Google Enhanced Campaigns and Keyword Level URLs

Since Google announced their new Enhanced Campaigns initiative which combines desktop and mobile search advertising into a single campaign, AdWords advertisers have been working to upgrade their campaigns into the new system. Google recently announced that ALL campaigns will be automatically upgraded starting in July 2013.

One issue that came to light with the initial announcement was how to handle URLs that are specified at the Keyword level in an adGroup, in conjunction with a site that uses separate URLs for mobile visitors. In the past, one might run separate desktop and mobile campaigns, so mobile-targeted KW level URLs would be specified in a separate adGroup from the Desktop URLs. In the new configuration, the two are merged, so…how does one handle sending visitors to the right location?

Targeting Mobile in Enhanced Campaigns

When one sets up ads, one would normally set up one or more ads for Desktop visitors, and one or more ads for Mobile visitors, and the URLs for each can be hardwired to indicate the “preferred” audience. This is only done at the Ad level, though, and Keyword-specific URLs are left out of this targeting – until now.

Using ValueTrack Parameters to Segment the URLs

Google has a number of “ValueTrack” parameters that can be used to dynamically alter ad copy and/our destination URLs. The most popular of these is probably Dynamic Keyword Insertion (or DKI). DKI allows one to reflect the Ad Campaign’s Keyword in the title or text of the ad copy (or in the URL) by using the {keyword:[default text]} construct in the ad copy.
Google provides a number of other ValueTrack parameters, including an brand new one called "ifnotmobile" . Ifnotmobile is a complement to an older parameter "ifmobile", though the use of this older parameter has changed with the launch of the Enhanced Campaigns. These two ValueTrack parameters can be used to tailor the URLs to the specific platform with a high level of granularity.

Using ifmobile and ifnotmobile to Target the Right Landing Pages

The {ifmobile:[sometexthere]} construct is used to insert text into an ad or URL for mobile visitors only. In the past with standard (legacy) campaigns, this would be used to target mobile AND tablets, but in enhanced campaigns, tablets are treated like desktop systems: {ifmobile:[sometexthere]} is used for mobile platforms only, while the {ifnotmobile:[sometexthere]} construct is used to target desktops and tablets in Enhanced Campaigns.

Below are examples of how to apply this to a variety of desktop vs. mobile implementation approaches, including:

  • Mobile-specific subdomains
  • Mobile-specific subdirectories
  • Mobile visitors identified via a CGI parameter
  • a Mobile placeholder page for a non-mobile-friendly site

Note that sites which use server-side browser detection to segregate mobile traffic from desktop visitors likely do not need to use this approach, since all visitors could request the same landing page and the server would sort it out.

Keyword Level URLs and Mobile Subdomains

To implement this with a mobile subdomain for mobile visitors, one could set up the URL similar to the following. Assuming that mysite.com is the main site, and that mobile.mysite.com is used for mobile visitors, the Landing Page URLs could look like this in AdWords:

{ifmobile:mobile.}mysite.com/specials.php

Thus, desktop and tablet visitors would visit mysite.com/specials.php, while mobile visitors would be directed to mobile.mysite.com/specials.php from the same ad or keyword URL in the AdWords account.

Keyword Level URLs and Mobile Subdirectories

To implement this when using a subdirectory set up for mobile visitors, one could set up the URL similar to the following. Assuming that mysite.com/... is the main site, and that mysite.com/mobile/... is used for mobile visitors, the Landing Page URLs could look like this in AdWords:

mysite.com{ifmobile:/mobile}/specials.php

Keyword Level URLs and a CGI parameter Specifying Mobile

To implement this when you have a CGI parameter set up to distinguish between desktop and mobile visitors, you could set up your URL similar to the following. Assuming that mysite.com/...?mobile=0 is used for desktop and tablet visitors, and that mysite.com/...?mobile=1 is used for mobile visitors. Your Landing Page URLs could look like this in AdWords:

mysite.com/specials.php?{ifmobile:mobile=1}{ifnotmobile:mobile=0}

These would resolve as:

mysite.com/specials.php?mobile=0 for desktop and tablet visitors and as mysite.com/specials.php?mobile=1 for mobile visitors.

Specifying a Completely Different URL for Mobile Visitors

Finally, in some instances one may want to send a mobile visitor to a completely different path than desktop visitors. Perhaps the site isn’t generally mobile-friendly, but it does have a single page that is mobile-optimized, and the AdWords campaign should send ALL mobile traffic to that special page. The Landing Page URLs could look like this in AdWords:

{ifmobile:static.mysite.com/mobilepage.htm}{ifnotmobile:mysite.com/specials.php}

In this final example, desktop and tablet visitors would go to:

mysite.com/specials.php

while mobile visitors were sent instead to:

static.mysite.com/mobilepage.htm

Note that there are limitations in Google AdWords regarding the Display URL and Destination URL. Insure that the mobile and non-mobile domains are closely related or the ads might be disapproved.

Getting Query Data from Google Webmaster Tools to Correlate with SEO Query Data in Google Analytics

As most marketers are painfully aware, In Oct 2011 Google stopped providing keyword referral data in Google Analytics for searchers who are logged into Google or for searchers using Secure Search (which Firefox has more recently adopted as the default for Google searches).

As a result of the loss of this valuable keyword data source, online marketers have become very creative about designing ways to recapture some details on the search behavior of these visitors. One approach has been to extract more information out of the Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) data which so far isn’t affected by the not provided restriction.

The query data in GWT is limited. The reports provide impressions and click information, but no conversion or other site engagement data. As a result, the data is good for keyword research and to find terms that are relevant to your site, but you’ll likely still have to test the terms in PPC to gain actual conversion information about the terms.

If you have your Google Analytics and your Google Webmaster tools accounts linked you can view the GWT query information directly within Analytics. Google has a section called Search Engine Optimization that displays data sourced directly from GWT.

Not a Discrepancy, a filtering Inconsistency

If you have looked at the SEO data in Analytics and then logged into your GWT, you probably noticed that the queries don’t correlate well. The reason for the list of queries being different is due to the default filtering being different in the two reports.

In Google Webmaster Tools, the queries are filtered to show search query impression and click data from Web searches only by default. You can see a snapshot of the query filtering options below. Notice the Filters button and to the right of it the default is Web.

If you click on Filters you can chose between Web, Mobile, Images, Video, or All. In GWT they list queries filtered for Web by default.

If you then go over to Google Analytics, you will notice that the SEO queries are not filtered. You essentially get the All option. If you want to compare the default list in GWT, you will need to tell Analytics to include “Google Property” and filter for Web.

Then assuming you have the same date range in both Google WT and GA and that you have the data sorted by the same metric, the lists should correlate. Please note that there may be latency reasons for the data not matching if you select a too recent date.

Once I realized the filtering was different the query data made a lot more sense. Hope this helps a few who like myself, was puzzled over the lack of consistency in the query data.

Tracking Offline Conversions in Online Systems

Join KeyRelevance’s own Chief Technical Officer, Mike Churchill, as he gives us some tips and information on the latest technologies you can use to track offline conversion metrics.  He joins Marty Weintraub and Lauren Litwinka on WebmasterRadio.fm’s PPC Rockstars program.

Listen to the recorded interview online!

Mike goes over some classic and some newer techniques for tying offline sales to online actions and online sales to offline actions, including custom URLs, cookie tracking and phone tracking.

You can skip to Mike’s interview at about 17:35 in the broadcast.

Issues with Google Adwords Editor 10.0.0 and Enhanced Campaigns

Summary: Be aware that Google Adwords Editor 10.0.0 can mishandle SiteLink and other enhanced campaign information when moving from the desktop to your live account and vice versa.

Google has announced a significant change to Google Adwords in their new Enhanced Campaigns. Since migrating from standard campaigns to Enhanced Campaigns involves merging previously separated desktop and mobile campaigns, a lot of the pain can be mitigated by using the Google AdWords Editor (GAE) to move ads/keywords from one campaign to another.

Support for Enhanced Campaigns within Google AdWords Editor had to wait until Version 10.0 was released. The good news is that Version 10.0 was released on 28 Febuary 2013. The bad news is that it suffers from some growing pains. Here are two of the issues we have identified so far:

Moving Enhanced Campaigns started on the web interface

If you have already started the migration process through the web interface, and have taken advantage of the new SiteLinks at the AdGroup level feature, be aware that these AdGroup level SiteLinks may not import into Google AdWords Editor 10.0 correctly. In our tests, these SiteLinks were lost from the adgroup on import. Campaign level SiteLinks were also lost.

Posting SiteLinks are uploaded to the server, but not attached properly

When you post your SiteLinks in an enhanced campaign, they DO appear to get copied up to your account on the server, but with an issue: the SiteLinks are listed as a shared resource for the account but are NOT consistently being attached to the campaign/adgroup to which they were initially added.

What’s probably going on

I suspect that Google made a change as to how SiteLinks are handled internally. In standard campaigns, the SiteLinks are attached to each campaign. With an Enhanced Campaign, the SiteLinks are being treated as an account-level shared resource (like Remarketing Audiences), and the shared resource has to be attached to the appropriate campaign/adgroup. The transition process for this change of implementation is not being handled completely properly.

Conclusion

As with many software tools, using version 1.0 is often a little chancy. The 10.0.0 release is version 1.0 for Enhanced Campaigns. The good news is that Google is pretty responsive to these sorts of issues, and hopefully an update will be forthcoming.

Defensive tactics

In the interim, take it slow. Migrate one campaign at a time, and double check that this various components are being properly applied. Also, keep an eye out for version 10.0.1.

Pubcon Day 1 – Hardcore PPC Tactics

Rolling right along, and deviating my previous liveblogging plan, I’m covering Hardcore PPC tactics with John Ellis, Jennifer Evans-Cario, David Szetela and Brad Geddes.

Jennifer Evans-Cario, Founder, SugarSpun Marketing is moderating this session.  Jen, love your necklace, can I have it if the whole “jumping off a building” thing doesn’t work?

First up, we’re going to hear from Brad Geddes, Founder, Certified Knowledge about Profit Per Impression and ad copy testing.

Paid Search is 14 years old now, Google AdWords is 10 years old.  What numbers should you be using to measure success in AdWords?  Data is just numbers without Continue reading

Tracking PPC Traffic from Bing and Other Sources in Google Analytics

Using Google Analytics in conjunction with Google AdWords is a useful way to track visitor behavior beyond the click. But what about Bing/Yahoo PPC visitors? By default, Google Analytics tracks all Bing or Yahoo visitors, but does not discriminate between paid and organic visitors. If you want to track PPC visitors coming from Bing, you need to add some additional parameters to the landing page URL for the Google Analytics system to decode and track.

As an added bonus, this same technique can be used to track other advertising efforts (e.g. newsletters, site sponsorships, and banner advertising).

How to Track Bing PPC Visitors in Google Analytics
Tracking other PPC/CPM/Advertising campaigns requires setting a couple of additional Continue reading

Google Position Preference is Dead…Long Live Position Preference

On April 4th, 2011, Google announced they are retiring the Position Preference Bidding option in May 2011. If you want to emulate the Position Preference option, you can set up two rules (per campaign, adgroup, or KW, depending on your needs) to control the bidding. The downside is that the bidding adjustments are done at most 1 time per day (but see below) and managing the rules in AdWords is a little clunky.

KeyRelevance’s Recommendations:

  1. Use CPA Bidding instead, if that is an option.
  2. Make small adjustments (e.g. 5-10%, $0.05 – $0.10)
  3. Make sure to set upper and lower limits to bound the changes that can be made Continue reading

Sites in adCenter Search Network are High Caliber

As interest in Bing continues, and with the pending launch of the Microsoft/Yahoo paid search partnership, advertising in Microsoft adCenter PPC is becoming more viable. One concern is that adCenter does not allow one to opt-in/opt-out of their Search Network Partners. Here is a breakdown of the big three and their options for Ad Placement. On all three ad platforms, advertising on the Search or Content Network is optional on a campaign-by-campaign basis. Once you decide to use a given network, however, the details begin to vary:
Continue reading

Yahoo’s Ad Delivery Report Helps Tune PPC Campaigns

On 10 Sept 2009, Yahoo launched a new PPC Traffic Quality report that will be a real boon to PPC advertisers wanting to track the effectiveness of their campaigns across the Yahoo Search network. Yahoo provides PPC ads along side search results for both Yahoo properties and other sites that show Yahoo search results (called the Yahoo Search Network, or Search Partners). Since Yahoo does not allow advertisers to opt out of their search network, tracking performance is of paramount importance to making the campaigns successful. The new Ad Delivery Report will Continue reading

Key Relevance Review of Google Automatic Match – Measuring the Cost of Skipping Keyword Research

by Jim Gilbert and Mike Churchill of Key Relevance

Automatic Match is Google’s new feature that allows AdWords managers to receive clicks in their PPC campaigns without the need to select specific keywords. According to Google:

 

Automatic matching

Automatic matching is an optional feature that helps your ads reach targeted traffic missed by your keyword lists. It works by analyzing the content of the landing pages, ads, and keywords in your ad group and shows your ads on search queries relevant to this information.

The automatic matching system continually monitors your ad performance and aims to show your ads only on queries that yield a comparable or better cost-per-click (CPC) than that of your current traffic. Automatic matching will only use your unspent budget and will never deliver more traffic than your budget allows for.

 

In two previous posts, Jim took a somewhat negative shot at Google’s “Automatic Match” feature, with little to go on but past experience with “new features”.

 

Well, we’re back and have the results of our real-life testing of this new feature.

After a fairly lengthy process of testing “Automatic Match”, we can now report these facts — Facts at the time of this writing, but Google can always change at any moment without warning or notice.

Facts:

  1. The following statement is still true, so be on the lookout for when Google rolls “Automatic Match” out to your account!
    Quote from an Official Google email dated 23May2008: “The feature will be enabled by default..” – see Automatic Match to be Default
  2. Automatic Match does not start spending immediately… once activated, it takes up to a couple weeks for it to learn what it thinks it should do. So, don’t get complacent if it does don’t start spending on Day One — KEEP TABS — it could take off like a rocket at any time.
  3. Google’s “Automatic Match” IS greedier than expanded broad match! See our original post at: More Greedy than Expanded Broad Match
  4. Still true (if you notice when it shows up): But there is GOOD news — you can OPT out!

    Look for this in your Campaign Settings:


  5. Automatic Match is especially invasive in adgroups that have relatively few keywords.
  6. You can “negate” bad impressions and clicks with negative keywords — if you keep very, very close tabs on them. We use the PPCProbe keyword tool to allow us real-time tracking of the search phrases.

NOW, some actual results:

The Scenario:
One adgroup with 1 PHRASE match keyword, residing in a campaign enabled for automatic match.

The Results:

  • Adgroup spend increased 600%! That’s right… 600%!

While the increase in spend in and of itself is not a bad thing (assuming that’s why we were using Automatic Match in the first place), there is a problem with ther results of our test: spending more money is a good thing only if it is bringing targeted traffic to the site. One of the shortcomings of using Automatic Match is that you don’t get to see the search terms that the searchers are using in the Campaign/AdGroups management screen. We used PPCProbe to allow us to gain the insight into the actual search terms that Automatic Match was matching to in real time.

  • 88% of all clicks were from “Automatic Match”. Only 12% were from the actual phrase match keyword. The CPC of the Automatic Match keywords was a little cheaper than the CPC of the actual phrase in the account, but…
  • The majority (4 out of 5) of “Automatic Match” clicks came from keywords I consider to be not relevant. As we shall see, this makes the Effective CPC much worse in our case.

We ran our test with a single phrase match term in the AdGroup: “wedding table decorations”. Of the clicks collected during our test, clicks for the phrases in the AdGroup broke down as follows:

 

Category Example Percentage of Clicks
Actual Phrase from AdGroup
(non-Auto Match – Very Relevant Hits)
“wedding table decorations” 11.9%
Automatic Match (Relevant Hits) “weddiing table decor”
“decorations for wedding tables”
“wedding cake table decorations”
“wedding table ideas”
7.5%
Automatic Match (Non-Relevant/Close Hits) “table settings”
“party table numbers”
“table numbers for weddings”
9.0%
Automatic Match (Non-Relevant Hits) Chocolate “Hersheys”
“chocolate wedding favors”
“chocolate lollipops”
10.4%
Automatic Match (Non-Relevant Hits) Flowers “wedding flowers”
“wedding florists”
“wedding lily flowers”
47.8%
Automatic Match (Non-Relevant Hits) Wedding Gowns “discount wedding gowns”
“discount wedding dresses”
3.0%
Other (Non-Relevant Hits)   10.4%

 

As result, if we consider the Actual Phrases, the Automatch Hits, and the Near Misses (to give the benefit of the doubt – it is just a computer making these KW decisions and we are being lazy by using Automatic Match in the first place), you can see that only 28.4% of the ad spend generated relevant traffic to the site. This effectively made the CPC of the KW buys in this AdGroup 3.5 times more expensive with Automatic Match turned on compared to manually selecting keywords because of the ad spend wasted on the mis-targeted Keyword clicks.

So, where are these mismatched keywords coming from? Are chocolates, flowers and wedding gowns featured on the landing page for the AdGroup? The short answer is “No”. The word “flower” is mentioned once in the plain text of the page, the words “hershey” and “chocolate” appear in the sidebar navigation that points to other pages of the site, and the words “gown” and “dress” are not on the page at all. None of these off-target keywords appeared in the AdWords Ad Copy or anywhere else in the AdGroup. A new AdGroup was created for this test, so no deleted words were previously in the AdGroup. From this we conclude that Automatic Match seems to be using a variation of the Expanded Broad Match algorithm.

Recommendations

  • Turn Automatic Matching off until you understand the ramifications of what it will do to your ad spend, traffic, and conversions.
  • If you should decide to use it, watch it closely, and track the actual phrases that are being used to drive traffic to the site.
  • Be prepared for nothing to happen on the Automatic Match lines of your AdGroups immediately – Automatic Match takes some time to “kick in”.
  • Compute an “effective CPC” [total $$ / (total clicks - off-target Automatch clicks)] for the AdGroup. Once you discount the off-target traffic you will be better able to determine the real cost of using Automatic Matching in your ad campaign.

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