Automation Key To Optimization For Advertisers

In the past 20 years, Google has revolutionized the marketing world. As the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the trend toward digital commerce, Google helped advertisers reap the rewards.

Marketing budgets rebounded sharply in 2021, bringing projections back in line with pre-pandemic trends. Though all forms of advertising including traditional media are making gains, the comeback was driven primarily by increases in digital and alternative ad spending.

In 2021, Marketers fueled double-digit growth in streaming audio and video advertising, digital video game advertising, digital product placement, social media advertising and influencer marketing. Traditional advertising isn’t going away, but digital and alternative channels offer advertisers effective ways to reach their target markets.

As the online marketplace evolves, Google still has unparalleled reach. We can choose from more than 20 different search engines, but most of us use the most popular search engines, including Google, Bing and Yahoo. Despite the options, Google handles 87 percent of the US market share and 92 percent of global search traffic. Google processes 6 billion searches every day to help people find what to do, where to go, and what to buy. Google ads can appear when someone is looking for products or services. The right ad at the right time can turn searchers into customers.

People want fast, relevant, seamless and positive experiences on the Internet. Google now delivers a more assistive experience and a more personal experience, but the premium is still on relevance. It will continue to offer more video, more voice-activated searches, and a more immersive experience in the future. The online marketplace continues to evolve and Google continues to lead the way.

Marketing objectives and measurement are the foundation of every Search Campaign. Each campaign and each ad group usually have a different objective. The objectives usually dictate the key action that we want a person to take after seeing and reading our advertisement. Each objective should be meaningful and measurable.

Building A Great Google Ads Campaign

Keywords and Audiences: Keywords are the foundation of campaign success. The words and phrases that a person uses while searching determines what ads show in the search query results. Keywords are words that advertisers use to specify which user searches/user queries they want to trigger their ads. Those keywords will trigger the ad auction for that search. Keywords are words/phrases the advertiser bids on based on their Marketing Objectives. What keywords do our top prospects (by segment) use when talking, researching or shopping for our product or service? Machine learning can help advertisers identify important keywords. Being too precise might hurt the campaign. General keywords often work best for new campaigns, depending on your objectives. Negative keywords can exclude keywords from search results.

Before campaigns are launched, advertisers can use Google’s Keyword Planning Tool to find how many searches include each term under consideration. This tool also helps identify potential keywords that an advertiser may have missed. Once a campaign starts running, Google will make suggestions for optimization.

Broad Match: Covers all possible business-related searches. It can help advertisers identify new keywords. Serves upper funnel, long-tail queries. Usually includes misspellings, singular/plural, roots/derivatives, abbreviations and accents. Maximizes reach.

Phrase Match: Finds users who have intent (value) and gives advertisers more more control.

Exact Match: High value customers with intent. Maximum performance, but fewer clicks.

Customer Match: Enhance your data with Google. First-party cookie search audience solution. Helps you reach the right people at the right time with the right message. Seamless and personal is critical. Target or exclude segments uploaded to Google.

Does the advertiser have customer and prospect data that can be uploaded for Customer Match (data enhancement by Google). It can take up to 48 hours to upload and run the match. Customer match can help exclude targets, too. Customer Match can help an advertiser reach their current customers on the web. Customer Match can help generate Similar Audiences.

Similar Audiences: Google can compare the prospects/customers on an advertiser’s list and scan its database for other prospects that have similar profiles. This allows for targeting, while expanding reach. Does the advertiser have lists of people who should be excluded from the campaign?

Remarketing Search List Audiences (RSLA): A powerful tool that can improve an advertiser’s reach, relevance and performance. RSLA uses site data to improve campaign performance. Sometimes referred to as “stalking.” RSLA uses an advertiser’s data to keep after shoppers and customers for purchases, upgrades and accessories–they already have their wallet out). It can keep influencing prospects who have taken micro steps along their online journey (viewers, clickers, subscribers, form-fillers, callers, etc.) RSLA allows advertisers to refine bidding, messaging and keywords. RSLA also enables Google to find similar audiences for added reach and efficiency. On average, RSLA reduces CPA by 44 percent.

Similar audiences generate a 37 percent increase in CTR and a 15 percent higher conversion rate than the average prospect found through Search.

Ad groups can be based on common denominators, including age, location, products, and life events. There are many ways to split the ad groups. Within an Ad Group, you can have multiple Ads, Audiences, and Keywords. Does the strategy target age, demographics or product lines?

We have the right keywords and the right audiences, what do we want the audience to see? What’s the call to action: Who do we want to do what? What is the value proposition? Most advertisers target needs, wants or fears. What keywords must be in the ad copy? The text portion of the ad should be specific, relevant, attractive, appealing, empowering, and action-oriented.

Ad Quality: The call to action should be the first thing that the user sees. Always work to improve CTR. Ad scores are based on relevance, the user experience and the landing page experience.

  • Be specific in the ad;
  • Test calls to action;
  • Highlight unique benefit;
  • Create time- and location-specific ads;
  • Add negative words;
  • Be specific on mobile;
  • Be local (language/locations); and
  • Include relevant search terms in the ad copy.

Ad Rank: Better ads and campaigns earn better positions. The highest ad rank usually earns top position in search. Your ad rank impacts your cost per click. Factors include:

  • Bid Rank;
  • Ad score;
  • Expected impact of extensions in ad;
  • Expected click-through rate;
  • Ad relevance in the search;
  • Landing page experience (relevant, original and helps customer find solution);
  • Action-time ad quality. Make the landing page the right page. Be consistent, transparent, trustworthy. The page should be fast and clear; and
  • Rethink mobile strategy.

Optimization Score: An index and automated guide that offers recommendations to improve your campaign quality. The tool estimates the impact of the changes (if implemented) on the campaign.

Headline: The first impression. Gain attention and a desire to read more.

Ad Description: Use to build interest and offer more detail (90 characters). Write specifically for each ad group. Be direct, clear and concise. About 75 percent of an advertisement’s impact is determined by creative quality. An ad must be seen to be great.

Extensions: Ad extensions are extra layers of clickable or non-clickable information that extend the length of an ad. They allow users to see more information. Some let them interact (click) on more information such as phone numbers, maps, etc.

By being intentional about keywords, crafting powerful text ads, and leveraging ad extensions – not only are you inviting your target consumer to engage with your brand, but you’re also deterring non-relevant users from clicking through. An advertiser should have at least 4 extensions in an ad to optimize ad score, ad ranking and CTR. Extensions give the ad more real footprint on the page and can impact the customer journey. Extensions make the search ad more effective and more competitive. Google will estimate and monitor the impact of the extensions and alter your ad score and ad rank accordingly.

  • Site Links: Add 10-20 percent higher CTR;
  • Location: Map, miles, and address;
  • Call-outs (25 characters max. Use to convince. Boost CTR by 10 percent. No URLs. “Free Shipping”;
  • Structured Snippets (Amenities: Pool, Spa, Bar) Include three values or more;
  • Price;
  • Image;
  • Promotion;
  • Affiliate Locations;
  • Lead Form;
  • Promotion;
  • Mobile Application; and
  • Ratings/Reviews (controlled/placed by Google).

Keep ad extensions fresh and relevant. Enable all extensions that make sense (Google will select from those)

  • Ad extensions increase ad visibility by 10-15 percent for each extension added;
  • Ad extensions boost conversions;
  • Google will determine which extensions to display in the ad;
  • Manual set-up for most extensions;
  • No cost to include; and
  • Ad rank must be high enough for Google to add them to the ad.
social media and digital marketing best practices

Campaign Settings: Settings, such as location, language, start and end date dictate when and to whom the ads will show. 

1. Make ads mobile-friendly for maximum impact.

2. Establish a start/end date for the campaign.

3. Determine what regions of the world/country/state the ads should appear. Select the language(s) to feature. Once complete, the campaign will be marked as “Available to Show.”

Bid Strategy: The bid strategy must align with the marketing objective. Bidding is the governing body of the campaign. The high bid doesn’t always get top spot. Smart Bidding allows advertisers to focus on higher value tasks and let machine learning do what it does best.

Smart Bidding: Automatic-bid management helps find the highest value conversion for advertisers. Unlocks growth with machine learning. Proactive optimization that finds the right conversion for every auction. The key is to adjust bids on each user’s market signals. Every auction is analyzed for value to the advertiser. Smart campaigns can do the heavy lifting. They let advertisers choose their business goals and where they want to advertise. Google then uses machine learning to deliver results tailored to those goals. These campaigns use smart technology to monitor and improve the performance of your ads continuously, so you can spend more time on other business tasks.

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA): An automated campaign that blends machine learning, and the best features on Search campaigns. DSA use the power of automation to capture incremental coverage in a simple way without having to build out keyword lists and multiple ad copies. It can help advertisers optimize results and capture search results that they might have been missing. Advertisers supply a landing page and a two-line description and Google will dynamically generate the headlines and URLs for search queries. Keywords automatically pulled from advertiser’s web page or categories. Advertisers should include one description per ad group. Google will create and place your ad when relevant. Reduce effort and cover gaps that you have missed. DSA automates your search for new customers by providing incremental reach. Google will automate responses to long-tail queries that are relevant. It provides more keyword coverage and greater reach. Exact match will serve if relevant. Broad match and phrase match compete with DSA. All advertisers can benefit from DSA campaigns. Companies with too many products to list can benefit. Helps with budget management, too (tight budgets). DSA’s generate 35 percent  more CTR and 30 percent lower CPA. DSAs can target URLs, page feed, categories, landing page or an entire website.

Performance Planner: Helps with planning budget allocation/optimization for search campaigns. On average, advertisers who use the performance planner generate 43 percent more conversions. This tool helps advertisers identify the ideal budget amount for incremental conversions and maximum growth. It also predicts campaign performance. It helps advertisers auto-predict and pursue incremental conversions and optimum spend in pursuit of optimal growth. It helps plan ad spend in a changing landscape. The Performance Planner helps advertisers with:

1. Real-time optimization;

2. Seasonality;

3. Monitor the competition/industry (keywords, hot market segments, etc.);

4. Growth;

5. New opportunities in a dynamic market;

6. Effective planning;

7. Performance monitoring; and

8. Keyword analysis/estimates.

Tool applies to the last 7-10 days of data (needs click history to forecast). It can help advertisers boost CTR without overspending.

Optimization Score: This is a new tool. Google generates an Optimization Score for campaign quality and search performance. It’s an automated guide to help advertisers maximize their impact through campaign optimization. The tool also estimates the impact of making the changes. The score updates every 7 days and are based on 28 days of data. Campaigns should run for at least two weeks to generate meaningful data.

Auto Applied Recommendations: This is a powerful tool that generates real-time recommendations for campaign optimization.

A 10 percent increase in the Optimization Score generates a 14 percent increase in conversions.

Performance Max: This is Google’s newest campaign type. Based on automation and machine learning, this integrated campaign generates 13 percent more conversions. It includes budget allocation and data-driven attribution for omni-channel business models.

  • Finds more conversions;
  • Generates more value/results from ad spend;
  • Based on rich/transparent insights; and
  • Best of Google Ads optimization (auto-creative and auction-time based).

Display Ads: Image and video ads that pop up during normal online activity and stays. Always includes a good photo. Can be used to complement Search Ads. Reach customers on 3-4 million websites. Thousands of formats (different sizes and placements. Display ads increase site visits by 17 percent and conversions by 8 percent. Display ads used with search ads generate 11 percent more search conversions. Display ads used in combination with YouTube generates more impressions, CTR and conversions.

Can be fully optimized to acquire new/relevant customers who are likely to convert (who might have been missed). Select “Audience Signals” on dashboard. Optimization requires:

1. Healthy budget;

2. Smart bid (target max conversions, target CPA, target ROAS);

3. Responsive Display Ads (at least five images, headlines, description, two logos, video); and

4. Optimized Targeting.

Shopping Ads: Very visual. Always have an image to compete with Amazon. Include price, reviews and description.

YouTube: More than 70 percent of those who watch YouTube say that videos increased brand awareness. Half of all shoppers have been influenced to make a purchase because of online video:

  • 70 percent of those who use YouTube bought a brand after seeing it on YouTube;
  • Online video reaches more teens and young adults than mainstream media; and
  • YouTube users spend an average of 84 minutes per day watching videos.

True View ads are for reach and scale. Bumper ads offer a large reach and a low CPM. True View In-Stream allows skipping and True View For Action is to promote a key action step.

Advertisers can’t ignore Google’s domination of the search engine market. It delivers relevant results and a seamless search experience. Keeping up with best practices can build your brand and your bottom line. Aim higher with Crossbow.

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