill battle when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) and marketing.
There are no AdWords or Facebook advertising programs available and no current opportunities to advertise a cannabis company among any of the larger advertising platforms.
This seems unlikely to change until these products are legal at the federal level.
You can understand how Facebook wouldn’t want the attention that may come from allowing dispensaries or cannabis brands to advertise, even on a limited basis, in states that legalized it. That probably would not go over well in today’s political climate.
So, how are cannabis brands winning online, and what is different about digital marketing in the cannabis industry?
Sorry, advertisers — cannabis isn’t ready yet
I spoke with Public Relations Manager Jordon Rahmil and Director of Digital Marketing Kevin Keeland at Cura Cannabis Solutions about their experiences in

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Unit economics: The foundation of a good SEM campaign

A strong understanding of the economics of any business unit is absolutely critical to any digital marketing campaign managed against non-brand key performance indicators (KPIs) in a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign.
One would think any reasonably large and successful business would have a good handle on their unit economics, and that this knowledge will be shared down the chain of command to the mid and lower levels of the marketing team.
But time and time again, I have found this critical foundation is missing, miscommunicated, insufficient or is so outdated as to make it worse than worthless.  “Worthless” in this case means that bad data does no actual harm. “Worse than worthless” means the utilization of the wrong KPI goals resulting in media waste and — more importantly — missed revenue and profit opportunity.
In other words, the company’s health is at actual risk because the marketing team and the business team aren’t on the same page.  In some

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3 ways to revitalize your digital marketing program

One of the joys of digital marketing is the ability to quickly see the results of an implemented strategy.  With a lot of real-time data and the ability to accurately attribute success back to effort, it is instant gratification at its finest.
But often after continued success, marketers face the dreaded performance plateau.  Here are three go-to strategies to try when you find you are stuck with wheels spinning in neutral.
Never underestimate the importance of UX testing
Even a small boost in conversion rate can make an enormous difference in results for a program. Not only does it have potential to boost top line revenue, but it can have a significant impact on bottom line results.
Most marketing leaders find making the business case for user experience (UX) improvement work a slam dunk as minimal gains result in significantly increased revenue. However, it is often easier to preach the importance of testing and focusing on the user than to actually

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How to sync your keywords and ad labels with an AdWords Script

The label functionality in AdWords can sometimes be a bit bewildering, and manually having to label a lot of ads or keywords is a task we wouldn’t wish on anyone.
We’ve all been there: You make a bid adjustment, label some keywords in an ad group to reflect this change, and then when looking at ads within that same ad group, you can’t see the labels. So you set about the mind-numbing chore of copying labels from entity to entity.
Because we feel your pain, my company created a script to solve your labeling issues. It will copy labels within an ad group from ads to keywords or vice versa. And best of all, it’s free!
The script
I have outlined the script code below. Copy the code below into a new blank script in the AdWords Bulk Actions area, and then change the options at the top as I’ve described here.
Script outline
Fill in label names with the names of the labels

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How to build a stronger, more effective PPC team

I’ve been doing pay-per-click (PPC) since 1998, when virtually every setting was manual. While it was painful to manage everything by hand, it forced me to learn the ins and outs of PPC, and that helped me build a successful career. 
Today, with automation playing an ever-more-important role in PPC, new account managers don’t have to learn all the fundamentals because tools handle the details. 
But as humans learn how to co-manage accounts with artificial intelligence, I believe that those with the strongest fundamentals will have the best opportunities for career advancement.
Automation erodes expertise
Remember the days when photography was an expensive hobby? Before digital, every time you clicked the shutter, you used another frame of film. To see the result, you’d spend more money to get the roll of film developed and printed. And not only was it expensive, it was also slow, with most labs taking an hour or more to turn the film into a print.

In

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6 AdWords strategies businesses can use to make love, not war on Valentine’s Day

If you’ve visited any local pharmacy recently, you have a pretty good idea of what holiday is coming up. Yup, that one with the hearts, chocolates, flowers and teddy bears.
It’s not Christmas or New Year’s, but Valentine’s Day is a huge opportunity for all businesses, not just flower delivery and giant teddy bear manufacturers. There’s just as much opportunity to optimize your return on investment (ROI) improvements if you know the right strategies.
Let’s dig into the following pay-per-click (PPC) tactics so you avoid situations like this one and learn how to maximize your advertising efforts on Valentine’s Day.
Is advertising on Valentine’s Day worth it?
Look, people aren’t only looking for flowers, chocolates and cute cards on Valentine’s Day; there are plenty of people who want to spend the day out treating themselves, reserving a nice day at the spa or grabbing a drink with friends. Using Google Trends and the Keyword Planner, we see there is a market

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Side by side: Comparing two performance marketing tools/agencies

As performance marketers, we’re conditioned to want to test everything. From the impact of feed titles to the incrementality of each channel, we want to be sure that we’re making the right choice before we commit all our resources to something.
That goes for deciding which tools/agency to use as well. Moving your performance marketing activities from one tool/agency to another (or picking one to start with) is a big commitment and not one you should take lightly.
Most (probably all) tools/ agencies claim to do the same basic thing: improve your campaign performance. The way they do this or the methods they use will differ, but with so much choice out there, how are you to know which one will actually deliver?
To help them make the right decision, many companies will ask for a side-by-side comparison test between two tools/agencies. We were recently asked to participate in a split comparison test against a Philadelphia-based product ad technology for

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