Excel And PPC

This week Dallas Stevens (@DDP_PPC) hosts PPCChat in place of Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) with a great question set titled “Excel And Pay-Per-Click.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Where does Excel provide the most value for you in PPC? 

  • For me, it Makes data mining so much more efficient and expidites tasks of repitition. – Dallas Stevens
  • Data analysis. I love exporting a huge data dump and having excel format everything in an easy to read view. Pivot tables baby! – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Where doesn’t it? From ad writing to data analysis to building out multiple campaigns at once. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • In Adwords. If I’m doing something in Adwords, it will have an excel sheet attached. – Tanner Schroeder (@TannerSchroeder)
  • Analyzing the data, especially with large amounts. Easier to manage and compare. – Steve Seeley (@SteveSeeley)
  • On the production side of things: definitely bulk ad changes & keyword building. Formulas that are helpful when editor can’t. – Tim Halloran (@timmhalloran)
  • Excel gives me an ability to efficiently make bulk edits and pull up big and useful PPC data. – Andrey Kozlov
  • (I use Google Sheets) to manage a list of vendors to focus attention on a set of variables and bidding. Tons of IF statements. Google Sheets has a QUERY function I find far superior to VLOOKUP. I’ll use QUERY w/ IMPORTRANGE to rule the world. Really awesome! – David Cox (@dcoxdesigns)
  • I find Excel super useful for the same reason it’s useful in other data analysis: automating calculations for reporting w macros. – Mark Sullivan (@mpsulli)
  • Building models to create solutions for bid management, testing results, CPA reviews, it’s endless for analytical uses. – Rachel King (@rachelking237)
  • Allows me to sort/sift through data to pull out the actionable insights. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • Excel is where I do everything. Data analyses, buildouts, optimizations, notes-to-self about client industries, you name it. – Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise)
  • Pivot Tables. Also, ASAP Utilities is a great add-on. Well worth the money spent. – Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)

Q2: Do you find it hard to use some Excel formulas for your PPC needs? Which ones?

  • I dont use VLOOKUP as often as other formulas in my day to day so I almost forget how to use it. – Dallas Stevens
  • The whole sorting thing with VLOOKUP always gets me. – Robert Brady
  • Only when excel decides to glitch out and not apply the formulas correctly. – Andrey Kozlov (@WhoIsAndrey)
  • Actually, no. The ones I use, I use often enough to be comfortable w/them. Complex ones, I set up in template spreadsheets. But I agree that Vlookups can be a nightmare. – Theresa Zook
  • Google Sheets again, It’s easier to link multiple spreadsheets than in Excel, plus I can “live share” my sheet w/ team. – David Cox
  • Vlookups can be the death of me. – Brooke Townsend
  • I struggled w/ “real” projections using forecast models in the pre-programmed What-IF & Forecasting functions. Better to build. – Rachel King
  • The bane of my existence – any formula or shortcut on Mac Excel vs Win. – Maria Corcoran
  • No. After 10 years of doing this, I’ve done everything with excel for adwords that I’ll ever need to do. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • VLOOKUPs are ones I still struggle with. But it also took me awhile to get CONCATENATE down so that’s how my excel skills are. – Joe Martinez
  • No. I am Excel Jesus. – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
  • Just have to echo what’s already been said. Probs should but I rarely use VLOOKUP tbh. Also, custom formatting sometimes a fail. – Emma Franks
  • In all seriousness. I think nested if statements combined with vlookups are hell. It can get complicated fast. – Maria Corcoran
  • Only formula that consistently gets me a bit mixed up is INDEX/MATCH to avoid huge VLOOKUPs. I have to reteach myself each time. – Mark Sullivan

Q3: What Excel features do you utilize to make your PPC data more visual?

  • Heatmapping is a personal favorite (color scales) as well as data bars in some cases. – Dallas Stevens
  • I personally love conditional formatting because, colors. – Brooke Townsend
    • My number one visual by far. So easy to follow. – Joe Martinez
  • Conditional formatting to show performance heatmapping has been helpful. – Davis Baker (@davisbaker)
  • Conditional formatting is always helpful. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Nothing. I’m not a visual person, for the most part. Occasionally use charts for long-term trending analysis. – Theresa Zook
  • Charts and Pivot tables, of course. – Andrey Kozlov
  • Pivot Charts…sadly, only on Excel for Windows. – Mark Sullivan
  • I used tables with Slicers, very helpful for people to find data and charts update at the same time you change your selection. – Andrea Cruz (@andreacruz92)
  • Shading via Conditional Formatting is an easy first step for visualizing a range of values. – Glenn Schmelzle
  • Graphs & sparklines, I love a good line graph. I prefer graphed and charted data side-by-side. Throw a heat map on & we’re set. – Rachel King
  • Heat maps, highlighting, and graphs. Gotta make the data pop! – Tanner Schroeder
  • My team prefers to see the numbers. visualization can skew the way the results actually are, IMO. Depends on the range used. – David Cox
  • I’m a big fan of charts when showing MoM, QoQ and YoY data. It’s funn showing clients the trends whether good or bad. – Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
  • Pivot tables, heat mapping, cell styles, charts… plain white background behind charts. Anything to make data more digestible. – Emma Franks
  • Do you use visual features only for reporting purposes? – Dallas Stevens
    • Yes, 95% of the time. – Theresa Zook
    • I use it for analysis as well. Visual features can help sort the data and lead to actionable decisions. – Tanner Schroeder
    • Never, It is quite often easier to catch anomalies over time with trends or cond. formatting. – Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
    • No, I use data sets more often than visual data. Visual is for exec/client reporting primarily. I prefer raw data to pivot. – Rachel King
    • Not necessarily, visual features can be also great for daily pacing with Paid Search. – Andrey Kozlov
    • I like seeing my data with the visuals, helps me analyze the data better. – Dallas Stevens
    • I use it for my own sanity as well. Makes it easier to see what’s actionable for me. – Brooke Townsend
    • Nope. Reports should be meaningful to me before client sees. I do a lot more visualizing in preparatory middle/analysis steps. – Emma Franks

Q4: What was the last Excel formula you looked up and why?

  • VLOOKUP… I think I just need to use it once a day so I don’t forget how to use it. – Dallas Stevens
  • Vlookup because I don’t use it that often. – Theresa Zook
  • Concatenate formula – was combining large chunks of texts and data together. – Andrey Kozlov
  • Anytime my function doesn’t work I look it up. No shame, Iuse Google all the time. I bookmark the page i found the answer on. – David Cox
  • Was offset. A client wanted us to build onto a time-series table and update summaries with the latest week/mth/qtr’s data. – Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
  • Wanted to do more ad copy testing using excel to try and perfect each messaging. Started looking for different formulas to help. – Joe Martinez
  • I think it was IMPORTXML for some ranking table I was trying to get into Excel. That or INDEX/MATCH. – Mark Sullivan
  • Removing non-alpha numerical characters from a messy list of products. Turned into VBA by the end but couldve been a formula. – Tim Halloran
  • VLOOKUP! The only function I wish I remembered to use more often. Just easier for me to copy and paste and use other functions. – Emma Franks
  • Built a profitability model using VLOOKUP, nested IFS, & pivots off of a raw data file that updates hourly. BI wrote the SQL. – Rachel King
  • Formulas I should look up more often: MID and RIGHT for pulling out campaign from URLs. – Emma Franks

Q5: Have you created any custom PPC templates in Excel? If so, what are they used for?

  • I have a custom concatenate tool for attaching match types to keywords and building out accounts. – Dallas Stevens
  • I made a tool that analyzes our weekly sales activity. I have a HUGE formula w/tons of nested IF statements. I have multiple reports run off the base report. it has turned around our advertising ad spend to sales ratio. – David Cox
  • I have a folder of Excel templates. It has a little of everything. If I make it once, I create a template of it for the future. – Tanner Schroeder
  • We have a fill-in-the-blank media spend sheet, to help set budgets as we chg campaign-level settings. Factor’s in $ in reserve, etc. – Glenn Schmelzle
  • I spent over a week or so. we would look at the results then adjust as needed. it was actually fun. – David Cox
  • Yes! Forecast model, Device-level bid mngmt model, ROAS model, CPA by keyword by device model. Business-specific, ABM. – Rachel King
  • Lots of reporting templates (mostly Sheets, but some Excel). Most tasks are manual bc depends what answers I need from the data. – Emma Franks
  • Also have some basic templates for account structures and ad writting. – Dallas Stevens

Q6: What are some Excel features that you would like to learn more about?

  • Macros seem very handy but I have yet to explore that part of Excel. – Dallas Stevens
  • Definitely macros. Not sure why, but I just never bothered to learn them. – Theresa Zook
  • Scripts, macros. anything more advanced than functions. – David Cox
  • I would love to refresh my Solver knowledge, for future predictions based on multiple variables, long time without using it. – Andrea Cruz
  • I’ll echo Emma. More sheets you make, greater responsibility to keep them organized for reuse. – Glenn Schmelzle
  • VBA – very shallow knowledge of this programming lang. Only know what I needed to know to build a specific model. – Rachel King
  • Unconscious incompetence: I don’t know what I want to know about Excel but I know I want to know more helpful formulas. Honestly, all the cool things I’ve learned about Excel was from someone else once they explained their use case. – Tim Halloran
  • Fantastic guys! Lets hit on our last question to tie this all up! – Dallas Stevens
  • Any formula that would let me search for/see common attributes in a range (i.e. SQRs) without having to identify it myself. – Emma Franks

Q7: What resources have you used to expand your knowledge of Excel?

  • Mostly youtube videos and I did buy an Excel Bible to use as a reference for formulas. – Dallas Stevens
  • YouTube, PPC Blogs, Google Search. – Garrett McGregor
  • I search the internets for answers to my questions. – Theresa Zook
  • Is it cheating to say the Excel team at work. – Frances Donegan-Ryan (@FranceDR)
  • Google first. i am sure whatever question i have, someone else had it first. – David Cox
  • I usually reach out to my PPC team as well. If I can minimize the time to learn the better for me. – Garrett McGregor
  • Coursea.org to learn to program models; forums if I have a specific need; asking my BI manager! – Rachel King
  • I like youtube, because I can see step by step how to do things. – Andrea Cruz

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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)
• Dallas Stevens (@DDP_PPC)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Andrea Cruz (@andreacruz92)
• Andrey Kozlov (@WhoIsAndrey)
• Brooke Townsend (@btownsend13)
• David Cox (@dcoxdesigns)
• Davis Baker (@davisbaker)
• Emma Franks (@akaEmmaLouise)
• Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
• Glenn Schmelzle (@heyglenns)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
• Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
• Mark Sullivan (@mpsulli)
• Rachel King (@rachelking237)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Steve Seeley (@SteveSeeley)
• Tanner Schroeder (@TannerSchroeder)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Tim Halloran (@timmhalloran)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Streamcaps > Excel

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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