Introduction to Smart Bidding with Google Ads

Google’s “Smart Bidding” is a subset of Google’s “Automated Bidding” machine learning feature. Smart bidding focuses on Google Ad conversions, whereas Automated Bidding is broader, including functionality to increase the value of impressions and clicks, which would typically be earlier in the customer conversion path (also known as a sales funnel).

The basic intent of Automated Bidding and Smart Bidding is to not only reduce some of the repetitive labor involved with managing Google Ads but to actually inform better decisions.

MACHINE LEARNING AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The application of machine learning and artificial intelligence is a rising tide that will not subside.

As useful as this functionality is, an inherent liability is the potential for an ad manager to become so reliant on the machine learning that he or she may relegate their own analysis to a lesser role, when sometimes a more scrutinizing eye may see automated pricing anomalies that don’t make sense and require adjustment action.

For example, in other areas of Google machine learning support, such as keyword suggestions, if you just immediately activate all recommendations, you can sometimes see ad performance decline. This in spite of the fact that a majority of the automated recommendations are useful.

I do not doubt that all their machine learning recommendations will improve over time, but I do wonder whether such will supplant an alert human management intelligence, at least in terms of overall strategic implementation and responding to competitive changes in the real world.

An interesting future competition would be a human Google Ads Manager using the full suite of Google’s machine learning and functionality versus some type of fully automated Google Ads Management Artificial Intelligence.

The competition would be based upon both contestants beginning with a duplicate and identical website along with a marketing brief to generate as many leads or sales for a given product or service. If both the human and AI contestants were only able to rely on the website and their wits along with all Google Ads tools, I wouldn’t be surprised if the AI might win due to its ability to analyze more data faster. However, it would be a more realistic competition if the human could also use the data that Google’s machine learning was providing to then also make changes to the website in real-time, which would provide a significant advantage to the human.

Of course, it could be argued, “Why not allow the AI to make website changes, too?” It might be instructive to see what happens, but I could envision an AI instructed to generate the most sales might also incrementally reduce the price of the product or service to zero to achieve that goal, whereas the human would have the wisdom to know that would lead to business failure.

It could then be argued that the AI could be programmed with limiting parameters, such as low-price restrictions. But how can every conceivable real-world scenario be anticipated? For instance, a price restriction would be rendered immediately useless in the real world if something unusual (such as a global pandemic), might influence real-world wide price swings. Perhaps there exists AI programming automation to account for pandemics, as well.

Regardless, I’m bullish on the use of machine learning and AI to help with pay-per-click and advertising purchase decisions and improved ad performance. And although a lower need for less experienced human ad managers may ultimately be a result, I can also conceive that the need for more experienced human oversight might rise.

Anyway, I’m diverting from the topic at hand. Let’s return to Smart Bidding strategies.

FOUR SMART BIDDING STRATEGIES

There are four smart bidding strategies.

1. Maximize Conversions

  • This auto-sets bids to generate the most conversions while maintaining ad spending within your indicated campaign budget. In other words, some bids would be higher than a manager might manually indicate, but this could be auto-balanced by lower-bids at different times.

2. Maximize Conversion Value

  • This auto-sets bids to help generate maximum conversion value. The key difference here is you would need to establish conversion tracking value in conjunction with basic conversion tracking.

3. Target CPA

  • This auto-sets bids to generate the most conversions possible at the designated target cost-per-action (CPA). This is best for campaigns that are not budget constrained.

4. Target ROAS

  • This auto-sets bids to generate the most conversions possible at your indicated target return on ad spend (ROAS). Once again, you would need to track conversion value in conjunction with basic conversion tracking for this to function. Furthermore, the campaign would need 15 conversions in the prior 30 days. A risk here is that if you set your desired ROAS target too high, you’ll miss out on conversions.

SMART BIDDING NOTES

Strategically, it’s best to start with Maximize Conversions or Maximize Conversion Value and then switch to Target CPA and Target ROAS, once you’ve refined your goal.

Google also provides auto recommendations for anticipated best strategies, which can help inform what strategy to start with and when to consider switching.

It’s worth emphasizing that you must have conversion tracking established. However, even without the utilization of Smart Bidding, your Google Ads account is at an important disadvantage if you’re not already using conversion tracking.

A unique aspect to these current Smart Bidding strategies is that they don’t require a conversion history. This means the strategies can be implemented on a new account or new campaign.

And like any machine learning or artificial intelligence application, you don’t want to evaluate performance too early. These strategies need to acquire data to become useful. It can take 1-2 weeks for the data to begin to create a meaningful performance impact, but such really depends on the volume of conversions.

OfferUp

15sec VIDEO EXAMPLE: Web and social media promo video. Features live actors, motion graphics and accent elements. Designed to convey key message without audio narration.

Balancing The Realities of P4P Trial Tension

We provide leads to clients on a pay-for-performance (P4P) basis. This arrangement doesn’t work with all businesses, so we provide short advertising trials to see if the lead generation will be mutually profitable.

Yet, there’s an inherent tension built in to the P4P partnerships we seek. On the one hand, we bring a productive mix to the table:

  • Marketing and testing experience
  • Ad technology
  • Data science
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Video production

The above outlines a few of the services we provide for the mutual benefit of sales growth for your company and ours.

On the other hand, the reality of how fast and in what volume the increased revenue will materialize is based upon a number of factors outside of our control. Two such factors represent key client obligations:

  • Converting the leads to sales
  • Operational productivity

And that doesn’t even include the fact that on our end optimizing the marketing and advertising is an ongoing process and the cost-per-lead is highest in the beginning until data science, artificial intelligence and continual testing start to point the way to more effective advertising.

P4P TRIAL-PARTNERSHIP REALITIES

In the short term, inherent tension rides along with the unanswered question: “Will there be enough sales to support both your company’s growth as well as the work we provide?” And to make the matter more complex, almost all clients believe the answer to be an inarguable “YES!” The good news is sometimes they’re right. The bad news for us is that sometimes they’re not.

The fact is, the amount of labor that can be invested to run innumerable marketing strategies and advertising tests to build and optimize a sales funnel to generate more leads/sales for less cost is an ongoing process that never ends. And yet some of the heaviest effort is in the very beginning.

The marketing and optimization process begins within the first month, but may not be mature for months, a year, or even a few years.

MARKETING AND ADVERTISING TESTS

There’s much in the way of testing that can be conducted:

  • headline testing
  • benefit testing
  • keyword testing
  • offer testing
  • price testing
  • guarantee testing
  • seasonal testing
  • ad format testing
  • image testing
  • story testing
  • all manner of video testing
  • and endless landing page testing

So begs another question: “How much labor should be executed now for an unknown payoff later?”

TO INITIATE A P4P TRIAL, OR NOT?

If the advertising shows great potential early on, then it makes sense to pour on the coals and invest more labor to increase sales as fast as possible.

If the advertising and partnership demonstrate below-average potential, then the sooner we bow out of the relationship the better.

But if in fact the real-world numbers demonstrate an average P4P remuneration, there’s always that nagging reality that we would be better served seeking greener pastures.

Or to put it bluntly, if a partnership doesn’t show proportional benefit for both sides of the arrangement, then the tension will inevitably stretch to a point that favors a break in the collaboration.

And usually it’s incumbent upon our end to initiate that severance.

Of course, since we are investing more labor in the initial trial than the client is investing media costs, we’re assuming the majority of risk. And typically, the trial is not going to be profitable on our end, even if it might be for the client.

But that’s not the purpose of the initial trial anyway.

PURPOSE OF A P4P TRIAL

The purpose of the initial trial is simply to evaluate real-world advertising and sales data to ascertain further partnership potential. From that data, we can extrapolate how quickly a profitable partnership might be realized.

That means for trials, in particular, the responsibility is primarily on our end to evaluate if it even makes sense to go through such a brief testing period.

If there’s enough ancillary data available that suggests that the probability of a trial will not be mutually productive, then of course we won’t initiate a trial at all. But that also means accepting that sometimes the data will not paint the whole picture and we will have missed a good opportunity.

What all this means is that if you receive a decline from Skyworks Marketing about proceeding with a P4P trial, please be aware that such a decline is not an opinion about the success potential of your business, but merely an evaluation of the short term probability for a win-win P4P partnership based upon our processes and models.

The #1 Error in TV Commercial & Video Production

Video Production

OK, yes, it’s true: there are in fact numerous errors that can be made when planning or hiring professionals for a video production. So how can only one be prioritized?

In my years of producing over 1000 videos for TV, web and social media, the #1 error that I encounter boils down to this: Someone with good intentions and influence — usually an executive or business owner — initiates a project by saying, “I’ve got a great idea for a commercial. Let’s get it made.”

Indeed, this is a source of good business for video production professionals. And having a clear vision can make the process of creating a video more efficient. But it’s usually ‘not’ the best way to represent a company’s economic and/or marketing interests — particularly for commercials.

Does this mean it’s always bad? No. But the odds are stacked against any gut instincts when such may lack the experience to embrace all the factors that make a successful video — whether that be a brief commercial or something more substantial.

A better approach would be “We should consider video. Let’s explore this.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that one’s gut instincts or inspired ideas should be ignored. The idea could be valuable to informing the general concept. But it would be wiser to consider such within the context of what you’re trying to achieve in parallel with budgetary factors.

To put this in perspective let’s explore a few key points.

VIDEO BUDGET

First of all, it’s common that an inspired video idea might be beyond one’s budget, which would immediately curtail the project.

Secondly, is the budget just to produce the video? Or does it also include money for broadcasting, distributing or in some way getting the video seen, whether on TV or social media?

Sure, you could post it on Facebook and YouTube for free. But if you spent any meaningful resources on the video, the likelihood that it will generate enough exposure to make the project a success is low. (Viral videos are an exception to the rule, in the same way that winning the lottery is an exception to sound financial planning).

By the way, using Facebook and YouTube as part of a strategy to get your video seen is quite relevant. But getting it viewed is only reliable if you are “paying” to put it in front of the right viewers on YouTube and Facebook, not just posting it online.

Thirdly, if the video or TV commercial is intended to be used as part of a sales strategy, the idea of “return on investment” becomes a factor, and here the variables can become capricious. (Good news follows below in this article regarding how to make the ROI more predictable).

VIDEO STRATEGY

It could be argued that this next point should also be under the heading of “budget,” since the lack of a strategic vision, all in addition to a video vision, could contribute to inefficiency and waste. Nevertheless, its singular importance deserves its own heading.

You can ignore this if you are a marketing professional since it’s so obvious you would not overlook it. But I’ve observed this to be true even with business executives who achieved a certain level of success in the past through their inherent marketing savvy. You could say they allowed their own enthusiasm for a video project to eclipse the fundamental context of their existing marketing strategy.

Stated another way, does one’s “inspired idea” or “gut instinct” for a video actually align with any existing company messaging?

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, your video or TV commercial should align with your current marketing materials so that all your messaging presents a unified presentation.

Unless, of course, a whole new campaign is envisioned, which would then include new messaging for your website, newsletter, printed materials and other advertising. Specifically, if you decide you want to go after a younger demographic by making a commercial or promotional video series targeted to the younger generation, but your website and messaging is written for a different demographic, then the dissonance in your strategic implementation will reduce the effectiveness of your video.

“OK,” you may say, “That’s too obvious.” And so right you are. But let’s get a little more nuanced.

Let’s say you’re a tech company and your website and existing promotional materials all emphasize your cool hardware. But you are inspired to explore a “more human approach” to your company’s presentation by emphasizing the benefits of your products or services over and above the technology, by conveying a touching story. Such is fine and opportune as a vision. But it should also be represented on your company website in pictures and words as well as any other marketing channels in use. Not just in the video.

Video is such a potent way to convey messaging that a one-off production that does not fit into a broader strategic plan is rarely going to be as effective as one that fits into a holistic strategy for your entire business or nonprofit.

MESSAGE AND VIDEO TESTING

OK, this next point is not without controversy to smaller businesses, even though its merits are inarguable. It’s just that its value becomes even more important as your budget becomes more meaningful.

A core problem that many small and medium-sized businesses have is related to strategic implementation — or more specifically, lack of strategy to begin with. In my experience, a number of businesses view marketing and advertising as “let’s try this and see if it works.” Given that as a starting point, always bet that it won’t work and you’ll be living a lavish life versus anyone who would bet against you.

Of course, it could be argued that such an approach is the result of business owners or execs being too busy to understand that every marketing channel, whether that be email marketing, display advertising, search marketing, commercials or any type of video promotion, has its own factors that should be respected for optimum results.

The good news is that your marketing/advertising ROI can be optimized. As well, your strategy can be informed and refined by data. That data needs to be derived by message testing, which is a disciplined comparative analysis of how to represent your own products or services.

In practice, there is much that can be known about this topic. But to keep this brief for any reader unfamiliar with the subject, the idea of testing is to present multiple ads or messages at the same time (to different viewers) for comparison. Always present at least two. Online, it’s relatively simple to test many different ads at one time, which are swapped out in real-time to different viewers. In other words, viewer “A” sees one ad or message and in the same instant viewer “B” can be shown a different version of the same ad. The marketer then analyzes the data to determine which ad or message generated the most desirable response. The ad with the best response becomes the “control” ad and then new ones are compared against that to find an even better-performing control message.

Not only can this testing be done with multiple videos, but it can be done before you produce any video at all. By testing messaging via simple online text ads, you are then better informed to approve video scripts that you already know will perform better. (Read “better return on investment”).

And then after you get to to the video production, you can create inexpensive variations of your video messaging to further refine performance. For example, sometimes you’ll find that a woman spokesperson will perform better than a man. Other times, it’s the opposite. Sometimes an older actor will engender more response, sometimes younger. Sometimes it’s obvious. For example, if you are selling to a mature or young demographic it’s best to feature those kinds of people in your video. Other times it may not be so intuitive. For example, you may be targeting grandparents by featuring young children who would represent the viewers’ own grandchildren for the purpose of selling children’s toys or clothes or other gifts, for their grandparents to purchase.

Although testing is an ironclad path towards greater video performance, as well as more effective marketing, advertising and messaging in general, the argument against it, typically for small businesses, is that it takes longer and costs more. That can’t be ignored. It does take more time and resources. But when done well, the whole point is to generate a higher ROI on your marketing and video-messaging investment.

Testing is how you can build more predictability into your ROI. And by the way, in some cases, testing inexpensive online text ads before moving to video may demonstrate early on that your gut instinct for a great video doesn’t seem to generate the positive traction you were desiring and you may determine to “not” produce the very vision that initially inspired this exploration.

Testing is not only the path towards more effective video production. It’s the path towards marketing and advertising success.

FINAL WORDS

Of course none of the above deals with the details regarding pressing “record” on a video camera.  For those familiar with the overarching three phases of the video production process (pre-production, production and post-production), the above would be categorized as planning and pre-production.

A briefer statement regarding the #1 error in commercial video production would be neglecting that the more you invest in strategy, pre-production, and especially message testing, the better your ultimate results.

For more information visit VIDEO & TV.

If you think your products or service might qualify for our pay-for-performance partnership, including video and TV, check out our TWO PAY-FOR-PERFORMANCE MODELS.

How Ads Work on YouTube

Google owns the two biggest search engines in the world: #1 is their very own Google.com search engine, which they created. And #2 is YouTube, which Google purchased in 2006 for $1.65 billion USD. In other words, there’s a heck of a lot of folks who use YouTube to find information.

In retrospect it was obviously a smart idea for Google to buy YouTube. But it represents an even bolder vision when you realize that when they shelled out $1.65B to make the purchase, YouTube wasn’t making any money. In fact, it was losing a ton of money (worse than owning a boat). And furthermore, YouTube wasn’t anticipated to make money for years.

How many of us can see the value of something that’s losing money and then buy it anyway, only to pump tons more cash into building it before it could become profitable?

Having said that, I guess anyone who buys a fixer-upper house knowing the potential for the basic structure and property is exercising a similar investment savvy, albeit on a smaller scale. However, there is this distinct difference: buying and selling fixer-upper homes to make money is common. What Google was attempting to do with YouTube had never been done previously and there were some enormous technical challenges ahead of them to make it successful.

Of course, the money that Google does make via YouTube is from advertising, which is Google’s cash cow. So it wasn’t truly a long stretch of their imagination to envision that what they needed to do was convert all those viewers into revenue from advertisers. And even though they’ve certainly accomplished that; it took over a decade.

Google wasn’t keen on formally noting exact YouTube revenue figures until February 2020 as part of its 2019 financial report. It was then they made the numbers available to the world by stating that YouTube had made $15.1 billion USD in ad revenue in 2019, up from $11.1 billion in 2018 and $8.1 billion in 2017. (And that’s only a small part of what they make compared to Google.com).

Having said that, even in the earlier years, once it became obvious that YouTube was part and parcel to the entire worldwide web experience, most interested individuals could readily envision that the platform would eventually become profitable. It was just a matter of time.

YOUTUBE ADVERTISING ECOSYSTEM

The above video outlines the relationship between the three primary vested interests in the YouTube advertising ecosystem:

  • viewers
  • creators
  • advertisers

Basically speaking, advertisers want to get their messages in front of viewers. But the viewers don’t visit YouTube to see ads; they visit to see entertaining and/or informative videos from the content creators.

YouTube makes money from the ads and they share some of the revenue with the content creators.

However, what the above video does not go over is how much money content creators make.

YOUTUBE AD REVENUE IS INSUBSTANTIAL

The truth is, unless you’re the owner of a very popular YouTube channel, you won’t be making much money. The most successful channels do generate significant revenue, but the vast majority of YouTube channels do not.

If your videos generate many thousands of views a month (which is above average), those views will generate very little revenue. The pay you receive for the work you invested to create the videos and get the views may work out to be a few pennies per hour of labor.

In other words, except for the most successful content creators, YouTube ad revenue for content creators is insubstantial.

Yet it can be a great platform to promote your business, when you let go the concept of making money via ad revenue.

YOUTUBE VALUE FOR YOUR BUSINESS

The fact that so few content creators make real money from YouTube underscores that its value for businesses is elsewhere. The two biggest opportunities for businesses via YouTube are:

  1. Become an advertiser
  2. Be a content producer (but not to make money from ads — see caveat below)

Opportunities to promote your business via video advertising are the most obvious benefit. When considering the three key players in the YouTube ecosystem — viewers, creators and advertisers — it’s the advertisers who have the most to gain, at least from a cost-benefit calculation, especially compared to other ad platforms this year. (However, ultimately YouTube itself is the biggest winner.)

Right now, YouTube is still in the early phase of its trajectory to make as much ad money as Google. Just like Google ads were dirt cheap back when they started (pennies per click), YouTube ads are currently undervalued and they will be going up further in the future as advertisers start pouring even more money into the platform. And of course, YouTube has the built-in advantage of being video-centric, which is the most powerful of the primary online advertising mediums of text, pictures and videos.

In other words, there’s a lot to gain as a YouTube video advertiser.

YOUTUBE CONTENT CREATION CAVEAT & OPPORTUNITY

If being an advertiser has the greatest cost-benefit, why create content at all?

Creating a YouTube channel and ongoing content will not be a productive endeavor for all businesses — especially if you are tentative about the notion — because it does take ongoing labor and commitment.

And the primary caveat is that your videos will most likely ‘not’ be viewed if you aren’t promoting them.

However, from a business perspective, YouTube is hosting videos for no cost and YouTube is making the videos available for others to potentially see, at no cost. The fact that most videos are not actually going to be seen is remedied by taking the additional step of paying to advertise the videos. Which can be done with a small investment.

And if your content is valuable enough, viewers will share it and if they do so in sufficient volume, YouTube’s algorithm will notice and start promoting it for you (at no cost).

It’s a virtuous circle, but not one that should be viewed lightly. Creating ongoing, regular content is a bunch of work.

YOUTUBE AS A MARKETING AND ADVERTISING CHANNEL

YouTube, as a marketing and advertising channel for businesses of every size, offers the potential to get one’s message out to the world in a meaningful way — when done effectively.

But to keep things real, do be aware that like other social media channels, the way to get seen is to pay to play.

And yes, it’s true that there are a number of videos that have experienced phenomenal viral success. But for businesses, in particular, that’s rare and should not be contemplated as a sound strategy. It would be like including in your revenue projections the hope of winning the lottery. Some lucky few do win lotteries, but that’s not likely for the vast majority of us and it’s highly unpredictable.

Hence, the biggest advantage that YouTube offers to businesses is the opportunity to post content videos that educate and inform viewers and provide real value to viewers.

You can also describe your products and services and advertise them to make people aware of your offerings and to invite them to buy your products and services.

Best of all you can tell stories that relate to your products and services that inspire more viewer engagement with your business.

Pay-per-click (PPC) video advertising is where some of the best advertising opportunities currently reside. And it offers even greater advantages if you are also a content creator (but not to make money from ad revenue).

#1 Copywriting Tip

There are many important elements and guidelines for effective copywriting. And among those who write copy for the business world, there are different viewpoints on which would be the most important.

In my testing experience, “the offer” is the most vital — at least in terms of generating actual revenue. The offer is how you are presenting what it is you are selling (product or service).

Although some argue that the headline is the most important element of copywriting because it is the first point of contact with potential visitors, in my experience, no matter how many individuals you drive to your offer through an effective headline, you will not capitalize on that traffic without an effective offer.

Conversely, if you have a weak headline for an email or direct mail piece or print ad, you can still convert the visitors that do arrive to your offer -– as long as you have an effective offer!

Of course, the headline is very important, and it would not make sense to craft a weak headline and a strong offer.

Testing different headlines to determine which is the best headline to attract visitors, should be done in conjunction with testing which offer is the most appealing to your visitors for generating sales. In fact, a heavier emphasis should be given towards testing the offer.

Here are a few traditional components for crafting an offer:

  • Presenting Something New
  • Rightly or wrongly, consumers are more interested in “new” stuff as opposed to old stuff, even if old stuff might be better. What can you present as “new”?
  • Sale
  • Positioning any product or service for a reduced cost is the surest way to boost sales.
  • Premium or Bonus
  • Including bonuses for “buying now” are an effective way to sweeten any offer.
  • Limited Time Offer
  • Making any offer available for a limited time will inspire some potential customers who are sitting on the fence to “Buy Now,” which is always a good thing, since so many transactions that don’t occur “now” will simply never occur.
  • Free Trial
  • If you can introduce people to your products or service for free, so they can experience the real value you are presenting, you will eliminate the major obstacle that potential customers have when considering a purchase: “Am I going to get ripped off?” Of course, a percentage of those users who take advantage of your free trial will never become clients or customers anyway, but the percentage of those that DO give you money for your offer will be higher overall than if you didn’t offer a free trial.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later
  • “Multiple payment” options, and “buy now, pay later” also lower the barrier of uncertainty among potential customers. This tends to work best for large ticket items: the perceived cost is reduced by breaking up an expensive purchase into multiple smaller payments.

The best offer includes many of these ingredients. In fact, whenever I write a sales letter, landing page or email copy for a client, I will attempt to include as many of the above elements as possible to craft a number of powerful offers, and then test them to see which is the best!

Pay-for-Performance Marketing & Advertising

Is there anything better for your business than Pay-for-Performance leads and sales?

Pay-for-Performance means you’re getting the highest return on your marketing and advertising dollars.

We’ve helped one business grow from nothing to over 100 million dollars in three years through online marketing, direct mail and national TV advertising.

How far can your business expand?

We are an exceptional and uncommon marketing agency that develops customized sales funnels for businesses and then fills those funnels with prospects via marketing and advertising campaigns to drive you more leads and sales.

If you’re a cost-conscious, savvy business leader looking to take your revenue to the next level, then you should visit our Two Pay-for-Performance Models.

We offer brief advertising trials for qualifying businesses to assess the potential for a future win-win partnership.

You get real-time prospects and/or sales that are exclusively for your business and no one else.

You get a partner that is simultaneously testing, optimizing and managing all the advertising to keep your funnel full, while constantly seeking new ways to get more prospects into the funnel.

You get an award-winning video production team to get your message out to the world, whether online, on TV, or both.

You get advertising on Google, Facebook, Amazon, YouTube, LinkedIn and other platforms, depending upon what’s best for your products or services.

Furthermore, as the partnership matures and proves itself, you’ll benefit from our offline marketing as well, such as direct mail, print ads, radio and TV. You’ll even receive ongoing content development, including graphics, articles, videos, TV commercials, along with auto email sequences and website development.

You’ll also benefit from artificial intelligence and data science expertise to help tune your product or service offerings, and to inform new upsells, cross-sells and future product suggestions. In other words, we use artificial intelligence to help your business grow much faster and more effectively.

And of course starting from Day 1, you’ll get continuous development of new ads to drive new leads and new sales.

Visit our Two Pay-for-Performance Models for more information.

How the Google Search Ad Auction Works

If you’d like a simple introduction to how your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) money is spent via Google Search Ads, the above video will suffice. However, at less than 6 minutes, it can only introduce the basics. The following article expands upon the basics further but still stays within the bounds of an introduction.

Bear in mind that most of the PPC ads we see online are display ads and not search ads. They both have their place in the advertising world and it would serve you well to understand the difference.

SEARCH ADS VERSUS DISPLAY ADS

Display advertising is what most of us intuitively consider when we think of online ads. That’s because display ads are similar to all the offline ads we are bombarded with each and every day. We see ads on billboards, ads in store windows, ads in magazines, ads at bus stops and ads directly displayed on the buses themselves. And of course, ads pushed to us on TV and even prior to the start of films at our favorite movie cinema. Unfortunately, some of these ads may be completely irrelevant to our life.

When we’re online we see display ads on social media platforms, on news sites, on weather sites and on a multitude of other websites that we visit. These ads are also pushed to us.

Display ads can be text only, or they can be picture ads or they can be video ads. Regardless, all these ads are attempting to attract our attention and get us to click on them, so that we will be transported to their respective websites to “Learn More” or “Buy Now.”

Display ads are everywhere. However, you will see Search Ads only in one place: When you are searching for something via a search engine, such as Google.com. Hence, display ads are considered as “push ads” and search ads are considered to be “pull ads.” That’s because we pull search ads towards us when we are searching. More specifically, it’s the keywords we use when searching via a search engine that pull ads towards us.

For example, if you search for red shoes, you will see the natural or “organic” search engine results that pertain to your “red shoes” query. But oftentimes you will also see ads related to your search query. Per this example, you may see ads about “red shoes.” Sometimes you’ll see several ads at the top and bottom of the search results page. Sometimes you’ll see one ad. And sometimes you won’t see any. But whenever you’re searching for anything that has commercial implications, such as shoes, you are most likely going to see multiple ads.

It’s worth repeating that you will only see search ads when you specifically search for something online. And the ads you see will be pertinent to what you are searching for.

Generally speaking, search ads are more expensive than display ads, at least on a per-click basis, because they are better targeted and they produce better results. Although display ads have their place in the online advertising world and represent the majority of ads we encounter, for the purpose of this article, we are talking about PPC search ads and the Google Search Ad Auction.

Continue reading “How the Google Search Ad Auction Works”

Facebook showed this ad to 95% women. Is that a problem?

This video describes some aspects of Facebook’s targeting and artificial intelligence features that advertisers leverage when initiating ad campaigns. Which, by the way, could also be pertinent to other AI-based targeting on other platforms, such as Google and Amazon.

Although it’s clear that when an advertiser is indicating targeting preferences for his or her ads, the intent is to present those ads to viewers who are deemed to be the most likely to be interested. However, according to research from Northeastern University, Facebook sometimes displays ads to highly skewed audiences based on the content of the ad.

What we don’t know and what this video doesn’t explore is this: Are the biases in fact rationally or economically correct or incorrect?

In other words, even if the targeting selected by an advertiser is not designating a gender bias (for example), but the Facebook algorithms and data science determine that a specific gender is more likely to find the ad relevant, is that good or bad?

As an advertiser, I like the idea of generating better results with the lowest cost.