Our quest to write more than 5 words every 9 months has proven far too ambitious, but we’ve finally stumbled upon a boring topic that we ourselves struggle with–explaining Google Ad Words Jargon to clients new to the world of ppc advertising.
There’s a huge variety of different type of PPC campaigns we run with Google Ad Words with a multitude of different goals–but most confusing perhaps is all the different jargon, and targeting methods we use.
Our hope is that we can maybe make it into an interesting read for anyone who’s currently using Google Ad Words, or is considering making the jump into using Pay Per Click ads. You’ll also find some of these same types of metrics on other ad platforms like Facebook.
There are two different places we focus on for our Pay Per Click campaigns, with each of them having their own strengths and weaknesses.
Google Search Network: Text-based ads are displayed above, and sometimes below the search results depending on what users searched for. Advertisers are able to bid on specific keywords, that they feel are relevant to the products or services they may be selling.
Google Display Network: Millions of different websites out there on the web that have chosen to place Google Ad slots within their content so that they can monetize their traffic by having users click on ads. I’m sure you’ve seen ads placed between every paragraph on some of the more liberal users of Ad Words–you have Google to thank for that.
The good news is that there are many sites on the display network–pretty much every major publication, Huffington Post, CNN, Fox, Pitchfork, and many others–that you’re able to get millions of impressions on your ads, and you only end up paying for clicks (unless for some reason you chose to do CPM advertising, which would be silly). We’ve found that with Google Display Network placements (explained below) that our targeted demographics frequent much cheaper by going through Google, vs doing a direct ad buy at like $50/1,000 impressions–something we’d consider… Ludacris.
Google’s Display Network is where you can get a lot of eyeballs for a low cost–just keep in mind that this is more for driving awareness. Just keep in mind that it’s not necessarily a great way to generate qualified sales leads. (After all, lots of people have ad blockers installed nowadays.) The next few headings are specific to Google’s Display Network.
Placements – can you make my ad show up on XYZ competitor’s site?
If a particular website has signed up for Google Ad Sense (the opposite of Ad Words), Google pays them to place ads within their content. The reason we like using placements here at COVERT NINE HQ is because we can get text, images, and all types of other fun ads onto websites that our potential customers may be on.
These are sometimes limited in quantity, and often lower quality display network impressions in comparison to the search results, but they’re great for driving awareness about things like events. They are cheaper than direct media buys for those of you looking to get lower cost ads as well. That’s coming straight from Google. So if you’re one of those smart marketing directors looking to stretch that ad budget as far as possible, then doing placements on sites through Google Ad Words is always going to be cheaper than paying for the usually-inflated costs of advertising directly on most popular publications.
Topics – Can you target a website of a specific topic? Like music?
Yes. That’s what you do with topics-based targeting with the Display Network. Used alone I have mixed feelings about it, but matching it with other targeting like demographics may net you pretty decent results. If your primary goal is reaching as many people as possible in a specific area, topic-based targeting may be a good way to do that because you’re only paying for clicks–that means if someone even reads your ad on a site, and doesn’t click on it, you’re still getting the awareness out about whatever it is you’re promoting.
We want to reach females between 25-34 who are on music websites.
While you can probably get away with just targeting topics, it’s best to combine it with other targeting methods for more precise targeting. Don’t expect click through rates above 1% though–unless you’re advertising on porn sites.
Remarketing – Displaying ads to past website visitors (or certain pages)
In other words, 2012’s favorite buzzword for online marketing. Something we have extensive experience with, with mixed results. We’ll explain like you’re 5…
Have you ever visited an Amazon product page, only to have that same product ad follow you around everywhere you go? It shows up on Facebook, in Gmail, on other websites–this is remarketing in action. Remarketing allows advertisers to show ads (Hence, re-market) to you again after you’ve been on a specific page, or on your website at all. The great thing about remarketing is that it gives you an opportunity to convert sales if a user leaves your site. There’s even what’s called exclusion lists, so that if someone does purchase your product, or ticket, or whatever, you don’t keep remarketing to them. Speaking of which, we better cover that as well…
Exclusion Lists – Google, don’t display ads to users on these lists
If you’ve setup conversions with your ad words campaigns (which you should if you want to be able to measure results), then there’s a good chance you don’t want to continue to annoy users with ads for something that they already purchased. This is where exclusion lists come in very handy.
Exclusion lists are like remarketing lists in that they keep users on a list for a period of time (30-90 days usually) if they’ve hit a specific section of your site, like an order confirmation page.
Affinity Interests – Target users based on search history and browsing habits
I get asked this question a lot, what’s the difference between Affinity Interests and In-Market interests. They’re both based on browsing history and your search history. (Scary right?) Though, they are different types of interests. Specifically affinity interests mean you have a tendency to search for or consume content related to specific categories like fantasy sports, music festivals, or that you may be categorized into having interests in specific categories, such as night life, luxury goods, luxury travel, etc.
In-Market Interests – Target users based on things that users were recently researching
This could be things like a new car, a new television, a home, or even for a new job. This can be very useful for seeking out users that fall into your basic marketing personas such as women who were recently researching or shopping around for makeup products, clothing, luxury cars, or even apartments. For some of our events that utilize the display network for marketing, we use in-market interests to identify users who have higher household incomes, do a lot of online shopping, and also like going out at night to events.
With the low click through rates that banner ads have, targeting the right people is pivotal in getting some sort of awareness out about your product or service. We tend to gravitate towards text-based ads simply because users are more likely to click on them.
Search & Display Network
Display network advertising can be pretty great for getting lots of impressions, which some people still use as their scoreboard for ad success–but we here at COVERT NINE do not feel impressions are as valuable as conversions. That said, our personal bread and butter is using ads on the search results pages to help drive more ticket sales, leads for corporate events, and for people who decided to ask their phone “What events are going on near me this weekend?”
There’s a ton of different confusing jargon when it comes to searches, but here are a few that frequently cause our clients to get that glassy look in their eye like we’re speaking in tongues.
Search Volume – The # of searches in a region, at a given time
You can estimate it if you do some quick research, and what it amounts to is basically the amount of possible impressions you could display ads for, based on the keyword targeting for the ad. I try to reference search volumes for keywords during a month with the tools Google provides because that will tell you how many people in the area are looking to target your keywords. If the search volume is too low, and no one is Googling “selling bubble gum to a lock jaw community” in your area, and you’re targeting that exact phrase, you may not want to try to target it with ad cause nobody want that shit.
Search Lost Is (Budget) – The % of searches you missed cause your daily budget ran out
Your ads stop displaying sometime that day because your budget is not high enough. The % Google provides with this metric gives you an idea of how much you’ll have to increase your daily budget to account for all of the searches that day. There are other options though.
You could get rid of keywords, and target less in your campaign so your ads will display all the time. This is a great metric to determine if there’s more opportunity for search results, but 90% of the time you’re probably targeting too much shit you don’t need. (If you’re not using broad match modifier, explained below, then you need to keep reading.) I generally try to be more strict in targeting before increasing budgets because Google’s search by default is broad match, which includes all sorts of garbage so don’t use just regular broad match targeting.
Search Lost Is (rank) – another reason your ads aren’t displaying
Your targeting isn’t matching up a million other things could be wrong with your account (better targeting, writing better keyword-rich ads, making your landing page better), but this tells you the percentage of searches you’re not getting cause your ad score is too low. Write better ads, target more specific keywords, or improve your landing pages and this will go down. If this is too high, you may be missing out on a ton of clicks and impressions cause your ads aren’t displaying.
Ad Rank probably deserves its own post by itself, but it works very similarly to Page Rank, which powers the organic search results in that it has several factors that rank into how your ad will show up on the page, in a particular ad slot. If you are missing out on a high % cause of poor ad rank, then you need to do some serious work on your account, but there are times where you can ignore this.
Search Terms vs. Keywords – What people actually type into search vs. keywords we pick that are kinda close to it
As much as I wish that we were smart enough to get EXACTLY the keyword that your potential clients or customers may search for, it really isn’t that simple, There are different match types (and we’ll tell you about our favorite next), but primarily Google chooses to set most of the targeted keywords to be broad match. Ad Words experts pick keywords that we think are relevant to our landing pages/products/services and bid on them. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your ads will ONLY show up in the search results though if someone types in exactly what they say–cause let’s be honest, most people don’t use search engines the same way. Some use close keywords, some type in full questions, and some people even say please and thank you in their searches.
Search terms are the actual keywords that are typed into Google, while keywords are what we use as a base for a search that we want our ads to show up for.
As an example, if I was selling search engine optimization services I may target the keyword:
This means that if a user types in
“companies in Chicago that offer SEO services”
There’s a good chance our ad would show up for that because we’re targeting “SEO services” assuming we had a high enough bid, and a landing page built specifically to sell our SEO services. “Companies in Chicago that offer SEO services” is the search term, and “SEO services” is the keyword we targeted. Get it?
While this may work for some campaigns, you’ll find that Google likes to set their default keyword matching to be what’s called broad match. Why would they do that?
Because it means your budget will get used up very quickly for keywords that are kinda close to what you are targeting, but not really all the time. (How else are they going to fund self-driving car research?) That’s why you hire a professional company like us, who can make a very efficient use of your budget by being a little bit more specific in how we pick keywords, which leads us to our next piece of marketing jargon:
Broad match modifier – The difference between “sex clubs in Chicago” and “health clubs in Chicago”
When you hire a smart PPC agency, they’ll utilize our favorite match type, broad match modifier–which isn’t really documented as well as it should be. Broad match modifier works by requiring certain keywords be in a certain order, and be a part of the search, otherwise your ads will not show. As always, this probably works best with an example like we have above.
Let’s say our client was a gym selling memberships and they wanted to target the keyword “health clubs in Chicago” for people looking for a place like East Bank Club with a giant olympic-sized swimming pool. If we simply targeted the keywords:
health clubs in Chicago
There’s a good chance that Google will display our clients ads because we haven’t explicitly told it which keywords in that search are required. And thanks to the loosey goosey default match type, if someone was typing in something gross like
sex clubs in Chicago
Then our ads may show up, and they may click on them, and our client will pay for it, and they will get mad at us when we have to explain that to them. That’s why we use broad match modifier to target more specific searches like:
+health +clubs in downtown +Chicago
Here, you’ll see that we’ve required the words health clubs to be in order and also to have the word Chicago included.
Negative keywords – The opposite of keywords
You want to make sure that your ads DO NOT show up if these keywords end up being in the search terms a user typed into Google. Using our example above of “SEX CLUBS IN CHICAGO” (cause we’re weirdos and this has actually happened before), we’d include a negative keyword targeting for the word ‘sex’ so that if anyone uses that keyword in search, our ads will not show up. We also use negative keywords that we find users are looking for that may be close to our keywords, but aren’t relevant–or we just use it cause we don’t like Naperville. Stay away from us Naperville.
Got any of your own Ad Words jargon? Did we miss any? Are we wrong about something? Feel free to light us up in the comments.