Happy Third Birthday To PPC Ian

Oct. 31

It’s hard to believe, PPC Ian is officially three years old! Back on October 29, 2009, I launched PPC Ian with a post about my Passion For PPC and SEM. Since then, it’s been three amazing, action-packed years of blogging all about paid search, especially careers in PPC. Today, I wanted to take a few moments to summarize the past few years and especially some recent highlights. Also, I wanted to take this moment to sincerely thank you, my readers!

Some Fun Statistics

Happy Third Birthday PPC Ian

Last year I started my blog anniversary post with some fun statistics. This year, I thought it would be fun to do the same. Following are some fun facts about PPC Ian over the past year:

  • 293 posts (including this one) – Super excited that I’m posting more than ever before, one of my 2012 Goals
  • 2.35 posts/week during the past year – My best pace to-date, I plan to keep a strong pace over the next year
  • 2,311 comments – I cannot thank you guys enough for the valued questions, comments, and feedback
  • My top keywords: ppc interview questions, sem software, lending club strategy – I was especially surprised that my Lending Club posts gained so much traction and interest
  • My most-visited post: Quality Score Tips For PPC Landing Pages
  • A fun statistic in my personal career: I reached my lifelong goal of getting promoted to Vice President in March

Thanks To My Amazing Readers/Friends

PPC Ian has been an amazing vehicle to build long-lasting connections and friendships with my readers. Whether you are an occasional reader, and regular commentator, or the biggest PPC Ian fan around, I cannot thank you enough. I view the connections, networking, and friendships as one of the best byproducts of blogging. Some fun examples:

  • One of my top commentators became a personal friend. I was able to connect him with an SEM agency that was the perfect fit. My friend now works at that agency.
  • I developed friendships with a variety of SEM professionals shopping for the perfect SEM platform and/or the perfect SEM agency. I was able to provide sound advice and perspective to help fellow professionals make great decisions. At the same time, I got to learn all about a variety of different businesses and form long-lasting friendships. It’s a two way street!
  • Just in the last year, I spoke at Harrison Metal Capital, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and SV Forum’s CXO Forum. My blog has helped secure such opportunities by furthering my network.
  • PPC Ian helped me recently re-connect with some old friends who started an amazing SEM software company called InsideVault. Now, I have reconnected with my friends and they have decided to sponsor PPC Ian.
  • Friendships with big time domain name experts including Nima and Morgan Linton have given me strong expertise in the domain name industry. This has helped round out my online marketing toolkit.

Thanks To My Amazing Sponsors

I’m in a truly fortunate position with PPC Ian. I have personally hand-picked my sponsors and only work with companies I truly believe in. Whether we’re talking about one of my old-time sponsors like Kenshoo (one of the most amazing SEM platforms around) or one of my newer sponsors like AdMedia (your one-stop shop for all your online advertising needs), I have had the great fortune to work with truly amazing companies. These guys help pay for the costs of running PPC Ian and have provided a ton of the great content you find here.

I want to once again thank you! I truly appreciate your support and please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance. If you have emailed me and I have not responded, please try again (sometimes I get super busy).

Want to learn more about the evolution of PPC Ian? Make sure to check out my first and second birthday posts.

Image of Happy Birthday © iStockPhoto – stuartbur
PPC Ian logo portion of image © PPCIan.com

The Power of Search and Display Advertising

Oct. 28

Have you heard of Acquisio? They’re the performance marketing platform of choice for agencies. I’m a huge fan of Acquisio because they have an amazing platform and also because they truly “get it” when it comes to both search and display advertising. Their CMO, Marc Poirier, has been a search marketing conference speaker for as long as I can remember. And, he always has amazing presentations about display advertising (from which I’m constantly learning new strategies).

I’m a big fan of display advertising and view it as the natural extension of search engine marketing. Display has evolved tremendously over the years. It’s more measurable, more performance driven, and more like search than ever before. More than anything, display and search run in parallel help reinforce each other.

Today, I’m thrilled to share with you Acquisio’s brand new FREE eBook: Selling Display To Search Clients. If you work at an agency, this is a must-read eBook. I have worked with many agencies over the years and I always appreciate those agencies that understand both search and display advertising. However, even if you’re a direct advertiser, Acquisio’s eBook has equally valuable lessons. It will help you understand the value of display and implement a successful display program for your company. The situation of running both search and display is a true win-win for your company and your online marketing career!

Selling Display To Search Clients

Following are just a few of the exciting topics that are covered in Acquisio’s free eBook:

  • Display’s outstanding growth rate and it’s impact on search, with some really helpful statistics.
  • The current state of display advertising technology and metrics, the evolution of display into more of a search-type channel.
  • How you can achieve a lower CPA by combining your search and display efforts.
  • How to get started with both site and search retargeting, very cost effective advertising channels.
  • How display advertising (via branding) can generate incremental demand for your business.

Image in this post © Acquisio

Become A Search Engine Marketing Career Mentor

Oct. 27

I’m a huge fan of the search engine marketing career path. My career in this great field has been so exciting that I decided to create this blog to empower professionals all over the world and share the excitement! One of my favorite parts of this career is giving back. I have benefited from great mentors over the years and feel strongly about the power of mentoring. Following are a few quick tips on how you can give back and help build SEM careers.

Which Way

  • Tip 1: Become a people manager. SEM is a fast-paced career path. It’s possible to get promoted and become a people manager quicker than many other careers, if you’re really great at what you do. The best managers are those who truly mentor and give back to their team. Set your sights on people management, not only as a way to grow your career but also as a way to mentor and give back.
  • Tip 2: Offer your time to help others. We’re all so busy these days and it’s super easy to get wrapped up in your day-to-day campaign management. However, don’t forget to take a step back and offer your time and assistance to others. A perfect example: I spent one hour on the phone today with a good friend I met at SMX. The purpose of the call: Sharing actionable career advice and tips.
  • Tip 3: Set up a PPC internship program on your team. No matter how good we are at SEM automation, there always exists some level of manual work in paid search. The solution: Why not hire an intern to help out and give your team more leverage? This is a rough job economy for fresh college graduates. A PPC internship program for college students can truly help you pass on valuable skills and give your intern the job experience they need!
  • Tip 4: Schedule lunches with others. In the paid search career path, it’s important to remember to take a step back. Make sure to schedule lunches with others. I’m talking about people on your team, and also people on other teams. Make friends and see how you can give back and help out. Such lunches are always a two-way street. Leverage the opportunity to build your own knowledge as well.
  • Tip 5: Invest in informal presentations. This tip ties into the last one. Consider presenting your knowledge and areas of expertise via brown bag lunches. This will help build your public speaking skills while presenting valuable insights to others.

Image of Which Way © iStockPhoto – wildpixel

Thoughts On Intraday PPC Bid Management

Oct. 22

How often do you update your PPC bids on Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and your 2nd tier search engines? Monthly, weekly, or daily? How about intraday? Today’s post covers some of my high level thoughts on intraday PPC bid management. If you’re already bidding intraday or if you’re thinking about it, I hope this post helps provide a framework and some points to think through in crafting your advanced bid strategy.

Why Consider Intraday Bidding?

Intraday Bidding

Before you even start biding intraday, I recommend determining precisely why you want to bid intraday. Of course it’s super cool to say your bids are getting updated all day, every single day. However, above and beyond the coolness factor, what is your true driving force behind your intraday strategy? I can think of a few great reasons why you would want to bid intraday:

  • You sell a product that has diminishing supply over time. If you have no more widgets to sell, you definitely want to lower your bids (or even turn off certain keywords).
  • Your business experiences very strong intraday seasonality. A good example is a business that does a ton of sales via phone. If your call center is not running 24/7, you will most likely want to adjust bids down when your call center is closed.
  • You’re in a super competitive market and drive a massive volume of clicks. You have so much data that the predicted value of each keyword actually changes during the course of the day.

Intraday Bidding On A Keyword Level Requires Lots of Data

There are two really popular intraday bidding models. The first involves blanket level bid adjustments across all keywords. We’ll get into some of those tactics later. The second involves getting super granular and making keyword-by-keyword bid adjustments on an intraday level. This tactic makes a lot of sense when you do a huge volume and it involves an enormous amount of data. Why? Bidding decisions need to be based on statistically significant data. If you make bid adjustments based on limited, non-statistical data, you’re setting yourself up for poor bidding decisions. If you’re making intraday bid adjustments on a keyword-by-keyword level, make sure you have tons of data.

Also, consider bucketing your keywords. Perhaps you only adjust bids intraday on your highest volume keywords, while the other keywords fall into your daily or even weekly buckets. As a bonus tip: Consider layering both strategies mentioned here. Make keyword level adjustments where you have tons of data and layer on account level strategies to all keywords.

Consider Advanced Dayparting For A Higher Level Approach

Let’s say you have account-wide intraday trends that you want to capitalize on. Perhaps your conversion rates tank when your call center is closed? I highly recommend taking advantage of advanced dayparting as a simple strategy to adjust bids up (as a function of the base) depending on time of day. The important caveat here is to make sure the data you’re looking at is the same time zone as your search engine account. Another tip: Make sure the conversion data you’re looking at is not lagged. You want to tie the conversions back to when they started for this exercise.

Take Latency In Search Engine APIs Into Account

Intraday strategies can become quite complex. Let’s say you’re looking at keyword level data and are trying to forecast keyword level conversion rates or even keyword level margin. Such calculations require click and cost data from the search engines. However, APIs can be delayed. If you’re making intraday decisions, make sure you are looking at the right click and cost data. Build safety checks into your algorithm in case the data becomes delayed.

Integrate SEM Bidding Into Your Back Office Systems

If you’re selling products that sell out, you can take your intraday bid management to the next level by looping it into your back office inventory systems. Just imagine: Inventory is getting low and you communicate this information to your bidding platform. Then, you bid down accordingly (or even pause certain keywords). You definitely do not want to pay for traffic to a product that you cannot sell. This framework works for both physical products and also digital products (such as leads). For example: You sell leads and your clients have daily caps in place.

SEM Automation Platforms and Intraday Bidding

As a closing thought, the right SEM automation platform can make a tremendous impact on your intraday bidding strategy. If you’re serious about intraday bidding and it’s a critical part of your overall strategy, make sure to ask the search platforms all about it. InsideVault, for example, takes intraday bidding quite seriously and can educate you all about the topic and how their platform optimizes intraday bids. I’m the biggest fan of SEM automation around and it becomes super important when you get to this fine level of optimization.

Image of bid button © iStockPhoto – head-off

Google AdWords Launches Compare Dates Feature

Oct. 19

Google AdWords now offers a new compare dates feature. Check out the screenshot to the right. Whether you are on the keywords tab, campaigns tab, or any other tab for that matter, you should now see the compare dates functionality. Today’s post offers some quick tips on getting the most out of the compare dates feature.

Google AdWords Compare Dates

Using compare dates is quite easy. All you have to do is pull down the date selection menu and then opt into the compare dates by turning in from “off” to “on”. Next, you need to select how you want to compare dates. There are three options:

  1. Previous Period – Looks at the number of days in your base date range and then selects the same number of days immediately prior to your base date range. Does not match up days of week. Just looks at raw number of days.
  2. Same Period Last Year – Looks at the same calendar days from the prior year. Does not match up days of week, but compares the base range to the comparison range based on calendar days.
  3. Custom – Compares your base range to any custom comparison range you choose.

Once you enter the comparison option, remember to click “go”. At that time, your graph/chart will update to include both your base range and your comparison range. When you mouse over the chart, you can see the data behind both date ranges.

Personally, I find the most value in the custom comparison. It’s really difficult in online marketing to compare two periods unless the days of the week match up. Why? Otherwise intra-week seasonality may skew the comparison. If you’re looking at much longer time periods (such as full months or quarters), you can look at calendar days. However, most of the time, I’m comparing same days of the week. As such, it’s all about the custom comparison. Check out the screenshot above. I’m comparing the same days of the week for 2012 versus 2011 leveraging the custom comparison.

To the best of my understanding, the custom comparison just updates the graph/chart at this time. I hope in the future Google AdWords extends this comparison to the grid view as well. Google has been innovating like crazy and it’s great to see new features like this, great work Google!

Image in this post © Google AdWords