How to Win a Spot on the PPC Podium in the Olympics of Search

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Originally published in Marketing Profs, June 7, 2016

052412_medals_lgRight now, as you read this, athletes all over the world are working hard and persisting through pain to prepare themselves to represent their country and find personal glory in the 2016 Olympics.

Yet, let’s be honest: Except for their families and a few close friends, unless the athletes end up on the podium in one of those top three spots with medals hanging around their necks, all that effort and sacrifice will have gone mostly unnoticed. No one remembers who came in 16th, 8th, or even 5th.

Digital marketers are now facing a similar situation because of recently announced changes to Google’s search engine results page (SERP) layout. Google is adding one more paid search result at the top, bringing the total to a maximum of four, while eliminating the ad positions on the side of the page. The new SERP layout also will have three ads at the bottom—although, truthfully, those are much less valuable.

The net effect is that there will be 30% less advertising opportunity on the page—from a maximum of 11 spots to a maximum of 7—which makes winning one of those four places on top about as important (and difficult) as placing in the Olympics.

These changes also have another effect: They continue Google’s concentration on larger advertisers with significant budgets and therefore in the best position to bid on those coveted positions. Small and midsize businesses will be less likely to be able to compete for those top spots.

But if you are one of the fortunate few who can compete, you can do a few things to improve your chances of medaling in the pay-per-click (PPC) and click-through-rate (CTR) events.

Be strategic with your ads and messaging

Google uses various criteria to determine who gets those top spots. You can help your cause (and produce better results) if you make effective use of manual AdWords ad extensions, such as apps, calls, and locations. There are seven manual extensions in all—including structured snippets—that can be used to carry a variety of messages to your audiences and encourage immediate action.

With so much to choose from, however, you must be careful to eliminate redundancies, especially if multiple people are working on your AdWords campaign. You want to maximize that real estate by presenting as many options to customers as possible.

That’s why it pays to have someone do an ad audit that shows you what consumers are seeing on the SERP. You can then use that information to make adjustments.

Athletes are constantly tweaking their mechanics and mental game to ensure the best performance when everything is on the line. You should do the same. The more you stand out in this new format, the better the ROI will be for your business.

Get more specific with targeting

You always want to play to your strengths. Sprinters usually don’t fare well in distance runs, and shot putters generally don’t make good decathletes.

Google AdWords continues to evolve, making it easier for you to reach highly qualified audiences. Last year Google rolled out Customer Match, which gives advertisers greater control over which customers to include and exclude for seeing their ads. As long as you have an email address, you can use Customer Match to serve up the right ad based on where customers are in the buying cycle (provided they are signed in to their Google account). It’s very effective at pulling customers through the sales cycle, and gets better the more data you have on your customers.

Another great option is Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). This Google feature makes it easy to tailor your search ads and campaigns for people who already have visited your website, whether or not they made a purchase. If they had enough interest to click to your site once, they are likely to click again—if you show them the right message. You can use RLSA to capture one of those tops spots based on previous history.

Other targeting features enable you to use Google AdWords to tailor ads and campaigns based on factors such as income and geography. The more you slice and dice your audience, the better opportunity you will have to move your customers and prospects to action.

Take advantage of shopping improvements

Smart retailers can use shopping campaigns and Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to gain additional advantages.

Now that the side ads are gone, those top four spots will stand out even more since there will be fewer distractions. If, typically, you’ve been in one of the top spots, it’s likely you will see a lift in traffic now—good reason to continue to appear in that area. For those who aren’t in one of those top four spots, shopping ads are a good way to stand out if/when customers scroll to the bottom of the page.

Either way, you have to get smarter and stay smarter about how and when your ads appear. Just keep in mind that with a 30% reduction in ads on the page, the competition is likely to get fierce. The best thing you can do is hone your skills on feed optimization, negative keyword fencing, and other techniques that will help you ensure the right ads are being served to the right customers at the right times.

Consider other channels

Clearly, Google is the Olympics of search; if you can capture one of the coveted spots, it can do wonders for your business.

But what if you can’t? Small and midsize businesses will have more and more trouble competing as time goes on, and even larger organizations may struggle. So it may be worthwhile to consider other channels, such as Bing or Yahoo, which can still yield excellent results.

By testing on multiple platforms you can determine whether you need to keep all of your investment on Google, or whether perhaps you can branch out to others where you can gain a more dominant position.

You also may want to consider alternatives such as Twitter, Facebook ,and YouTube, which also have high traffic. Although those were once considered second-tier, many advertisers are now finding them effective. Look at it this way: YouTube is the second-largest search engine, with more searches than Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL combined. Why not take advantage of it?

Bring home the gold

Unless an Olympic competitor is Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, the athletes who get the bulk of the attention and glory will be the ones who make it to the podium.

With the changes to Google SERP, it’s time to rethink bidding strategies to make sure you take one of those top four spots. You may not make it onto a Wheaties box, but you’ll definitely improve your chances of bolstering your bottom line.

Five Ways Google Analytics Turns You Into the Sherlock of Paid Search

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Originally published in Marketing Profs, June 19, 2015

Sherlock-Holmes-photoOne of the most enduring characters in popular culture is Sherlock Holmes. Between the original books, 1930s movies, the recent blockbusters, the hit TV show, and thousands of other references, everyone is probably at least passingly familiar with the great English detective.

What makes Holmes so fascinating to us (and valuable to Scotland Yard) is his ability to quickly scan a crime scene, see beyond the obvious and, through his famous deductive reasoning, discover the truth of what really occurred.

Wouldn’t it be great to have your own Sherlock Holmes at your disposal, ready to be called upon at a moment’s notice to help you solve your own mysteries regarding the performance of your search advertising?

Actually, there is.

Only instead of a genius in a checked cap with a curved pipe, analytics applications help you dig deeper into Web visitor behaviors to gain a better understanding of whether your paid search/digital marketing efforts are bringing the right prospects to your site.

The Analytics Solution

To understand the contribution analytics applications can make, first distinguish between the information you get from Google AdWords and what analytics packages add to the mix.

Google AdWords does a great job of quantifying the basic performance of your digital marketing program. You can see performance indicators such as conversion rates, opens, clicks, impressions, etc., all of which are valuable metrics. They show you how effective your digital marketing efforts are in driving traffic to your website or landing pages.

What Google AdWords doesn’t show, however, is what happens after those visitors arrive. It essentially leaves them at your doorstop.

That’s where an analytics package adds value. It takes that next step, allowing you to track visitor behaviors throughout their visit, providing more clues to how well your paid search campaigns are working.

While myriad quality analytics applications are available to digital marketers, my personal preference is Google Analytics. For one thing, it’s free, whereas you have to pay for the others.

More importantly, Google Analytics is already tightly integrated with Google AdWords, giving you a broad and deep view into the performance of your digital marketing campaigns. Other packages will require some work to gain the same, comprehensive view.

Finally, Google is perceived as the undisputed market leader in search engine marketing (SEM). When you are presenting an analysis of your campaign’s performance to management, having the Google brand behind it gives instant credibility.

The 100% Solution

At this point, you may be wondering what value tracking visitor behavior on your website brings. With Google Analytics, you can go beyond seeing how many people you’re attracting with your digital marketing to understanding whether they are prospective buyers—people who have a need for what you’re selling, either now or in the future.

Some of the valuable metrics Google Analytics provides are…

  • Bounce rate
    This metric tells you how many visitors hit your landing page and then left without going anywhere else. A high bounce rate is a likely indicator that you’re either attracting the wrong people initially or there is a problem with the messaging on your landing page. If your landing page isn’t leading visitors somewhere else, you’ll know you should either change it or spend the money elsewhere.
  • Average session duration
    How much time someone spends on your site is another good indicator of the effectiveness of your campaign—especially if what you’re selling is more complex or a considered purchase. Higher average session durations usually indicate you are attracting the right visitors and they are becoming engaged with your content.
  • Number of pages visited per session
    This is another good measure of how engaged visitors become with your content or your company. For example, suppose visitors click on a product ad and are taken to its landing page. Once there, they begin looking around at what else you have to offer. Those are high-value prospects worth pursuing heavily.
  • Individual page performance
    You can use Google Analytics to track conversion events, such as the number of times visitors download a whitepaper or click a button to go to a third-party partner’s site. It helps you put a dollar value on each page that shows which ones you should be leading visitors to most and which ones are under-performing to the point you should eliminate them.
  • Cross-platform performance
    This is a relatively new but important metric, especially for those involved in omnichannel marketing. With Google’s Universal Analytics, you’ll be able to measure performance across devices —e.g., you’ll have insight into users who start their search on a smartphone or tablet, then move to a PC. This capability will provide a more accurate measure of total campaign performance—especially in the critical conversion phase —providing rich, robust data that can inform future keyword purchases. You can avoid the trap of last-click attribution instead allowing you to see how well your entire digital marketing effort is performing.

The goal is to get visitors engaged with your website. Taking that next step from using Google AdWords to implementing Google Analytics can show you which campaigns are most effective in generating real leads that move visitors to conversion.

In other words, you discover the campaigns that turn browsers into buyers.

Analytics also help you improve your branding campaigns, showing you which words and approaches you should be using based on their production—all the way down to the page level.

Once you understand what is working at this deeper level, you can make more-informed decisions about your budgets, bids, landing pages, ad copy, and other program elements, investing more in the ones that are working and cutting back or removing entirely those that aren’t sticky—even if they’re driving traffic.

Finally, analytics will help ensure you’re relying on data rather than instinct—just as Holmes would do.

Uncovering the Mysteries

That’s a lot of upside, especially for something free. But you may be wondering about any downside.

Just one: So much information can be uncovered that it takes study to learn how to use it effectively. In fact, it can be overwhelming.

One of the biggest issues is that organizations try to take in too much rather than setting up dashboards for the metrics they determine are important to their business. However, if you understand exactly which key performance indicators are the ones that drive what you’re trying to accomplish, doing so can be extremely valuable.

Fortunately, there are great tutorials, such as these on the Google Analytics site itself, which help elaborate what Google Analytics does, why you need it, and how to implement it correctly.

Taking the time to review the tutorials up-front can help you avoid red herrings and dead ends in the long run.

A Case of Identity

As valuable as Google AdWords can be to paid-search campaigns, it only covers visitors up to the doorstep. Once they’ve crossed the digital threshold, it’s anyone’s guess what they do.

A package such as Google Analytics solves that mystery, helping you trace your visitors’ steps throughout your website to determine not only how well your digital marketing campaign is working in driving the right traffic to your site but also how well your site is working to turn curious people into interested prospects, and those prospects into customers.

Before Shooting for Video Marketing Success, Learn to Hit a Moving (i.e., Mobile) Target

Originally published on CommPRO, September 29, 2015

CommProbizFrom D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation to the recent Mad Max reboot, the chase scene always has been a staple of movies. Part of what makes the chase so exciting, of course, is that heroes and villains spend much of the chase jumping from horse or vehicle to horse or vehicle – or sometimes both. The understood difficulty of hitting a moving target at high speed creates tension and thrills that really get your heart pumping.

While perhaps not as exciting to watch, the ability to hit a moving target while operating at high speed now has become critical to another group – Internet marketers. A recent infographic – “2015: The Year of Video Marketing” – tells this tale. An international software firm compiled some stunning statistics about the growing impact of video as a digital marketing asset. For example:

  • Experts believe that video will take up 57% of consumer internet traffic in 2015, which nearly is 4x as much as web browsing and email;
  • 65% of video viewers watch more than 3/4s of a video;
  • And, here’s the most striking stat, online video already accounts for half of all mobile traffic.

Talk about jumping from horse to vehicle in short order. Midway through 2015 came a report from eMarketer. According to BIA/Kelsey data, mobile search will overtake desktop search in 2015. Not just by a little either. They expect to see 81.8 billion U.S. local searches conducted via mobile devices this year, an increase of 23%, while desktop searches drop slightly to 64.6 billion. Those trends are expected to continue, with mobile search reaching 141.9 billion searches by 2019.

Why the incredible increase? The ubiquity of mobile devices is one big reason. Research firm IDC says mobile device sales in the U.S. will decline one percent this year. But the reason isn’t that we’ve lost interest in mobile. It’s that we’ve reached the saturation point. Mobile devices are so popular that everyone who is going to own one probably does, and they’re hanging on to the ones they have longer than they once did.

Another driving factor is the growth of the Millennial generation. There are now more Millennials than Baby Boomers (87 million v 76 million) – the first time the Boomers have been out-paced by any generation since they were born. Millennials have never known a world without readily available mobile devices, and they continue to rely on these devices as their method of choice for communication and connection.

So, like a movie chase, one megatrend in digital marketing is chasing another, grabbing one market driver after another to carry them at breakneck speed into the future. A whole bunch of Boomers and Millennials buy cell phones and then – no surprise – mobile search rockets to the head of the pack. And then, all those cell-carrying consumers start streaming video to all those screens in the palms of their hands, and – hold on tight – video starts zipping by one online marketing technique after another, drawing neck and neck with mobile.

But before marketers start laying bets on video to win it all, they need to review the facts presented in this article and understand that, in this movie analogy, mobile and video are not rivals but allies. And mobile is the teammate that will beat back all comers.

If marketers have, to date, paid little or no attention to their customers’ mobile experience or developing mobile-search strategies must re-think their mindset. And quickly.

The user experience is critical, especially given the lack of patience the Internet has created. When users go to a site, whether it’s via a desktop or mobile device, they expect it to work quickly and seamlessly – with or without video. If the site doesn’t, they’re only a back button away from checking out a competitor. And once they hit that back button – whether because a site isn’t loading fast enough, or isn’t readable on their mobile device – you don’t just lose that sale. It could have a significant effect on the lifetime value of that customer or prospect.

Think of what that does to your investment in paid search. You spend many months and dollars developing ads – maybe animating some as video clips — researching keywords, testing and analyzing to determine what will be most effective in driving customers to your website. Then when customers arrive, what they find immediately drives them away. That’s like spending millions of marketing dollars to draw viewers to an action flick and then when the audience arrives the focus is blurry, the sound is garbled and the scenes are edited in reverse order. Few would sit through five minutes, let alone 90 or 120 of them. All that marketing investment would be lost.

So, how do you know if your online experience is welcoming visitors or driving them away? One good way is to use your analytics package to get into the details of user behavior online. By analyzing every step in the buyer’s journey you can determine not only how many visitors your search campaign is drawing, but also what they’re doing when they get there.

A high bounce rate, for example tells you people are coming to the site but they’re not clicking through it. That could be because your campaign isn’t drawing the right people, or because the right people are having a poor customer experience. A little investigation should help you determine which one is the actual cause.

Now here’s the big question: With all of this happening, what do smart marketers need to do to ensure they’re hitting those 81 billion mobile targets?

The good news is, much of it is the same. You still need to create ad groups and keywords. Those really don’t change between desktop and mobile, so the work you’ve already done can still pay off. As mentioned previously, the analytics are largely the same as well.

You may, however, need to make other adjustments. For example, ad extensions for mobile may need to change from “click for more information” to “click to call.” Using a mobile device’s ability to place a call can have a huge impact on moving prospects through the funnel and improving your conversion rates. And if you do use video, you’ll need your call to action as early as possible in the content rather than running as a close.

You also may need to change your bid strategy. Getting the #4 position on a desktop might work. On a mobile device it won’t be enough. If you can, you may want to change your bid modifiers so you’re showing up in the top three instead.

In addition, you may need to change your web development strategy. Even if your site is optimized for mobile using responsive design, it may not be delivering the desired experience. Again, check the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your analytics to ensure your mobile site is delivering the appropriate experience.

One final word of note: these principles apply to B2B advertisers just as much as B2C. Don’t assume a B2B buyer will be office- or PC-bound. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement has created a tectonic shift in the workplace, and many B2B searches now begin on a mobile device – even if they are ultimately fulfilled on a desktop. A poor mobile experience means they’ll never get to that desktop.

Hitting a moving target is far more difficult than one that’s standing still. But it’s not impossible. Use what you’ve learned already, make the proper adjustments, and you’ll find yourself leading the pack in our increasingly mobile, vid-friendly marketing chase.

Think Before You Leap into Paid Video Search

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Originally published on Chief Marketer, Dec. 17, 2015

squirrel in the air

Paid video search presents a wide range of opportunities for savvy marketers.

But like anything else you still need to be sure you have a reason for getting into paid video search. Remember when your mom said “If your friends were jumping off a bridge would you do it too?” She was right.

Here’s a look at what’s driving the trend, and factors that can help you decide whether it makes sense for your organization.

Explosive growth

There’s no dispute video is rapidly overtaking text and images as the preferred method for consuming content on the Internet. Video already accounts for 64% of all web traffic, and that figure is expected to rise to 80% by 2019.

Part of the reason for this growth is the continued use of mobile to watch video. For example, YouTube says half of all views of its content are on mobile devices. As more videos become mobile-friendly, and wireless connections get faster, you can expect that figure to continue to rise.

But it’s not just about greater availability. Forrester estimates that one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words of text. That’s pretty attractive to marketers in their ever-present quest to break through the clutter.

The big attraction of video to marketers, though, is that it is currently the road less traveled. Traditional paid search has become ultra-competitive (and expensive), in part as a result of developments such as close variant matching. As search results are broadened to the “close enough” level, more marketers are jumping in. Since fewer organizations are taking advantage of video search, eyeballs can be acquired for a relative bargain. Mom would appreciate that thriftiness.

At the same time, tools are being introduced that make it easier to measure the effectiveness of paid video search. For example, Google is making a real effort to integrate the YouTube advertising platform into AdWords. They also have a product in beta called True View for Shopping that combines video with shopping feeds. Consumers can watch a video, click on a product image and shop right there.

That should help overcome one of the biggest objections, which is the lack of ability to directly attribute a purchase to a consumer watching a video. Currently, Google recommends using attribution marketing to measure the effectiveness of a video. With TrueView for Shopping, however, marketers will be able to use last-click conversion measurements much more effectively.

Change in the way video is consumed

Perhaps one of the biggest factors contributing to the growth of video is the change in the way it’s consumed. Video viewing (mainly on television) used to be controlled by the content providers.

Now, anyone can watch what they want, when they want. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and their ilk have seen to that. Measuring the audience has been challenging, although Nielsen may have cracked the code on Netflix. On other sites Google TrueView will ensure you’re paying only for actual views, rather than estimated viewership.

The net takeaway is consumers are not spending as much time flopping on their couch watching whatever is pushed to them. Instead, they are seeking out content on their own terms, and on a variety of devices—even while they are outside enjoying the nice day (as Mom suggested).

There’s always a “but…”

With all that going for it, why shouldn’t marketers just jump whole-hog into video? To be effective, at least at present, you need to be sure your attribution modeling is in place so you can judge the success of your paid video search. If it isn’t, you need to get that house in order first. Especially if your product or service is more of a considered purchase. Taking time to understand your audience and build the models will help you drive more value throughout your campaign.

It’s also important to be patient with your campaigns. The downside of consumers viewing content when and how they want is it could take a while for your videos to be discovered and viewed by your target audience. Again, this is another good reason to ensure your attribution models are in order, so you won’t pull the plug too soon.

To video or not to video          

Essentially, there are three ways you can proceed:

  • Wait for the right time for you and your customers
  • Proceed slowly and cautiously, at a pace that avoids major gaffes
  • As quickly as possible; the Internet moves so fast any mistakes will be behind you quickly

Which is the right way to go? Mom would say “I don’t know” is not an answer. And she’s right. Actually, any of them could be correct.

If you are an industrial or B2B marketer, and video isn’t prevalent in your industry, you can probably afford to wait. Particularly if you don’t currently have any video assets and your customers aren’t demanding that you get some.

If you’re a retailer, or sell products or services through direct response, right now is a great time to get in. Especially if you already have some video available. The market is primed and the competition level is relatively low. You can “own” video search for much less than it might cost for text-based search. Even if you don’t have video right now, however, there are specialty companies that can help you develop some quickly—and at low cost.

If your organization is risk-averse, proceeding slowly might be the best bet. Try video on your website and gauge the reaction. Use your Google analytics to monitor how often your videos are viewed, if visitors are staying through them and if they are going from one to the next. That will tell you whether your content has the potential to work on a broader scale so you can expand into channels such as YouTube. Even if you make a few missteps, the learning effort will be worth it, and those errors likely will be forgotten quickly.

True Interactive Will Contribute to The Social Media Monthly in 2015

Digital marketing experts from True Interactive will contribute
opinion and “how to” articles to leading social media publication

CHICAGO (March 24, 2015)True Interactive, a digital marketing agency that delivers search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), display, social media and mobile services, announced today that its principals Kurt Anagnostopoulos and Mark Smith will become regular contributors to The Social Media Monthly, a recognized leader online and in print covering social media and other marketing-related topics.

True Interactive’s Anagnostopoulos and Smith contributed columns earlier this year, and the relationship will be formalized to regular postings during the second quarter of 2015. In the last 12 months, the duo also has contributed to other leading industry publications such as MarketingProfs, and eM+C, along with the specialty site Retail Online Integration.

“Kurt and Mark have demonstrated their strategic insight and practical knowledge in the field of digital marketing, particularly in the realm of paid search,” said Bob Fine, founder of the Washington D.C.-based technology group Social Media Insider, which publishes The Social Media Monthly and The Startup Monthly. Fine also serves as editor of both publications.

“We’re pleased and honored to welcome True Interactive to the ranks of our regular contributors,” Fine said.

After launching from “pie-in-the-sky idea to print in just 53 days,” The Social Media Monthly was named “One of the Fifteen Hottest Magazine Launches of 2011” by min, the front-running publication of the magazine trade.

Read recent posts by True Interactive authors on The Social Media Monthly at:

About True Interactive

True Interactive is a digital marketing agency that delivers search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), display, social media and mobile services. The firm’s core values are transparency in execution, accountability for results and collaboration with clients. Visit to learn more.

Five Options for Attribution Modeling With Analytics Engines




Originally published on MarketingProfs on December 11, 2014

Listen to the talking heads covering football broadcasts and you’ll often hear them mention “half-time adjustments.” What they mean is one team’s ability to learn its opponent’s tendencies and preferences, then change what it’s doing to counter their opponent. The winning team often isn’t the one that walked into the stadium with the best game plan but the one that saw what was happening on all points of the field and changed its game plan accordingly.

Marketers have their own version of halftime adjustments, only we call it “attribution modeling.” The objective is to evaluate (by using analytics) what led to every sale—so we can replicate success.

Traditionally, marketers have relied on one specific model, “last click,” because that was all that was readily available to us. Today, however, thanks to free tools in modern analytics engines, marketers have many more available options.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean we use them. In fact, research by Google suggests that although more than 90% of marketers have advanced attribution analytics available to them, only slightly more than half are taking advantage of them.

Part of the reason may be that organizations aren’t aware that the tools exist. Others may be concerned that the tools are too complex. Another reason may be that some have tried previously but failed.

But the tools are worth learning because they are like a superstar quarterback on a football team—a competitive advantage that is difficult to overcome.

Though many different methods for attribution modeling exist, the following five command the most attention or offer the most promise.

1. Last click

This is the de facto standard in marketing, most likely because it’s the easiest to track. This model shows the last action the prospect took before making a purchase or becoming a sales lead (depending on the marketer’s objectives and sales cycle). Did the prospect click on paid search? Organic search? A banner ad? No effort is given to discovering how the prospect got to that point before the desired action—often because marketers aren’t sure how to track the full trail.

Using last click is equivalent to trying to put together a football game plan by watching only the scoring plays. You’ll get an idea of what works in the red zone… but not much else. Focusing your marketing efforts based on last click might be the right move—or it could be a tremendous waste of budget. There’s no way to be sure. Last click may have been the only game in town at one time, but marketers now have many better options.

2. First interaction

In this model, you’re placing all your focus on discovering what caused prospects to become interested in your products or services in the first place. Did they click on a banner ad? Search on specific keywords? However they got there, this view is just as limiting as last click. You still have only one touchpoint on which to base your marketing decisions—it just moved to an earlier point in the process. Now, instead of watching scoring plays, you’re watching kickoffs and punts.

3. Position-based

Now we’re getting somewhere. With this model, you’re accounting for all the different positions in the sales funnel and weighing them based on what you believe to be most important. For example, you may give 40% of the weight to first interaction, 40% to last click, and 20% to what happens in the middle. The key is it’s showing every single touchpoint throughout the sales cycle.

As you learn more about what motivates your customers to action, you can adjust weighting to better reflect how they interact with your brand. You can set up multiple customer models to give weight to different touchpoints, too. You also can perform a great deal of customization based on what’s important to the sale. For example, you can make adjustments for time on your site, pageviews (the more pages viewed, the more credit a particular channel gets), position rules that weight the value of a conversion based on each interaction, and more.

You’re seeing the whole field and the whole game—beginning to end.

4. Time-delay

As the name implies, while you’re still looking at the entire sales funnel, you give more weight to actions that occur closer to the conversion. So, for example, while some credit is given to an organic search that occurred 30 days ago, it is not nearly as much credit as the banner ad that was clicked two days ago, or the paid social media ad that was clicked today. Consider it your two-minute drill.

5. Linear

This model is incredibly powerful, but also requires the greatest degree of expertise. Rather than working from a starting point, you are customizing everything, with many more parameters available to you. Really, it’s the best of all the other models, combining elements of positioned-based and time-delay.

For example, you can look at media in the past and the actual media type. If you feel paid search is more important than organic search, you can adjust the weighting that way. You can look at the path to get to a conversion and/or you can look at the different interactions. The problem is that, with all this capability at your fingertips, it’s easy to get lost and confused. Your best bet is to start with one of the other models, and as your competency grows move into linear attribution marketing.

What does all of this capability do for you? In the end, it tells you what’s most important to your sales cycle, comparing the rest of the path to the last click, so you know how to spend your budget. For instance, last click may tell you that a particular keyword is worth $5.46 per click based on sales, but when you look at a position-based model, you discover it’s really only worth $4.98. Having that information will prevent you from bidding up that keyword, allowing you to use your budget to influence other positions important to the sale.

* * *

All you need to do is invest a little time into learning how to use these new models. And then continue to tweak, tweak, tweak as you learn.

Having a great game plan is important. But half-time adjustments often determine the winners. Learn how to use the various attribution modeling tools available. and you’ll be in a position to claim more victories.

Want to Raise Your Google Quality Score? Shun the “Set It & Forget It” Mindset

The Social Media Monthly


Originally published on The Social Media Monthly on January 21, 2015

Paid Search is not “Set It & Forget It” media. If you want optimal results from Paid Search, you must build fundamentally sound campaigns, monitor their progress at every opportunity and continually tweak, tweak, tweak.

Sure, having that sort of discipline is tough to sustain in a game like Paid Search, where data flows like rivers, change is constant and multitasking is standard operating procedure. But regardless of those challenges, discipline remains the way to win. And how can you win anything if you don’t maximize your scoring power?

That’s the reason Google calls its relevancy metric “Quality Score.” The higher your ad scores, the higher your ad ranks in every search auction. The higher your ad ranks, the more likely clicks will become sales. In other words, a high score increases your likelihood of winning business through Paid Search campaigns.

So how do you raise your Quality Score? Let’s start by understanding how Google determines a Quality Score.
Quality score is the algorithm Google uses to estimate how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are to a person seeing your ads. A high Quality Score means Google’s systems consider your ads, keywords, and landing pages relevant and useful to users searching a particular topic.

Google is protective of its algorithms, so we can’t say exactly how it’s done. But we can reveal the five most important factors:

  1. Click Through Rate (CTR) – CTR is a user influenced attribute so Google gives it the most weight. Theory is: Large numbers of users clicking your ad must correlate to a positive experience. So high CTR drives Quality Score higher.
  2. Ad Relevancy – Both closely related relevant ad copy and having the actual keyword within ad copy improves Quality Score.
  3. Keyword Relevancy/Campaign Structure – Google’s system looks for keyword relevancy across ad groups. When keywords within an ad group are closely related, Quality Scores go up.
  4. Landing Page Relevancy – The more relevant the landing page, the better the Quality Score.
  5. Account History – The length of time a keyword has been active in an account impacts Quality Score, but more important than length of time is how the keyword has performed over time.

Knowing the five most important factors leads us to three ways you can build and adjust your Paid Search campaigns to drive higher Quality Scores:

  1. Improve CTR – As the most important factor in Quality Score, CTR should receive the most attention. Four simple adjustments can improve CTR’s and drive up Quality Score:
    • Keyword Negatives – Continually add new negatives to eliminate unwanted queries. Run your Search Query Reports weekly to identify opportunities and reach beyond eliminating bad clicks. Look to eliminate irrelevant high-impression terms that can drive down CTR.
    • Match Type Breakout— Breakout keywords by match types and separate match types by campaign or ad group. This will further group not only like terms, but like match types and increase CTR on better performing exact match groups. In addition, shy away from broad match and focus on Broad Match Modifiers to improve CTR.
    • Sitelinks – Add Sitelinks to all campaigns and use ad group Sitelinks, when possible, to deliver more relevant Sitelinks. Traditional Sitelinks may increase CTR by 15%, and Enhanced Sitelinks may increase CTR by 20%.
    • Targeting – Eliminate poor performing targets for greater CTR by using all the targeting options available, including GEO targeting, ad scheduling and bid modifiers.
  2. Landing Pages – Because Google will crawl landing pages to determine how relevant they are to each keyword, picking the most relevant, most granular landing pages possible is imperative. When possible, regularly adjust content on landing pages and/or create specific paid-search landing pages that align with the keyword to improve Quality Score.
  3. Build Quality History – Set up every campaign the right way every time and manage each and every campaign on regular basis. That’s the only way to build the account history Google seeks to reward with high Quality Scores. This is where discipline comes into play; if you can’t execute a campaign the right way, then maybe that campaign shouldn’t launch.

Overall, never forget your lessons from Paid Search 101. Dedication to SEM best practices always will lead to higher Quality Scores. In short, create a logical campaign structure, craft tight ad groups with similar-themed keyword clusters, develop granular ad copy using keyword themes within copy and, most importantly, continually test and tweak, tweak, tweak.

Kurt Anagnostopoulos is co-founder of True Interactive, a digital marketing firm and Google partner. He has held executive positions in internet marketing and e-commerce for W.W. Grainger and SMG Search, a division of Starcom MediaVest Group. Reach at him at