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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Understanding AdWords keyword match types for manufacturers

In a previous column, I addressed the challenges paid search advertising can present to industrial manufacturers who sell capabilities versus stock products.
Another challenge is the AdWords help files themselves. As an advertising platform, AdWords is geared more to retailers — when a platform uses common retail products to illustrate keyword strategies, it’s often hard to see how the example relates to keywords for complex manufacturing capabilities.
For example, under Basic Tips for Building a Keyword List, AdWords uses the example of men’s shoes:

If you’re a manufacturer offering a capability or products manufactured to engineers’ specifications for use in unique applications, it can be tough to come up with multiple basic categories if you’re thinking in terms of clothing items. “Well,” you might think, “we make precision machined parts,” or, “we electropolish stainless steel parts. I can’t think of another category.”
This confusion then carries over into keyword match type. “If you sell hats,” says one of the help files,

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How to reverse-engineer your online advertising strategy

Online advertising experts love to talk about the importance of matching your landing page content to your ads. And you’ll get no argument from me — it’s a great way to improve the performance of your online advertising.
I mean, it just makes sense. People click on your ad because the messaging resonates with them. If you have the same messaging on your landing page, that should resonate with these users and cause them to convert, right?
As great as this approach is, the success or failure of a “match your landing page to your ads” approach to advertising rides on one critically important assumption: that you’re using the right ad messaging.
Unfortunately, if your landing page strategy is based on your advertising strategy, there’s no easy way to test this assumption. You are fundamentally limited by your ability to predict what messaging will work for your target audience. If you’re way off-base, there’s no real way to know.
But what if

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Bing Ads now supports call conversion imports

Marketers running Bing Ads campaigns can now import call conversion data so they can tie calls back to campaign efforts for attribution.
Third-party call-tracking systems can integrate directly with Bing Ads via the Offline Conversion Import tool or APIs.
CallTrackingMetrics is among the first call-tracking services to participate in the program. The system can automatically send session and conversion data to Bing Ads campaigns.
Bing Ads first began supporting offline conversion imports in September of this year, enabling advertisers to attribute offline conversion events captured in their CRM systems.
The post Bing Ads now supports call conversion imports appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Is holiday paid search more competitive in 2017 than 2016?

The busy 2017 holiday shopping season is now in full swing, and we’ve already witnessed impressive Y/Y sales growth on key shopping days.
As advertisers dig into their own performance, many are taking stock of the competition to get a sense for what other brands are doing. This was a key topic for a #ppcchat Twitter conversation immediately following Cyber Weekend, in which host Kirk Williams posed the following question to chat-goers.

As you can see, most brands felt they saw more competition this year than last year, though 39 percent felt it was about the same. Zero respondents felt that there was less competition this year than last.
Taking a look at Auction Insights reports from Google for a sample of large Merkle retail advertisers, we can get a sense for how many brands were bidding on paid search keywords this year compared to last. As always, the metrics found in these reports and the stories they tell will

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Omnichannel shoppers collide with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, setting new records

Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to gain cultural significance across the US and the globe as shoppers and retailers deepen their relationships through enhanced technology, stronger/more personalized deals and a singular online-offline approach. As for 2017, all major metrics trended up, including click volume, mobile purchases, foot traffic and overall sales. Cyber Monday 2017 marked the biggest shopping day in US history, with over $6.59B in sales, including a record-breaking $2B in mobile sales.
Bing (my employer) also saw strong positive trends, with a YOY jump in clicks across Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the entire month of November. In the US, clicks were up 9 percent (cross-device) between Black Friday and Cyber Monday when compared with the same time period in 2016, and we also saw clicks up 12 percent YOY for the month of November. The rise in clicks is likely due to large retailers who extend Black Friday deals earlier and later — a

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Google rolls out AdWords promotion extensions, custom intent audiences & ad variations for testing

Google made a few announcements for AdWords advertisers just in time, before Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season in the US next week.
About a year ago, Google started testing promotion extensions in text ads. That beta extended to the new AdWords interface this summer. Now, they are rolling out globally in all supported AdWords languages and currencies in the new AdWords interface (aka the new AdWords experience). Promotion extensions let advertisers display specific offers in their text ads without having to create new ads. They can include a percentage off, a promotion code and offer period.

 
Custom intent audiences
On the Google Display Network, Google is rolling out custom intent audiences to enable advertisers to target “people who want to buy the specific products you offer — based on data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel.”
Anthony Chavez, director of product management for AdWords, explained in a phone interview yesterday that there are two flavors of custom intent audiences.

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The nitty-gritty paid search account health check: Part 2

Welcome to the second and final post in a two-part series about paid search account audits. If you haven’t read the first post, be sure to check it out here! Without further ado, let’s dive right into the good stuff — the remaining analyses standing between you and a perfectly manicured paid search account.
Keywords and negatives
Keywords are essentially the building block of your search campaigns, so needless to say, there’s always room for an audit. Here are some things to review:

Are there any keywords that are spending money without converting?

I look at this in different time frames, including the past 30 days or longer time frames, such as “all time,” because there could be keywords flying under the radar that may not be spending money quickly but that are slowly spending — like a small leak that can do damage over time.

Are there any keywords that are below the first page bid?
Are there keywords that haven’t really

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How to capture urgent leads with call-only ad extensions

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If you find yourself facing an overflowing toilet, you’re not going to deal with it from the confines of an ergonomic desk chair. There’s no time to sit in front of the computer and do your due diligence. Unless you happen to be deft with a plunger and a snake, you’re going to pull out your phone and look for a qualified problem solver as quickly as possible.
But what happens when that first search result is nothing more than a phone number and two disjointed phrases, an incoherent mess reminiscent of what’s clogging up your pipes?
You’re going to skip to the next item on the SERP in search of a solution.
If you’re the plumber, how do you fix this problem? How do you make sure the person with the overflowing toilet calls you and not your competitor?
Today, I’m going to dive into how the recent addition of ad extensions to call-only ads can help you

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Beat high-cost paid search clicks by sweating the details

In some industries and sectors, the per-click cost of search keywords is notoriously expensive — so expensive, in fact, that it dissuades some businesses from even stepping into the fray. When a click can cost you $200 or more, that reluctance is understandable.
At the same time, the costs of not stepping into PPC might be just as pricey, even if they’re not as obvious. In industries where competition is stiff, you could stand to lose a lot by being conspicuously absent from PPC.
So, what’s a business to do?
Fortunately, expensive clicks — even really expensive clicks — don’t have to stop you from venturing into PPC. You just have to make sure that every click counts.
Industries where clicks are costly
Before we get into a discussion about how to make sure every click counts, let’s get clear on the industries and sectors we’re talking about.
Though most advertisers aren’t paying more than a few dollars per click, some industries have

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