PPC Chat Streamcap – Year Over Year PPC Reporting

Week after week, year over year, Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) comes up with great questions. Today’s set was called “Year Over Year PPC Reporting.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Do you include year over year metrics in your PPC reports? Why or why not?

  • In some cases like cyber monday 2012 vs cyber monday 2011, if I want to compare two important time-frames. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • If the client has at least 1 year of conversion and revenue in tracking to report on, yes. – Logan Durant (@THELoganDurant)
  • In the past I have incl YoY metrics in PPC reports and other marketing channels. especially in ecomm biz. good to know. – Jeff Tincher (@JeffTincher)
  • For premier client reporting I include YoY metrics to monitor trends/seasonailty. Important to show constant improvement. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • Always. Time & Trending is the most important metric and provides context to what they numbers actually mean. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
  • Yup. so clients can see…..how we do year over year. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Absolutely, unless there have been major changes to strategy or client website in the past year. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Year over year is what it’s all about – in 95% of cases, clients should be seeing year over year progression. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • We usually include a table with data from the last 13 months. We also put the last month’s performance in the YoY context. – Martin Rottgerding (@bloomarty)
  • Yes showing YOY growth instead of just MOM is like showing non-brand improvement instead of just relying on branded efficiency. – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • Not recently but am just starting to. Big revamp of how Paid Search is reported on here thanks to yours truly. – Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
  • It’s hard to compare this year to last dealing with mobile not having as reliable of backend tracking. – Kristina Nette (@KristinaNette)

Q2: How do you explain results to clients when year over year numbers are down?

  • Doing that now actually. CPCs have gone up 30% but budget is static. Find nuggets of good news: conv% is up, value/sale up, etc. – Melissa Mackey
  • Depends on situation. Explore reasonings: site redesign, budget reduction, ppc strategy changes, etc. and adjust to meet goal. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Pinpoint the exact reason(s) why YoY numbers are down…was it a Google update? – Matthew Umbro
  • Find out why and explain in detail. What was the cause – economy, competition, higher cpc’s, unforseen evensts (sandy), etc. – Mark Kennedy
  • Could be a number of things: changes in inventory, increased CPCs, site redesign, competitors moving into the space. – Logan Durant
  • I havent had any cases where CPC’s have gone down, so really show the effect of a CPC going up just $0.05 for millions of clicks and obviously CPC isn’t the only factor. Increase competition has really changed the game for some of my clients. – Noah Brooks (@noahbrooks)
  • When looking YoY put data in for the next 6+ weeks so you can use visual run rates to do a fagpacket forecast. – Russell McAthy (@therustybear)
  • When YoY numbers are down, it’s usually due to some obvious reason that everyone is already aware of. Not many surprises there. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Honestly is always best. And answer the “whys” before they ask. Was it increased CPCs? Budget constraints? Testing? – Jeff Loquist (@jmloquist)
  • It’s our job to report and respond, determine causes and and execute solutions. Would be boring if numbers just kept going up. – Chris Kostecki
  • Pinpoint the reason(s). YOY can be incredibly important for B2C. Heavy seasonality. – Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
  • Rarely blame YOY issues on rising CPC cuz its often stale settings. Even PLAs stay profitable despite competition if optimized. – Chris Haleua
  • With YOY reporting, don’t forget about Adwords’ conversion lag (up to 30 days). Important if longer sales cycle. – Jeremy Brown
  • Honesty is the best policy. – Kristina Nette

Q3: How much do you go into detail about the PPC landscape when comparing year over year numbers?

  • As much detail that best explains the results. Why up, down, flat and what will be happening to improve next year. – Mark Kennedy
  • Depends on what’s new (competitors, etc.). This year, PLAs are having a much bigger impact for most ecommerce. – Jeremy Brown
  • Competition usually plays into it. I’ll also use landscape data if it helps explain trends. – Melissa Mackey
  • Use new ad types (PLA) & targets (Device). Few optimizations help as much as mirroring old campaigns & targeting in a new way. – Chris Haleua
  • Try to keep client informed of PPC landscape changes throughout year so there aren’t large surprises but reminders are helpful. – Nicole Mintiens
  • As much as needed – so usually not much. When things are fine, mention the positive trend and move on. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Only when necessary. If there’s opps to improve or reasons for decreases sure, but otherwise just keep it in the background. – Aaron Levy
  • Stay high level and dive into detail when needed to avoid getting into the weeds with clients who know enough to be dangerous. – Nicole Mintiens
  • A nice bullet list of the big roll outs to help remind. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • As needed, usually as a refresher. Otherwise can be a diversion from the positive. PLAs & retargeting are certainly big. – Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin)
  • As ads change (PLAs, Extensions), important to share how the SERP appear. Not as important as performance, but worth a mention. – Chris Kostecki

Q4: In which industries have you seen the greatest year over year difference, positive or negative?

  • Single cup coffee industry. – Chris Kostecki
  • Easily the pet industry. Of course I’m being partial here, but people get, take care of and buy things for their pets. – Brian Gaspar
  • Construction. Economy goes down, leads go down. Stimulus issued, leads go up. – Aaron Levy
  • Housing has been killing it in all ppc metrics especially with mobile traffic continuing to increase. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Two random industries: more competition in door locks, less in horse saddles/tack supplies. – Logan Durant
  • We’ve seen a huge change in the Education industry. Increased CPCs and competition make a huge difference but challenge accepted. – Noah Brooks
  • Most major YOY results come from client who have bought into SEM greater during the year. Less dependent on industry. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Emergency kits. Up from Sandy, heavy FEMA TV ads, and at least some folks getting ready for 12/21. – Jeremy Brown
  • Retail from PLAs. Wonder if any other CSE will survive the next year against Google Shopping. Hopefully Bing PLAs come sooon. – Chris Haleua
    • True, I’ve seen PLA’s replace over 60% of spend for certain text ad campaigns YOY. – Jeremy Brown
    • PLAs have definitely had an impact, concerned next step is order fulfillment. – Chris Kostecki
  • Also seeing huge competitive gaps in PLA/G-Shopping for some industries. Bet it won’t be the same next year. – Logan Durant
  • CPCs in B2B telecomm have gone through the roof. – Melissa Mackey

Q5: How many years back do you go when comparing year over year numbers? Why?

  • To the beginning of the campaign. Because that’s the time that show’s our results. – James Svoboda
  • As many as for which there is data. Know what to speak to and how to frame the narrative. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Generally 1 year, but sometimes 2 for certain metrics. 2 years is a long time in PPC (lots of changes). – Jeremy Brown
  • Usually no more than one. Things in PPC are changing so rapidly that even YoY comparisons don’t make that much sense. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Usually just one. Too many things change in 2 years in PPC! Usually data that far back is irrelevant. – Melissa Mackey
    • I would argue that conversion and revenue data is relevant as far back as the campaign goes. You certainly have to adjust for the changing PPC landscape, but clients want to see how the bottom line has performed. – Matt Umbro
      • I find it just nice to remind them where they were when they started and how far we’ve come together. – James Svoboda
      • If you have all the right data, going back to inception makes sense. But often data not available. I have done this when client was with us for yrs & we had consistent Y/Y growth. – Melissa Mackey
  • Usually just This year vs. Last year, a specific deep dive may call for a further look back, but want focus on future. – Chris Kostecki
  • I’ll go back as far as the data allows…I want to show continued growth year over year. – Matt Umbro
  • Typically a year, but it depends on the client. How long I’ve been working with them. How long they had an account. – Stephanie Cockerl (@nextSTEPH)
  • Also depends on what we are reporting on YOY. Some metrics were not available or tracked 2+ years ago, like new goals/convos. – James Svoboda
    • I’ve worked with clients that have been with the agency for 5 years. Still used just the past couple years. – Brian Gaspar
      • No wrong way to go about it. Just report on what makes sense. – James Svoboda
        • Reminding the client how long they have been with your agency may get them asking internal questions. – Chris Kostecki
          • Could also show that you haven’t taken them for granted and continued to show progression over time. – Matt Umbro
  • However I agree this must be done with focus. We only included weekly trends November-December in the YOYOYOYOYOY dashboard. – Chris Haleua
  • When reporting yearly numbers I’d say it’s nice to look at a longer time frame, but otherwise I’d avoid it. – Martin Rottgerding
  • Depends on client and how long they’ve been doing PPC. Like to see the trends, but a lot of factors change each year. – Mark Kennedy
  • If I were a client I’d be interested in where we started with PPC, where we are now and where we’re headed. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Understanding the overall growth metrics is good, but I would avoid specifics going too far back. – Jeff Loquist
  • Also depends on time with us. Often client isn’t interested in the old agency anymore. That’s why they’re the old agency. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • Big thing to watch out for with YOY and longer reporting: what’s counted as a conversions in Adwords. That can change. – Jeremy Brown

Q6: Do you use the previous year’s number to project future performance?

  • Absolutely. If nothing else it helps clarify seasonal trends. – Melissa Mackey
  • Its definitely a factor, and that is when I definitely pull previous years worth of data to measure YoYoYoY progression. – Chris Kostecki
  • I try not to make many predictions, if at all. You never know what Google is going to do/change or other unknown factors. – Mark Kennedy
  • I’m not sure how you could not use them, just not solely them. – Jeff Loquist
  • Use past metrics to forecast. If we have a slight increase in conv rate and CPC stays flat, what do we expect w/ more budget. – Aaron Levy
  •  Agree with most folks. Use it, but take it with a grain of salt since there are often differences in the market. – Jeremy Brown
  • I’ve found that you have to have some forecasting methodology in place, even if estimations, for most CxOs. – Eric Bryant (@GnosisArts)
  • No projections due to industry fluctuations but general monthly trends are helpful for determining seasonality or larger issues. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Forecasting is like someone telling you the weather. You won’t know how it feels until you’re outside. – Stephanie Cockerl
  • Yes! Predictive analytics sounds intimidating but YOY is a start. Then adjust for day of week & maintain externality context. – Chris Haleua
  • Very few ppl r gonna just hand over $50K w/out some idea of a projected return or forecast. – Eric Bryant
  • Forecasting is necessary on some level for budgets, if you are not involved or shy away you have less say in what you spend. – Chris Kostecki


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Brian Gaspar (@BGaspar)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Eric Bryant (@GnosisArts)
• Ginny Marvin (@GinnyMarvin)
• Jeff Loquist (@jmloquist)
• Jeff Tincher (@JeffTincher)
• Jeremy Brown (@JBGuru)
• Kristina Nette (@KristinaNette)
• Logan Durant (@THELoganDurant)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Martin Rottgerding (@bloomarty)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Noah Brooks (@noahbrooks)
• Russell McAthy (@therustybear)
• Stephanie Cockerl (@nextSTEPH)

Still Streamcappin, Year over Year!

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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