PPC is all about constantly innovating, testing, measuring, and improving. That means leveraging all the latest ad features and formats, exploring new ad networks, and implementing new strategies.
So what's been working for PPC marketers this year so far, in Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and elsewhere? To find out, we asked four of the best to share what new things they've tried out so far this year and had success with.
Less whining, more wining
These four leading PPC marketers were kind enough to share their secrets with all of us today:
- Aaron Levy, Manager of Client Strategy, Elite SEM
- Lisa Raehsler, Founder, Big Click Co.
- Purna Virji, Senior Bing Ads PPC Training Manager, Microsoft
- Kirk Williams, Founder, ZATO
New Ad Feature #1: AdWords Message Extensions
In October 2016, AdWords introduced Message Extensions, which made it easy for users to click to text businesses directly from the SERP.
Aaron Levy called AdWords Message Extensions "our surprise success of the year." Here's what Levy had to say:
"We have a few clients whose conversion’s tend to skew mobile and toward phone calls. Implementing message extensions has led to a few surprising results. When the message extensions show, we’re seeing CTR nearly double in a highly competitive category.
Funny thing is we’re not seeing users click on the extension itself very often – slightly more often than we’d see for sitelinks, but not by much – maybe 15 percent of total clicks, albeit not necessarily on the extension itself. It may be the way that we’ve set it up (we say chat with a live expert rather than text us), so that may have skewed the behavior.
When users do click on the extension itself, their conversion to sale rate is strong and is far easier to track vs. recording a phone call or getting a rep to jot things down. Volume has been throttled so far (both due to limitations on our end and Google's), but we're excited to see what happens as more simple mobile options take hold."
Pretty exciting results!
New Ad Feature #2: Account-Level Sitelinks
At the end of August, AdWords released account-level sitelink extensions.
Lisa Raehsler said she has been taking full advantage of this awesome new feature this year. This lets you create a single set of sitelinks that are applied to all of your AdWords campaigns:
"This has enabled us to add a higher level of strategy to ad extensions where we can focus on more general, account-wide messaging as a default if we need it. It's appropriate to use account sitelinks as a default in smaller to medium-sized accounts or in branding campaigns.
Since campaign and ad group level sitelinks override higher-level sitelinks, we have more options for detailed messaging. This is another big time-saver for my clients who prefer to use account-wide messaging."
Now we're rolling. But there's still much more to go.
New Ad Format: Responsive Display Ads
Raehsler calls these ads one of her favorite recent AdWords releases. Here's why:
"They are appropriate for almost any advertiser and easy to implement. We now have more flexibility and opportunity to focus on the creative and messaging, not the technical hassle of creating ten different ad sizes as in the past.
It’s been a big time saver on ad management and I have found my clients using this ad type are seeing average-to-above average CTR, and a below average CPC on this ad type. Moving forward, we intend to get more granular with across the board with messaging and images on the responsive ads to further our testing on combinations that perform best."
That covers the new ad types and formats. Now let's talk strategy.
New Strategy: Voice Search
Voice search is becoming a big deal. Twenty percent of mobile queries are already voice searches, according to Google. And Gartner has predicted that by 2020, 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be screen-less. Clearly, adoption is going to continue soaring.
This is why Purna Virji has had one consistent message for her fellow PPCers this year: embrace voice search. Start testing now while the risk and competition is low. She even wrote a helpful step-by-step guide on how to get started.
Virji said there are several actionable steps PPC advertisers can take right now:
"My favorite part about voice search is just how clear the intent is in the query. For example, if I typed in 'hotels in the Bahamas', you’d have no idea whether I was looking for a romantic getaway, a singles trip or a family vacation. Chances are the results would be different for each. But if I asked Cortana, 'which are the best family-friendly hotels in the Bahamas,' then a far more targeted result could be served.
In this way, we could get clear insights into our audiences – in their own words. PPCs can expand their keyword lists, more accurately adjust their bids and budgets based on intent and work to show the right messaging at the right time."
Virji added a tip for those who want to minimize the risk associated with testing high CPC keywords:
"Across many verticals the CPCs on Bing Ads can be lower than on the competition. As a result, it can often be a safer and more strategic idea to conduct your tests on Bing Ads first and then scale them out across channels."
New Network: Quora Ads (Beta)
PPC marketers are known for boldly going where no marketers have gone before. Such is the case for Kirk Williams, who has been intrigued by Quora Ads, currently in beta.
What's he seeing from Quora ads so far this year?
"We've been experimenting with Quora Ads in a few client accounts and have been intrigued by the (limited) results thus far. One of our clients is an online platform for learning data science. Their marketing director approached us about Quora Ads a few months ago, and we decided to give it a shot. To be fair, we are still in the middle of the trial run, so the traffic is fairly low, but what we have seen come through is enough to get us excited about it as a new channel.
The two main things that I've come to appreciate about the Quora Ads beta are:
- The personal intent targeting is nearly as strong as search, which is really saying something! The Q&A format of Quora lends itself to fairly specific intent (e.g., "What is a good program for learning data science online?"). That question is loaded with high-quality intent potential for my client, and anyone clicking on it likely wants to actually discover the answer.
- Quora has such a strong organic presence on search engines. You can end up appearing in front of people you otherwise would not have had the budget to reach in your AdWords campaigns.
Quora Ads isn't without its quirks, though.
For instance there is no way to currently target ads on a question level...only a topic level (in which the Quora Ads system chooses the best question within your targeted topic to display on).
There are also stricter text requirements in your ads. For instance, you can't use title case in the ad to make it stand out. Quora will disapprove it unless it is in sentence case (a Quora Ads rep told me at Hero Conference that this is to maintain branding and aesthetics within the platform itself)."
Despite these minor flaws, Williams is excited and looking forward to seeing how the Quora Ads platform matures.
What has you excited in the world of PPC right now?