How to Build a Stronger, More Effective PPC Team

Contributor Frederick Vallaeys believes the PPC professionals with the strongest knowledge of paid search fundamentals will have the best opportunities for successful campaigns and solid career growth.

 

I've been doing pay-per-click (PPC) since 1998, when virtually every setting was manual. While it was painful to manage everything by hand, it forced me to learn the ins and outs of PPC, and that helped me build a successful career. 

Today, with automation playing an ever-more-important role in PPC, new account managers don’t have to learn all the fundamentals because tools handle the details. 

But as humans learn how to co-manage accounts with artificial intelligence, I believe that those with the strongest fundamentals will have the best opportunities for career advancement.

Automation erodes expertise

Remember the days when photography was an expensive hobby? Before digital, every time you clicked the shutter, you used another frame of film. To see the result, you’d spend more money to get the roll of film developed and printed. And not only was it expensive, it was also slow, with most labs taking an hour or more to turn the film into a print.

In the pre-digital days of photography, it mattered that you understood how to frame a shot and set the right exposure to get a beautiful photo. If the photo you took didn’t look amazing, there was very little you could do easily and cheaply to turn it into a masterpiece.

Compare that to today, where everyone has a decent camera on their smartphone and hobbyists have mirrorless cameras that can shoot 60 frames per second. Results are instantaneous, and all the computing power in the camera almost guarantees correct focus and exposure.

In PPC, where Google is pushing really hard to automate as much account management as possible, we run the risk that new PPC professionals will grow up in an era where they do nothing manually and never learn the fundamentals.

When the machine learns too slowly, results suffer

So, why does it matter if the person you hire to manage your AdWords doesn’t know the fundamentals? Even my 4-year old takes great photos, after all. But there is a key difference between taking photos without knowing what an f-stop is and running an AdWords account without knowing how a cost per click (CPC) is calculated.

With photography, we can take shots with ten different exposures in one second, knowing that at least one would be great. It costs nothing to throw away the nine bad photos, but if we’re lazy as account managers and we do nine pointless experiments in AdWords, those clicks cost real money.

I’ve made the point before that testing the right things is what will set great agencies apart from mediocre ones. In PPC, that means that fundamentals still matter so that you can set up a reasonable test that gets as much as possible right, leaving fewer variables to test. This helps find winning tests more quickly, and that can make a huge impact.

When humans rely too much on machine learning, we run into the following issue. Google doesn’t care if it takes ten clicks before their bidding model starts to make good predictions; they still make money on every one of those clicks. 

But advertisers should and do care about the amount of investment required to get to a stable situation where machines deliver predictably good results. This matters even more for small companies that may not have the cash flow to wait it out.

The more humans can help machines go in the right direction, the more money is saved and the happier the advertiser will ultimately be. Doing all that requires knowing the fundamentals.

Be sure to read the entire article on Search Engine Land.

 

Use Feed Analysis to Build AdWords Shopping Campaigns

Shopping campaigns are set up very differently from search campaigns in AdWords. The biggest difference is that technically your entire feed is part of each ad group in your shopping campaign. 

Unlike search campaigns where you choose the keywords that should be targeted, in shopping it is specifying what you don’t want to target and bid on separately. This is the reason that when you set up a shopping campaign in AdWords it starts off with one ad group and product group (All Products) which shows ads for all products in the feed. It also means that every product in the feed will have the same bid and it doesn’t matter if it costs $10 or $300.

Having the same bid for products that have a varying price point is not a good strategy and will result in low ROAS. This is because you will invest less in big ticket items which will most likely result in lower returns. To avoid this, it is recommended to create separate product groups for different products and set different bids. Deciding on the structure for your shopping campaign depends a lot on how you want to monitor and manage performance. The new Shopping Feed Analysis feature in the Shopping Campaign Builder gives you the additional layer of data you need to have the most accurate product group structure based on the data available in your feed. Before we get into the details of this feature, let's talk a bit more about campaign structure.

You Can Read the Full Article from GEETANJALI TYAGI on Optymzr published February 5th, 2018

The Technology Behind AI in PPC

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time, so why are we only just now exploring its applications for PPC?

Columnist Frederick Vallaeys explains the technology, its evolution in recent years, and what's next for AI in paid search.

What exponential growth means for PPC

So, if we’ve reached the point of PPC automation today where humans and computers are about equally good, consider that the pace of technological improvement makes it possible for the machines to leave humans in the dust later this year. That’s why it’s worth thinking about the roles humans will play in the future of PPC.

Build your own PPC intelligence

There are a lot of tools available to automate your PPC work, and multiple third-party vendors are starting to use AI and ML to provide stronger recommendations. But there are also many free toolsfrom AdWords that are getting better every day thanks to advances in AI, like Portfolio Bid Strategies, Custom Intent Audiences, optimized ad rotation, etc.

For those willing to invest in connecting their own business data to AdWords and AI, I’m a big fan of prototyping solutions with AdWords Scripts because they provide a lot of customizability without requiring a lot of engineering resources. Unfortunately, simple scripts you write will fall into the weakest category of AI, where PPC intelligence is achieved through hard-coded rules.

But when you get a bit more advanced in your scripting abilities, you can use Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine to start enhancing your own automations with modern machine learning techniques.

The benefit of an out-of-the box solution like this is that you don’t need to learn many types of different models. But that’s also the downside because you won’t get total control over how you set criteria and thresholds to get results that are usable. Our team at Optmyzr tried several ready-made systems but eventually decided that we needed more power — so we’re building our own AI.

You Can Read the Full Article Written by Frederick Vallaeys published on Search Engine Land Jan 17, 2018

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