New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords via @sejournal, @MattGSouthern

Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin has announced that account-level negative keywords are now available to Google Ads advertisers worldwide.

The feature, which was first announced last year and has been in testing for several months, allows advertisers to add keywords to exclude traffic from all search and shopping campaigns, as well as the search and shopping portion of Performance Max, for greater brand safety and suitability.

Advertisers can access this feature from the account settings page to ensure their campaigns align with their brand values and target audience.

This is especially important for brands that want to avoid appearing in contexts that may be inappropriate or damaging to their reputation.

In addition to the brand safety benefits, the addition of account-level negative keywords makes the campaign management process more efficient for advertisers.

Instead of adding negative keywords to individual campaigns, advertisers can manage them at the account level, saving time and reducing the chances of human error.

You no longer have to worry about duplicating negative keywords in multiple campaigns or missing any vital to your brand safety.

Additionally, account-level negative keywords can improve the accuracy of ad targeting by excluding irrelevant or low-performing keywords that may adversely impact campaign performance. This can result in higher-quality traffic and a better return on investment.

Google Ads offers a range of existing brand suitability controls, including inventory types, digital content labels, placement exclusions, and negative keywords at the campaign level.

Marvin added that Google Ads is expanding account-level negative keywords to address various use cases and will have more to share soon.

This rollout is essential in giving brands more control over their advertising and ensuring their campaigns target the appropriate audience.


Featured Image: Primakov/Shutterstock

Sitelink Assets (Extensions) Best Practices & Examples via @sejournal, @GrpTwentySeven

Of all the many, many functions available in Google Ads, I have a few that are my favorites. And sitelink assets – previously known as sitelink extensions – are at the top of my list.

Why? Because they’re so versatile. You can do almost anything with them if you think through your strategy carefully.

For example, you can use the mighty sitelink in your advertising to:

  • Promote low search volume themes.
  • Push lagging products out the door.
  • Maximize hot sellers.
  • Highlight certain product categories.
  • Answer common questions.
  • Handle PR problems.

And that’s just a start! Sitelink assets can almost do it all.

Best Practices For Using Sitelink Assets Extensions

If you truly want to get the most out of your sitelinks, you need to think about your intention.

To help you with that, I’m going to lay out a few sitelink guidelines.

1. Get clear on your objectives. Before you start, you need to think about your goals. What are you trying to achieve with these assets? Are you advertising products or services? Will the asset work well with both branded and non-branded keywords? Your answers to these questions will help determine if your sitelinks are versatile and useful to the searcher.

2. Use sitelinks as part of your larger strategy. Don’t think of your sitelinks in isolation. You should also consider the accompanying ad, landing page, and other assets. Make sure they all work together in service to your overarching strategy.

3. Use a mix of sitelinks. Sitelinks can serve multiple purposes, so make sure you’re using a variety. For example, you don’t want to use every sitelink on an ad to promote on-sale products. Instead, use a mix. One could promote an on-sale product, one could generate leads, one could highlight a new product category, and one could direct prospective clients to useful information.

4. Create landing pages for your sitelinks. Ideally, you want to send users to landing pages that tightly correlate with your sitelink instead of just a regular page on your website.

5. Track sitelink performance and adjust. It’s not enough to set up sitelinks. You should also track them to see which links are getting traction and which ones are not. This doesn’t mean that all sitelinks should perform equally (more on this below), but it does mean they should perform well given their type and objectives.

Why it’s Better To Use A Mix Of Sitelink Assets

Let’s dive deeper into this idea of using a mix of sitelinks by looking at an example.

In a new client account, we created four different types of sitelinks:

  • Two sitelinks are product-focused (as requested by the client).
  • One sitelink connects users with an engineer to learn more about the product (“Speak to an Engineer”). It has more of a sales focus.
  • One sitelink allows users to learn more about the products without speaking to an engineer (“What is?”).

The “What is?” sitelink is outperforming the “Speak to an Engineer” sitelink when we measure by CTR. While we need more data before making any changes, I predict we’ll eventually swap out the sales-y “Speak to an Engineer” sitelink for something else.

The fact that the educational link (“What is?”) is performing better than the sales-y link (“Speak to an Engineer”) isn’t too surprising in this case. The product is a new, cutting-edge robot that not many people are aware of, yet. They want more info before talking to someone.

sitelink extensions - performance exampleScreenshot by author, January 2023

By using a mix of sitelinks, and assessing the performance of each, we gained a lot of valuable information that is helping to guide our strategy for this account. So going with a mix of sitelinks is always a good idea. You never know what you’ll discover!

Sitelink Assets Examples

Now, let’s look at some specific examples of sitelink assets in Google Ads.

Example 1: Chromatography

Sitelinks extension - Chromatography exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

Application Search: This ad is for a highly technical product that can be used in a wide variety of applications. (Chromatography is a laboratory technique for separating mixtures.) So putting “application search” in a sitelink here might make sense. It helps prospective clients find what they’re looking for.

Sign up and Save Big: A good sitelink for lead generation and potential revenue.

Technical Support: I’m not a big fan of putting technical support in sitelinks. Tech support seems more targeted to current users rather than prospective users. But who knows, maybe they really do want to help current users get tech support via their advertising.

Guides and Posters: Again, this sitelink is a bit unusual, but it might be appropriate for this product. Perhaps people are downloading branded posters and posting them in their workplaces. If so, it’s a great way to build brand awareness.

Example 2: Neuroscience Courses

Sitelink Extensions - Nueroscience courses exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

I love everything about these sitelinks! The advertising is using them to reach people in all phases of the buyer journey.

For people not ready to commit:

  • Study Neuroscience: This sitelink is broad and informational. It’s helpful to people who have just started to explore their options for studying neuroscience.
  • Get Course Brochure: This sitelink is also great for people in the research phase. And while we mostly live in an online world, some people still prefer to consume hard-copy books, brochures, etc. With this sitelink, the school is covering its bases.

For people getting close to committing:

  • Online Short Course: This is the course the school offers. It’s a great sitelink for those almost ready to sign up.

For people ready to sign up:

  • Register Online Now: This is the strongest call to action for those ready to commit. It takes people directly to the signup page.

Example 3: Neuroscience Degrees

Let’s look at another example from the world of neuroscience education: this time for a neuroscience degree program.

Sitelink extensions - neuroscience degree exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

In contrast to the previous two examples, the sitelinks in this ad aren’t as strong.

Academics Overview: This sitelink seems more appropriate for a broad term search, such as a search on the school’s name. If the searcher is looking for a specific degree program (which seems like the intention based on the term and the ad), the sitelinks should be something specific to that particular degree program.

Scholarships: Just as with the above sitelink, “Scholarships” doesn’t seem very helpful either. The topic of scholarships is important—but probably doesn’t need to be addressed until the person determines that this school is a good fit.

Example 4: Code Security

Next, let’s look at two Google search ads for code security products.

Sitelink extensions - code security exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

The sitelinks in these two ads look like typical assets you’d find for SaaS, cloud-based, or tech companies. They click through to a lot of helpful information, such as product plans and success stories.

I particularly like the Most Common Risks sitelink in the second ad. It leads to a helpful article that would be great for engaging top-of-funnel leads.

On the flip side, I’m not a big fan of the Blog sitelink in the first ad. “Blog” simply isn’t very descriptive or helpful.

Still, there are no right or wrong sitelinks here. And it would be interesting to test my theory that blog content is not a top-performing asset!

Sitelink Assets Are More Than An Afterthought

I hope I’ve convinced you of the usefulness and versatility of sitelinks when created with specific objectives that align with your broader strategy.

So don’t create your sitelink assets as an afterthought.

Because if you give them the careful consideration they deserve, they’ll serve you well.

Note: Google sitelink assets were previously known as sitelink extensions and renamed in September 2022.

More resources:


Featured Image: Thaspol Sangsee/Shutterstock

8 States vs. Google: A Closer Look At The DOJ’s Antitrust Lawsuit via @sejournal, @brookeosmundson

Following the curtails of a 12,000-employee layoff on January 20th, the U.S. Department of Justice officially filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google this week.

With rumors swirling about a possible lawsuit for quite a while, this move from the DOJ is not unexpected.

The lawsuit has allegations concerning the tech company’s monopoly on the current digital advertising ecosystem.

8 States Join New Lawsuit

Eight states so far have joined forces with the DOJ on the lawsuit. They include:

  • Virginia
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee 

Remember that this lawsuit is separate from the first lawsuit from the DOJ back in 2020 against Google.

In the 153-page document, the DOJ argues that Google has created an advertising environment that favors its Alphabet-owned products unfairly.

Going into further detail, the DOJ states:

Google, a single company with pervasive conflicts of interest, now controls:(1) the technology used by nearly every major website publisher to offer advertising space for sale; (2) the leading tools used by advertisers to buy that advertising space; and (3) the largest ad exchange that matches publishers with advertisers each time that ad space is sold.

Speaking to the monopoly accusation, the complaint further states:

Google abuses its monopoly power to disadvantage website publishers and advertisers who dare to use competing ad tech products in a search for higher quality, or lower cost, matches. Google uses its dominion over digital advertising technology to funnel more transactions to its own ad tech products where it extracts inflated fees to line its own pockets at the expense of the advertisers and publishers it purportedly serves.

Google Publicly Reacts To Allegations

After the news broke, Google released its official statement on the matter.

Their main counterpoints to the lawsuit focus on the following:

  • Government’s control within a competitive industry
  • Rewriting history and reversing innovation

Dan Taylor, Vice President, Global Ads of Google, stated:

We are one of hundreds of companies that enable the placement of ads across the Internet. And it’s been well reported that competition is increasing as more and more companies enter and invest in building their advertising businesses.

He provided examples of the increased competition over the past few years, such as Apple and Amazon’s increased investment in their advertising platforms and other media companies like Comcast and Disney.

Where Does This Leave The Advertising Industry?

If Google is found guilty in this lawsuit, that would likely mean the reversal of 15-year acquisitions such as AdMeld and DoubleClick.

If those are shut down, it’s difficult to say how much it would directly affect advertising technologies within the Google Ads platform, amongst others that marketers use.

Google also states that a ruling against Google would harm the broader advertising sector, “making it harder for Google to offer efficient advertising tools that benefit publishers, advertisers and the wider U.S. economy.”

Summary

The lawsuit filing against Google is still in its early stages. It’s unlikely that any drastic changes will occur in the immediate future.

We’ll continue to update as more information is provided.

You can read the full lawsuit document here.


Featured Image: Sergei Elagin/Shutterstock

Google Ads Down For Advertisers, Google Confirms via @sejournal, @brookeosmundson

Advertisers around the world this morning started their weekly routine with a big issue accessing Google Ads.

Word quickly spread across Twitter and LinkedIn, with confirmation from others that this isn’t an intermittent issue.

Google Status Dashboard Confirms Outage

From the Google status dashboard, the outage was confirmed this morning, January 23rd, at 8 am CST. You can follow the incident in real-time here.

Google Ads confirms outage for advertisers.Image credit: Google Ads, January 2023

As of noon CST, the issue has still not been resolved.

Google Ads Liason Ginny Marvin also took to Twitter to confirm the issue:

Marketers took to LinkedIn and Twitter to voice their concerns.

Advertisers react to Google Ads being down.

Advertisers take to Twitter to react to Google Ads outage.

Why This Matters

Advertisers cannot manage or optimize their accounts without proper access to Google Ads.

Even more, Google Ads are still serving to users, but marketers can’t see or react to real-time performance. When marketing dollars are at stake, this is a big issue for companies of any size.

If you’re used to weekly reporting, that’s another task you won’t be able to do until the Google Ads issue is resolved.

This outage is inconvenient for Google after their layoff announcement of 12,000 employees on Friday.

Advertisers react to Google Ads outage on LinkedIn.

While this outage is more likely an untimely coincidence to Google Ads, advertisers were quick to put it together.

Summary

Google Ads is still down for many users as of Monday afternoon. After the Friday announcement of 12,000 Googlers, questions have arisen if these layoffs have impacted the technology and staffing that manages these platforms.

This is a developing story and will update as Google provides more information.


Featured Image: Stmool/Shutterstock

Microsoft Announces Store Ads & Other Updates via @sejournal, @brookeosmundson

Microsoft published its newest round of advertising product updates today.

Among the top updates is the launch of Microsoft Store Ads on desktop devices.

The updates to Microsoft’s advertising products include:

  • Microsoft Store Ads
  • In-Market Audience Expansion
  • Responsive Search Ads Update

Let’s dive into each update and how to take advantage of each as a marketer.

Expand Reach With Microsoft Store Ads

If you’re in the app or gaming industry, this update is for you.

This new format will showcase your ad in the Microsoft Store app on Windows 10 and 11 desktop devices.

More specifically, the ads will show in the Apps and Gaming tabs in the store.

Here’s an example of what Microsoft Store ads will look like:

Microsoft launches new ad format in the Microsoft Store for desktop devices.Image credit: Microsoft Ads Blog, January 2023

Some of the benefits of the new Microsoft Store ads include the following:

  • Expanded discovery of your app or game on additional devices
  • Easy campaign setup and management within the Microsoft Ads platform
  • Compatibility with the current UET tag to track behavior

To start with Microsoft Store ads, you’ll need to submit your brand and link store products to your Microsoft Advertising account. Once approved, you can start using this format immediately.

In-Market Audiences Expand Internationally

This next Microsoft Advertising update is for international advertisers.

Just announced, the In-Market audience segments expanded to new markets in the Middle East and Africa.

With the expansion, 71 In-Market audiences are now available in these Middle East and African markets:

Middle East Regions

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Yemen
  • Algeria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Moldova
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Tajikistan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Armenia
  • Georgia
  • Kyrgyzstan

Africa Regions

  • Ethiopia
  • Malawi
  • Tanzania
  • Zimbabwe
  • Lesotho
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Namibia
  • Reunion Island
  • Seychelles
  • Gambia
  • Congo
  • Guinea
  • Madagascar
  • Togo
  • Nigeria

Final Call For Expanded Text Ads

While not a new update, Microsoft reminded marketers that January 31 is the last day to create or edit any Expanded Text Ad.

Starting February 1, the only new search ads that can be created are Responsive Search Ads.

If you have existing Expanded Text Ads in your account, they will continue to serve. However, you won’t be able to create or edit ETAs after the January 31 deadline.

This will be no surprise if you’re running your Microsoft Search campaigns in tandem with Google Search campaigns. Google was the first to officially sunset ETAs on June 30, 2022.

What To Expect From Microsoft Ads In 2023

At the end of their January product update, Microsoft teased a few highlights of what’s to come in the following year.

From the official announcement, it seems that Microsoft will continue to differentiate its ad platform from Google by focusing on the following:

  • Local Search ads
  • Marquee ads
  • Additional vertical ads

If you’re unfamiliar with vertical ads from Microsoft Ads, they officially debuted in September 2021. Currently, vertical ads are available for the following products:

  • Automotive
  • Credit card
  • Cruises
  • Health insurance
  • Professional services
  • Tours and activities

It will be interesting to hear what additional verticals Microsoft prioritizes in 2023.

Stay tuned for Microsoft’s next product updates coming February 7.


Featured Image: monticello/Shutterstock

Advertisers React To Google’s ‘Remove Redundant Keywords’ Update via @sejournal, @brookeosmundson

What way to ring in the new year with a fresh Google Ads update?

On January 4, Google emailed advertisers who currently have the auto-applied suggestion “remove redundant keywords” enabled on their accounts.

The email stated starting January 19, Google will begin removing redundant keywords across different match types.

First reported by Robert Brady via Twitter, advertisers quickly took to numerous social media outlets to share their concerns over the new update.

What’s Changing?

Currently, one of Google’s auto-applied suggestions allows the system to remove redundant keywords of the same match type within the same ad group.

With the January 19 update, Google’s updated its policy to remove redundant keywords across different match types.

Essentially, Google will remove phrases or exact match keywords if a broad keyword covers the search query.

A portion of the email from Google below outlines more detail:

Google's change to the redundant keyword policy will go into effect on January 19, 2023.

Advertisers Alike Cause Uproar 

Greg Finn didn’t hold back his opinion on the policy update announcement:

Other marketers chimed in on Greg’s post with similar sentiments:

Other advertisers follow suit with their disapproval of Google Ad's update.

So, what makes this update so controversial with marketers?

As others have pointed out, one of the main concerns is that Google has changed the definition of an existing auto-applied recommendation.

With such a significant change, it’s argued that this should be a new recommendation for advertisers to opt in or opt-out of.

Another concern is around Google’s ability to address context and sentiment in a correct matter.

Lastly, the consensus is that these updates are again aimed at small businesses and beginner marketers to manage their accounts more efficiently.

But where does that leave the experienced marketers who have spent years testing and perfecting their keyword strategies?

Google Ads Liason Addresses Advertiser Concerns

After reaching out to Google for comment, the official Google Ads Liason responded via Twitter on January 5:

Google Ads provides clarity to the newest redundant keyword policy update.

Advertiser Mike Ryan put together a well-thought-out response that was well-received by the PPC community on LinkedIn. He included a suggestion to help avoid situations like this in the future. The thread continues with additional clarification and FAQs:

Mike Ryan responds to the Google Ads redundant keyword policy on LinkedIn.

Marvin followed up on Ryan’s open letter to Google Ads via another comprehensive Twitter thread:

In the thread reply, Marvin addressed the following from Ryan’s letter:

  • The test went through multiple iterations before launching
  • The test was paused early on due to a bug
  • Many experiments at a time can cause communication challenges
  • Overall results of the redundant keyword experiment were positive

Summary

If you are already opted into Google’s auto-applied recommendation to remove redundant keywords, the new policy will go into effect on January 19.

The new policy will not make any retroactive changes to your account. However, because this is not a new recommendation, you would have to disable this auto-applied recommendation if you do not wish to participate.

A significant change from Google so early on in the new year could be an indicator of even more significant changes later on.

The open dialogue between advertisers and the Google Ads Liason is an excellent step towards further transparency and consideration for all marketers – beginner or experienced.

A special thank you to Google Ads Liason Ginny Marvin for promptly addressing advertisers’ questions and transparently.


Featured Image: ViDI Studio/Shutterstock

Apple Ad Network Gives Marketers A New Opportunity via @sejournal, @brookeosmundson

Apple’s ad network is making waves. 

Generally known for consumer products, Apple is placing greater emphasis on prioritizing its services category, which includes search ads in the App Store. 

Services are now Apple’s second-highest revenue generator, and this article examines how it got there and what it means for marketers. 

How Apple Ad Network Fits In Today’s Search Market

While Apple announced its expansion of available ad formats and inventory in the App Store, that’s not the only way it increased its revenue.

Regarding the search market, Google and Amazon are usually top of mind. However, both conglomerates have faced public scrutiny from the government and consumers.

Google has made headlines this year dealing with antitrust battles in both the United States and the European Union.

Not only that, but the severe fines that accompanied the antitrust rulings have led Google to lose some of its market share.

Amazon hasn’t had the most remarkable press, either. Some of the newsworthy class action lawsuits that hurt Amazon included:

  • $1 billion antitrust case in the UK
  • California antitrust lawsuit
  • False advertising around Prime Day
  • Stealing tips from delivery drivers
  • Wage theft

With both Google and Amazon under scrutiny, this opens up an opportunity for Apple to take a seat at the search table.

Principal analyst Andrew Lipsman from Insider Intelligence stated:

“I can easily imagine a scenario in which Apple grabs 10% of Google’s nearly $150 billion search ad business, which would translate to a $15 billion opportunity.”

Breaking Down Apple’s Services Category Revenue

Apple’s services category within its booming ad network consists of the following:

  • Advertising revenue from the App Store
  • Products
  • Streaming services

Some products that fall under the services category include Apple Arcade, TV+, Music, and Fitness+.

Not surprisingly, most of Apple’s $19.6 billion ad revenue came from App Store ads in 2022.

Following suit from other top online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, Apple TV+ will likely start supporting TV ad buys on its network. While this is not confirmed, many have speculated that Apple is in the initial planning stages of a TV ad product.

Challenges Still Loom For Apple’s Ad Network

Legal battles around consumer privacy and competition are not immune to Apple.

In efforts to protect consumer privacy, Apple introduced its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) in 2021, severely inhibiting marketing attribution efforts on other platforms.

However, in November 2022, Apple filed a new class action lawsuit against themselves, claiming that they continue to track consumers even after disabling tracking in their device settings. Because of this, the lawsuit states that Apple’s promises surrounding user privacy are “utterly false.”

On the other side, competitors such as Meta have seen a significant impact on advertiser revenue as a direct result of ATT.

Combining the death of Apple’s IDFA, the rollout of its ATT, and the increase in ad inventory, others are now coming at Apple, claiming it to become an online monopoly.

This means that Apple has rolled out measures that effectively prevent third parties (such as other ad platforms) from accurately tracking and measuring ad performance. This has led to advertisers fleeing those networks and investing more marketing dollars into Apple because of its ability to track that performance.

Summary

Apple has stated its goal to triple its advertising revenue and has already made strides.

While some benefits come secondhand from competitor challenges like Google and Amazon, Apple has paved its way with diversified revenue streams.

However, even the most “user privacy-centric” Apple continues to be scrutinized on its way to the top of search. Apple’s privacy and measurement efforts will continue to have a ripple effect across consumers and marketers alike.


Featured Image: Primakov/Shutterstock

SEM Strategy In 2023: More Ahead With Your Year In Review via @sejournal, @jonkagan

Hello, my dear fellow search marketer, and welcome to 2023.

It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions, or at the very least, be prepared to make some changes for the new year.

Unlike my New York Jets, there is ample opportunity to drop the crappy “guru” you’ve hired, forecast out a budget (even in a recession), play with a new bid strategy, make memes about Performance Max/GA4 and give Bing (I still refuse to call it Microsoft Advertising) the fighting chance it deserves.

Also, don’t forget to migrate your Twitter ad budget to something actually stable.

So, let’s discuss what you should be doing now, what you went through in 2022, and what you need to do in 2023.

Think of this as a really nerdy and “snarkastic” visitation of three ghosts.

What Should You Be Doing Right Now?

It’s the beginning of 2023, so you’re running a bit late – but you can still make up for lost time.

Forecasting A 2023 Budget

You’ve seen how to forecast search budgets year after year: the old “determine impression share (IS) lost due to budget and had 3%-5% increase in CPC assuming strategy stays the same” method.

Then the pandemic came along, and forecasting got a little iffier. Now, that method lacks some weight.

The reality is, if you keep with that approach, fine, not the end of the world, but understand that cost per click (CPC) growth, especially on brand terms, saw some obscene growth in 2022 (starting around April).

Why? There are a variety of theories, but for now, let’s just call it “inflation.”

If you keep the typical approach, expect to add anywhere from 10%-15% on brand CPC growth YoY in Q1 and, likely, more along the lines of 4%-7% growth on non-brand. This comes from our own in-house estimate – yours should vary.

Next, the ugly elephant in the room – Performance Max – appears. But it gets more complicated if you migrate smart shopping over to Performance Max as well.

There are two ways to forecast this, and honestly, neither will be all that accurate or insightful – I apologize in advance.

  • Look at Google’s recommendation tool, see what it says for growth on a budget (because we all know it never says less), take 15%-25% off that growth level (kill off the buffer), and try that.
  • Or, gradually scale upward of 5%-10% from your current budget, assuming you hit budget caps consistently while flexing up and down for seasonality.

As I said, neither option is great.

If you want to adjust your search strategy (not applicable for Performance Max), look at your IS lost to rank and work the fancy formula that PPC Hero posted a little ways back.

It’ll help you understand where your current strategy/bids are, causing you to miss opportunities.

This is a good time to pace out your budget (if you’re like me, you have a planned budget to spend for literally every day of the year, which will vary based on anticipated demand).

Content Calendar/Seasonal Flighting Planning

Often this is not as applicable if you’re new to a piece of business, but it should 100% be part of your plan.

If you aren’t new to the business and you haven’t done this, then you are Mr. Wilson of the Jets and deserve to be benched.

Make sure you know your deals, seasonality for peaks and lows, and everything you want to do creatively and budget-wise.

It allows you to get all of your assets built way in advance, approved, and scheduled for deployment.

QSR Promotional CalendarScreenshot from author, December 2022

Assessing What You Didn’t Do

Life and work get busy. This happens to all of us. Odds are, you had laid out some plans for 2022 that you could not execute.

Now is the time to determine what builds, testing, flighting plans, etc., you never got around to doing last year and reprioritize them to determine if you should try them out in 2023.

I like to use this thought process when doing that evaluation:

Was this for “fun” or a necessity (i.e., Is this effort something that would’ve definitely made a business impact, or something just to try out and see if it could help or hurt)?

  • If it was a necessity, then I hope you have a good excuse for why it wasn’t done and put it on the books for 2023.
  • If it was for “fun,” file it away for a rainy day.

Was there a business implication (positive or negative) by not doing this?

  • If no, then no harm/no foul, and you can try it eventually.
  • If yes, then get it ready for 2023, and have a good explanation as to why it wasn’t done.

Consider what you’ve been through.

Much like dealing with your strange aunt/uncle who said something grossly inappropriate during the holidays, you need to sit down and process what did happen to your SEM campaigns in 2022.

This helps you decide if it was all good, all bad, or somewhere in between and what you need to consider carefully in 2023.

Look at both the big things and the small things.

Performance Max

If you migrated into Performance Max by choice or by force (anyone using Smart Shopping or local search), it likely made both a negative and a positive impact on your year.

Negative: You literally have no idea when/where your ad is showing, and all you can think (and you’re probably right) is that Google has thrown some of your direct-to-consumer (DTC) funds away on a really bad Google Display Network placement.

At the same time, you have very little information or ability to explain to your boss why Google has basically relaunched the SMB-targeted Adwords Express as a 2.0 version and just ruined your transparency.

Negative: You did the auto upgrade of a local campaign to Performance Max and discovered how many bugs there are, or you let Google create your YouTube video, and the music makes it far more cringe than you had hoped.

Positive: Especially for those running foot traffic campaigns, you’ve (hopefully) seen cost per store visits become somewhat more cost-efficient, and your ecommerce (for those running Smart Shopping) has seen an improvement in the cost per action (CPA).

Positive: Performance Max is slowly becoming more reliable, and the ability to move to other verticals that are leads driven has become an opportunity.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

I’ll go ahead and say what we’re all thinking (and it has been published multiple times already):

My god, this analytics platform was clearly made by someone who clearly only interacts with barnyard animals and has a vision and not by someone who did a user focus group.

If you somehow managed to survive the implementation of GA4, you’re now, more than likely, cursing it out due to lack of intuitiveness or more frustrated they rolled it out without a bounce rate or even conversion rate until months later.

All is not lost, though; I highly recommend deploying it immediately (if you haven’t already) and running it concurrently with GA UA, so you can work out the kinks and learn the platform while accruing historical data.

You may feel like Google decided to wake up and choose chaos with this platform and probably lost a few weeks of your life trying to understand it – so keep it in mind when you evaluate what you didn’t get around to doing in 2022.

Bing Multimedia Ads

You saw the hype for them in September, especially on the video side, and thought: Finally, Bing is getting into the video ad game.

But then you realized you needed a raw video file to upload it and how little it would rotate.

Big hopes, big opportunity, but just no volume.

Twitter

I know this article is SEM focused, but I would be remiss if I didn’t address this, as it is still biddable media.

Every brand has different views on brand association, but if you have even a hint of brand safety concerns on GDN, MSAN, YouTube, etc., then do not advertise on Twitter until it gets itself straightened out.

Some of these changes in 2022 impacted you in different ways, good or bad.

The question is, can you learn from them, use them, and progress in 2023, with or without them?

What You Need to Do In 2023

I’ve done several of these “What to Expect in the New Year for SEM” articles over the years, but the last two of these could never have anticipated what is going on now… again.

With that being said, I will go with what I believe is mostly going to happen, and you can take it with a grain of salt:

  • The NY Jets will not make the big game – just accept it.
  • CPCs, especially for Q1, will be higher than any other Q1 on record (especially brand terms), so be prepared to find a way to explain why and for your money make to become less cost-efficient.
  • There will not be a decline in demand/search volume until there is an increase in unemployment (ala 2007-2009 recession), so be prepared to address the uptick in volume.
  • Google will become less transparent, somehow.
  • Bing will eventually do whatever Google does.
  • If you work with healthcare brands, prepare to get rid of GA UA quickly due to HIPAA compliance.
  • Absolutely most important, use 1st party data as long as you can – but you need to get extremely good, and fast, at building in market audience segment groups and go all Criminal Minds/FBI profiling a serial killer mentality on targeting.

Have I scared you yet? Good.

2023 will be a wild year in search, and you must be prepared for it.

But you cannot move forward until you evaluate and process the past. Once that is done, you can plan out the future.

Best of luck, search marketers. We’re all going to need it.

More resources: 


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How To Create B2B Google Ads Campaigns That Nurture And Convert Customers via @sejournal, @adrianakstein

In a world of multi-channel marketing for B2B, narrowing down a specific space where your leads are generated takes time.

Many B2B marketers turn to Google Ads because it has the potential for a quick return on investment (ROI).

But for that scenario to happen, you’ve got to have the right strategy and tactics in place.

Lucky for you, this article will take you from, “I don’t know where to focus my time & budget,” to “I’m managing my Google Ads budget & collecting B2B leads like a boss.”

In fact, Google Ads is among the top most effective paid channels because you can understand the level of “purchase intent” based on the type of keyword used.

So, when you target keywords across multiple intent stages within the sales funnel, creating B2B Google Ads campaigns enables you to efficiently nurture leads toward conversion.

With this in mind, mastering the art of B2B Google Ads campaigns can skyrocket your company’s growth and help you develop a bulletproof, long-term marketing strategy.

So, if you’ve been pondering the question:

“Do Google Ads work for B2B and how can I get the most bang for my buck?”

This article will answer this and set you up for sustainable future success.

Why Use Google Ads Campaigns For Your B2B Lead Generation Efforts

Many ask, “Why should I pay when I can generate leads for free?”

Great question.

First off, let’s start with the fact that no leads come for free. No matter whether you do SEO, social media marketing, or paid advertising, there’s no such thing as free lunch.

All marketing channels have their pros and cons, but Google Ads, in particular, are useful because they:

  • Give you the power to control your growth pace based on ad spend and campaigns used.
  • Are often quicker to launch because you can start with one landing page.
  • Enable you to drive traffic to content based on “high purchase intent” keywords, i.e., search phrases that describe the product or service you’re selling.

In fact, the average B2B Google Ads campaign conversion rate is 3.75%, so if you target high purchase intent keywords, you’ll generate high-quality leads that have a strong chance of becoming customers.

Ready to jump on the Google Ads bandwagon successfully?

Let’s go over how to run a B2B Google Ads campaign based on purchase intent stages within the sales funnel.

How To Run Successful B2B Google Ads Campaigns Based On Sales Funnel Stages

A sales funnel typically consists of three main categories:

  • The top of the funnel (TOFU): People who are in an awareness stage in their buying cycle, meaning they’re just becoming aware they have a problem and need to find a solution.
  • The middle of the funnel (MOFU): People who are interested or considering buying, and are making comparisons and researching further about the best solution for their specific needs.
  • The bottom of the funnel (BOFU): People who are nearly ready to make a purchase and have decided to initiate contact with companies who might be able to help them.

The idea is to craft your B2B Google Ads campaign based on each specific category, using keywords that relate to those corresponding categories.

By doing this, you’ll be able to craft better copy geared towards audiences at the “top of the funnel” compared to those at the “bottom of the funnel,” which will help your campaigns to convert better.

Now that you’ve got the idea, let’s dive into some concrete keyword and campaign examples per funnel stage.

Top Of Funnel

In the TOFU stage, some keywords that might be relevant here are:

  • “what is x.”
  • “x definition” – because they’re just trying to understand the basics of a certain concept.

Because your audience is ready to soak up all the information, informational long-form content is especially important for them.

Your audience might be aware your brand exists, but not aware of everything you have to offer. They’re a beginner when it comes to the solution you provide, so there shouldn’t be any pushy sales copy here.

Your audience is just warming up to you and they don’t want to be spammed.

When it comes to your bid strategy, you have two options:

  • Option 1: Use ECPC (enhanced CPC), which is not entirely automated bidding, but it does allow you to have more control over your budget.
  • Option 2: Targeting impression share works well if your objective is brand awareness and reach because you can set a percentage for your impression share against other bidders.

For your retargeting strategy, it’s a good idea to set up an audience on Google to collect visitor information to the page you send users.

Depending on the traffic amount (1,000 or more visitors are needed before you can retarget), we can use this audience for retargeting our MOFU campaign.

You also need to set the goal type.

Your first campaign should not be a hard sell, as here, you need to focus on generating demand for your product or service.

Naturally, there may be an influx of new users (but hardly any conversions), so you’ll want to ensure your campaign objective offers a high-value and low-friction micro conversion, such as getting someone to read an informational content piece.

Depending on the volume of users, you should look at setting up a micro-conversion for page engagement.

Below is an example of a TOFU B2B Google Ads campaign in action targeting the keyword “what is an ai chatbot.”

AI chatbot Google search resultScreenshot of search for [what is an ai chatbot], Google, December 2022

The ad introduces the brand and answers the keyword in question. Clicking through to the landing page, we’re not introduced to a hard sell, but instead are given a “complimentary guide” to learn more about this specific AI Chatbot.

There is no mention of pricing, or the specific product here. It matches the user search intent by providing the user with exactly what they requested.

The bonus is it also allows the business to collect email addresses, which can then be sent email nurturing campaigns later on.

Middle Of Funnel

Your MOFU audience members are those who know your product or service exists and have done some research on potential solutions.

They might even already be considering you as an option, but need to know exactly how you can help, and why you’re a better choice than your competitors. Their decision is also likely heavily influenced by third-party opinions of your brand.

In this case, your Google Ads campaign could promote the following:

  • Technical “how-to guides.”
  • Product comparison.

Your audience likely has a foundational understanding of the topic or industry, but they’re still looking to improve their knowledge and identify the best solution for them.

Cue offer messaging here! Your people are getting ready for an information-based soft sell.

For your bid strategy, it would be a good idea to use the following:

Unlike ECPC, Maximize Clicks is an automated bidding strategy where Google sets the bids for you, to get the most conversions for your campaign while spending your daily budget.

Once you’re ready to retarget, here’s a possible approach:

Take a look at your previous audience setup for users clicking through from your TOFU campaign and your general website visitors. It’s worthwhile to add this audience as an observation on this campaign.

How To Create B2B Google Ads Campaigns That Nurture And Convert CustomersScreenshot by author, December 2022

You can increase bids for users who have already interacted with your brand, which ensures your ads are in a higher position and keeps brand awareness at the forefront.

Again, using audiences from this page and adding bid targeting to your BOFU campaign is a good idea.

For your MOFU goal type, you’ll need to offer more information to help your audience decide – but at this stage, you’ll want to get into the nitty-gritty details.

Although users might be somewhat unaware of your brand, they have a good sense of the product or service they want, as they are now fully in their research phase to find the most suitable product or service to fulfill their needs.

The goal here can be offering downloadable guides and product comparisons while also still using micro-conversions, such as tracking a conversion for every download.

To give you a better idea, let’s take a quick look at a MOFU B2B Google Ads campaign example targeting the keyword “how to set up an ai chatbot.”

how to built a chatbot google search resultScreenshot of search for [how to build a chatbot], Google, December 2022

With this ad example, the user has likely done enough research to start looking at ways to install a chatbot, which the ad answers exactly that question with the ad copy.

Furthermore, we can see that, similar to TOFU, there isn’t a hard sell on this page, as the user intent isn’t yet to purchase their product. Instead, they have offered a free ebook in exchange for contact details.

Bottom Of Funnel

BOFU is where the magic happens: lead generation conversions. Your audience is ready to buy and needs one more push to click that purchase, book a demo, or contact us button.

Relevant keywords here might be:

  • x service.
  • x tool.
  • x platform.

At this stage, you’ll want to whip out your conversion-based landing pages and ask for the sale because:

  • Your audience here is strongly aware of your brand.
  • They’re considering making a purchase and have a decent understanding of your solution.

For your bid strategy, consider using Maximize Conversions, as users are nearly at the end of their decision-making and are more inclined to get in touch with you.

When you’re ready to retarget, enable retargeting for all users who visit this page but don’t convert. You can also retarget users using display campaigns on Google or other similar platforms, such as AdRoll.

It would be worth considering setting up retargeting on other platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, too.

Because this campaign has the highest intent for the users in the purchase cycle, a high-converting landing page is recommended here that offers all of the above information and more.

This is your chance to offer lead forms and get in touch with forms that include calls to action (CTAs) at the top and at easily accessible points throughout the page.

To give an example, check out this Bofu B2B Google Ads campaign for the keyword “ai chatbot for customer service.”

bofu example google search for chatbot serviceScreenshot of search for [ai chatbot for customer service], Google, December 2022

From the above BOFU keyword, we can now be sure the user knows exactly what they need – it’s now just picking the perfect solution for them.

By understanding the specific use case, the ads have been tailored for each scenario, increasing CTR. It also lists relevant site link assets (AKA extensions) that the user will also find useful, such as pricing and demo.

Secondly, the landing page used here is a high conversion page in that it offers relevant CTA’s throughout the page, uses trust-building messages, contact CTAs, and, more importantly, it highlights the product’s value.

Implement The Right Google Ads Strategy To Generate High-Quality B2B Leads

Overall, Google Ads is incredibly effective for B2B businesses because it’s a great starting point for long-term growth.

Not only can you retarget across other channels, but you also have the ability to target keywords based on level purchase intent within the sales funnel.

Now that you’re a pro at B2B Google Ads campaigns, you’ll be able to spend smart and optimize effectively!

More research:


Featured Image: VectorMine/Shutterstock

10 Biggest & Best PPC Features Of The Year via @sejournal, @brookeosmundson

Can you believe the end of the year is already upon us? With so many changes to the advertising ecosystem, it’s easy for time to fly by.

The year 2022 will be remembered for welcome (and unwelcome) changes to not only Google Ads and Microsoft Ads platforms but also to new features for up-and-coming channels.

With more PPC platforms available to advertisers, it’s hard to keep up with all the changes!

That’s why I’ve broken down my picks of the top 10 new PPC features and developments of 2022, encompassing as many PPC platforms and campaign types as possible.

1. Google Ads: No More Expanded Text Ads

While other platforms continue to add additional formats and options, Google continues to take away Search ad options slowly.

While it was announced back in 2021, Google officially sunset Expanded Text Ads on June 30, 2022. Search ads are now dominated by the Responsive Search Ads format.

Why is this a big deal?

For advertisers, the lack of control was a huge setback – especially for any regulated industry that needs legal approval on all copies. Additionally, many advertisers saw that their ETAs performed better than RSAs.

The bright side of ETAs being sunset is that marketers were forced to rethink their messaging strategy.

Because of the breadth of headline and description options, Google can mix and match to serve the right message, at the right time, for each user.

This meant removing the redundant copy from RSAs and shifting to an opportunity of creating more intentional messaging for each keyword theme.

Another benefit of moving to RSAs was the increased visibility of ads.

In a study done by Optmyzr in May 2022, it was found that RSAs showed 2.1x impressions compared to ETA-only ad groups.

Impressions per ad group with ETAs vs. RSAs.Screenshot from Optmyzr, December 2022

2. Microsoft Ads: Video Ads Debut

Microsoft continues to make headway into the advertising marketing share in 2022.

With the expansion of the Microsoft Audience Network, they officially debuted Video Ads just last month. While Video Ads were beta tested in 2021, they are now generally available in the following areas:

  • United States.
  • Canada.
  • United Kingdom.
  • France.
  • Germany.
  • Australia.
  • New Zealand.

From a marketer’s perspective, this allows you to reach your audience where you may not have been able to reach them before.

According to Microsoft’s recent stats:

  • 39% of users watch videos on MSN but not on YouTube.
  • 57% of users watch videos on MSN but not on Facebook.

Another benefit of expanding your video strategy to Microsoft Ads is that you don’t have to start from scratch.

Repurpose your current video ads on YouTube or other placements to save time and resources. Just be sure that the audience intent is similar if repurposing that content.

3. YouTube Ads: Audio Takes Center Stage

Officially out of beta testing, Google announced Audio ads available to all advertisers in October 2022.

This is a big win for advertisers trying to reach their target audience in a different way based on how they use YouTube.

Audio ads in Google are served to users who listen to music on YouTube specifically.

Marketers would want to utilize audio ads instead of video for music listeners because those users likely aren’t actually watching what’s on their YouTube screen.

Another big move for audio comes in the form of podcast placements.

Google rolled out this feature in October as well.

You may wonder, what does this have to do with YouTube ads?

The podcast placement on YouTube is available for audio and video ad formats.

4. Facebook Ads: New Tools For B2B And Small Businesses

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Facebook (now known officially as Meta) has been in the news a LOT this year.

While the news around Meta has mainly been around consumer-facing issues such as privacy and content standards, Facebook has introduced new features to advertisers this year.

In May 2022, Facebook announced new tools specifically for B2B and small businesses. These tools include:

  • Messaging and Conversation Features.
  • Lead Generation and Customer Acquisition Tools.

In the messaging and conversation features comes a new ad form.

Facebook is creating ads that can be run on both Facebook and Instagram, made directly from a business’s WhatsApp Business app.

This ad type helps expand a business and consumer relationship by encouraging interaction via message.

To support this feature, Facebook identified that over 70% of consumers want the option to communicate with businesses in a more conversational way.

The lead generation and customer acquisition new features include:

  • Quote Requests on Instagram.
  • Lead filtering with Instant Forms.
  • Creative flexibility.
  • Gated content.
  • Partner integrations.

From an ad perspective, the most relevant come within the quote requests and gated content, in my opinion.

With the ongoing need for first-party data, creating a gated content ad is a great way to capture essential user information, such as email, to be able to engage with them in the future.

5. Instagram Ads: Introducing AI-Powered Ads

Some of Instagram’s most notable PPC features come from new ad formats.

As this platform has become more shoppable, Instagram released a new AI-powered ad called “Multi-advertiser ads.”

Example of new AI-powered Instagram shoppable ads.Screenshot from Business.Instagram.com, December 2022

This ad format will highlight different businesses’ ads based on a consumer’s behavior and engagement within the app.

While it’s not necessarily an ad format that marketers can set up, this AI-powered format takes your existing ads and uses its algorithm to get your brand in front of in-market shoppers.

6. TikTok Ads: New Ad Placements In Search

In March of 2022, users first identified a new “Sponsored” ad placement within the top 4 results of a user’s search:

10 Biggest & Best PPC Features Of The YearScreenshot from TikTok, December 2022

It’s important to note that this Sponsored listing is still within Beta, and TikTok has not identified a timeline for general rollout to all advertisers.

So, why is this PPC feature big news?

TikTok has been a haven for users to discover content on countless topics.

Now with the search feature, advertisers will (hopefully soon) be able to target their ads more precisely based on a user search.

TikTok is, in a sense, becoming its own type of search engine. This placement is another reason to test out this ad platform if you haven’t already.

7. Pinterest Ads: Shoppable Product Pins With WooCommerce Extension

While Shoppable Pins aren’t new to 2022, a new feature added in July 2022 made it much easier for merchants to create ads. Over 3 million merchants, to be exact.

The Pinterest for WooCommerce extension simply makes selling your products on Pinterest easier to set up.

So, how does it work?

This new extension turns your entire product catalog into the Pinterest Shoppable Product Pin format. The catalog listings are automatically uploaded to Pinterest, removing the need for manual uploads.

If you use WooCommerce to run your online shopping website, you don’t want to miss this feature.

8. LinkedIn Ads: Enhanced Campaign Manager Interface

Even though LinkedIn has introduced new ad formats and targeting options, I think the biggest feature is its new Campaign Manager interface.

LinkedIn heard the cries of fellow marketers on how inefficient it was previously to manage campaigns and performance reporting.

The new interface touts a left-side navigation, mimicking other platforms like Google and Microsoft Ads.

The left-side navigation includes easy-to-find sections, including:

  • Plan.
  • Advertise.
  • Test.
  • Analyze.
  • Assets.
  • Account Settings.
LinkedIn Campaign ManagerScreenshot from LinkedIn, December 2022

The second biggest feature enhancement to the interface allows you to switch between multiple accounts a lot easier.

Agency marketers alike, rejoice!

9. Twitter Ads: Dynamic Product And Collection Ads

Another social platform that’s been in the news countlessly in 2022? Twitter.

Like Meta (Facebook), while most of the hype has been around the management change and its residual effects, let’s not discount the new PPC features it brought to advertisers in 2022.

If you’re in ecommerce, these are for you.

Twitter introduced Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) and Collection Ads earlier this year.

DPAs for Twitter Ads work similarly to Facebook or other programmatic platforms. Advertisers who use an existing product feed management platform can integrate it with Twitter easily.

With DPAs, you can either retarget users based on engagement or prospect new customers with relevant product ads.

Collection Ads are also a form of product ads to showcase scrollable product images in an ad, accompanying a main static image.

Twitter Ads: Dynamic Product And Collection AdsScreenshot from Twitter, December 2022

10. Apple Ads: Expanded Ad Placement Inventory

Last but not least, Apple Ads.

It’s no secret that Apple has honed in on user-privacy standards and requirements over the past few years.

The restrictions on marketing measurement have made it difficult for advertisers to accurately prove campaigns’ success.

While measurement and visibility were top of mind for marketers, Apple officially announced its expansion of available ad placements in the Apple App Store in November 2022.

The new placements include inventory for:

  • Today Tab ads.
  • Product Page ad placements.

The expanded inventory in Apple Ads is important because it allows businesses to be discovered by users instead of being so “search” focused.

Many brands have been limited by Apple ad inventory in the past because user searches could only capture demand.

With Apple doubling its available ad inventory placements, marketers can expand awareness efforts specifically to its pool of iOS users.

What’s Next?

2022 was quite a year, wasn’t it? What does all this mean for the future of PPC?

2023 will surely bring just as many updates to PPC platforms, some for better or worse. Keep tuned in throughout the year for all the latest announcements and developments.

Have you embraced any of these 2022 PPC updates? What are your predictions for the top PPC features in 2023?

More Resources:


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