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Getting Started With Paid Advertising

March 16, 2017
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With more and more companies shifting budget over to online advertising it is no surprise that advertising on Google has become more and more popular. If you are looking to extend your reach online and drive highly qualified users to your website, targeted paid media campaigns can do just the trick.

Google Search Ads

Google search ads are that appear in Google search results when you enter a specific query. These ads present a great deal of opportunity to both e-commerce and B2B companies because of the level of intent that can be associated with specific keywords. For example, if you someone were to search “buy nike soccer cleats online.” It is pretty safe to assume they are looking to purchase Nike soccer cleats online. Depending on your business there are often a number of keywords and phrases you may want to bid on to see success.

It’s often easiest to separate campaigns into two main categories: brand and non-brand. A clear example for Nike would be:

Brand: “Nike soccer cleats”
Non-brand: “soccer cleats”

You may be wondering why a brand like Nike, who will naturally rank in position #1 on Google would bid on their own brand? Great question! Given the competitive nature of search the more visibility your brand gains the more likely competitors are to bid on your brand. Doing a few searches of your brand can make it pretty clear whether or not you need to invest in bidding on your brand. Not convinced? Google studies have shown that bidding on your brand and ranking organically can help increase CTRs by 50%.

Over the past few years Google has been handing over more and more of that top real estate on the search engine results page (SERP) to paid search ads, pushing down organic rankings. This is all the more reason to seriously consider investing in search and work to tie it closely to your SEO strategy.

Ad Copy Strategies

When writing up ad copy for each of your search ads it’s always good to start with an A/B test to see which is resonating more with your target audience. It’s important to consider your unique selling propositions (USPs) and try to work these core selling points into your ad copy.

Related: 6 New Best Practices to Help You Write Expanded Text Ads

For example, if you are running ads for an e-commerce site one great USP is often free shipping and free returns. This lowers the risk for the consumer and gives you a leg up on the competition. In a time when you are often competing against Amazon and other large online stores you need to make sure your ad copy stands out amongst the crowd.

How Much Do Search Ads Cost?

The cost of your search ads will depend on a number of factors including competition, ad and landing page relevance (quality score), as well as current bids. Some industries are 10x more expensive than others but you can get a rough estimate from the AdWords Keyword Planner tool, KeywordTool.io and SEMRush.

From there you can optimize your campaigns and see how expensive it is to be in position one versus two for a specific keyword. At the beginning, there will be a lot of ongoing optimizations in play which will help you determine which keywords are driving the most cost-effective return.

paid media services

How to Measure Success

When it comes to search ads there are a large number of techniques and strategies you can employ to see a great return. In search your return is typically measured by your Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS). You can calculate your ROAS by dividing your total revenue from the campaign divided by the ad spend.

This is a key metric to keep an eye on and can often tell you more than simply looking at your total revenue generated. With the right perspective in mind, you can get a more accurate picture of which campaigns are truly driving the most return for your business.

If you are working with a company that is using impression and clicks as a baseline for success this is a major red flag. Unless you are looking to specifically drive more engagement or visits in store you should be tracking revenue, form fills and calls. Similar to tracking revenue, these harder metrics allow you to determine which keywords are driving the most conversions.

For service-oriented businesses tracking calls is a great way to measure success and determine which channels are driving the most calls. Call Rail is a great tool that can provide a number of analytics on each call so you can not only see where the most calls are coming from but where the highest quality calls are. Once you’ve determined that you can begin to scale up and grow your campaigns.

Remarketing Lists For Search Ads

One technique that can be helpful in driving up CTRs in search ads is deploying remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA). With RLSA campaigns you will only show your ads to users who have been to your site before. While this can often drive your CTR up to around 6-8% these clicks are often substantially for expensive. That being said, these users are familiar with your brand which can often make these campaigns extremely successful.

At Power Digital we deploy RLSA campaigns across both non-brand and brand keywords. If you are looking to get a leg up on the competition bidding on their branded keywords is a great way to get a leg up. In sales cycles where users are doing a good amount of research and comparison users will often research the competition, who wouldn’t? Even if users don’t click on your ads you can still get a good amount of impressions and brand awareness just when users are beginning to stray.


Display Vs. Search

Display ads are visual ads that appear on a websites within the Google Display Network. The Google Display Network (GDN) consists of over two million websites. Of course, not every site opts into the GDN so there are some direct-buy opportunities you may want to explore but the GDN provides a pretty expansive reach. You can leverage Display ads to stay top of mind with users who have visited your site or reach out to new users based on demographic targeting.

Related: Google Display Network (GDN) Best Practices

It’s important to note that not all sites are on the Display Network. Some choose not to open their site up to advertisers or to sell their advertising space directly to companies. Reasons for doing so would be charge a higher premium and have more control over the types of ads that are being shown on their site.


One of the primary uses for Display ads is remarketing. You’ve likely experienced some version of this scenario: you visit a site, click around, and leave, only to be followed around by their ads for the days and weeks to come. Remarketing is a powerful way to keep your brand in front of users who may not have converted for one reason or another.

Related: Google Analytics Remarketing Audiences – Traffic Sources

You can trigger different Display ads based on different URLS. So you can easily target users who adding something to their shopping cart but did not check out. On the B2B side of things you could remarket users who visit a specific service page with ads that speak to the core benefits of that offering.

Dynamic Remarketing

Even more powerful is dynamic remarketing which allows you to show users extremely specific ads featuring the specific products they were browsing. Dynamic remarketing ads typically have a higher conversion rate than your typical remarketing ads. Especially if you offer users a special promo code to give them an extra incentive to convert. While dynamic remarketing requires a bit of development work to get up and running it can be a game changer for e-commerce sites with a large inventory of products.

Leveraging Display To Reach Out To New Users

One key way to gain exposure to new audiences is to leverage display ads in outreach campaigns where you are reaching to new users who have not visited your site yet. In order to make these campaigns more effective and targeted it is best to apply demographic targeting.

This will limit your campaigns to the demographics you put in. You can of course have different display campaigns that speak to the different segments of your audience to ensure you are aligning your messaging with them correctly. Here are a few of the key demographics you can target by:

Age: Age demographics are broken up by the following: 18-24,” “25-34,” “35-44,” “45-54,” “55-64,” “65 or more,” and “Unknown”.

Gender: Female,” “Male,” and “Unknown”

Parental status: “Parent,” “Not a parent,” and “Unknown”

You may be wondering what “Unknown” means, great question! Unfortunately, AdWords does not know everyone’s demographics and therefore some users will fall into the “Unknown” category. If you want to reach these users you can choose to include them in your campaigns. However, if you are running a specific campaign where your ads will only be relevant and well-received by females you could exclude the “Male” and “Unknown” demographics to ensure your ad dollars are not going to waste.

Designing A Great Display Ad

Similar to search ads it’s always important to consider a thorough testing strategy for display ads. One key thing to remember when designing display ads is the overall purpose and goal of each ad. Make sure you have a well thought out strategy for the ad copy and imagery before you pass the task off to your designer. If the outcome is too design-heavy and doesn’t speak to what you are selling you’ll be in trouble. Here are are few general best practices to keep in mind.

Logo: Always include your logo in every display ad. If your logo and company name doesn’t help to clearly explain what you’re selling your ads will be highly ineffective. If your logo is non-descript be sure to work in more direct ad copy.

CTA: While some people go back and forth on the need to include a clear CTA we’ve found it to be highly effective in getting users to take that next step. As with any CTA try to be as specific and relevant as possible. It’s typically best to create a CTA button for users to click. Your button should stand out and entice users to click through. Check out our full post on creating strong CTAs  for more tips.

Related: Learning How to Use Photoshop – Designing Ads

Ad Sizes: Be sure and create a variation of each ad in every size available. While you may need to tweak your ad copy and imagery slightly to create a great ad. Having all of these sizes available will ensure your ads get as much visibility and reach as possible.

Branding and Design: It’s always a good idea to make sure that the ad you are designing matches the look and feel of the landing page you are sending the user to. This is especially important when leveraging display ads in remarketing campaigns as you’ll want to create the most fluid experience for the user possible.

Display Vs. Native

Native ads are often labeled as “promoted stories” and are an alternative way of promoting your brand in a more “native” context. While display ads typically stand out as separate from the organic content on a website native ads will mimic the look and feel of their surroundings. A more subtle advertisement native ads present the opportunity to connect and engage with users in a slightly more organic way.

One thing to remember about native ads, which you’ll likely noticed, is that there are often spammy looking articles being promoted this way so you risk attracting the wrong kind of attention. However, there are plenty of native advertising platforms available that can help you avoid this kind of presentation and make sure you ads end up on the right sites and are in good company.

Bot Traffic

One thing to be aware of when running any online advertising campaigns is the potential of acquiring a bot traffic. Each year bot traffic becomes more and more common, while it is nearly impossible to avoid bot traffic altogether you can keep an eye on analytics to ensure that you don’t continue to run a campaign that is simply overrun with bot traffic.

Related: Is Facebook’s Audience Network Wasting Your Ad Dollars on Bot Traffic?

You can typically identify bot traffic by diving into the following metrics: bounce rate and time on site. If your bounce rate is at 99.9% and time one site is 0:01 is it very likely you are receiving a significant amount of bot traffic.




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