SMX Advanced: A paid search roundup
What are today's cutting-edge PPC strategies? Columnist Andreas Reiffen summarizes a couple of illuminating sessions from the recent SMX Advanced conference.
One of my favorite aspects of SMX Advanced is the guarantee of emerging with a list of new tests to try out, along with pointers given by the industry’s top experts. SMX Advanced 2017 was no exception!
Maximizing Performance With AdWords Campaign Drafts And Experiments
Michael Elkins’ session, “Maximizing Performance With AdWords Campaign Drafts And Experiments,” contributed to this list rather quickly. Elkins, who is director of paid search at Red Ventures, spoke about leveraging campaign performance with Google Campaign Experiments & Drafts, a somewhat “new” replacement for AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE).
For a quick overview, Google’s testing capabilities began modestly with indefinite ad rotation, which evolved into ACE in 2014, and then more recently, New Campaign Drafts — a playground that offers plenty of new opportunities to improve our campaigns, including tests for ad copies, extensions, bid strategies, and of course, ad rotations. Elkins offers the following tips for leveraging New Campaign Drafts, starting with implementation:
- Define hypothesis to test.
- Identify primary KPI to determine success.
- Apply only one variable to keep results clean.
- Append the original campaign name with (1) a test descriptor and (2) the date the experiment launched; this will make it easier to track results.
- Schedule the experiment to end one week after you expect the test to gain significance.
- Toggle split based on how much risk you want to take (50 percent-50 percent neutral split — no risk, different percentages imply more risks).
- Use the performance comparison tool to quickly identify variances, and decide when the experiment has reached significance.
- When deciding between updating your original campaign and converting to a new campaign, ask yourself, “Did my experiment involve a learning phase?”
- Yes? Convert to a new campaign.
- No? Update your original campaign.
Elkins covers three case studies where he tests New Campaign Drafts hypotheses, which you can find in his slides.
Overall, it’s worth trying New Campaign Drafts for yourself, as it opens new testing scenarios that were impossible in the past. The setup is straightforward and intuitive, and the split statistics make it easy to quickly identify significant changes in the relevant KPIs. Yet because AdWords basically duplicates the campaign for the test, there are a couple of things that weren’t addressed in the session and are worth knowing. For example, if you use third-party tracking on the keyword level, you should remember to differentiate those in draft from the original; otherwise one will end up having duplicate tracking.
It is also important to ensure settings and bidding are consistent or untouched during the time of the test — if these are maintained in just one of the two campaigns, results will be inconclusive.
Additionally, it is worth mentioning that New Campaign Drafts is not yet applicable toward Shopping, which in this case we’d need a scheduled A/B test. If you are working with Shopping campaigns, I covered how to implement A/B testing at SMX London, which you can find here.
Taking Audience Targeting to the Next Level
I found one other session incredibly dynamic, which was “Taking Audience Targeting to the Next Level,” presented by David Szetela, Andy Taylor and Michelle Morgan. It’s obvious that “target audience” is a building block all campaign managers must take the time to invest in, and at first glance it may seem like low-hanging fruit — but this session introduced some cream-of-the-crop techniques that marry targeting options with multiple data sources, ultimately maximizing ROI in campaigns and proving audience targeting can reach the highest degree of complexity.
David Szetela, founder and CEO of FMB Media, gave a detailed overview of all types of advanced retargeting options for Google Display Network. GDN is one of the most valuable channels due to its expansive reach, versatility in ad format and numerous targeting capabilities. Check out his slides to find his tips for each targeting capability:
I was particularly intrigued by the presentation by Andy Taylor, Merkle’s associate director of research, about a new(ish) AdWords feature he’s been tinkering around with: Customer Match. I’m sure you were all jumping out of your seats when this came out last year — we definitely were, so naturally we were all very eager to hear his results.