Getting Dynamic with Google Ads

Getting Dynamic with Google Ads+Ad Writing Automation

The inevitable switch from Google AdWords to the new Google Ads is here; since October 18th 2018 the new Google Ads experience has fully replaced Google AdWords. This is the third in a series of three posts on the new Google Ads with a focus on utilizing Google’s dynamic ad features. The other posts focus on 4 tips and tricks in Google Ads and outlining campaign creation, reporting and optimization in Google Ads. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Ads we recommend you read both of those posts, which will get you up to speed in no time.

The new Google Ads experience is all about automation. From reporting to recommendations, Google has put a lot of work into doing the heavy lifting for advertisers, allowing us to get more strategic with our media buying. So it’s no surprise that Google has taken this automation further with the ability to dynamically create ads, on-the-fly, that are tailored to a Google user’s specific search.

While these features may not be unique to the new Google Ads experience – a Google search for ‘dynamic search ads’ yields results dating back to 2014 – these features are much more prominent in the new Google Ads interface. Therefore, now’s the time to learn about what they are and how you can leverage them in your own Google Ads accounts.

Dynamic Search Ads in the new Google Ads

In a nutshell, Dynamic Search Ads allow advertisers, especially those with larger websites and sets of products/services, an easier and more scalable approach for creating ads, while maximizing relevancy for the end user. Advertisers provide their URL or list of landing pages, along with a bit of descriptive text for ad creative (sans headline) and Google does the rest dynamically based on the user’s specific search query.

An example that Google provides is a large hotel in a big city. Rather than creating a campaign and ad groups in the traditional way, with numerous keywords and multiple ad sets for split-testing, the advertiser would instead provide the URL for their hotel (or one or more preferential landing pages) and a bit of ad copy. When the user’s search query matches with the dynamic ad, Google then cobbles together a headline and pairs it with a landing page that it deems to be most relevant to the search term. Not only cool stuff but also extremely useful for us: this ultimately frees the advertiser up for getting more strategic with their media buying rather than spending time on setup, leverages Google’s own AI to create relevant ads for us, and allows us to leave work early for the ever-popular Friday After-Work Beers.

How to Enable Dynamic Search Ads in the new Google Ads

Here’s a breakdown of how to enable Dynamic Search Ads for a new campaign:

  • Create a new campaign and select the Search network
  • One of the first things you see in the Settings menu is titled Dynamic Search Ads. Click into it to expand it and check the box up near the top to enable Dynamic Search Ads
  • Plug in the domain of your site. Alternatively you can create a Page Feed in the Shared Library to provide Google Ads with the URLs you want it to select for your landing page. For simplicity we recommend providing your URL, but if you want to create your own page feed you can download the CSV file to do so here.

That’s it! You’ve now enabled Dynamic Search Ads in your campaign. But you’re not done yet; we’ve still got a bit more to do before Google starts dynamically working its magic.
Enable Dynamic Search Ads

How to Set Up Dynamic Ad Groups – no keywords required!

After opting into Dynamic Search Ads, you’ll be taken to the ad group creation screen. From here you can either create your dynamic ad group for your ads, or you can bypass this and create the ad group later once the campaign creation process is done. Either way, you’ll need to create a dynamic ad group at some point if you want to run these ads. But don’t worry: creating a dynamic ad group is about as easy as enabling Dynamic Search Ads.

When creating your new ad group for your campaign, select Dynamic for the ad group type from the drop down menu (if Dynamic doesn’t appear you still need to enable Dynamic Search Ads in the campaign settings). What follows will be a list of ad group targeting types that you’ll be choosing from. It’s important to note that this targeting is based on the specific pages you want Google to be creating your ads around and sending traffic to.

There’s three types of targeting to choose from:

  • Categories recommended for your website – Google Ads will essentially group your site into different categories based on its content, and you can choose which of those categories you want to target with your ads. For our site we will choose categories based around our service offerings – SEO, PPC, Social media etc.
  • Specific Web Pages: You’ll provide Google Ads up to 20 URLs to target, or create rules for targeting for your web pages
  • All web pages: For advertisers who want to target every product and service offering on their website, across every web page

Set up a Dynamic Ad Group - Stikky Media

Once you’ve saved the website targeting you’ll then create your ads. This is one of the coolest features of Dynamic Search Ads. Up until now, writing and testing ad creative has been one of the most onerous tasks in Google Ads. However with Dynamic Search Ads Google actually writes the headline, the path for your URL (i.e. everything that comes after the first slash) and picks your ad’s destination URL (based on the targeting you selected above), thus doing all the heavy lifting for you.

Google is pulling all of this information from your website’s content and the specific search query that the user typed in and it’s all done near real time, so that the end user has no different experience than if they were served a traditional search ad. Have we mentioned that we think this is pretty cool? All you need to provide Google Ads is a couple 90 character descriptions. After creating you can preview it, create a few more and save them to your account and that’s it, you’ve created a dynamic ad group for your Dynamic Search Ad campaign – no keywords required!
Preview Dynamic Ad Group - Stikky Media

Understanding Dynamic Ad Reporting in Google Ads

Reporting for your dynamic ad groups in Google Ads is pretty straightforward. Much like how clicking into a standard search ad group would display numerous keywords for your reporting, you will instead now click Dynamic Ad Targets to see the targets you’ve selected for your ads. For our example we would see the specific Stikky Media service offerings that we’ve selected to promote, such as social media marketing. On the reporting screen you’ll see all the familiar metrics, including clicks, conversions and cost, and you can of course change the columns that you want displayed.

Much like keywords, if you find any of these targets not performing well for you there’s an option to add them as category negatives from the reporting screen. Simply click the Negative Dynamic Ad Targets menu item near the top of the screen, click the plus sign and plug in your negatives. Also much like the keyword report you can see the actual search terms that triggered your dynamic ads. Click the Search Terms menu item next to the Negatives and view which terms have triggered your ads, along with associated metrics. We’re seeing a CTR of 2.94% for one of our dynamic ad groups, compared to an overall search ad CTR of 1.30%. Not bad!

Dynamic Ads reporting - Stikky Media

We’ve covered Dynamic Search Ads, dynamic ad groups and how reporting works for these features. Now it’s time for you to log into your Google Ads account and start experimenting with these cool features and seeing how well they do against your standard search ads. If you’re like us you might be surprised to see a substantial lift in performance!

Want to Take your Pay Per Click Campaign to the Next Level?

While a DIY mindset is a great way to approach pay per click campaigns, with the digital media industry changing constantly, augmenting your team with knowledgeable experts can makes it easier to outpace your competition. There are a lot of subtle nuances that can make a big difference.

If you need help optimizing your next pay per click campaign read more about our paid search marketing services. Of course, if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to reach out.

AdWords Optimization: 4 Tips to Maximize Google Ads Experience

AdWords Optimization: 4 Tips to Maximize Google Ads Experience
Here at Stikky Media we have a great relationship with the Google Ads team, and one of the perks is that we get calls from the team whenever new features are rolled out. We got one such call when Google AdWords switched over to Google Ads, and as well as getting the rundown on the new Google Ads experience we also received a few great tips that we thought you’d want to know about. Keep in mind a couple of these tips are only available in the new Google Ads interface, so before you read on make sure you’ve switched to the new Google Ads Experience, and if you’re not sure click that link to learn how to tell the difference between the two.

And the top four Google Ads optimization tips for 2018 are (drumroll please):

1. Enable Parallel Tracking

Parallel Tracking might be an unfamiliar term but it’s good to learn about it now as it will be required of all Google Ads accounts come October 30th 2018.

Essentially, Google Ads’ tracking to date has been implemented by loading a Google Ads tracker followed by a tracking URL prior to the end user seeing the landing page. This leads to customers seeing one or more redirects (more depending on if additional tracking is loaded), leading to a longer load time of the actual landing page.

A key benefit of the new parallel tracking is the landing page is loaded right after the ad is clicked, with all the tracking loading in the background – in parallel – to the actual page being loaded. This improves the overall user experience for users clicking on ads as the page load time is quite a bit faster. An improved user experience correlates with better CTR.

How to Enable Parallel Tracking

Google Ads Parallel Tracking is buried pretty deep in the interface but once found is very easy to implement. So if you’re reading this prior to the end of October 2018 you only need to do the following to opt in for each of your accounts:

  1. In the main navigation column on the left that starts with Overview, click on Settings
  2. Click on Account Settings in the menu near the top of the screen
  3. Click Tracking near the top of the page, then click to enable Parallel Tracking

That’s it! If you have more than one Google Ads account you’ll be enabling Parallel Tracking the same way across each account.

How to enable Parallel Tracking

Learn more about Google Ads Parallel Tracking here, or to get some in-depth developer notes on what’s happening behind the scenes click here.

2. Link Google Ads and Google Analytics

If you haven’t already linked Google Analytics and Google Ads now’s the time. Linking the two accounts allows for Google Ads metrics to be imported seamlessly into the Google Analytics interface. However even if you’ve linked the two accounts the flow of data is generally a one-way street: aside from being able to easily import goals from Google Analytics as conversions in Google Ads, there isn’t much of a role for Google Analytics to play in the Google Ads interface. That is, until you import Google Analytics Metrics.

When Google Analytics metrics are imported into Google Ads, we start seeing some familiar website KPIs, such as bounce rate, appearing in our Google Ads reports. While Google Ads provides some excellent reporting out of the box, such as conversion tracking and ad click through rate, without importing Google Analytics metrics there’s a bit of a black box in the Google Ads interface with the actual traffic quality we’re receiving and how users are actually interacting with the site. Linking Google Analytics and Ads will open this black box and enable you to get stronger ROI from each pay-per-click campaign.

How to Import Google Analytics Metrics into Google Ads

So, to link the two accounts, and to import Google Analytics metrics into Google Ads, simply do the following:

  1. Click on the Tools icon in the Google Ads top nav, then click Linked Accounts
  2. You’ll see a group of accounts that you can link to Google Ads. Locate the Google Analytics one and click Details
  3. Scroll down to the Google Analytics view that corresponds to the Google Ads account you’re using, click the pencil icon next to that view to edit it and check off Link and Import Site Metrics so they both turn blue. (Note: if you have a lot of properties in your Google Analytics account you may need to show more rows than the default, which you can do near the bottom of the page).
  4. Click Save and you’re done

how to import Google Analytics metrics into Google Ads

If you haven’t linked these accounts before you’ll now start seeing Google Ads metrics in your Google Analytics account, under Acquisition > Google Ads. And if you haven’t imported site metrics before you can now start enabling those in your reports, as you’ll see in the next tip.

How to mport site metrics into Google Ads

3. Enable Bounce Rate in Google Ads

If you’re importing Google Analytics site metrics into Google Ads you might not be seeing anything different in your reports right off the bat. That’s okay; we actually need to pick a specific metric we want to see in Google Ads and enable it by editing the columns of our reports. If you don’t have experience tweaking your Google Ads reports then this is a great way to get your feet wet.

Why Add Bounce Rate to your Google Ads Reports?

I find one of the most helpful metrics to import into Google Ads is bounce rate, and one of the most relevant reports to add that metric to is the Ads report. This will give you a bit of insight that will help you in split testing your ads and testing your landing pages. For instance, if you have two ads that have similar click through and conversion rates, but one with a substantially lower bounce rate, you’ll know which one to delete and which to keep. As an example, when pausing a high-bounce rate ad and changing the landing page for one client, we saw bounce rate change by -37.5%, meaning bounce rate is now 37.5% lower. Pretty substantial!

Adding Bounce rate to Google Ads reports

Here’s how to add bounce rate to your Google Ads report:

  1. Click on Ads and Extensions. You can do this at the account, campaign or ad group level.
  2. Underneath the graph click Columns, then Modify Columns
  3. Scroll down and click on Google Analytics, and enable Bounce Rate. (You can also experiment with enabling other KPIs, such as Pages / Session.)
  4. Click Apply and that’s it

how to Enable Bounce Rate in Google Ads

You should now have Bounce Rate added as a column to your Ads report, and can sort your ads by highest/lowest bounce rate.

Sort bounce rate as column in Google Ads report

4. Change Match Type for High Average CPC Keywords

There isn’t anything too new about this tip, however it may simply be something that you had never thought to done as it involves using the search terms report slightly differently.

The search terms report is the place to go to find what searches actually triggered your ads. From there you can easily add these keywords to your account if you deem them relevant, or add them as negatives if you don’t. And if you have Broad Match keywords in any of your keyword sets, another use for this report is to sort your search terms by average CPC in descending order. Often you’ll be surprised at the high average cost of some of your broad match keywords, which may only be getting one or two clicks. From there you can either add the keywords as negatives or, if you like them, change the match type to something more specific like Phrase Match and add them to your account that way. For example, one of our agency’s own paid keywords, which is driving traffic to our SEO eBook, broad matched for the rather awkward phrase ‘how to make your website seo optimized’ – at a cost of $9.81 for one single click with no conversion! Needless to say that high cost, low performing keyword phrase is getting added as a negative.

how to Change Match Type for High Average CPC Keywords in Google Ads

To see these high CPC keywords do the following:

  1. Click into your keywords and above the graph click Search Terms, then Search Terms from the menu
  2. Sort by average CPC so that the keywords appear in descending order
  3. Note your low click, high CPC keywords, which may be broad match. Click the check box next to the keywords and either add them as negatives, if you don’t like them, or click Add as Keyword if you do
  4. If you’re adding broad match keywords, you can edit the keyword with quotation marks to change the match type to Phrase. You can also eliminate some of the words from the keyword phrase, and even set a max CPC if you felt a little sticker-shock from the price that you paid for the click
  5. Click Save and you’re done

As always keep an eye on the new keywords you’ve added and make sure they’re performing well. Dial up or down the bids accordingly.

How to Change Match Type - Keywords in Google Ads

Those are our top four keyword optimization tips for 2018, as discussed with the pros over at Google Ads. If you’ve got any questions leave us a comment, or let us know what your top tricks of the trade are!

Want to Take your Pay Per Click Campaign to the Next Level?

While a DIY mindset is a great way to approach pay per click campaigns, with the digital media industry changing constantly, augmenting your team with knowledgeable experts can makes it easier to outpace your competition. There are a lot of subtle nuances that can make a big difference.

If you need help optimizing your next pay per click campaign read more about our paid search marketing services. Of course, if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Get Started with the New Google Ads Experience in 3 Easy Steps

Computer screen displaying Google logo - new google ads experience

Here at Stikky Media we’re big fans of adopting new technology (read: colossal geeks) and, given that we have several PPC clients using Google Ads, we’ve had quite a bit of time to play in the new interface.

Overall, the changes made from AdWords to the new Google Ads interface in 2018 have been welcomed, right down to the name: as we shift more attention away from traditional, text-based searches and use features such as re-marketing more, we see that we’re often not paying attention to keywords at all, at least not in the traditional sense.

If you haven’t yet delved into the wild world of the new Google Ads experience yourself, here’s a quick rundown on what to expect, from creating a campaign and setting a bid strategy to reporting and optimizing.

1. Creating a new campaign in Google Ads

When you log into Google Ads and click Campaigns from the left nav, you’ll be greeted by an inviting blue plus sign (very ‘appy’). Once clicked you’ll choose between creating a new campaign or loading another campaign’s settings, and off you go.

When you create a new campaign, you’ll notice a huge difference between AdWords and the new Google Ads: there’s a new campaign creation tool that is entirely goal-driven. Though there’s still an option to create a new vanilla campaign without using being goal-focused, you can tell that Google put goals front and center, and for good reason: goals are how we measure the performance of campaigns as advertisers, and allow us to make educated decisions on where to shift marketing budget.

Goal Types

Each of the goal types are relatively self-explanatory, from driving sales to app promotion. When you hover over each goal you’ll notice that the campaign type that’s associated with that goal is displayed. For instance, the website traffic goal is available for search, display, video and shopping campaigns, as each of these drive traffic to an advertiser’s website. The two goals associated with brand are only available for display and video campaigns, which makes sense given that brand-building campaigns typically run across the display network, rather than the search network which is the domain of direct response campaigns. Cool huh?

Goal types screen - new adwords interface 2018

After clicking into the goal type, you then choose between different campaign types and are then greeted with a few different options depending on the goal type. For this example we’re going to create a Sales-focused campaign, on the Search network, and can now select how we want our goal to be measured.

Dynamic Search Ads Feature

We’ve selected our goal and campaign types and are now off to the races. The next screen should look familiar – it’s fairly similar to the previous Settings screen in AdWords. However, in the new Google Ads experience a few things may stand out, including the front and center Dynamic Search Ads feature, which was previously buried in the settings. We’ll cover this in a separate post, but in a nutshell Dynamic Search Ads involves leveraging Google Ads technology to cobble together the appropriate landing page and ad headline, based on the user’s search query.

More Streamlined Bidding Options

Further, you’ll notice that bidding options are more straightforward, easier and tailored to the previously-selected goal type. For example, since we’re creating a Sales campaign here, the bid strategy drop-down defaults to conversions. Unlike the bad old days where an advertiser needed 15 conversions during a 30 day window to opt into CPA bidding, we can now select conversion bid strategies right from the get-go, including conversions and conversion value. Clicking on Select a Bid Strategy Directly reveals all the bid strategies available to us, most of which have some level of automation. You’ll notice the old favorites Target CPA, Enhanced CPC bidding and Manual CPC, and may also meet some new friends such as the sneaky Target Outranking Share.

Bidding options screen - new google ads interface

Ad Groups

After optionally creating site links we enter the familiar workflow of setting up ad groups (standard or dynamic depending on whether or not we opted into Dynamic Search Ads) and ads (text ads in the case of our Search campaign), and are then greeted with a nice little overview screen prior to pulling the trigger. With all those cheery bright blue checkmarks and buttons along the way we’re definitely encouraged to jump right in.

Campaign overview screen - new google ads interface

2. Reporting through the Overview Page

One of the cool new features and arguably the biggest change to the new Google Ads experience is the Overview page. Think of this as your reporting dashboard, with Google Ads curating several performance insights based on your campaigns. It’s like having your own personal PPC assistant feeding you custom reports on a custom dashboard. If you haven’t checked it out already, click Overview right near the top of the page and delve right in. Here’s some of the things that we’re seeing on our Stikky Media account right now:

  • A nice big graph top and center for which I can easily choose metrics through drop downs
  • New words pulled in from actual Google Searches – a nice feature for building up new positive or negative keyword lists
  • Biggest changes – great for seeing trends in campaign spend
  • Campaigns and Search Keywords – high level data on cost, clicks and CTR
  • Ads – both search and display ads
  • Demographics – this one is interesting and worth a look. See both the gender and age distribution of your visitors
  • Devices – a nice chart with the different devices and a few drop down options to select
    Day and hour – a breakdown of when your ads were clicked

All of these sections of the Overview report link into the section of Google Ads they correspond to, and have drop down menus for drilling further into the reports or seeing different data associated with them. By clicking the three vertical dots on the top right corner of each report you can tell Google whether or not the information was useful. You can tell Google put a lot into these reports and wants feedback from us advertisers on whether or not we like them. I think it goes without saying that they’re a pretty big hit with the Stikky team.

Most-shown search ads feature - new google ads interface

3. Optimization through the Google Ads Recommendations

We’ve covered account creation and reporting, so lastly we’ll get into optimization. As you’ve probably noticed, the new Google Ads experience really leverages automation, from the automated bid strategies to the automated reporting. Much like the previous Google AdWords interface, we’ve got Google’s own automated recommendations for reporting. Though the new Google Ads Recommendations may not be much different from the old, it is much more visually exciting, as with the Overview reports. If you haven’t used Google’s recommendations now’s the time to take a look.

We won’t get into each and every recommendation as they are very straightforward, but there are a few things we can mention in general. You’ll notice that they’re laid out in two columns featuring the same pleasing blue calls to action and links as we’ve seen throughout the rest of the interface, with plenty of breathing room to avoid looking cluttered. The recommendations themselves, such as adding keywords, can be applied directly from the Recommendations landing page, or dismissed or exported from the three vertical dots at the top.

Clicking into Viewing the recommendations plunges us deep into Google’s automated suggestions. For instance, Google Ads thinks that one of our ad groups is getting too broad, and has a recommendation for splitting it up into two separate ad groups. When I click further I can see how they’ve divvied up the keywords, and I can click further from there and actual select keywords and ads for a new prospective ad group. Very streamlined. Google Ads clearly wants to make our job easier in creating campaigns, ad groups and ads, and has given us multiple places to do so.

Optimization score in Google Ads - new google ads interface

Finally, up at the top there’s an optimization score, telling us how well optimized our accounts are. This is very encouraging and gives us something to strive for, and even gamifies Google Ads to a degree. (If my boss is reading this, how about some nice local craft beer in the fridge when we hit 100%?)

If you haven’t gotten time to play around in the new Google Ads interface yet, or have simply been too shy to create your first campaign, you’ll now have a pretty good idea of how to create a campaign, view reports and even optimize. The new Google Ads experience is definitely more streamlined than the previous AdWords interface and we’re definitely looking forward to any new features Google might roll out.

Need help with Google Ads?

It can be hard keeping up with the changes to Google AdWords and getting the most out of pay-per click campaigns. If you want to augment your existing team or even just let our experts do the work, learn more about our paid search advertising services.

Astroturfing: Fake Reviews Aren’t Always Greener

AstroTurf. Once famous for being the Brady Bunch’s lawn of choice, the term now refers to the endless stream of opinion spam that litters websites around the globe.

You know what I’m talking about—those so-called “consumer reviews” that are stuffed with exclamation points, superlatives and robotic phrases like “Great rooms and service! Highly recommended!”

My fake-o-metre is also set off by:

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