Google makes adjustments to its algorithms at least once, if not several times a day. But how often do they make adjustments or upgrades to their most important source of cash, Google Ads?
The frequency might surprise you, but Google is always looking to make sure that the ads delivered to users of its search engine continue to have the best experience possible.
If you’re looking for ways that Google has been improving both the advertiser’s and the user’s experience, here are some of the most recent updates that are worth special attention.
Attribution Models Now Support YouTube and Display Ads
When it comes to the buyer’s journey, many people who are conducting searches will interact with many different types of ads from the same or multiple advertisers.
The journey may even look like this: say a potential buyer is looking for a new washer and dryer. He sees multiple YouTube ads from different companies, reads customer reviews on competitor websites, and then ultimately uses Google to search for brand names or features of specific appliance sets that he likes.
In that last step, they’re more than likely going to click on a display ad or text ad through Google’s SERP (search engine results pages) or on the partner display network.
Google Ads could not attribute the impact of other ads that were a part of the same campaign until August 9th, when they upgraded non-last click models, including data-driven automation, for YouTube and Display ads.
Now an advertiser will see how much of an impact each channel within their campaign is.
The new model will even measure how many engaged views a YouTube advertisement gets, which helps marketers understand how long potential buyers are paying attention to their video.
Using Data-Driven Attribution with Google Ads to Improve Conversion
Okay, YouTube and Display ads can show their full impact with this new upgrade. So what? How does that make the advertiser’s life better?
For the advertiser, this will show more data points within the attribution models, which allows them to see which ads have been the most effective throughout the campaign.
It also means that automated or manual bidding strategies can help drive additional conversions at the same cost per acquisition (CPA) compared to the last click when coming from those sources.
But what about the user?
With any Google ad, the user is the single most important person. Google will even deliver better-performing ads at a CPA less than their competitors to ensure that searchers will have the best experience.
Enabling attribution for YouTube and partner Display ads means advertisers can make even more adjustments to their campaigns, showing less of what isn’t being interacted with and more of what users are looking for before completing a purchase.
To deliver a better experience, Display ads or YouTube videos with poor engagement will be shown less often.
Compare Attribution Models to Increase Conversions
Now that an advertiser can see all the different attributions from YouTube and Display, they’ll also be able to compare which attribution models will have the best success for their campaign.
The “Model comparison” report looks at the return on ad spend and how each model’s cost per conversion is different.
That way, they should easily understand which of the pieces of their campaigns will have the most significant impact on their conversions.
Which Attribution Model Is Right for Me?
There are a handful of attribution models: last-click, first-click, linear, time decay, position-based, and data-driven.
This attribution model gives all the credit for a conversion to the last advertisement clicked.
Considering this method was one of the very first attribution models available to marketers, it’s no surprise that many companies still use it.
The most significant problem with last-click is that it doesn’t give marketers a great understanding of their customers.
Most of the time, people who make purchases don’t base their decision only on the last touchpoint of the campaign, so giving credit to only the last clicked channel can be misleading.
This attribution model could be appropriate for commodities like laundry soap or a toilet bowl cleaner with very low involvement in the buying decision.
Opposite of the last-click attribution model, the first-click model gives the first point of engagement all of the credit for the conversion.
Identifying that point is essential if a company wants to determine what method or strategy drives the most new customers.
This is where all of the attribution credit for a conversion is evenly throughout the entire campaign.
If multiple channels are pulling in conversions, this is a great model to look holistically at all channels simultaneously.
Over time, a marketer will see trends as to which channels are converting the most successfully.
Most marketers are really interested in conversions. So it’s vital to know which channels are delivering the most conversions regularly.
Time decay is helpful because it increases the credit given to each channel, which drives a customer closer to the actual conversion.
It’s an excellent method to understand which channels are driving conversions and which are, more often than not, top-of-funnel channels.
A campaign is launched that gets users from Google Ads onto a landing page. They go through the landing page to download an eBook. In exchange for the eBook, the user gives up their email address, which is added to a drip campaign. Miraculously, they convert on the first email sent.
This particular model gives partial credit to each of the points between the first and last clicks but gives most of the credit to the first and last points of the campaign.
With all the other models, there have been weights set for individual channels that aren’t necessarily showing which of those attributions are having the most impact on conversions.
That’s where the data-driven model comes in.
Using technical algorithms and weighted credit, this model gives credit to the channels that are driving the most success in getting conversions.
Data-driven attribution is the most effective model in identifying which channels are a waste of time or are driving conversions and increasing ROI.
Advertise Online With Pintler Group
Pintler Group is based in Missoula, Montana. We’re a performance-based marketing shop with expertise in paid search, paid social, email marketing management and retargeting. Our superpower is designing customer marketing solutions for mid-size clients looking to grow.
Just like unconventional PR and search engine marketing, social and display ads are one of the 19 traction channels recognized by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares in their book Traction. Basically, these are any advertisements you see on social media or around your computer screen as you surf the internet. Chances are, you have already seen multiple social and display ads today. Do you remember any of them? Better yet, did you click on any of them?
As you are deciding to run social and display ads for your own business you want to make sure your ads have the ability to cut through the noise and be remembered (and clicked on) by your potential customers. There are many ways to create an effective ad, but sometimes it can be really challenging to know where to start, and once the ad is created, it can be difficult to know where to go from there. Here are some of the tricks we use to create effective digital advertisements that lead to effective landing pages.
An effective ad starts with a design that catches the viewer’s attention. Many attractive ads include three main pieces of information: the company’s logo, its value proposition, and a call to action. These three pieces of information help the viewer understand who the ad is from, why it is important to them, and what steps they should take next if they want to participate with the brand. Once you have your logo, value, and call to action figured out it is time to design what the ad will look like to the viewer. If you do not have design skills, we would recommend outsourcing this small project to a graphic designer. While this might be more expensive, in many cases, having an effective and attention-grabbing ad will be worth your spend. Regardless of whether you design the ad or pay a designer to do it, make sure it is the correct dimensions and easy to read right away.
Ad Assets Quick Tips:
Include a logo, value proposition, and a call to action
Once you create an attractive ad that people want to click on you need somewhere to take them, and a landing page is one great option. The point of your landing page is to supply relevant and desired information to the viewer so they either visit another page of your site, sign up for your email list, make a purchase, or complete whatever your goal may be. In order for your landing page to complete your desired goal, you need to understand your audience and what they are looking for when they visit this page. Try to understand their current emotions, needs and frustrations and play to those within the landing page copy and design. An effective landing page is straight forward, attractive, easy to look at and mobile-friendly. Make sure your landing page supplies the offer or content that the ad that brought them there promised.
Ad Landing Page Tips:
Really understand your audience
Keep it straightforward, attractive, and easy to read
Whether your customers primarily purchase by phone or you’re simply trying to strengthen your business’s online profile, adding a phone number (i.e., a call extension) to your Google Ads campaigns may be an effective way to drive leads and conversions.
How do extensions drive leads and conversions?
First, let’s review what’s going on behind the scenes: Google Ads runs an auction each time a user searches on Google to determine which ads to show. This auction takes into account three main ad components (expected CTR, ad relevance and landing page experience), as well as the strength of the bid, to identify the ad that will be most interesting for the user based on their search term. There are quite a few adjustments you can make to improve these components and achieve a better ad rank; featuring ad extensions happens to be one of those adjustments.
Ad extensions come in all shapes and sizes, but the one we’d like to focus on today is the call extension — and we’ll show you what to do with the data, too!
Alright, so how do I add a call extension?
Call extensions can be featured on search ads at the account, campaign or ad group level. When you pick a campaign from the navigation panel, choose “Ads & extensions” on the page menu; from there, you can navigate to “Extensions” and find a list of all extensions in the selected campaign. You can add a new extension by clicking that fun little blue button with a plus sign.
One notable feature you’ll see while creating a call extension is extension scheduling, located in the advanced options of the “Add call extension” window; this allows you to choose specific time frames in which you’d like your ad to run. Especially for physical stores with limited operating hours, scheduling a call extension can be a great way to encourage phone traffic when there is someone available to help.
Like most things in Google Ads, creating call extensions is easy — it’s the logic and strategy behind tracking that differentiates pro marketers from novice account managers. The most important step when setting up your call extensions is to enable Call Reporting. Without Call Reporting, Google can’t collect valuable information about calls, including when they are received, the duration and the caller’s area code. (Update: as of September 2018, Call Reporting is “moving from ad level to account level”, according to a Google Ads notification. All users will migrate to the new setting in early 2019.)
One more note: extensions don’t show every time your ad does, so keep that in mind as you start sifting through data.
How does Google track this information?
When Call Reporting is enabled, Google will assign your account a unique forwarding phone number, which will display on your ad. If someone calls this number, the call will be redirected to the number you provided in your extension — but because it goes through Google first, Ads can generate detailed reports on every call.
Once your first call goes through, Ads will create a conversion action (found under Conversions in the toolbox), which will count each call lasting over a minute as a conversion by default. Depending on whether you’d rather track leads or conversions, you can track every call or just each unique one.
One more tidbit that Google buried in their Ads Helps pages: if you have a location extension set up, Ads “may direct calls to the phone numbers that are associated with those locations rather than the phone numbers set with your call extensions” — just check that Ads is using the right phone number to ensure your conversion data is being tracked correctly.
Which metrics should I look at once I have call data?
When you look at the extension data, there will be information about clicks, impressions and conversions — all data that’s not too scary or unfamiliar. However, it’s important to recognize that these clicks are not necessarily on the call extension itself; they are just clicks earned when the extension was shown as part of the ad (meaning the recorded click could’ve been on the ad headline or another extension, thus not producing a call conversion).
With that in mind, you can add columns that feature data on your call extension, including phone impressions, phone calls or the phone-through rate (how many times someone called you divided by how many times your call extension was shown).
Of course, here at GeoFli, we’re especially interested in identifying where the users are coming from based on area code. You can find these metrics by navigating to the predefined reports; then, under “Extensions”, select “Call details”. There, you can find the area code of all calls in any given period.
What am I going to do with all this area code data?
We saved the best news for last: we’ll take care of this part for you (for free!). With our tool ZipMap, you can input lists of area and zip codes to create detailed heat maps of the data, making regional clusters obvious and geotargeting that much simpler.
Next step? Website personalization based on location to optimize conversions… and, don’t worry, we can help with that, too.
This article explores the business model of display and programmatic companies. As our team executes digital campaigns, it became clear there was a growing and lucrative vertical that we wanted to learn more about. And so did potential clients. A question we get quite often is, what is programmatic advertising and does it make sense for my business?
If you want the answer now to save some time: probably not.
First: What is Programmatic Advertising:
Defined by the Display Trading Council as “the use of automation in buying and selling of media”.
Is Programmatic Display and Bid Management Right for My Business?
The root of the question is this: will I get a return on my investment in targeted display ads? To answer that, you want to understand (quickly) how online ads are bought and sold. You also want to identify what’s really going on behind the fancy diagrams, flashy websites and “superior value”.
The language on ad-tech and programmatic company websites is confusing at best and deceiving at worst. In writing this article, we found a lot of strange ambiguity and “behind the curtain” terms that, coming from a background in digital marketing, didn’t add up. Most of the programmatic advertising websites we visited had confusing visuals like the ones below to try and represent what they do.
The above diagrams look like something out of the Da Vinci Code. The left is programmatic ad delivery company Amobee and the right is AdTaxi. We’ll break down what the terms in the diagram mean in a minute.
How Much Do Display Ads Cost? You Should Know:
In the movie “The Big Short” the character played by Ryan Gosling is a lovable blood-thirsty capitalist. Basically, his firm offers swaps which is insurance on insurance on … well, it’s confusing. When asked what he gets out of offering this special mortgage swap to potential buyers, Gosling replies “Sure – swaps are a dark market so … I set the price, whatever price I want.” It seems that when working with programmatic bid management companies, the cost of online advertising is a dark market, and programmatic ad-exchanges are setting the price: whatever they want.
If you don’t know what a “fair” price is to pay for online ads, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, most programmatic ad-tech company employees don’t have a straight answer to this question . It’s nobody’s fault, but putting a benchmark in place will allow you to make a more informed decision.
Some Quick Definitions Before Diving in Head First:
Bid Management: When purchasing ads online, it’s the automated system set up to win the bid depending on the ad placement in the digital marketing campaign.
Cost Per Thousand Impressions: CPM: A standard measurement for how much online advertising costs. How much will it cost to show your ad to 1,000 people? You can easily break down your ad spend.
Display Ads: The ads you either see next to the article on your favorite newspaper website, or the ads you need to find the “x” to get out of.
DSP: Domain Side Platform: An automated buying platform used by programmatic ad-tech companies. This is the platform the company uses to purchase display ads from publishers (Google, Bing, third party). Banner ads = ads on websites, mobile ads on apps and mobile web and in-stream video.
Inventory: Total impressions online. Think of inventory like a billboard for a website. Your business can purchase 10,000 eyeballs. Once those are used up, the billboard changes to someone else’s message. How you select those 10,000 eyeballs is up to you. Perhaps you want your ad to appear in inventory only targeting males, ages 35-45 that are interested in tennis.
Questions To Ask of Programmatic Companies:
What should 1,000 impressions online cost?
According to HubSpot: the average cost for 1,000 impressions on display (if you see an ad, or an ad loads on your screen even if you don’t see it: that’s an impression), is $2.25. We’ve seen ad-tech companies charge anywhere from $15-$20 CPM. The next question you need to ask, is it worth it?
The $1,000 challenge: Would would happen if you bought direct? That means if you buy direct or through an agency that purchases direct and spend $1,000, you’ll deliver your ad 444,000 times. Let’s say you spent that same $1,000 with an ad-tech company, your ad would be served only 66,000 times. That’s a difference of 378,000 impressions. Is programmatic worth the cost?
What’s your cost-per-thousand-impressions online?
Again, CPM = what it costs you to show your display ad to 1,000 people online. After their surprise that you know what CPM is, they should give you a straightforward answer. If they don’t, be cautious. Programmatic advertising companies make it simple to bundle all of your advertising under one roof. Spoiler alert: it’s a very expensive roof. If the metric is readily available on their website, it’s a good sign of a transparent business model. If the number is not: you should find out what it is.
Purchasing direct (in-house) or with a digital marketing expert will cost around $2.25 per thousand impressions. Programmatic costs $15 per thousand impressions. About an 800% mark-up.
How do Programmatic Advertising Companies Make Money?
They charge a $15.00 CPM for for inventory they get at a discount. It’s a highly lucrative business model. It works because there’s not a lot of knowledge on exactly how much an online impression is worth.
Educate yourself: how much of a markup am I paying programmatic vs. buying direct through a marketing expert or through Google Ads? Or not using display ads at all? If you’re aware of the upcharge and it makes sense for your business: great.
Understand how much you’re willing to pay for 1,000 impressions and you’ll become a smart digital ad buyer. And no, Google Ads doesn’t own all the online inventory on the internet, but they can serve billions of impressions a day if you want them to.
Many programmatic advertisers are buzz-word heavy and marketing tactic poor. Words like “Premium Inventory” or “Ad Exchange Platform” are using inventory in platforms you can purchase direct like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, YouTube and Bing. Put the reporting in one place using Google Data Studio and you’ve potentially just saved tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Programmatic Ad Tech Business Model: Spend More Money.
Programmatic advertising companies make money when they sell more of their display, search, video and social ads at $15 CPM. If your YouTube ads are costing you $5 CPM direct, bundling that under the programmatic umbrella just bumped it up to $15. Is the “cross channel optimization” worth the mark-up?
The more CPMs they sell, the more money they make. The incentives for this model are so clearly backwards. The recommendation will always be to spend more money.
If you’re working with a team of marketing experts in a performance marketing firm, their answer to more sales, more inbound and more website visitors might not be more ad-spend. It might be public relations, content marketing or any of the other marketing traction channels that might yield higher results.
Below: Order for 334,000 programmatic display ad impressions at $4,850. The result, lots of impressions, zero landing page leads. Purchasing the same 334,000 through Google Ads would cost around $1,000.
Is My Programmatic Ad Team Also My Marketing Team?
No. Programmatic display ad firms are not marketing agencies: The individual managing your bid (where your ad is served) automation isn’t a trained marketing expert. Think of an Ad-Tech company the same way you’d think of the local television network selling you ad-space. You purchase a commercial, they deploy it strategically during shows and times they see valuable. If you bought a newspaper ad, would you say the newspaper ad salesman and the publisher handles your marketing? Programmatic tackles one small vertical of digital marketing: display.
Does Programmatic Advertising Work?
You’re going to be hard pressed to see a transparent return on ad-spend. Though, this is a question best answered by results and one you should be monitoring if you’re currently paying $15 CPMs. If you’re paying for programmatic and not measuring conversions. Stop. You’re donating money. Google announced Custom Intent Audiences at the end of 2017. As far as we’re concerned, this gives companies all the targeting capabilities they could ever need.
We’ve tested programmatic advertising at a cost of $15 CPM driving traffic to a landing page. The result? Programmatic spent $5,000 in automated display ads without a single form-completion while in-house paid social and paid search drove leads at around $11 cost-per-acquisition.
Here’s an article published by the Wall-Street-Journal describing a case-study with Proctor and Gamble. They cut millions of dollars from their programmatic budget. The result? “Little impact on its business, proving that those digital ads were largely ineffective.” Check out the article below:
“Proctor and Gamble, one of the largest advertisers in the country said that its move to cut more than $100 million in digital marketing spend in the June quarter (2017) had little impact on its business, proving that those digital ads were largely ineffective.
Chief Executive David Taylor said in an interview that the digital spending cuts are part of a bigger push by the company to more quickly halt spending on items — from ad campaigns to product development programs — that aren’t working.
“We shut it down. We’re not going to follow a formula of how much you spend or share of voice. We want every dollar to add value for the consumer or add value for our stakeholders.”
Bid Management Tools:
Programmatic Ad Tech companies will talk extensively about bid management and real-time bidding. These tactics haven’t proven (at least in tests we’ve done) to be more or less impactful for generating leads or sales. You may have heard of Marin Software. They are a bid management tool that claims to have cross channel premium inventory for advertisers to purchase. Here’s a look at their video:
Below: Display bid-management companies and ad-tech companies have a way of making bid management seem just ambiguous enough to work.
But … Marin Display Bid Management Stock: Yikes.
At the core of programmatic is display advertising. Banner ads, in-stream video and in-app advertisements. Do they actually result in sales? According to HubSpot, the average click-through-rate for a display ad is .35%. That means if 100 people in your hyper-targeted audience see your ad, you’re doing exceptionally well if you can get one person to show interest and click. Spending money on display if you have a fixed or performance based marketing budget is not where we would start.
I’m a Marketing Agency, Should I Partner With Programmatic Advertising Companies?
If you want full control over your ad message, landing page content and analytics, we’d strive for in-house management. Get familiar with purchasing direct and then decide if programmatic is something you want to explore. Plus having the in-house expertise to manage, contribute and grow your online acquisition channels would be highly valuable.
Run a Simple Test:
The easiest way to see if your programmatic partner is worth the high margins on ad-inventory is to test. Spend $5k in programmatic and run a $5k campaign internally. See what the cost-per-lead comes out to be. See how they track conversions and see the return. Does the money deployed toward hiring marketing professionals outperform the money deployed programmatically?
Below: DIY Google Ads makes it simple to deploy highly targeted display ads.
Who Makes Money on Display Ads?
Google AdSense is a pretty straightforward exchange. Let’s pretend you have a blog. You write content about roasting your own coffee beans. 1,000 people per day visit your website. You decide to rent a banner ad (inventory) from Google. You tell Google what your website is about. Google turns around and sells that banner ad space to advertisers. Starbucks, your local coffee shop and Folgers all want to show ads on websites for people interested in coffee. The blogger (you!) gets some money every time your ad is shown, and every time your ad is clicked.
That’s Google’s inventory, you can log-in to Google Ads or hire an expert in paid search to help build those campaigns. Programmatic Advertisers use a few different ad-exchanges, not just Google, to purchase ad-inventory and bid on when your ad appears. But as mentioned earlier, Google has a huge market share of ad inventory and an 800% mark-up to reach the remaining display ad placements and publishers is likely not worth it for your business.
Test Direct Vs. Programmatic Bid Management:
It could potentially save you thousands of dollars a month. Talk with a marketing agency and see how they would approach spending ad dollars: here’s a quick presentation I gave as part of an opening class to 50 seniors this spring at the University of Montana Marketing Analytics 440.
Below are the the 19 traction channels as described in the book “Traction” by Gabriele Weinberg. When working with a talented marketing agency, the goal is going to be testing traction channels. The incentive is to reach your goal, whether that’s through display ads or through blog and influencer outreach.
Programmatic Advertising lives in the display traction chanel: (No. 5 above). But that leaves a lot of other channels and gaps to test.
What Should We Do?
If you’re a small or mid-level business, we would not recommend your introduction to online advertising be with programmatic display. Paying for advanced bid-management tools is going to burn your potential marketing spend early. There are performance-based marketing firms you can hire that will help identify the three traction channels to focus on. If display ads are one of them, it might be time to entertain a conversation with programmatic. Perhaps there’s on-page website personalization to turn visitors into leads that might be more worth your time. Start at the center of your bullseye and figure out where your existing happy customers came from.
Hopefully after reading this article, you recognize the costs, the opportunity, and the risks of using programmatic ad-tech companies and also how to spot large CPMs behind ambiguous ad-tech diagrams.