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The Most Important PPC Updates for 2017
By Emma Franks, Mike Matta, and Zach Bruner
2017 has been a busy year for PPC updates, with nearly every channel introducing new features, launching betas, and/or eliminating previous offerings to urge adoption of new ones. We know it can be both time- and energy-consuming to filter through all the top industry blogs and platform announcements to keep track of them all. Fortunately, Hanapin’s experts have teamed up to do just that.
In this whitepaper, we provide a list of what we consider the most significant and exciting updates, year-to-date, across Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
2x Daily Budgets
Starting on October 4th, 2017, all AdWords campaign daily budgets were updated. That is, all campaigns can now spend up to twice the average daily budget. According to Google, this update is in line with helping advertisers reach different goals around advertising metrics such as clicks and conversions. The idea behind this update is placing more value on high-quality traffic and less value on low-quality traffic. Further, it will help capitalize on days of abnormally high traffic. This will translate to a fluctuation in daily spend over the course of the month. The days with higher spend will be counterbalanced by days with lower spend which means you won’t spend more than the monthly charging limit (30.4 days multiplied by your average daily budget).
Traffic will not always be consistent throughout the month. For example, say you have a campaign with a daily budget of $10 ($304 for the month). If there are 10 days in the month where traffic is low and you only spend $5 per day, that equates to $50 left on the table. Furthermore, if you are budget-constrained on 10 other days, this update allows your campaigns to use that $50 that was previously left on the table. In other words, it helps dynamically allocate the monthly budget on a per-day basis to ensure campaigns make the most of their monthly traffic. So, this update will ideally help advertisers hit budgeting goals more consistently and in an optimized manner.
The primary concern with this update is advertisers over-spending. However, there are some ways of thinking around this.
- If you set your monthly number for the campaign (and don’t adjust it during the month), you will not spend over the per day limit multiplied by number of days in the month.
- If you do change the budget during the month, there is a simple way to put it: If you increase budget you will spend more than the original amount, if you decrease budget, you will spend less than the original amount. Just remember the new end of month forecast will be:
Amount Before Change + (New Daily Budget x Number of Days Left in Month)
In either case, if Google does overdeliver and you spend beyond the set amount, your account will be reimbursed. Just remain cognizant of any budget changes during the month as that will alter the final number and pacing.
Ad Rotation Updates
Like many features within the AdWords platform, ad rotation settings are constantly changing with new features offered geared toward automated optimizations. Previously, advertisers were prompted with a few options including rotating evenly, rotating indefinitely, optimizing for clicks, optimizing for conversions, etc. However, with this recent update, Google is trying to eliminate advertiser uncertainty in what rotation setting to select.
The new update will simply show two options, “Optimize” and “Do not optimize.”
The option to optimize would involve allowing Google to determine which ad to serve based on its likelihood for a click. This process considers keywords, search terms, devices, and locations, among other factors. Furthermore, Google recommends having at least three ads per ad group in order to give the algorithm more to work with. As an additional note, if you want to optimize for conversions you’ll need to also incorporate Smart Bidding. This will help advertisers shape their bids to an amount with the highest likelihood for a conversion. (Note: You must be be using an optimized ad rotation for this feature.)
On the other hand, you can choose to do an even ad rotation, meaning all ads in the ad group are shown an equal amount. Though the wording “Do not optimize” can be a little misleading to advertisers, it is important to note that this option can still be just as impactful. This option is best for when you have a specific ad test in place and/or you want control over giving each ad an equal opportunity to perform. The final piece to this update is noting that the ad rotation settings can now be implemented at the ad group level meaning you can have multiple rotation settings in place within one campaign.
Page load speeds are crucial to PPC account performance. In fact, even one additional second can greatly hinder conversion rates. Furthermore, adding tracking to the page is just one more element that adds to the overall load time, ultimately drawing out the user’s experience. To help combat this, Google is rolling out parallel tracking.
With this new tracking, the idea is to mitigate delays and create a better overall experience. With parallel tracking in place, users will head directly to the landing page after clicking an ad. Meanwhile, the browser will process URL tracking requests in the background. This allows users on slower networks to reach your site faster, ideally cutting back on wasted spend and increasing conversion rates.
The key takeaway with this update is ensuring your account is ready to support it, as it will have hit all accounts by early 2018. According to Google, if you’re using a third-party provider then reach out to them ASAP about the update. This will help verify clicks are being reported accurately. The process with third-party platforms could be potentially lengthy, so again, the earlier you act the better. In any case, this will be an update worth implementing as soon as it’s available in an effort to improve site speed, and hopefully, performance.
AdWords Feature Adoption
Bing Ads spent a great deal of energy this year catching up with the ever-growing list of advertising features and management tools available in AdWords. The “Top 10 List” of Bing Ads adoptions you should be aware of includes:
- Competitive Metrics in Interface: advertisers can now add Impression Share and Lost IS (due to budget/rank/ad relevance/expected CTR/bid) metrics to view as columns with your other KPI data.
- Dynamic Search Ads: now available for creation and management in both the interface and Bing Ads Editor (BAE).
- Labels: finally, advertisers can organize and improve ad testing, bid and budget management, and account structure and analyses with campaign/ad group/keyword/ad labels.
- U.S. County Targeting: importing campaigns from Google has become even more convenient with this vital element of location targeting now available in both platforms.
- Maximize Clicks Automated Bidding: the first automated bidding strategy from Bing Ads is designed to improve campaign click volume and CTR after a one-month learning period.
- Countdown Ad Customizers: just in time for the holiday season, countdown ads can increase urgency for Bing Ads customers as well as their AdWords counterparts.
- Offline Conversion Import: with a similar process to AdWords, this feature can be adopted easily by updating forms to capture and recall the MSCLKID upon conversion.
- Account Level Ad Extensions: previously only supported at the campaign and ad group level, ad extension associations can now be set at the account level and applied to each child unit in the account.
- Remarketing Exclusions: custom audiences and website lists (such as “All Converters”) can now be fully excluded from Bing Ads ad groups.
- Scheduling Ad Extensions: to ensure that your extensions are bringing the most value to your business, you can now schedule the days and times you want each to run (i.e. only running call extensions during hours your office is open to receive calls).
Updates to BAE
Bing Ads has also been busy with new updates for the Bing Ads Editor (BAE). Although most of the updates do not involve new features, their availability in BAE becomes a huge asset to account management and bulk edits or creation.
- BAE for Mac: a long-awaited update early this year brought Bing Ads Editor to the gleeful hands of Mac-using PPCers everywhere.
- Labels: following the introduction of labels into the interface, Bing quickly updated BAE to support the new feature. Each item can maintain up to 50 associated labels.
- Age, Gender and Device Targeting: these features are not new to BAE, but have been relocated from semi-hidden placements within campaign view to their own modules in the left-side pane.
- Bulk Edit with Multiselect: improve efficiency of bulk edits by selecting multiple campaigns or ad groups in BAE. Currently only available for Windows users, but is promised to roll out to the Mac version in the future.
Facebook topped the 2 billion user mark this year making it the largest social media platform, by far. Their team has been hard at work introducing exciting new updates to best get your ads in front of the right person. There have been a ton of new updates from offline conversions to Facebook TV; here are some of the most impactful.
Collection ads allow marketers to tell a more visual product story. They have a unique opportunity to stop the scroll by combining creative video & images along with a full screen shopping experience once someone clicks on the ad. You can utilize your product feed to feature a vast range of products (best sellers) or group products that go together (winter style guides).
With video becoming more and more prominent on Facebook, collection ads give you a unique opportunity to combine some of the most powerful ad types into a distinctive package.
We’re always testing new ideas from the grandest of ideas to small changes in copy. Facebook made things much, much easier with the new split testing feature. This allows one to measure the impact of different audiences, delivery setting, and placements to find the best combination.
Another helpful feature built-in when creating a split test is the ability to weigh each split test. While it is always recommended to test at a 50/50 split, this does give you the ability to invest less money on tests that you think may have high CPCs or lower conversion rates.
These new split tests give you the option of learning how different placements, delivery settings, or audiences affect performance so that you can take those learnings to other parts of the account. Most importantly, it makes it easy to do!
2017 has been the first year under Microsoft ownership and with that came a lot of new updates to LinkedIn. Improvements to demographic targeting, conversion tracking, and a whole host of smaller updates should make many pause and take a second look at the platform if it hasn’t been tested in over a year.
LinkedIn Matched Audiences:
With this update, LinkedIn added three new powerful targeting options for marketers to use in their platform.
- Website Retargeting: You can create audiences based on website visitors allowing you to re-engage with people who have shown interest from other sources.
- Account Targeting: This is an interesting option as it allows companies to upload a CSV list of company names and matches them to users who work for that company. Great for use in Account-Based Marketing initiatives.
- Contact Targeting: Remarketing to an uploaded list of email addresses.
Lead Generation Ads:
LinkedIn made a large update by launching their Lead Gen Forms. This promises to help drive more high-quality leads from Sponsored Content campaigns and help to remove the barrier to mobile conversions.
Lead Gen Forms make it easy for one to submit their information by auto-populating information that one has provided in its respective field. By syncing your leads with a CRM system or simply downloading them, you’ll have a great new source of quality leads entering your funnel.
Awareness campaigns do exactly what you would think from the name. The focus is getting your ad in front of as many people as possible rather than focusing on any sort of conversion action.
It’s a great campaign option for one’s first foray into Twitter advertising when specific goals aren’t hashed out yet or to run in conjunction with more targeting campaigns to continue to get your message out to a broad audience.
In September, Pinterest announced they had over 200 million active monthly users on the platform. While not for every business, Pinterest has a unique demographic and knowledge base that can be a great source of new customers. With Pinterest being such a bid platform for discovery, you can get in front of customers earlier and get them into your funnel.
Finally rolled out to everyone in October, keyword based advertising has come to Pinterest. You should know the drill from traditional search; picking broad, phrase, or exact keywords that your ads will show on.
While Pinterest has generally been great for generating interest at the very top of the funnel, this should allow marketers to really hone in when someone is closer to making that purchasing decision.
This is by no means a catch all list but should be a great starting point if you’re new to the PPC industry, are branching into another platform for the first time in awhile (or forever), or simply looking for anything you may have missed during the year.