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Optillion Internet Marketing
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The Internet Marketing Company
The Internet Marketing Company

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Google Shopping Campaign Priority

What’s the point in campaign priority, if history matters more?

At Optillion we’ve come across an unusual and unexpected problem when running Google Shopping campaigns for our clients. When advertising the same product across multiple Shopping campaigns, the campaign with the longest history is participating in the auction, despite being set to a lower priority than a new campaign.

When you want to advertise the same products across multiple Shopping campaigns (in the same country), Google recommends the use of campaign priority to determine which campaign participates in the auction for that product. Priority can be set to Low, Medium or High. The AdWords support pages state that the campaign set to the highest priority will bid, until it runs out of budget.

Google gives the example of creating a new summer campaign, which includes sandals. Sandals are already included in your footwear campaign, but you can set the new summer campaign to High priority. According to Google, this will ensure that the bid comes from the summer campaign (until it runs out of budget).

However, in practice, Optillion has found that existing Low priority campaigns with history are chosen to bid, over new campaigns set to High priority. In consultations with Google, it has emerged that history overrides campaign priority, which gives the lie to their claim on the support pages.

This begs the question: what’s the point of setting campaign priority, if it won’t have any impact on which campaign bids?

The impracticality of campaign priority working (or not working!) in this way can cause real problems for some clients, where it’s important that the allocated budget in the new campaign is spent. This lack of control makes running multiple Shopping campaigns impractical.

We hope that Google recognises this inconsistency soon so that we can make the most of campaign priority.
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AdWords Close Variants Expansion

- Will casting your net wider catch you more fish?

On Friday 17th March 2017 Google announced changes to how AdWords close variants would work. Following the introduction of close variants in 2012 (initially to capture plurals, misspellings and typos), Google eventually removed the ability to opt of this close variant matching in 2014. This decision was mired in controversy at the time, so will these changes in 2017 prove equally problematic?

From now on, exact match will ignore function words in searches (such as prepositions and conjunctions), although, in theory, only when this doesn’t change the meaning of the query. Also, reordered variations of keywords will now match, again in cases where the meaning will apparently remain unchanged. However, AdWords will continue to prefer to use those keywords that are identical to search queries.

But will reworded and reordered searches really only match in cases where the meaning is unchanged? Google makes much of its machine learning capabilities allowing it to distinguish between flights to a destination and flights from there, but in more nuanced cases this less exact matching could prove problematic for advertisers.

Google claims that these changes mean that advertisers no longer need to build exhaustive keyword lists that take account of rewording and reordering in order to reach customers, and predict that advertisers may see up to 3% more exact match clicks on average. This has the benefit of taking into account that users often don’t use natural word order when searching, but involves the assumption that it is better to cast your net wider and possibly waste money on bad keywords in order to catch more good ones. These changes also potentially risk creating brand confusion, particularly if competitors’ brands have similar names.

Overall, at Optillion we haven’t encountered significant problems with this expansion to close matching: it seems that Google has been able to marginally expand its scope without creating misunderstandings so far. However, we would advise that vigilance is necessary because there are areas where a cautious approach should be taken for certain keywords. With diligent checking and updating of your negative keywords in cases where reordering or loss of function words would impair meaning, you can reap the rewards of close matching without falling victim to its potential pitfalls.

With this change further diluting the meaning of the term “exact match”, it’s easy to see why some people have found it frustrating. It arguably takes control away from advertisers, who now need to specify what they don’t want their ads to show for. However, with careful management, the expansion of close variants can definitely be made to work in your favour.
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Similar Audiences for Search

A tool with great potential, to be used selectively

At Optillion we’ve had mixed results when using the similar audiences targeting feature. It’s a useful tool, but one which requires a degree of experimentation to find the optimum bid adjustments.
Google has promoted the similar audiences list as a way of reaching new potential customers, who share characteristics with the site visitors on your remarketing lists. They see this as a way of removing the need for guesswork when searching for new audiences.
Similar audiences works by generating an aggregated picture of the search behaviour of your visitors, and using this to find potential customers with similar behaviour. It automatically identifies which of your remarketing lists qualify for similar audiences, if they have over 1000 cookies with enough similarity in search behaviour to create a similar audience list.
Google has stated that by using similar audiences in conjunction with remarketing, advertisers typically see 60% more impressions, 48% more clicks and 41% more conversions.
This data initially seems impressive, but some advertisers could expect a better click through from the regular results before the similar audience list. The increased spend on similar audiences can result in advertisers overpaying for traffic they may have attracted without it.
When Optillion ran a trial of using similar audiences for a client, with bid increases of 30%, we found that although click through increased from 1.98% to 7.98%, return on advertising spend dropped by 41% compared to pre-trial results. Around 10% of searches fell within the similar audience bracket. This suggests to us that similar audiences for search may only be worthwhile for advertisers struggling to attract an audience.
For Google Shopping, however, similar audiences has proved to be a useful tool for this client. Although similar audiences clearly needs more work to maximise its efficacy for advertisers, the tool has a great deal of potential in certain situations.

Google Internal data 2013 (https://buff.ly/2g9U0qk)
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Google launched its new Expanded Text Ads a few weeks ago, making text ads double the size and changing the format slightly. The word from Google was that these new ads would perform better than the Classic format, giving companies more space to get their message across to potential customers and persuade them to click an ad.

Well, after a couple of weeks of converting ads to the new format we’re starting to see some meaningful comparative results. While some of the new ads are performing noticeably better than their Classic counterparts, others aren’t. In some cases, when clients have only got a short, sharp, concise message to get across, the expanded format doesn’t really benefit them – especially if their target market is time-strapped.

There’s still a couple of months until the rollover period finishes and Classic ads disappear forever, so we’re working hard on converting all our Classic ads to the Expanded format. In terms of the new Expanded ads that have already been written, it’s a case of fine-tuning them to make sure they’re as perfect as possible come their full implementation. But apart from anything else, we’re a little sceptical that Google hasn’t got something up its sleeve in terms of their profit generation.

However, even with the new format there’s still the scope to create Classic style ads that looked just the same as they did before. It’s certainly going to be a busy few months for us as we experiment with all these new possibilities!
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It's a tempting, but dangerous, approach to Internet Marketing:
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