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Mark Poles
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Chartered Accountant, Google Qualified Advertising Professional, creator of "You're Hired!".
Chartered Accountant, Google Qualified Advertising Professional, creator of "You're Hired!".

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Aargh! The criteria for getting gold stars for reviews has changed. It used to be that if you subscribed to a reviews agency and were getting something like 30+ reviews in a year rated at least 3.5 or better, then you got gold stars with your search ads. Google seems to have changed the criteria to 150+ reviews in a year.

That's great for high transaction volume advertisers. It's not so great for advertisers with a low volume of very high value transactions. I have a client with $1.4million lifetime AdWords spend that is now too 'small' to get gold stars in their search ads.

Anyone else having this problem, and did you find a solution other telling your client to get more reviews?

Is anyone else a bit annoyed by the change in Google Partner status from 'Best Practices' to 'Company Performance'? It seems to me that the requirement has switched from "How good is the work that you do for your clients?" to "How much money do you make for Google?".

If I'm an advertiser looking for an agency, I don't care about Google's revenue growth, but I do care about how good that agency is.

I wouldn't mind so much, but on the old Best Practices bar, we scored really well (way over to the right of the bar), and on the new Company Performance one, our little agency is barely two thirds of the way along the bar.

Just taken over management of a new client. Previously they were with a big agency, and paying a small fortune for management. It's always fun to have a root around in another person's campaigns - it's rare that you don't learn something.

Unfortunately, what I've learned here is just how badly my new client was being ripped off. They were paying twice as much in management fees than they were paying for clicks! Despite the high management fees, the big agency has made a grand total of 24 changes to the account this year, and most of those were simple pauses or budget changes.

You can possibly justify high charges if the client is getting results - after all, we're all charging for our expertise not simply our labour. This account? Only two keywords in the whole account with a QS better than 7, and many more 1 or 3. Overall average search CTR of just 0.6% for what should be quite a specialist industry. Almost every ad in every ad group in every campaign is identical and just points to the homepage. Conversion tracking set up, but not correctly, and nobody seems to have noticed this.

And my particular favourite - ten different campaigns (each with about eight ad groups) and manual bids in the range of £5 to £8 share a budget of £5 per day! I don't see any logic to that approach other than to convince the client that you've done lots of work that they should pay you for.

I'll be honest - I'm shocked. I won't name the agency, but if I worked for them, I'd be ashamed.

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Is it just me, or is location targeting in Settings not working at the moment? That is, can anyone specify a geographical location to target? All the locations I put in are coming up 'Sorrry, no matches found'.
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Has anyone else done the Mobile Advertising study and exam and thought to themselves:
1. There's surprisingly little about Call-Only Ads
2. There's way more about apps than I thought there would be, especially since very early on they give you lots of statistics about how "the top 7% of smartphone owners account for nearly half of all download activity", "60% of all iOS apps have never been downloaded", "95% of apps are abandoned within 1 month" and "20% of apps are only used once"?

I mean, what I took away from those statistics is "Apps are overhyped as a means of marketing". I get the impression that what I was supposed to take away was "Apps are a great way of marketing your business if only business owners would market their apps better".

Anyone been watching this year's Apprentice? The business idea of one of the two finalists is to run his own PPC agency. (Although as one of Lord Sugar's interviewers pointed out to him, he doesn't actually have any qualifications or much experience to do this.) As far as I can tell, he currently sells the services of AdWords consultants at a large agency, but basically he's a salesman rather than an AdWords expert.

Google Partner Search still not working properly.

Not sure how many other Partners this is affecting, but Partner Search is still not working properly for us. I can find Clare Associates in the search if I search by name, but we don't show up to potential customers if they search for a Partner near to them, regardless of what they enter as a monthly budget. 

It's been a while since I reported this. Can anyone advise...?

Ideas needed...


I help to run a competition in Plymouth called "You're Hired!". It's basically like "The Apprentice" but for 17 year olds. Most of the 17 year olds in Plymouth compete and the winner gets to call themself "Plymouth's Most Employable 17 Year old".

There are several companies involved in the competition and each of those also gives its own prize - so for example, there is a KPMG Best Future Accountant prize, a Balfour Beatty Best Future Builder prize etc. A few of the winners have even got job offers in the past.

We give out a 'Clare Associates Best Future Digital Marketer' prize.

Now, does anyone have any ideas for something I could give out as a small prize for this winner in a goodie bag? We're not looking for anything expensive. All I have is some cardboard hot air ballooning props (!) and some (used) Google headphones. Does anyone have any ideas for cheap prizes that would be appropriate to give someone who has just won the title of 'Plymouth's Best Future Digital Marketer'?

+Elizabeth Knights-Ward do you have anything from Google you could donate? 

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Here's a reminder to us all that very often, success in AdWords has little to do with writing compelling ads or tweaking bid strategies or identifying really good long tail keywords. Sometimes, a small tweak to the landing page can make a big difference...

Has anyone else ever had a similar "and-then-it-hit-me-in-the-face" moment?

We seem to have disappeared from Google Partner Search. In fact, so do several other local agencies that used to be there. I've tried various numbers in the monthly budget box, I've checked that we still have Partner status showing and I've checked that we have Profile Visibility set to "Searchable in Partners". So why are we (and some of our competitors) not showing?
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