Posts By: Robert Brady

4 important lessons learned at Heroconf 2013

First, I want to point out that I know I’m writing this two weeks after the conference. In my defense, I attended the conference immediately after my honeymoon (and the week of work I took off) so I’m still digging myself out of a hole. Thus, this post is coming a little later than usual.

What I Learned

  1. Enhanced Campaigns is NOT popular among professional PPC folk – I’ve always felt like Google had the concerns of large PPC advertisers pretty close to their hearts. With all the sophistication and advanced options it seemed like the product team listened to them a lot. However, with Enhanced Campaigns I get the feeling that the AdWords team made a deliberate decision to NOT listen to large, sophisticated advertisers. Let me explain.

    The burden for a small, unsophisticated advertiser to switch to Enhanced Campaigns is small. They don’t have a ton of campaigns usually and they probably weren’t doing a lot with mobile and tablet. The additional bidding flexibility and ad group level sitelinks are a big plus. However, the burden of switching to Enhanced Campaigns for large advertisers is immense. Many had a mobile campaign, tablet campaign and desktop campaign for every major theme & geography. They probably have mobile optimized pages and maybe even tablet optimized pages. While ad group level sitelinks are a boon, with thousands of ad groups, creating and managing all of them becomes a large task.

    Basically, Google seems to have said, loud and clear, that the revenue gained from switching over all the small & medium advertisers to Enhanced Campaigns outweighs the trouble it causes large advertisers. And you know what? I think they’re right. Large advertisers will complain, but ultimately AdWords traffic is too big and important to not use. Painful, but true.

  2. Test, even if it seems it won’t work – This observation came from the session on optimizing your CTA. John Lee was sharing results of an ad copy test where the objective was to test one ad with a CTA and one ad without a CTA to see which did better. Seems like a dumb test because, of course, the ad with the CTA should do better (that’s best practice after all). But it didn’t. And you need to run the test on your own campaigns to know if that is the case for your industry/product/company.
  3. LinkedIn PPC is the red-headed stepchild of the PPC industry – Obviously AdWords was a major focus. Bing attended in force and showered swag upon attendees like manna from heaven. Facebook PPC had a full session talking about it. The most talk I heard about LinkedIn PPC was at a roundtable discussion on Day 2. I do quite a bit of LinkedIn PPC and I know some very large companies that spend a large amount of money there with good results. However, it doesn’t seem like it’s getting the love yet.
  4. Excel is more awesome than you can imagine – They did an entire session on Excel skills and Sean Quadlin made the seemingly dry topic hilarious. Microsoft should hire the guy to do a series of Excel training videos because I have never seen anyone bring that kind of enthusiasm to the topic. But more importantly he showed off some seriously cool stuff you can do.

There you have it folks, what I learned at Hero Conf 2013. If you have questions, leave them in the comments below.


Google REALLY Wants You To Try AdWords

Back in October Google stock plummeted 9% when earnings estimates failed to meet Wall Street expectations. Google has made a habit of exceeding earnings expectations, so this failure was a big wake-up call. So what does this mean for you as an advertiser?

Now Is The Time To Try AdWords

Let me explain the history of AdWords coupons:

  • $100 of free clicks for new advertisers – These coupons were as ubiquitous as AOL CDs. However, not everything lasts forever.
  • $100 of free clicks AFTER spending $25 as a new advertiser – This change happened in September and is a great way for Google to squeeze an additional $25 out of anyone looking to get their free $100 of clicks.
  • Double matching on first $125 in AdWords Express – I did a write-up on for this change, but this is an attempt to get new users into the dumbed down AdWords Express product.
  • $400 refund if you’re not happy – This is the newest approach which I’ll discuss fully below.

$400 Refund on AdWords

Background: I received this offer via a direct mail offer sent to my home address. The letter accompanying the offer indicates that it was sent to AdSense publishers who hadn’t tried AdWords yet. Below is the offer card:

Google AdWords Refund $400

Of course there is all the small print like “enter the code above in the billing tab of your account within 14 days. If you’re not satisfied, close your account within 60 days and you’ll get your money back.” That’s just the details, but I see a larger trend here.

Google REALLY, REALLY Needs New Advertisers

My reasoning is two-fold. First, the lower than expected Q3 revenues shows that Google isn’t growing as fast as they want to be, and more importantly, not as fast as Wall Street has grown to expect. For a publicly traded stock this is a very big deal. Second, the frequency and variety of offers I’ve received demonstrates that Google is putting serious effort into new advertiser acquisition. Some offers are co-marketing efforts with hosting companies. Some offers are going to AdSense customers with not AdWords account (ie this new one). They ran a holiday promotion through Google Engage (their agency-focused department) offering prizes to agencies that could sign up new customers and reach certain spend levels before the beginning of the year.

So, if you’ve been considering AdWords, now is a great time to start because Google is dangling lots of carrots. Oh, and if you need one of those vouchers (and some help using it wisely), give Trafficado a shout through the contact form. We can probably find one laying around.


Is Google getting greedier?

Over the past few months I’ve noticed Google becoming more and more greedy with data. A few examples:

  • October 18, 2011: (not provided) – Google announces that users logged in to their Google account will be defaulted to the SSL version. This was done for the sake of “user privacy” and Google said it would affect While this initially affected less than 10% of searches, it has been escalating. Recently Mike Blumenthal reported that 60% of his keywords are now not provided.
  • SERPs with only 7 organic results – This week I read posts from Larry Kim of Wordstream and Dr. Pete of SEOmoz about the increasing number of SERPs that only display 7 organic results on the first page. While most users may never notice, there are 3 sites that can’t be happy about getting knocked to page 2. But Google is happy because that’s 3 less chances of a click not generating revenue.
  • September 5, 2012: DoubleClick Ad Planner loses data – Per the email Google sent me, this is what the change means for me “You can no longer research domains or ad placements that are not part of the Google Display Network and some demographic data will not be available including Keywords Searched For, Videos Also Watched, HouseHold Income and Education.” Of course that information wasn’t helpful Google. Argh.


Why This Bothers Me

Google is famous for the motto “Do No Evil”.
Avarice (greed) is one of the 7 deadly sins.
In my mind sin involves a certain level of evil, therefore Google getting greedy represents a breach of their company motto.

Would Google Violate Their Motto?

Usually I would have said no, but the reasons are just too simple here to ignore. You just have to follow the money:

  • Obfuscating search query data through (not provided) means that site owners can no longer leverage their analytics for keyword data. How CAN they get keyword data? AdWords.
  • Reducing the organic listings on page 1 of the SERPs means 3 less opportunities for a click to leave the page without Google making money on it.
  • Taking information out of the DoubleClick Ad Planner is the same idea as (not provided). Instead of giving the data away for free, you tuck it away and provide it, through advertising reps, to paying AdWords customers.

There. I said it. Google is being greedy and evil. What do you think?


Should I Advertise on Microsoft adCenter?

Google is the 800 lb. gorilla of search. It’s okay. You can admit it. Actually, you probably already have admitted it if you’re doing PPC advertising through Google AdWords. For a client looking to begin their PPC efforts I myself even recommend they start with AdWords. It has the best interface, the best reporting and the best management tools. Add in the fact that it gives you access to approximately 2/3 of available search queries and you have a great place to start. But should you advertise through the adCenter platform too?

It Depends…But You Should Definitely Consider It

I know that you probably hear a lot of experts and gurus tell you that “it depends” when you ask a tough question, but it really does. Different customer bases, different companies and different industries mean that each situation is unique. But I’m not going to leave you hanging. Here are the things you should consider:

  • Microsoft powers search results for approximately 30% of web searches in the US – Seems small doesn’t it? Not even half of what Google controls. But that 30% represents billions of searches. 5.2 billion searches according to January 2012 comScore data. Do you want to reach these people?
  • Who’s using Bing and Yahoo? – This is an important question. Bing has a lot of search deals (Twitter, Facebook, Firefox) Do you want to reach people in these places?
  • Your competition may not be there – Go run a search on a few of your keywords on Google and then on Bing (or Yahoo). Compare who’s advertising on each. You may find that fewer of your competitors are there. Does that sound like a good place to be?


Should I Advertise On My Brand Name?

Whether I’m taking over an existing account or starting a new one for a client, I often hear a very similar question from most companies:

“Why should I advertise on brand terms where I already rank #1?”

This is a valid question and I share the following benefits:

  • Occupy more real estate – If you look at the first page of the search engine results page (SERP) like a piece of land, PPC advertising allows you to occupy more of that space and get more of those clicks.
  • Block the competition – Already rank organically? That’s awesome, but PPC ads can appear above organic ads. Is that a location that you want to let your competitors occupy?
  • Control the message – Organic rankings are great, but Google decides what your listing says (and it changes from time to time). PPC advertising lets you say what you want, how you want, when you want.

Those are great benefits, but many of you are probably thinking about the cost of bidding on branded terms, especially if you have a popular brand. Let’s think about who’s searching for your branded terms.

First, you have loyal/returning customers. I’m guessing you want them to find you. Keeping existing customers is easier than acquiring new ones. If you’re not advertising, your competitor could be stealing these people. Isn’t that worth a few clicks to protect your current customers?

Second, you have new/potential customers. These people have been exposed to the brand enough to remember the name and are now looking for you. They may even be expressing their needs in conjunction with the brand, such as “Kleenex travel packs”. Your home page may rank already, but with that search term, don’t you have better messaging you could use? A more specific page of your site you’d like them to see first?

In conclusion, I recommend that you do advertise on your brand name and branded terms. You will retain more of your current customers and acquire more new customers that are already looking for you.


Google Fails Its Own PPC

While doing a little competitive research this morning we here at Trafficado ran a Google search for “SEO” to see who was ranking and who was advertising. Pretty standard protocol. However, the PPC ad from AdWords caught our eye (ever since the whole [not provided] fiasco broke out). Here is what we saw:


Our curiosity got the better of us and we clicked the ad to see what Google had for us. Behold the most EPIC PPC FAIL:

Google 404


Pubcon 2011 Presentations Posted Online

Coming back from Pubcon my mind is swollen with all the awesome knowledge shared by presenters and attendees alike. While I know that there was furious note taking and live blogging at the event, I’m a visual guy and it helps me to see the presentation that accompanies my notes. While you could wait for the USB with all the presentations to come out, I though I’d put together a list of all the presentations that have already been posted:

If you know of any I missed, leave a comment and we’ll add them.

Please forgive the lack of organization.

Bonus (other posted presentations mentioned at Pubcon):

Richard Baxter – Automating & Scaling Keyword Research from MozCon