Using Ad Customizers

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) hosts PPCChat with another great question set titled “Using Ad Customizers.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Why do you believe advertisers use ad customizers so rarely?

  • Quite simply because they are afraid of them and don’t know how to setup them up correctly. – Matt Umbro
    • I agree – Ad Customizers are scary for many people. – Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
      • Your presentation at AdWorld really opened my eyes – I’ve been experimenting with them much more and seeing good results. – Matt Umbro
  • Most miss the killer cases. Geo knowledge is incredibly powerful. And it’s not like there aren’t enough settings already. – Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
  • Either they believe it doesn’t apply to their business, or the thought is too tedious to set up. – Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
  • I feel people are unfamiliar or intimidated by the custom parameters. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Outside of laziness or fear, the SEM team probably doesn’t feel they have the proper info. – Nate Knox (@nateknox)
  • Management piece is high, and needs constant revisiting. Also, using urgency-based tactics may not be approved by marketing/legal, if there is no true timed promo. – Kevin Klein (@kkwrites)
    • I disagree – I find it easier to manage these ad types. – Matt Umbro
    • This is a big reason why I don’t implement for SMB accts. The time it takes to create, edit & manage. – Erika Schmidt
      • Setup time can be time-consuming, but you can then build ads at scale. – Matt Umbro
  • I think the perception is that they are hard to setup and involve “coding” Truth is a little learning goes a long way. – Matt Umbro
  • Lack of awareness is the biggie. Also, they don’t know how to implement customizers or don’t have the time. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • Fear of contextual disasters maybe? (Though with the right planning this is less likely to happen.) – Mary Hartman (@PPCHartman)
  • The point is moot when you have to create non-customized versions for them to serve. Doesn’t save time. – Arian Wolf (@ArianaWolf)
    • True, but you were going to create those static ads anyway. – Matt Umbro
  • Because change is terrifying. And because we’re afraid of giving control to Google on many things. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • SMB’s because of bandwidth and multiple hat-wearing issues. Corporate because 50% of their time is spent creating reports. – Steve Wiideman (@seosteve)
  • Most B2B offers aren’t limited-time and are national in scope. Don’t need customizers. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
    • Exactly! Although using the location in the ad can be nice to use anyway. – Martin Roettgerding
  • To be fair, Ad Customizers aren’t an alternative in most cases. They have their applications, but they’re not for everyone. – Martin Roettgerging
  • I also haven’t seen the benefit for me to invest the time yet. – Mike Crimmins
  • In general, I see much better CTRs with dynamic ads, not always conversion rates, but CTRS. – Matt Umbro
  • In my experience, the functionality is great. The data/performance simply hasn’t justified the effort though. – Kevin Klein
  • Customizers take planning & time to implement, probably not part of normal opts unless specifically thought of to add in. Also, not always applicable to majority of accounts. E.g., Inventory customizers, even in Ecom sites, useless for general ads. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Even if I have an offer that is applicable to the entire country, I’ll set up geo customizers for specific location. ie: 20% off in Boston, MA. The offer is the same throughout, but adds that level of personalization. – Matt Umbro
  • Lack of understanding, perhaps? (i.e. using DKI in a competitor’s campaign). DKI can work beautifully in tandem with highest performing areas and geo-modifiers on high performing generic KW. – J. Prentice Parton (@tracknicholson)
  • I admit, when a client has a surprise sale, often we hurry to put it up on limited mgmt hours. No time for countdown. – Mary Hartman

Q2: What is your opinion on dynamic ads in general? Why?

  • I’ve begun to like “dynamic” more. If done well, with set parameters, can be a great way of going beyond manual capabilities. – Kirk Williams
  • I’ve seen some okay results with countdown ads and dynamic headlines, but there’s better ways. – Mike Crimmins
  • Dynamic ads are too “wild west” for B2B. We usually have specific LPs and KWs we’re using & don’t want random stuff in our ads. – Melissa Mackey
  • They are good; however, too much of experiments and customization can be dangerous. – Kapil Mudholkar (@s4socialmedia)
  • Dynamic ads are the next evolution of paid search – you NEED to stand out from competition and smart dynamics ads are the way. – Matt Umbro
  • Love/hate relationship. We’ve all seen how unnatural and unappealing they can be…and sometimes wrong. – Joe Martinez
  • Google has the greatest measure of intent of anyone, but they don’t share user info directly. Dynamic is the gateway. – Steve Hammer
  • They have strong potential and are worth testing – but approach carefully. Full automation is dangerous. – Ariana Wolf
  • Use w/ caution, but immensely effective in certain circumstances, like in a highly geo-focused KW [exact match] ad group. – J. Prentice Parton
  • I like the concept of dynamic ads as long as I can control what goes in there. Parameters of any kind are great. – Martin Roettgerding
  • IMO, setting up Countdown Ads for sale takes no more time then text sale ads. Use UI to build 1 & Editor to bulk create & label. – Kirk Williams
  • Dynamic product ads are great. Dynamic text tend to be more flash than substance, and prone to mistakes. – Kevin Klein
  • Contextual ads= awesome shortcut for clients with diverse inventory + geo reach. Lead gen, single service clients, not so much. – Mary Hartman
  • I think there are 2 types of dynamic ads: 1) Ads where you set the parameters and 2) Ads where you give free reign to Google to show your ad (ie: DSAs). – Matt Umbro
  • Dynamic ads may not be perfect, but little is. If you’re struggling to adopt customizers, dynamic ads are a good first start. – Mark Irvine
  • If your ad group is tightened up, dynamic ads can perform better than static ads in some cases. Always worth testing. – Steve Wiideman
  • The challenge with dynamic is keeping them on brand. – Steve Hammer
  • With proper content & relevance, I’m happy to utilize Dynamic Search Ads. Especially in tandem w/ dynamic LP elements. – J. Prentice Parton

Q3: What types of information do you utilize for your business data?

  • I use number of models, price, features, location, etc in my business data. It’s certainly easier if inventory and price doesn’t change often, I’ll agree on that front. – Matt Umbro
  • Geo data is awesome. bring data by area. Also like using if for psuedo DKI of long keywords. – Steve Hammer
  • Mass customization is one important application: Homogeneous keywords paired with customized ads. – Martin Roettgerding
  • Pricing, sales/deals and inventory counts are my go-to’s. – Joe Martinez
  • Location analysis, keyword performance, content significance. – Kapil Mudholkar
  • For B2B, you could use number of seats left in a webinar, how much longer a WP is available for, etc. You just have to get creative! – Matt Umbro
  • Price points are great – may not help CTR but often helps prequalify clicks and avoid disappointment on the LP. – Mark Irvine
  • (E-Comm answer) Styles, themes, anything that sets us apart from our competition.Focusing on value more than price. – Brooke Townsend
  • I like to use a business data feed customizer with the countdown customizer in tandem. – Matt Umbro
  • That’s a broad question. I guess kwd detail, placement detail, location detail, mobile/desktop detail, extension performance. – Steve Wiiderman
  • For higher EDU clients, countdown days until an open house or program start date. – Mary Hartman
  • One item i found out is that you can’t pull from 2 different business data feeds in the same ad – ad won’t go live. – Matt Umbro
  • Inventory countdown during holiday season is a lot of fun to use! – Joe Martinez
  • You can also use ad customizers for centralized ad elements, like special offers. Makes your life easier. – Martin Roettgerding
  • It would be largely depend on the business and what kind of data they would think is useful. – Kapil Mudholkar
  • For eComm, I’d say price, inventory, model. For lead gen, location, deal, countdowns. Diff areas require diff business data. – Erika Schmidt
  • I think the misconception is that ad customizers aren’t relevant for all advertisers…that can be true, but again, be creative! – Matt Umbro
  • If you want to change desc2 regularly, just use a customizer to point to a feed where edit a single field. We have clients who need updated ads weekly to reflect their latest special offer. Easy w/ a customizer and a feed w/ a single cell. (and that trick can be used for B2B as well) – Martin Roettgerding

Q4: How do you ensure business data stays up to date?

  • Countdown customizer ads get a label + automated rule so everything goes back to normal auto-magically post-sale. Make sure to give a unique label & automated rule to the non-sales ads too. – Kirk Williams
  • Review regularly. Set calendar reminders when to review certain aspects like pre & post sales. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • It can be challenging. That’s why I tend to use inventory related data for products where number of models/prices stay same. – Matt Umbro
  • Google has more or less quietly added the option to collect feeds from other sources regularly. That’s the easy way. – Martin Roettgerding
  • It takes some sort of automation if that’s going to go stale. Some uses don’t tho. City data doesn’t change. – Steve Hammer
  • If your business data has a short shelf life, do you even want it in your ads? Im skeptical of people managing this well. – Mark Irvine
  • The downside of the built-in method is that you can’t do it more often than daily. Scripts can do hourly; API for real-time. – Martin Roettgerding

Q5: How can you help your team/the community utilize ad customizers more?

  • The primary complaint seems to be setup/mgmt time. IMO the best way to “help” would be to share tips for efficiency. – Kirk Williams
  • I am completely ambivalent to whether other advertisers use them or not. I’d use more if there was an auto-refresh. – Kevin Klein
  • Find the easy wins. DKI is technically an ad customizer & well adopted. Find similar wins (geo, time, etc) & show them to b easy. – Mark Irvine
  • I present… PREACH at conferences, reaching important influencers who host chats about them! Mission accomplished! – Martin Roettgerding
  • Start creating templates that can be used across categories…therefore you just need to populate the data. – Matt Umbro
  • Educating the team/ community on proper implementation would prove that they’ll find themselves excited to use them. – J. Prentice Parton
  • On a more holistic note, I think advertisers need to continue thinking how their ad copy can stand out more against the competition. – Matt Umbro
  • Mark my words: Customizers will be the path into unlocking user data at scale. Geo is the first. There will be more. – Steve Hammer
  • Make customizes a part of new builds & new ad test cycles. Talk to the client about sales/products to keep in the know. – Mary Hartman

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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.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Arian Wolf (@ArianaWolf)
• Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• J. Prentice Parton (@tracknicholson)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Kapil Mudholkar (@s4socialmedia)
• Kevin Klein (@kkwrites)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
• Mary Hartman (@PPCHartman)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
• Steve Wiideman (@seosteve)

Using 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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