Pay Per Click Tools In 2015

This week Luke Alley (@LukeAlley) filled in for Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) and came up with a great question set titled “Mobile PPC In 2015.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Is 3rd party software/tools necessary to be able to manage PPC effectively? Why or why not? (excluding Excel)

  • For my small clients, not really. But testing some new PLA management tools and I think they will be needed more. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Effectively” is the key word here. I’m going to say “no” but answer is highly dependent on what you mean by “effective”. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
    • I’d substitute it with “getting good results." – Luke Alley
      • then I’m a definite no. Tonnes of accounts manage without. “Getting the best possible results” on the other hand. – Richard Fergie
  • Definitely not necessary, any good account manager should be able to run an account without tools. – Mark Roll (@MarkRoll32)
  • Tools are *less* necessary for efficacy, but they save a TON of time. – Nate Knox (@nateknox)
  • I think 3rd party tools help in the arms race vs competitors – especially for enterprise advertisers (but you know I am biased). – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • Tools are unnecessary for smaller accounts but really large/complex ones might be easier to manage w/them. Although in AdWords, scripts can do an awful lot to help manage larger accts. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Depends on the goals/budget. You can run w/o for smaller clients, but if you have the bandwidth it can help bolster efforts. – Kimberly Wingo (@wimmiekingo)
  • Not necessarily to be effective, but should use to try and maximize the full potential. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • A lighter isn’t necessary to create a fire but I don’t carry around 2 sticks to rub together either. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • 3rd party tools are not necessary, but are good for making life easier and accounts more manageable as they continue to grow. – Evan Cummins (@cummins_evan)
  • Third party tools definitely help enhance results & trends, but are not necessary as long as you have the right team of experts. – Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
  • There is no one “right” way to manage PPC. Great results can happen via a variety of methods & practices. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Depends on the size of the account, for larger accounts Yes! Small accounts don’t usually have budget for it or the same needs. – Brett Stevens (@BrettStevens1)
  • 3 things: SpyFu or equivalent, a web page split-testing tool, an email broadcast tool (e.g. aweber). – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • You can “effectively” manage an account without third party tools. If you know what you are doing. – Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
  • Manage? No. Enhance? Yes. – Susan Wenograd (@SusanEDub)
  • IMO it depends heavily on situation, account size, number of accounts, etc. The busier one is, the more tools can be “necessary”. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • It’s only necessary in highly competitive KW niches or for advertisers with large spend levels. Not a requirement though. – Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
  • We manage large accts with 3rd party, smaller ones without. Clarification: We use AdAlysis on all our accounts. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • I’d echo what Nate Knox said in general. SE’s provide the basics – tools enhance one’s ability to manage volume efficiently. – James Hebdon (@jphebdon)
  • For large scaling purposes or complicated set ups, then yea it helps, but not necessary. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • I like to use tools like LP testing or call tracking no matter what size of the company. Better shows me what’s working. – Joe Martinez
  • Short answer, no. But for larger product sets and more competitive industries, the necessity increases. – Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
  • 3rd party call tracking is a must IMO PPCChat & more important in future. – Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)
  • Q1.1 Hearing most say it’s not necessary, so follow up question: Do YOU manage with or without tools?
    • 3rd party tools are best when used in conjunction with standard practices, but should not be used exclusively. – Evan Cummins
    • Mostly without, based on smaller clients. But I think for the larger PLA it’s going to be needed. – Mark Kennedy
    • Finally beginning to use some tools of my own. Primarily still manual optimization though. – Kirk Williams
    • I use 3rd party at work for our large account. I don’t use 3rd party for side work. – Brett Stevens
    • Tools can’t replace a human brain, but they can free up time to use the brain where it is most needed – for analysis & strategy. – Julie Bacchini
      • Tools are better than people at some things, worse at others. Trick is to know the difference. – Richard Fergie
    • Yes, I do use tools to manage my accounts including Call Recording features & Search Data from companies like Spyfu. – Juan Restrepo
    • Yes, I use tools to help with workflow, etc. – Nate Knox
    • Large accounts, yes. Small, no…it sometimes takes longer to go into a 3rd party tool to make a change than go in manually. – Olin Downs

Q2: What category of 3rd party PPC tools will become more relevant with time? Categories could be reporting, ad testing, bid management, cross platform management, call tracking, etc.

  • Anything that does cross-device attribution well. – Susan Wenograd
    • Great point. Do you use any tools for this? I’m not aware of any that do this… or do it well. – Luke Alley
      • I don’t at the moment. I’m really wanting to try some out, so I’m open to suggestions! – Susan Wenograd
  • PLA management. – Mark Kennedy
  • 2 factors for me. Monthly spend and KW volume. An account spending $250k+ /month or thousands of KWs. – Jesse Semchuck
  • You need something that learns and grows with your account over time. *Avoids plugging own software*. – Mark Irvine
  • Looking ahead, most likely shopping feed mgmt & cross device or platform tracking will be most sought after. – Julie Bacchini
  • Shopping/CSE feed managements systems as they continue to become more automated with inventory/product data. – Kirk Williams
  • Data. Demographics/ Competition/ Devices/ Forecasting/ Trends. – Juan Restrepo
  • Shopping feed mgmt for sure, also something that can truly handle social PPC. – Melissa Mackey
  • I think over time that our requirements of 3rd party tools will become more complex as our abilities regarding targeting expand. – Evan Cummins
  • I think bid management will stay top. There is a lot of room for improvement there. Also PLA. – Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
  • Attribution reporting and management tools will become more relevant in our ever-increasing multi-screen world. – Gil Hong
  • Mobile and programmatic. – Kimberly Wingo
  • I believe there will be a tool that will use organic KW fluctuations to automate bidding strategies at some point. – Jesse Semchuck
  • If i had to choose a couple though, I would say cross-device management and call tracking. – Evan Cummins
  • A 3rd party version of Adwords Editor… as Google seem determined to ruin it. – Steve Gibson
    • Marin and Kenshoo basically have this. Really pricey though. – Luke Alley
  • From what I know, using tools that bid for you is the very definition of programmatic. – Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
  • Cross Platform Management could be useful for clients who use a wide range of platforms if they are constantly needing changes. – Alexandria Lowe (@alexlowe2015)
  • Tools that provide device data &/or vertical data. Kywds are becoming less relevant. Need other info to drive decision making. – Brett Stevens
  • Definitely agree with Attribution and often times whether it is done at first point of contact vs. actual conversion. – Juan Restrepo
  • We’ll all be using Google’s suite eventually. Bid mngm, attribution, CRM, DMP, tv-integrated, etc. – Nate Knox
  • With audience based targeting growing, I see tools that help integrate all of your data to your campaigns becoming big. – Joe Martinez

Q3: Which category will become irrelevant?

  • The fact that AdWords Express still exists doesn’t mean that bad tools will die out. – Mark Irvine
  • As long as there is bidding, social bidding and phone numbers for companies I dare say none.. They can all morph to market need. – Roxana Hassel
  • To be honest, I’d love to not pay for reporting bc of free Analytics/Adwords but don’t see that happening. – Kirk Williams
  • As long as accts are managed by widely varied skill levels, probably won’t see many tools go away, just expand. – Julie Bacchini
  • Dare I say it… WE may be the ones becoming irrelevant. – Nate Knox
    • It’s a real fear, but I don’t think so. Too much of a conflict of interest to have the Platform manage your account. – Mark Kennedy
  • As long as accts are managed by widely varied skill levels, probably won’t see many tools go away, just expand. – Julie Bacchini
  • Whatever Goog choses to bring into Adwords will become irrelevant. Like what is happening w/ call tracking. Maybe bidding. – Luke Alley
  • Programatic display vendors. They’re a dime a dozen and everyone sells a “secret sauce”. Only so many can be right. – Andrew McCarthy (@AmccartPPC)
    • Having worked on that side, I 100% agree with this. – Susan Wenograd
  • Bing will match what Goog does, so those tools will become less and less necessary. – Luke Alley
  • Whatever that can be replaced with scripts or API. – Gil hong
  • Programmatic won’t take over PPC until every business owner knows their goals and has great landing pages. So, never. – Jesse Semchuck
  • It honestly depends on what new features Google rolls out that completely change the entire landscape. – Evan Cummins

Q4: What paid tool could you NOT do without? What paid tool could you do without?

  • Call tracking. – Mark Kennedy
  • Can’t do without any of the tools we’re paying for. If we can do without them, we do. We use AdAlysis. Acquisio, SemRush, Tableau, and some SEO tools (Moz, etc.). – Melissa Mackey
  • Bid management software. We have our own call tracking software or else I would have thrown that in as well. – Brett Stevens
  • Call tracking is used for most if not all of our clients. – Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
  • Call tracking for sure. – Mark Irvine
  • As a lot of search keeps getting more local and more mobile, call tracking will be a must have. – Julie Bacchini
  • I NEED my LP creation tools. Lots of crappy websites out there that should never be allowed to have people land on them. – Joe Martinez
  • Feed management services can be vital for clients lacking resources. Reporting can definitely be love/hate at times. – Gil Hong
  • Couldn’t do without @CallRail call tracking. That hasn’t been mentioned right? – Dallas Stevens (@tale_22)
  • Call tracking is 100% crucial (built-in AdWords phone tracking not up to par with features in paid tool like @CallRail. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Q4.1 We’ve hit mostly on paid tools you could not do without. What would be the first one that you would drop, if necessary? 
    • Don’t need the Display Ad Creation Tool. Still prefer a designer, even for small budgets. – Mark Kennedy
    • I’d have to go w/ reporting. We pay for it, but could do it in a few extra hours. – Luke Alley
    • Most competitor analysis tools are pointless. Can get data from insights, impression share etc. Focus on your own campaigns. – Tyson Drake (@tysondrake)
    • If I absolutely have to drop one it would have to be reporting tool. I can spend extra time giving the client & I what we need. – Garrett McGregor

Q5: What tool is not out there that you would like to see?

  • I think a lot about custom bid management system. – Richard Fergie
  • Something similar to but integrated directly into the SEs. – Gil Hong
  • A photography team / software to improve / expand product photos for PLA/CSE feeds. – Chris Haleua
    • Curious if the knowledge graph PLAs will do away with testing different product images. – Gil Hong
  • A reporting tool with the right balance of configurability/speed of use (mine is too configurable at the moment). – Richard Fergie
  • An accurate tool for cross-device attribution would be invaluable. – Luke Alley
  • I’ve seen small simulators like Stukent, but wish the platforms had sandbox to simulate what ad buys would do over time. – Glenn Schmelzle
  • Customizable dashboard that shows trends, report metrics, budget breakdowns, spend for every platform & goal completions. – Alexandria Lowe
  • I want a tool that mixes bid mngm., Yext, social feeds, and all ad types involved with true attribution. – Nate Knox
  • As the ecosystem gets more complex, we will need tools that simplify review of data across platforms for big picture strategy. – Julie Bacchini
  • Noticing a lot of dashboard requests. Follow-up: Is this for upwards reporting or for your own use? To add to this, I’d like a dash that shows all attribution pixels combined. Which orders are being claimed by multiple channels? – Andrew McCarthy

Q6: 3rd party phone tracking provider or Adwords ad/website phone tracking? Which do you use and why?

  • 3rd party: ability to record & validate calls as legit. – Timothy Jensen
  • Marchex. More accurate data (seen discrepencies with Google) and recording feature. – Mark Kennedy
  • 3rd party all the way across the sky! 3rd party = cleaner data. AdWords will sometimes use sample data if traffic is too low. – Kimberly Wingo
  • Third party all the time. More accurate tracking with tie in to which exact leads came from. – Joe Martinez
  • Need keyword lvl call traking so we built our own call tracking tool. 3rd party for the size of our account was too costly. – Brett Stevens
  • The AdWords option def seems like the JV version vs. third party tools. But then again free vs. paid, so. – Julie Bacchini
  • Neither, currently. We’ll start using one or the other, as we market our commercial and affiliate programs more. – Coy Robison
  • 3rd party, we import calls from @CallRail into GA then into Adwords. More Data to make decisions! As we spot check call quality it’s nice to be able to tell the client quality calls are coming resulting in sales. – Garrett McGregor
  • I’ve actually had success using 3rd party call tracking because you can listen to calls and track back to a keyword. In the past I’ve used Mongoose Metrics. Listening to calls helps you know whether your targeting is good. – Evan Cummins

Q7: The “platinum” tools of PPC are the Kenshoo/Adobe/Marin/Acquisio’s. Do you use them? Why or why not?

  • We’re not a large enough agency to have all-in-ones. We get by on point solutions. – Glenn Schmelzle
  • Yes, but only on clients where its economically viable for us and the client. – Gil Hong
  • In the past I’ve used Marin. It works well, but just setting rules for everything completely ignores how unpredictable PPC is. – Evan Cummins
  • I use Marin. Just started with it but the reason is trying to increase account performance over what I have done manually so far. – Roxana Hassel
  • We use Marin. Have to have bid management for 2-3 million keywords on multi platforms. Don’t forget Double Click. – Brett Stevens
  • If you know how to use them and can afford them, these tools can seriously help your accounts, but don’t exclusively use it. – Evan Cummins
  • I’ve used Marin and was satisfied, but only worth the investment if you’re managing multiple accounts across 3+ networks. – Andrew McCarthy

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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.

• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Alexandria Lowe (@alexlowe2015)
• Andrew McCarthy (@AmccartPPC)
• Brett Stevens (@BrettStevens1)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
• Dallas Stevens (@tale_22)
• Evan Cummins (@cummins_evan)
• Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
• James Hebdon (@jphebdon)
• Jesse Semchuck (@jessesem)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kimberly Wingo (@wimmiekingo)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kurt Henninger (@KurtHenninger)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Mark Roll (@MarkRoll32)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Susan Wenograd (@SusanEDub)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Tyson Drake (@tysondrake)

Preparing for Holiday Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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