Part 1: Google Ads loopholes that waste your budget

If you think that Google Ads is a complex system and wonder how (in the world!) a business owner, who runs his own ads, is supposed to keep track of all the features and updates, I have to nod my head in agreement.

It´s like a never ending baboshka effect.

But I can give you more than just some kind words of encouragement (“When you do set it up right, it´s a magnificent lead generator!”), instead let´s talk in this series about the loopholes that probably waste a lot of your budget! First, let´s start with the easiest of them all:

Location options

You are absolutely sure that you chose the right locations when you created the campaign. And yet, when checking the user location report, you discover clicks from a mix of countries wilder than the Olympics. The reason is a loophole which Google hid so well, that many agencies I work with even get these settings wrong.

Follow me:

  • campaign level
  • settings
  • locations
  • location options

OPTION 1 : People in, or who show interest in your targeted locations

Let´s imagine you offer a whiskey tasting seminar and you are targeting people within a 40km radius, but you don´t want to exclude anybody who is planing a vacation and therefore has researched events in your area. In this case, this is the winner.

OPTION 2 : People in or regularly in your targeted locations

For most businesses this is the right setting: you deliberately chose the targeted locations and that´s exactly where you want the people to be, simple as that!

OPTION 3 : People searching for your targeted locations

Typically used for anything related to tourism and job searches.

Youtube is the only network that doesn´t have location options and can only target people in their physical location.

Still wondering where you can find the user location report? Sure you want to see the full extent of the tragedy? Well, you asked for it:

  • Campaign level
  • Locations
  • click on Geographic Report
  • User location report

And because we all love saving money, you will have butterflies in your belly for part 2, when we elaborate if or when to switch off the Search Network Partners and the Display Opt-in.

Now you are really just left with the question: what to do with all this money you are saving thanks to my blog? ; )

Youtube Ads in a nutshell

This is the golden era of Youtube Advertising: views and consequently clicks are cheap, but the attention of audiences throughout all demographics is already there. YouTube reaches more than 1 Billion viewers worldwide. Check out this quick survival guide for video ads, if you are a pro, go right away down to the “Pro Tipps”.

Especially for branding purposes Youtube is king. Just like Display, it let´s us match our targeting to the content (placements, topics etc.) or to the person who´s watching (audience targeting).

Let´s focus on the 2 most important ad formats for now:

In-stream and Discovery Ads

In-stream Ads
Are videos which are shown to you before, in the middle or after the original video you have intended to watch.

The viewer can skip them after 5 seconds and the advertiser pays only after a watch time of 30 seconds. All aborted video views before that are free, except for if the advertised video is shorter than 30 seconds, in this case it has to be fully watched to be charged.

It´s important to quickly catch the attention of the viewer like a slippery fish, before the 5 seconds are over, through making the purpose and benefit of the video clear right away, otherwise he will keep on swimming in the Youtube sea.

Discovery Ads
Can appear in searches on Youtube, the start screen and in recommendations. The viewer has to actively click on the ad and will be directed to your channel.

Bidding strategies
Most common are CPV (Cost per view) and CPM (Cost per Mille = Thousand impressions)
While in the European markets a CPV of 1- 10 cents is normal, in the US we can pay up to 30 cents per view.
CPMs between 0,50€ and 5€, depending on the targeting and location can be expected.

View rate
This is your best indicator if you are targeting the right group, because if the view rate is very low, either the beginning of the video is not captivating enough or you are targeting an audience that is not interested in your service/product/content.

In-stream Ad: Use a call-to-action-button if you want viewers to take an action.

About the video
Length: between 30-90 seconds is ideal for an ad video, but it can also be longer.
The beginning should make clear what the ad is about and has to be captivating, since we only have 5 seconds to spark attention.
Ad a clear CTA in the end – what do you expect people to do? E.g. subscribe to the channel, book now, etc.. You can and should also ad a call-to-action button, otherwise there are not many possibilities for them to end up where you want.

Remarketing
You can either remarket your website visitors with a video on Youtube or
connect your Youtube Channel to your Google Ads Account and run remarketing to people who have watched (another video of) your channel.

Pro Tipps

  • Every video has to be uploaded on Youtube, but content makers be aware: the constant skipping of ads will hurt your watch time stats, if you want to grow your channel with Youtube advertising, you have to upload the ad video as unlisted.
  • Also, the review process from Google´s side takes longer for Video ads than for Search or Display ads, count on at least 1-2 days for the video to be running after your have created the campaign.
  • The smaller the audience, the more expensive the CPV because it´s more difficult for Youtube to squeeze it into the right audience or content.
  • Once your campaign is running, you can´t change the bidding strategy, because the campaign goal (at set up) is directly connected to it.

Last but not least, the most important thing:

Frequency Capping

Ideally chose 3 impressions per day per viewer per campaign. After a couple of weeks it´s advisable to change the creative (video) to prevent ad fatigue.

Google Ads in a nutshell – The Search Network

Here is a very simple overview of the Google Ads Search system. This is literally just a simplification of a complex world. So let´s start at the very beginning…

With Google Search ads, we are bidding for keywords at a virtual real-time auction. The winners are displayed with their ad above the organic searches on www.google.com.

Their position in the auction is determined by relevance of the ad x cost per click bid on the keyword. So it´s not enough to just bid high, the relevance of the keyword to ad text and landing page play a significant role and is measured with the quality score. The higher your quality score, the lower the click price.

Clicks and Impressions
Only if the searcher clicks on the ad, we get charged for that click, impressions are free. The CTR (click through rate) gives us a good hint of how relevant our ad is to our audience by displaying the ratio of how often your ad was shown and out of those times how many percent clicked on it, we should aim at least to 5%.

Landing page
The landing page is where the client ends up when clicking on the ad. They can be regular parts of your homepage or specifically created for the ads. It´s always good to give the consumer a choice, the landing page can be for example a product category overview.

Keywords
The keywords can be added in different match types: broad match,
broad match modified, phrase match and exact match. This considers the fact that not everybody would type their inquiry in the same way and the match type determines how strict or exact the search term has to fit your keyword.

Keywords and search term are the same thing, the two names only consider the point of view we are taking: search term is what the person searching types in on google.com, keyword is what we are bidding on in the ads system.

When starting a new campaign or even account, keyword match types are usually chosen to be more open. Step by step the sorting out process consists of including the search terms that fit well to your business and excluding the ones that don´t. It´s important to add those as negative search terms, so next time they won´t fire and spend your budget.

You can start with more specific keywords in a big market where there are many searches, but for niches you would need too much time to collect enough data, which we need to do the real optimization over time.

Ad Copy
We should always rotate at least 3 ads in an adgroup, which let´s us constantly test them. We have 3 titles, of which 2 are always visible. It´s clever to include the keywords, features, benefits and unique selling points in the title. Descriptions can be a combination of these too, with a call to action. What do you expect people to after clicking the ad? Shop online now, contact us now and so on.

Settings
Google ads are so efficient, because you can target your audience very specifically, you can set:

  • where your ads should be displayed (Location targeting),
  • you can different click prices for different keywords (max. CPC = cost per click)
  • at what time (ad schedule)
  • device (mobile, desktop or tablet)
  • specific audiences with interests, affinities…and more!

The structure
Account -> Campaign -> Adgroups -> Ads

  • So one account can have many different campaigns (level of targeting a location and the daily budget)
  • in which you´d have different adgroups (level of targeting a landing page)
  • that have a group of keywords (level to set a max. cpc bid)
  • which trigger a specific group of ads. I would recommend 3-10 keywords per ad group, with more you can´t do justice to a good relevance.

Conversion Tracking
To measure the success of your ads on your website, you have to determine what valuable action the client is supposed to perform on your website. For example filling out a lead form or making an order. This action, which we call a conversion, then is being tracked and the data imported into the Google Ads account. So the real optimization of an account is always based on conversions, they tell us which keyword, ad or even target group converts the best.

Pay per Click vs. Smart Bidding
You can also let the algorythm of Google do the optimization work, if you are tracking conversions and the number is significant (I wouldn´t recommend below 20 conversions per month), which we call smart bidding. You tell the system how much you want to spend daily or how much you are ready to pay for e.g. a lead and machine learning will idealy bring you the results. The daily spend can be higher, but Google will even it out by lowering the spend on the next days, so that the average spend will be what you set.