Dumbass of the Week: Pay Per Click Advertisers

DuhIt’s been ages since we’ve had a Dumbass of the Week, but I saw something yesterday that prompted me to resurrect the title once more.

A staff member here sent me a screengrab from a Google search he had made and pointed out one of the Sponsored Links / AdWords ads at the top of the page (see screen grab below) . He had conducted a search for *cheap glasses new zealand* and Google displayed a range of organic and paid results on the SERP.

Here’s a screengrab of the original search page showing the top 3 sponsored results:

PPC-error2

When my colleague clicked on the 3rd Sponsored Link on the page, it took him to a 404 Error Page. Thinking that the URL was simply malformed and he could find what he needed from the home page, he stripped the tracking URL down to the top level domain and refreshed the page. Again, he was taken to a 404 Error Page.

At first I thought perhaps the site was offline temporarily or simply not loading in his browser so I asked him to send me the destination URL from the ad so I could try.

Because I have the Google Toolbar installed, when I tried to view the same broken link, instead of a standard 404 error, I received a Google error page stating: “Oops! This link appears to be broken. Did you mean: www.­lessforspecs.­co.­nz?”

Aha! Mystery solved. The advertiser Less for Specs had accidently used dot com in their destination URL instead of .co.nz. Turns out, the dot com site doesn’t even exist, which is probably for the best as they would have been paying to send traffic to their competitor’s site if it did.

Normally, the AdWords system detects malformed destination URLs and either doesn’t approve the ad or sends you an alert very quickly and pauses the ad for you. However, for whatever reason (perhaps the dot com site did exist at one point), the ad was allowed to go live.

An identical search today doesn’t trigger the same ad, so perhaps the problem is resolved. Maybe Google alerted them of the problem. Perhaps the mistake was made by a 3rd party agency managing the site’s PPC campaign. But who knows how many people clicked on the link and were taken to a 404 error page before it was fixed? Who knows how many dollars the mistake cost the advertiser in click costs in the meantime?

Now, I don’t mean to single out Less For Specs. I’ve seen similar errors in Pay Per Click ads by many companies over the years, heck, I’ve made them myself. But seeing this example reminded me that we should be taking more care with our PPC campaigns in order to get the best value for money out of them.

Here’s a list of common PREVENTABLE errors I’ve seen in PPC ads:

  • Malformed destination URLs.
  • Incorrect or misleading display URLs.
  • Destination URLs leading to a *this page is under construction* placeholder.
  • Forgetting to pause a PPC campaign during a scheduled site outage (I have to admit guilt on this one!)
  • Moving a domain but forgetting to redirect PPC landing pages.
  • Not knowing about an unscheduled site outage for 48 hours.
  • Spelling or grammatical errors within ads.
  • Sexist, racist or otherwise ignorant ad wording.

Yes, some PPC systems such as AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter have built in checks to prevent dumb user errors, but they’re not bullet proof. Dumbass happens. Just don’t let it happen to you.

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Clever Use of AdWords Lands Man Top Advertising Job

What’s a job at the top of your field worth to you?

To unemployed advertising executive Alec Brownstein, it was worth around USD 6. That’s what Alec paid Google AdWords to get the attention of New York’s top advertising agencies and score himself two job offers.

Alec decided he wanted a job at one of New York’s top ad agencies. But to get an interview via the regular channels could take months. So he decided to bypass normal job application procedures and appeal to the egos of the Creative Directors instead.

How did he do it? He set up PPC ads using Dynamic Keyword Insertion that would appear whenever one of the Creative Directors Googled themselves, otherwise known as a *vanity search*. So a Google search for Gerry Graf, David Droga, Tony Granger, Ian Reichenthal or Scott Vitrone would trigger Alec’s ad to appear.

The ad read:

Hey [Director's Name]
Googling yourself is a lot of fun.
Hiring me is fun, too.

A click on the ad led to Alec’s site and contact details. According to Brownstein, nobody was bidding on the names, so he was able to achieve the top ad slots for around 10 cents per click.

The result? Alec scored interviews with 4 out of the 5 Creative Directors and job offers from both Ian Reichenthal and Scott Vitrone of Y&R Advertising. He took one of the offers and now has a permament gig at Y&R New York.

Clever eh?

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Outdated Google Analytics Tracking Code Could be Costing You Thousands

Do you run an ecommerce site? Do you use Google Analytics code on your pages? Does your site contain secure pages that start with https? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then you’ll probably shudder in horror when you read this.

Tom Critchlow of Distilled – a search agency in the UK – has written a guest post for the Google Analytics blog that demonstrates how using outdated Google Analytics tracking code on your secure pages can be costing you THOUSANDS of dollars.

Tom explained how he noticed a glitch on the analytics report of his client’s ecommerce site that involved users of Internet Explorer 8. These users had a significantly lower conversion and revenue rate on the site, in comparison to users of other browsers and IE versions.

Turned out Tom’s client was using the old Urchin version of the Google Analytics tracking code on every page. The old code included a call to a non-secure .js file that triggers a security warning pop-up in the Internet Explorer 8 browser.

Browsers like Chrome and Firefox don’t display a security warning but Internet Explorer 8 produces the following warning when users transition from the non-secure (http) pages to secure (https) pages on a web site.

The error looks like this:

IE 8 warning

Not surprisingly, the error was causing almost all visitors browsing with Internet Explorer 8 to abandon the shopping cart process and this was costing Tom’s client an enormous amount of revenue, estimated to be in excess of USD 150K per month.

A 5 minute fix to the site saved Tom’s client an estimated 1 million dollars per year. What was the fix? Simple. Installing the new version of the Google Analytics tracking code.

The new Analytics tracking code is asynchronous, meaning that it can track a single domain, or more complex sites with multiple subdomains, database driven pages, php pages or just top level domains.

The new tracking snippet offers:

* Faster tracking code load times for your web pages due to improved browser execution
* Enhanced data collection and accuracy
* Elimination of tracking errors from dependencies when the JavaScript hasn’t fully loaded

If you are using older versions of the Analytics tracking code, Google recommends you login to your Analytics dashboard, download the new code and transition your pages over as soon as possible.

Now you have an added incentive to transition – if you run an ecommerce site, the new code might not just save you page load time but thousands of dollars too!

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Google Display Network to Showcase Media to Advertisers

Google has announced that all their non-search display advertising will be collectively called the Google Display Network from now on, replacing the existing Google Content Network.

The new network covers Google display ads on Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Google Finance, Blogger and other ad partner sites.

Google made the announcement on their Inside AdSense blog, claiming the move was to make their display media clearer to advertisers:

“The Google Display Network will comprise all of the sites where advertisers can buy ads through Google, including the over one million AdSense and DoubleClick Ad Exchange partners as well as YouTube and Google properties such as Google Finance, Gmail, Google Maps, and Blogger… The Google Display Network offers all ad formats – text, image, rich media, and video ads – enabling advertisers to unleash their creativity and engage visitors on your websites in various ways.”

If you’re an AdSense publisher you’re already part of the Google Display Network. No changes have been made to how AdSense works and no action is required by you to opt-in. However, if you use AdSense for search, your AdSense for search ad space won’t be part of the Google Display Network.

Advertisers will continue to be able to purchase ads on your search results pages in the same way they always have.

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SMX Sydney 2010: Not Your Father’s AdWords – The New Google Ad Formats

At the podium now is Frederick Valleay, AdWords evangelist at Google, to talk about the new and exciting Google ad formats.frederick-podium

Frederick explained the background of the new ad formats. They put together the AdWords New Ad Formats initiative – a project to include richer types of information within AdWords ads. It has two themes:

1) Ad Extensions

- Help users find information they want by enhancing standard text ads with additional relevant information

2) New Ad Models

Help users find answers to problems by enhancing with rich media.

Now doing movie ads – started only a few days ago and only available to a few advertisers.

Some new ad models include real time data e.g. mortgage rates are updated right there within the ads, if relevant. Another model works on a Cost Per Acquisition model where the advertiser only pays when a conversion occurs. Ad sitelinks is a recent model proving very successful.

“Ad sitelinks is the single most effective change we’ve made to our account” says Dell

What can be done with Ad Sitelinks?

- you have several links in your text ad instead of just one

- increase your click through rate

- pushes your competitors down the page

- more links = more potential for clicks

- also more relevant because it gives users 5 options to go to on your site – meaning they find what they’re looking for faster

- with ad sitelinks, leverage the value of branded queries to direct users to multiple high value pages.

Showed example of Saks Fifth Ave who uses sitelink ads to promote short term sales. Timely offers work great with sitelink ads.

User segmentation

- ad sitelinks can help you segment your users before they reach your site. e.g. Dell uses this to segment business vs home users.

Brand segmentation

- your core brand may have several sub brands. You can highlight those sements and leverage your core brand to promote sub brands e.g. The Gap promotes their other brands like Old Navy.

Most Valuable Pages

QVC does this very well. Uses sitelink ads to direct people straight to their highest value categories like fashion, jewelry, etc.

Product Lines

Ad sitelinks can help you direct users to tailored landing pages based on the product category they are most interested in.

Make Links Unique

Redundant links in your ad narrow the appeal and can have a negative impact on your CTR. Make a clear distinction between your product channels using several different links.

Writing Link Text

Clear calls to action – use the link text to make it obvious what you want them to do.

Use landing page language – carry the scent – prominently display the language from your link on the associated landing page so users are more likely to stay on the page and explore their options.

Tracking and Measurement

With a few additional steps you can track and measure what works best. Tag your links – tagging links lets you view the unique query and link that prompted the visit. Use analytics to analyze and report on results.

Location Extensions
Why use Location Extensions?

- Make all your ads location aware
- display your local footprint
- deliver effective local ads at scale
- benefit from rich ad formats (shop locator, click to call ads etc.

Transform your text ads into location ads. Ads show up with your location underneath. They also show up on Google maps via sponsored links. They see street view, photographs, logo, street directions etc.

Location Extensions are now on mobile.

If you  are the biz owner for the locations you want to advertise on, go to Google Places (prev google biz center). You can verify your biz via phone or postcard.

If you are not the biz owner of the locations, you should enter your addresses directly into AdWords. Can’t be done via Google Places.

Use location extensions if:

- you want yto use same ad text for all biz locations

- you want to direct all ads to same landing page

- you want to create a lot of ads quickly

Interaction Reporting

-interaction reporting is available for your ads whether you set up extensions for your campaigns or your ads

- see how users interact with each link in your ads when they appear on Google maps

- gain insights about your ads ROI and ability to capture user interest

- Click Through to your website will be listed as usual in your Adwords account

http://google.com.au/ads/innovations – a place to learn what’s new, what’s coming soon in the ad space

Frederick@google.com

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