PPC Chat Streamcap – PPC Grab Bag

Our host Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) put together a very interesting hodge podge of questions on this week’s pay-per-click topic “PPC Grab Bag “. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat.

Q1: How do you handle client access to PPC campaigns? And what happens if the client makes updates without alerting you?

  • If they request access, it’s almost always report level unless they created the account. If client is making changes than question should be why are they paying us to manage? – Andy Groller (@AndyGroller) +
    • 2nd set of eyes. perhaps you have software or insight or strategy from other experiences that are useful. etc. – James Zolman
      • 2nd set of eyes doesn’t always equal 2nd set of hands. – Andy Groller
  • Dont give them admin access, no matter what! – John Lavin (@Johnnyjetfan)
  • Don’t normally have that problem. Our clients generally only have reporting access unless requested otherwise. – Cassandra McClure (@imcassy)
  • Give them admin access. Never had issues with clients messing things up too much. We give them trust, they give us trust. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • As a client, I’d say it’s your job to check the change history and keep up with me and my changes. – James Zolman (@jameszol)
  • Hard to tell a client they can’t have access to their account when it’s their money, however, must be strict about authority. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Contract Agreement – they pay fine. – Sergey Smirnov (@Smirnovi4)
    • Certainly not happening. I ask my team for their thoughts and advice on changes, then I pick and choose. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Ultimately they are paying the bill, have to be nice when reprimanding. Set up diff logins w/ diff types of access if you can. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • Really the account is there’s to do as they wish – the understanding is what they ‘play with’ could impact our work. – Anna George (@AnnaGeorge)
  • I don’t. All they see are reports, ad copy, and the conversions that are generated. I own the accounts on their behalf. Larger businesses need access which is fine. Smaller businesses usually have too much to worry about. – Steve Hill (@epiclysteve)
  • If client’s make changes without saying make sure you look at change history, let them know you can see them, they soon stop. – Matt Hopson (@matthopson)
  • I think transparency is the answer. As a client, I try to keep up with bid changes by agency or software or others. – James Zolman
  • Really the account is theirs to do as they wish – the understanding is what they ‘play with’ could impact our work. – Anna George
    • As long as don’t ask for guarantees and then charge you for SLA. – Sergey Smirnov
  • I knew a client that paused their own campaign randomly, without notice. Can’t optimize with random ons & offs. Read only access. – Cassie Allinger (@_CassieLee_)
  • Have people given admin access and then had clients making tons of changes? Never had that here. Good comm. helps avoid that. – Luke Alley
  • Transparency. If they don’t have some sort of access, that’s a problem. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • I think we would all prefer i f the client left the account alone – but they own it. It’s their choice on how to work with it. – Rick Galan (@RickGalan)
  • The REAL question is, who owns the account? The agency or the client? – Luke Alley +
    • Client in the end. – Matt Umbro +
      • If client owns the account they need ADMIN access then. Right? – Luke Alley
    • Always the client. – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh) +
  • Google MCC or SEM Plat. If client updates w/out alerting, policies need to b communicated if cont. would need to fire client. – Tropik Media (@TropikMedia)

Q2: Aside from sharing new features, do you find value in having an AdWords rep? If so, what is this value add?

  • Who doesn’t mind a little personal attention from time to time. – John Lavin
    • For sure! You have to take a fine-tooth comb through kw suggestions though. They throw in some serious BS. – Michelle Morgan
  • Not really, any question I ask gets the standard Google answer. Get much better answers from #PPCChat. Although I do like going to Google’s offices and eating at the cafeteria and drinking free Starbucks. – Matt Umbro +++
  • Not ever over the 8 years I have been doing this in terms of optimizing accnts. very cookie cutter advice? – David Beltramini (@dbeltramini)
  • Not really, Google seems to be getting worse in their ability to quickly solve problems related to their products. – Steve Hill
  • I found our rep just relayed stuff to me I had already read on forums and blogs! It was sometimes useful to have a sounding board. – Anna George
  • Good to bounce ideas off of, double check work, get new ideas for keyword groups. – Luke Alley
    • Agreed to a certain extent, have to take their advice with a grain of salt. – Matt Umbro
  • Marginally useful, especially on new features. Sometimes they do more harm than good. And usually the Google reps push for more spend (i.e. Youtube) even when it’s not a great fit for client. – Jeremy Brown +
  • Rep valuable in passing along new features/betas. Otherwise pretty much as knowledgeable as us unless they go to the help center. – Andy Groller
  • Having an adwords rep is great if you have a problem or need something to get approved.. It’s nice if someone has your back! – Rick Galan
  • Sadly, I find out about new features before my rep does. They’ve helped get things done about lead fraud recently. – Michelle Morgan
    • I’m with Michelle, I tend to find things out before my rep but they can help advocate for the account. – Amy Hoffman (@Hoffman8)
  • I’ve found previous reps just copy/pasted things from help centre when you ask questions. No use at all when they do that. – Matt Hopson
  • If you ask the right questions, you don’t get cookie cutter advice from @adwords imo. – James Zolman
    • Disagree, I try to press them but always get pushback. – Matt Umbro
      • True. It seems like they haven’t managed accounts. They know Adwords interface. They don’t know Adwords strategy. – Luke Alley
      • Tell me about it. I ask them about features, communication extensions for example, and they have to look them up. – Michelle Morgan
      • Also agree, you get the standard document downloads as well with ‘I’ll send you more info on that” – Anna George
  • The value in an AdWords rep is to get the inside story. Their technical ability is paltry & their copy writing sucks. – David Pedersen (@SeaPPC)
  • Ultimately their job is to get you to spend more money with Google. – Steve Hill
  • Best thing to do: build a personal relationship with them. Go visit or something. They start working harder on your accounts. – Michelle Morgan
  • I find @adwords reps to be incredibly valuable from a policy perspective-I run landers by them now, tactics that may push limits. – James Zolman +
  • Adwords rep don’t tell me anything that google.com can’t. – Cassie Allinger
  • I’ve in some cases found the reps to know much less that i do about ppc & would be faster to find an answer on my own. – Cassandra McClure
  • Anyone know how much you need to be managing to get a personal rep? I can only get the generic help line atm. – Luke Alley
    • You can ask any rep for dedicated support. then you get put into a queue that updates every quarter normally. Sometimes you will only be in the dedicated support team’s portfolio for the quarter, other times it’s perpetual.- James Zolman
    • I think our smallest account with a dedicated rep is around $30k …. Or did you mean an agency rep? – Amy Hoffman
  • If they let you bend rules depends heavily on how much $ you spend. – Amy Hoffman +++
  • Agree if you get a chance a bit of face to face first goes a long way if you have issues. – Andrew Baker
  • Sometimes they are great for getting tedious tasks done. I outsource work to my reps sometimes. – Michelle Morgan +++
  • Sometimes I ask reps questions that I know the answer to, just to see if they are truly qualified. – Austin Dillman (@Austin_Dillman)
  • Expedited ad copy review. – Lisa Sanner
  • Goes without saying that some Google reps are more knowledgeable and helpful than others. – Jeremy Brown
  • I’ve found them helpful with getting info on disapproved keywords but most of the time they just want me to spend more money. – Robert Reay (@robreay) +
  • Basic support on campaign grouping otherwise no. – Tropik Media

Q3: How do you fight complacency? In other words, how do you continue to show clients your value when results start to plateau?

  • Recommend pushing the boundaries – new platforms, engines, etc. Always room to expand (budget aside). – Andy Groller ++
  • Spend more time showing clients the competitive landscape of #PPC ads, and show how you’re defending their turf. – Mike Shollenberger (@webjock)
  • I think there is always opportunities, an account won’t manage its self, markets change, features change, etc, be creative! – Andrew Baker
  • I start asking questions not necessarily related to PPC, ie: how are your other mediums doing compared to PPC. – Matt Umbro +++
  • Diversification is key! – Lawrence Aaron (@CrazyFingers)
  • Find new features/releases that make sense for their account. Never ending lately. – Lisa Sanner ++
  • Always work and show them what your doing. Every account always needs new ads, bid adjustments, new negatives, new kws, and more. – Luke Alley
  • I find building new Ad Groups to be a good creative exercise to fight campaign boredom. – James Svoboda (@Realicity) +
  • Focus on the relationship you have & seek to strengthen it. Chances are there are other aspects of their business you can help. – Steve Hill
  • Number 1 thing – Ad copy testing. Continuous testing drives continuous improvement. – Jeremy Brown +
  • There is no plateau unless you have 100% conversion rate. – Andy Groller ++
  • Get Creative and also reanalyze data – Constantly set higher goals. – Amy Hoffman
  • Why would there be a plateau to begin with…? I like Jeremy’s answer re: testing. W/ testing, hardly ever see a total plateau. – James Zolman +
    • I think the plateau comes when a client is just happy with results. You make yourself invaluable when you go beyond that. – Luke Alley
  • Adding value in a way that goes beyond what you were hired to do is how you build a lifelong relationship. – Steve Hill
    • Focus on the relationship you have & seek to strengthen it. – Amy Hoffman
  • Agree with those that mentioned ad copy testing. Landing page optimization/testing should always be a priority too. – Austin Dillman
  • Manage to strict goals. When the goals get too easy to hit, set harder goals. It’s never ending. – Cassie Allinger ++
  • Landing page optimization, particularly usability testing. – Sergey Smirnov
  • Plateau is probably the wrong word, closer to the first part, complacency. – Matt Umbro
    • There’s still the client’s PERCEPTION of a plateau though, which we must anticipate and head off. – Mike Shollenberger
      • Agreed. Communication key in ID’ing ways to avoid/overcome the perceptive plateau though. – Andy Groller
      • Instead shape/guide their perception. – Cassie Allinger
  • I’ve seen accounts reach a maturation level. Then it’s time for more ad copy, landing page testing, vertical audiences. – Lisa Sanner
  • Actively seek feedback then. complacency = uncritical satisfaction of results, right? be your worst critic. – James Zolman
  • Focus on conversion & optimization. Convey value. – Tropik Media

Q4: Talk about your initial impressions of the “Top vs. Side” report in AdWords?

  • “Awesome! Look at all that data! What the hell do I do with this?” < That’s about how it went. – Michelle Morgan +
  • Neat to look at. Not sure what to do with them?! – Luke Alley
  • Psychology – do users see top ads “in different light” since they are formatted similarly to organic results? – Andy Groller
  • Potentially increase bids required to compete ( even in QS 10 adwords). Also we have Geo KWs with QS 10 on the side – means very competitive market / KW – David Beltramini
    • If top positions, high QS, side, it probably means low volume kw that Google doesn’t show many/any tops. – Lisa Sanner
      • Very Possible – David Beltramini
      • Or high volume, but not ad-friendly. Think ‘golf’ for example (range, clubs, VW?) – Jeremy Brown
  • I find it incredibly useful. More for CTR & position comparison than anything. Most top placements on high vol kw = awsm CTR. High ctr leads to higher QS. I can measure the impact of bids vs ads and opportunity in higher places a lil better now.- James Zolman
    • What did you do after you compared CTR and position? – Luke Alley
      • Paid attention to impressions & calculated whether or not i have headroom to boost bids. Then tested ad copy asap. The goal is to qualify the ad/kw combo for more top impressions than side via QS & ctr optimization imo.- James Zolman
        • True, so you can get there without having to bid/pay more. Good point. – Luke Alley
  • Confirmed that some clients do better in top spots and others better in side spots. CTR always is higher in top spots. – Luke Alley
    • Usually ** … When local results come into play, I’ve seen that stat change. – Cassie Allinger
  • “Top vs. Side” report Rocks! Analyze the segment where you get most of your impressions. – James Svoboda +
  • Really like it, no surprise in the results but useful to show performance of top ad features, extns, etc. – Andrew Baker
  • I found all the surprise to be interesting. Much previous research pointed to those numbers. – Jeremy Brown
  • Torn, it doesn’t tell you much beyond confirming best practices. – Steve Hill
    • Just proves best practices to clients. – Mike Shollenberger
    • Agree about the proof of best PPC practices, however, report just enforces a well run campaign. – Matt Umbro
  • Throwing out a vote – in most situations top ads are significantly better in CTR, etc? Not necessarily convs/CPA. – Andy Groller +
    • Conversions also higher in top spot(obviously b/c of volume) CPA is the metric I compare between top and side. – Luke Alley
    • Definitely in CTR, but I’ve also found conversion/con rate, probably because these ads get more opportunity to convert. – Matt Umbro
      • We’ve seen the same but just wanted to get more perspectives. Thanks. – Andy Groller
  • I would like to see the information on whether certain users prefer viewing ads on the top vs side. Where do they look first? – Steve Hill
    • Based on CTR for “Top” we can feel confident that the Top 3 actually get “Views”. Side often do not get “Viewed”. – James Svoboda
  • Very Helpful. Especially with the addition of tablets & smart phones where the position # does not always tell you top/side. – Cassie Allinger
  • Wow! Had an idea but didn’t realize how effective top ads were. By huge margins I am seeing better top ad results. – Matt Umbro
  • I think it could help w/sitelinks (top positions only) & architecture but need to do more analysis & come up with methodology. – Lisa Sanner
  • It’s good that Google made the data easier to access. Now how about Exact Match Impression Share for keywords? – Jeremy Brown
  • Huge difference Both in CTR and Conversions. – Sergey Smirnov +
  • Is anybody seeing better results in ‘side’? My ‘top’ performs better by a landslide. – Amy Hoffman
    • Same here. – Michelle Morgan
    • No. – Matt Umbro +
    • In CPA yes. – Luke Alley
    • Nope, huge difference in favour of top (as was expected). – Andrew Baker
    • Rare, but I’ve seen it. – Cassie Allinger
  • News to me! Guess I need to check out this top/side data and see if I can mine some data to improve my ppc algorithms. – David Pedersen
  • Would love to be able to do top vs side by hour! ( don’t think it’s possible yet). – David Beltramini
    • I’d love to be able to day part call metrics, but that’s another topic for. – Matt Umbro +
  • Eye-tracking studies are still showing the F-shape with lot of views in upper-left of search results. – Jeremy Brown
  • Google has maintained that avg position doesn’t affect conversion rate. Shouldn’t we be seeing that demonstrated in top vs side? – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
    • I see it. CVR within reasonable delta of each other in top vs side. going for conv volume in analyzing top vs side. – James Zolman
  • Since top performs so much better, anyone thinks it’s a ploy to get us all to bid more? – Lisa Sanner
    • I would if CPC wasnt lower. – John Lavin
    • You never know with Google. – Matt Umbro
    • Diff. is so dramatic u have to wonder. – Mike Shollenberger
    • My initial impression was “Google is going to make a lot more money now!” – Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
    • Everything Google does is a ploy to get us to bid more! I swear. – Luke Alley +
    • Everything Google does is to improve relevancy but also improve their financials. Top vs side segment just another way to do both. – Neil Sorenson
      • Then they try to find a way to “show how it will help advertisers”… It’s a stretch at times. – Luke Alley
      • This will definitely mean more money for Google. Just the “my ads have to be high” people will push bids up. – Amy Hoffman
    • This will definitely mean more money for Google. Just the “my ads have to be high” people will push bids up. – Jeremy Brown
  • One neat thing is that it does help you identify kw where Google rarely shows top ads. Some mostly have side ads. – Jeremy Brown +
  • Wish Google would just report top & side positions seperately as T1 – T3 & S1-S10 in AdWords reports, this would be helpful. – David Pedersen
  • Extremely valuable, less costly and informative. – Tropik Media

Q5: As die hard PPCers, do you feel we sometimes make things too complicated and are too biased in our ways? How do you make sure you put yourself in your audiences’ shoes instead of yours?

  • IMO being in the shoes of the audience IS what defines QS. It’s googles definition too. – Eloi Casali (@Eloi_Casali) +
  • I think sometimes we over analyze things that aren’t worth the time. But we have to answer to clients, so its worth it. – John Lavin
  • Think about who’s buying the product/service and why are they buying it. Focus on their concerns and pain points. – Jeremy Brown
  • Certainly sometimes. It comes down to diversifying what I do in a day. Reminders that PPC isn’t everything definitely helps. – Steve Hill
  • Sometimes we have to take a step back which is hard to do. Always good to ask non PPCers what they would search for. – Matt Umbro
  • All have to do is watch my hubby do queries. He doesn’t trust ads & either queries single words or specific 10 word model names. – Lisa Sanner ++
    • Good point, watching someone else search for something can be a nice reality check. – Amy Hoffman
      • I feel like a spy. It is both humbling & incredibly useful. I also watch my sophisticated tech kids (12 & 10). – Lisa Sanner
  • We can’t do our jobs correctly if we don’t put on the audience shoes/hat. Plain & simple. – Andy Groller +
  • I tend to spend more of my time trying to make things *less* complicated, while keeping up with constant change. – Mike Shollenberger
  • We get paid to deconstruct the complicated, understand it and make it easier for our clients to generate ROI. – James Svoboda +++++
  • Ask yourself, if I were the client what would I want my account executive to acheive? Lower CPL, More Clicks, all of the above? – Amy Hoffman
  • Ask non-PPC’ers (wife, friends, family, co-workers) for feedback (i.e. if you were looking for…). – Andy Groller
  • We are all very biased (or perhaps I should say narrowly focused). We over complicate some things and over simplify others. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • I just think at times we are too invested and need to step back, if only to gain a different perspective. – Matt Umbro +
  • Being biased can give you an edge. Smart, complex targeting and messaging = better results. Bias isn’t always bad. – James Zolman +

Q6: Could PPC advertising be a legitimate college major (or at least a core area of a marketing/advertising major)?

  • Legit major but need lots of hands on activities/internships. – Andy Groller
  • Awesome question, and yes I think so. Though I’d lean toward core area rather than standalone major. – Mike Shollenberger
  • Area of emphasis, yes. I wouldn’t think it could be a major. I would think certainly a minor. – Michelle Morgan
  • I think it’d be a waste of time. It changes too quickly for colleges/universities to stay on top. Graduates wouldn’t have a clue. – Cassi Allinger +
    • But don’t most college majors/studies change all the time as well? – Matt Umbro
    • I agree too much change to be a major but certainly could be a course in an online marketing core area. – David Beltramini
  • It should be, it’ll open up our future job prospects! Professor Jetfan sounds good! – John Lavin
  • Certain aspects of it are very similar to Direct Mail or other marketing/advertising disciplines. A course on it wouldn’t hurt. – James Zolman
  • Definately, but I believe it then should be understood as a union of Search+Display+PPC in SM. – Sergey Smirnov +
  • As someone who went for marketing, I say minor at best. Marketing isn’t as diverse as engineering or history. – Steve Hill
  • Core area yes. Might be a push to have enough classes for a degree. – Luke Alley
  • The issue is the entire digital ad space is merging together and the lines between areas are blurring. – Mike Shollenberger
  • I definitely think it could be an ’emphasis’ or a ‘minor’ for someone with a marketing Degree. – Amy Hoffman
  • Also classes are already being taught on it … and already, by the time ppl graduate, the info learned is irrelevant. – Cassie Allinger
  • It could be though if you think of all the different aspects that go into it… Writing… Designing… HTML… Statistics… etc. – Luke Alley
  • “core area of a marketing/advertising major” – Online Marketing major (LP, PPC, social, email, psych. components). – Jeremy Brown
  • Thats another thing too. Not a whole lot of valid scientific research done in the field yet. – Steve Hill
    • Tons of companies are collectively spending billions of dollars and there isn’t enough “research”. – Jeremy Brown
  • Bottom line is that PPC/display advertising needs to be a part of education as it is so prevalent these days. – Matt Umbro +++
    • Considering the garbage taught in many colleges, it’s a no-brainer to teach something useful. – Jeremy Brown +
  • Maybe I’m old school but I think of myself as a marketer first (core) w/PPC as specialty. I’d hate to think of losing foundation. – Lisa Sanner
  • It’s about learning techniques to approach data, analyze it and apply conclusions, time can’t kill this. – Sergey Smirnov
    • True. There’s a lot of theory that would have to be taught. The basics are easy but most would have to be practice. – Michelle Morgan
  • Good luck finding a college professor, that is proficient in PPC & up-to-date on PPC SEM tactics/tools/strategies. – Cassie Allinger
  • Internet Marketing edu will be in terms of certifications rather than traditional degrees due to dynamic info. – Nate Schubert (@NateSchubert)
  • I will say it is interesting that I have a career that I didn’t study for at all in college (heck I didn’t even know it existed). – Matt Umbro ++
    • I would hope those kids in Med school don’t do that. I’d prefer not to have a scalpel left inside me! – Steve Hill
  • Too many students would simply learn it for a test and forget about it after. – Steve Hill
  • Think a full degree in PPC would be too much but could feature as good modules in many others. – Richard Fergie
    • Perhaps a certificate program would be more realistic. – Cassie Allinger
  • Major, not sure, but PPC is a major fundamental of Online advertising & shld be addressed. Creative is most important as software will continue to evolve and automate. – Tropik Media

Additional Resources

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About the Author

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe, Search Manager at WebRanking in Eden Prairie, MN, #PPCChat Streamcap putterer togetherer, very infrequent seo blog author, SEM Padawan, Tweeter @PaulKragthorpe, and Google+’er PaulKragthorpe.

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