Last month at the Learn with Google classroom at SMX East, three of our AdWords product managers sat in front of a fishbowl full of conference attendees (pictured above) and simply answered questions. There was no script, so these Googlers had to be ready to answer anything.
What followed was an hour-long session of people getting a deeper understanding of new products, sharing feedback with the team (which has been passed on to all the relevant people), and figuring out how to be more effective with their advertising.
It was great to hear what people want to know about AdWords, so I’ve captured the top 10 questions and answers from that session.
Before we dive in, I should mention that we’re planning on hosting more of these Q&As at future Learn with Google classrooms. The first of those is scheduled for SMX West 2016 in March. Make sure to drop by — we’d love to hear from you.
Without further ado…
1. Lately, we’ve been seeing the “below first page minimum bid” message show up more often in our account, without any significant account changes. What’s going on?
We recently rolled out a change that improves the quality of the estimates for newer and lower volume keywords, so you may see a status change for those parts of your accounts.
For other keywords, there may be changes in competition or in the quality of your ads. Review the Auction insights report to see how your competition has been changing, and review the details of your keywords’ performance for insights into quality factors.
2. We’ve seen major increases in CPCs around brand keywords year over year, which was also observed by RKG in their recent report. What’s going on?
There are multiple things that can affect the average CPCs in your account. Changes in CPC over time are expected behavior because of how dynamic the auction is. If you’re seeing big changes over certain time periods, look at a longer window and see how those numbers are stacking up historically.
Also, brand keywords can be particularly susceptible to one outlier throwing off an entire percentage. If there’s a really large gap between your bid and the CPC that you pay most frequently, your average can spike unexpectedly. Here’s a chart to illustrate this point (pulled from an article I wrote a couple months back):
Max CPC Total Clicks Clicks @ $0.01 Clicks @ $0.11 Avg CPC
$0.11 10 9 1 $0.02
$0.09 9 9 0 $0.01
Bottom line: Look at longer date ranges and check for outliers to get an accurate read on how your brand CPCs are actually changing. Finally, if you think you’re paying too much, you can always reduce your bid to stay within your budget.
3. We’re seeing lots of mobile traffic, but haven’t seen comparable conversion volume relative to desktop. What can we do to drive more mobile conversions?
It’s possible that people are converting from mobile, but they may just be converting in non-traditional ways. Things like online-to-store and cross-device conversions are common among mobile users, and those conversions might not be appearing as traditional AdWords conversions. Review your All conversions column for insight into these types of conversions.
Mobile users also have different expectations from desktop users about their online experience, so please take a look at our mobile best practices to better connect with those users.
4. If my search ad shows up on Google Play, but the person doesn’t click on the ad — are there reporting metrics that allow me to optimize for performance?
Metrics and search terms from Google Play are available in your normal reporting. It’s important to note, though, that those metrics are folded into your general statistics for Google.com reports. You can’t view Play performance specifically, but the queries that people are searching for that trigger your ad will be available in most cases.
5. We know people convert really well within a specific distance from a target location. How can I exclude showing ads to people who are outside of that target location’s proximity?
Use radius targeting to reach users who are within a certain distance. If you only target these areas, then AdWords won’t target users outside of that region (unless their search behavior indicates an interest in that region). If you’d prefer to only target people physically within that radius, you can update your advanced location targeting to only appear for physical locations.
6. What’s Google doing to protect advertisers from fraud and spam?
Google takes invalid activity very seriously. By maintaining clean platforms, we’ve created an advertising environment with a level playing field where advertisers and publishers of all sizes have the opportunity to succeed. It’s crucial that we maintain the trust of advertisers and publishers by keeping invalid activity out of our networks and platforms.
We use automated and manual detection systems, combined with machine learning and human research, to identify anomalies in traffic patterns and block activity that’s found to be invalid or fraudulent. For more details about how we prevent invalid traffic, please visit the Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center. For more examples of how we stop bad advertising practices, check out coverage of our report from earlier this year.
7. My clients want manual bidding, and I have challenges convincing them to use automated bidding. Can you go into detail on how your automated bidding system calculates bids?
Our automated bid strategies adjust your bids at the moment of the auction for each impression, based on all the factors in play. So instead of a few basic adjustments, you get subtle (and powerful) shades of all the relevant factors, and even the effects of correlations between those signals.
This includes things like exact wording of the query, more specific device (including OS), time of day and other factors like the browser in use or what remarketing list someone may belong to as a result of visiting your site previously.
All of these signals can be factored in at the moment of an impression so you get the bid that makes the most sense for that specific context. This process is repeated every time your ad enters an auction. For more info, check out our guide to automated bidding or a Q&A I published about automated bidding earlier this year.
8. What’s the pricing model for universal app campaigns?
Universal App Campaigns use a cost-per-install model. When you set your bids for app installs, keep in mind that your budget will be used to get as many installs as possible at your set amount. So, if you set your daily budget for $30, and your target cost-per-install is $3, you’re aiming for about 10 installs per day from your ads.
9. For privacy and security reasons, how can advertisers bypass their agencies to upload email lists directly into AdWords for Customer Match?
The process to upload emails occurs directly in the AdWords interface. As long as you can access your AdWords account, you can upload customer lists yourself. To securely upload a list, you can apply the SHA-256 algorithm to your email addresses, which is an industry standard for one-way hashing. Instructions to complete these processes are in the AdWords Help Center.
10. People have multiple email addresses for recovery purposes (work and personal). Does Customer Match reach all of those emails or only the primary email? Can advertisers upload any type of email address, or does it have to be a Gmail address?
Advertisers can upload any type of email address — it does not need to be a Gmail address. Our systems will check to see if the address matches an existing Google account. (Remember, you can set up Google accounts with non-Gmail email addresses.)
Customer Match will help you reach any of the emails you upload that have a verified Google account affiliated with them. You’ll still need the right keywords/settings, bids and quality in place, of course — Customer Match is simply a way to augment your traditional AdWords campaigns.
Those were only 10 questions out of many more that were fielded at SMX. We always love to talk AdWords, so please keep an eye out for more Q&As at future conferences.