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SMX replay: Visualizing Auction Insights data for competitive intelligence



Understanding the metrics in Google’s Auction Insights and visualizing the data can give a clearer view of your account’s performance. James Hebdon, co-founder and CTO of Paid Search Magic, shared techniques for using Google Sheets and Scripts to transform Google Ads’ Auction Insights data into a clearer and more compelling report to your boss or clients.

Listen to Hebdon’s full Insights session talk from SMX Advanced last month, above and continue reading for his tips on how to handle your Auction Insights data. The full transcript is also available below.

Bonus tips. When analyzing Auction Insights or communicating your findings with clients, Hebdon suggests that you keep the following in mind:

  • Auction Insights only provides data on the intersection of auctions that you and your competitors are participating in. Even pro marketers can find it tricky to understand, so be cautious with the conclusions you draw.
  • Observing competitor behavior can drive marketers and clients to irrational bidding and budgeting. Use caution when communicating competitive insights to clients or they can wind up focusing on the wrong things.
  • Both Google and Bing have improved the usefulness of auction insights within their respective interfaces, but by building automated templates with Google Sheets you extract even more useful information and create compelling, client-friendly visualizations.
  • You can use this template as a starting place to build your own Auction Insights template.

More Insights. During Insights sessions, experts deliver actionable tips and useful information for digital marketers. Here are a few more sessions you can stream right now:

If you found these sessions informative, consider attending them live on November 13-14, at SMX East in New York.

The full transcript.

Introduction by George Nguyen:

Auction Insights tools in Google and Bing can provide valuable competitive intelligence and bidding insights, but it can also be easy to misconstrue what the reports are telling you if you don’t know exactly how they’re designed to work . By understanding the metrics provided under Google’s Auction Insights and visualizing the data, you can gain a clearer view of your account’s performance.

Welcome to the Search Engine Land podcast, I’m George Nguyen and, on this edition, James Hebdon, co-founder and CTO of Paid Search Magic is going to share his techniques for using Google Sheets and Scripts to transform the information from Google Ads’ Auction Insights into something that’s easier to understand, and is more useful and more compelling to your boss or clients.

Before I hand it off to James though, I’d like to encourage you to check out our other SMX replays — we’ve got another one with tips on improving your YouTube ad performance — you can find that on the Marketing Land SoundCloud stream or as a link in the article that accompanies this episode.

Here is James now, with his Insights session from SMX Advanced.

James Hebdon:

Hey everybody, my name’s James Hebdon and I am the CTO and co-founder of a boutique paid media agency called Paid Search Magic. And today I am talking to you about a tool called Auction Insights, which is a free Google tool that they provide to give you some limited insights into some competitive behavior.

Now, the reason why I wanted to talk about this is that it’s a broadly misunderstood tool. A lot of people have used it; if you go and do a search on YouTube, you’ll get lots of really flashy images that talk about, you know, spying on your competitors. It’s a much more limited tool than that. But if you know how it works and you know how to treat it right, it can give you a lot of insights into your competitors.

Now, early on in internet marketing, there were a lot of academic journals that started getting published about auction theory, applying game theory to auctions, bidding techniques, things like that. And, one of these earlier papers, the researchers were surprised to find out that, unlike a lot of traditional auctions or auctions like eBay, people that were working within Google Ads . . . didn’t exhibit the same type of irrational behavior that people did in other areas; it’s called, you know, “the joy of winning,” or “auction fever.” And they speculated that this was because, unlike these other auctions, the bidders are secret, the bids are secret and you don’t know who the winner is. But they didn’t really drill into it more than that because it wasn’t the focus.

But, a more recent paper that was released by Princeton, they got a bunch of volunteers together and they sat them down in front of a computer terminal and they instructed them on how to deal with auctions, like the best way to do an auction. And, when these people thought that they were competing against the computer, they took the instructions, they did it properly and they managed to not overpay, which is kind of the metric that was used in the study.

However, when they were told that they were competing against humans, almost without exception, the volunteers — even though they had been instructed in how to do it right — they almost all found it impossible to behave rationally. And, that’s just part of the human condition, right, is that we have a difficult time with that.

So, the reason why I’m bringing this up is because using auction insights data can be really, really compelling. In fact, one of the most common uses of it is to show it to clients because when they see that, in front of them, you know, the different competitors that are coming up, how aggressive they are, and you use some of these other techniques we’re going to talk about to show them how they’re behaving, it can really compel a different behavior. They can be more interested in bidding and protecting their brands, things like that. But, you have to use caution because it can also get them to focus on the wrong KPIs.

Now, another thing you got to understand about how Auction Insights works is that it is much narrower in scope than a lot of people think. So, in this whole keyword universe thing here you have a single search term that is triggering a bunch of different keywords, right? And, sometimes they can be really, really different keywords. And, over the past several years, Google has been taking several different steps to broaden the match typing that is going on, making many more people eligible for auctions.

So, the Auction Insights data exists in kind of this narrow intersection that brings up the first metric, which is called an “overlap rate.” And, only in that little overlap, where both you and your competitor are participating in or are eligible for those auctions, do you get any visibility into what they’re doing. Everything that’s on the outside of those circles, you don’t get any information.

Now, Google has a lot of techniques that they use for like budget smoothing and things like that. And, one of those things is that, you know, they have some techniques to try to efficiently exhaust advertiser budgets and they do that through a selection process of determining who’s eligible. That’s not always consistent and it’s not always known, which introduces another unknown element to the types of information that you can infer from Auction Insights data.

So, with kind of all this stuff out of the way, like this is stuff that you need to understand so you don’t pass on bad information — so you don’t take irrational, budget increases or bids or anything like that. These are the metrics that are available with an Auction Insights. The foundational one is that overlap rate because it indicates exactly how much that competitor is overlapping with your keyword set. It’s an indicator of how much like your company they are — basically, how much their product set, how much the keywords that they bid on are similar to yours.

So, if you use that as an indicator of that, then you can make a lot better use of the other ones. Things like impression share, average position, are just weak metrics. Average position is going away for a good reason — it’s because it’s a bad indicator; it’s easily skewed data. The stronger metrics are top-of-page rate, absolute top-of-page rate, position above rate — those all indicate how competitive people are. So that’s the foundation — that’s the things that you have to know just so you don’t screw up the rest of it.

Now, the state of automation right now is such that there’s no API or script access to Auction Insights data. There is some limited access through Data Studio. It doesn’t give you a lot of the transformations that you can get from just downloading the data straight from Google Ads. The template that I use and that is available via a link at the end of this presentation uses Google Sheets as its primary, like, data drop zone. So, you can just like take the data from Google Ads, drop it in there and then it automatically populates all the visualizations and everything that you need.

Hebdon’s steps to building an Auction Insights template.

Now, I can’t go through all the formulas and everything like that, that you would use in something like, you know, an Auction Insights template. But, it’s good to know like just the steps of it so that you can make changes to it if you want, so you can build your own if you want, and the first part is just getting the raw data. You have to determine, first of all, the date range that you want to look at, the time segment that you want to look at. So, 30 days, by day, you know, past 30 weeks, whatever; you have to get the start date and the end date, download the data.

Then you have to focus on the actual area that you want to. And this can be really tricky because if you just look at campaign data, like at an account level, you will get garbage, you’ll get a general idea of all the different competitors that are in the market, but you’ll have no idea of what they’re really doing, especially if you’re running both search and shopping campaigns. Never mix that kind of data because it’s so fundamentally different that it skews anything useful that you might get from it. Generally speaking, the higher level that you go, the less precision and the less you can confidently infer from the data.

When you do segmentation, you can also segment the data by device and increasingly this is a big deal because the user behavior when it comes to device types is so fundamentally different. Metrics like average position is not worth even looking at it if you’re combining all those different devices together. Position one on a mobile device is a much different thing than position one on a desktop. If you combine the data, then you’re not getting anything useful from that.

Now, the next thing that you got to do in any sort of a template is you need to smooth the data. Even if you’re doing this by hand, you have to do this. So, like one of the metrics, search impression share, if you have less than 10%, it will add like some dashes and some brackets and things like that; you have to clear that out. By using a template, by using these functions, like the little substitute thing at the bottom there, you can take those off automatically, so you never have to deal with it. Again, the whole idea of this automation is that you do at once, you never have to do it again.

Now, the biggest thing you have to do with data curation is that you actually have to prioritize the competitors that you’re looking at. You can have 30 competitors that will pop up in Auction Insights data that you download. This is a graph of what they look like. If you graph all of them. There’s almost nothing useful that you can get from that. Maybe a couple of peaks that you could dig into a little bit more. But other than that, it’s just noise.

However, if you can rank them, if you can rank your competitors in some way, then you can get something that is a lot more useful. Something that indicates actual behavior and how it might be impacting you.

The way that we do that is going back to the, you know, all-important overlap rate. You use that as a foundation. You add it to a multiplier, you add the rest of them up and it’s going to give you a much better indication of who your primary competitors are because there’s going to be a lot of like little competitors, especially on Microsoft Ads. You’ll get a lot of ad arbitrage sites and things like that. So, you get these top competitors and now you have a nice list and you can focus on just the top few.

So, the final thing, and this is the good part, is that you start getting to the actual visualizations. You have the data. It’s automatically populated. These formulas, you can go back and look at them and they’re also on the link at the end. But, when you get all that done, then you can start getting these nice clean visualizations. Now you can actually see if there are changes that are occurring when you’re trying to analyze for performance fluctuations or if you’re trying to determine what the impression share is or entrance into the market, things like that.

Another tip, that when you are looking at impression share, if that’s an important metric to you, you need to take it out to really analyze your competitor to behavior. Because of the way that this Auction Insights data is calculated, if you leave yourself in, it will skew all the rest of the data and you can’t really indicate anything from it.

By using overlap rate, you can — these are, by the way, all actual data from clients that have been anonymized — but you can actually see new people that are entering into the market. It’s really useful to see that, especially if you start seeing your CPC fluctuations.

It’s a great way to identify seasonal competitors. You see Amazon in here, they, all the way up until right before Christmas, they’re incredibly competitive with this client. Then they just drop out to nothing during the Christmas season and then they go back up to just a bare presence.

Now, the last thing on this is just overlaying other metrics. The key thing here is just to make sure that you are using the same date range and the same time segment. As long as you have that as your core, then you can compare it to the Auction Insights metrics and if you see a competitor that suddenly starts to rise in position, that’s probably a pretty good indicator that your CPCs are going up or that your average position’s going down.

Now, there’s a lot that you can do to draw conclusions from this data: You can do things like identify bad faith affiliates. I’ve done that, where basically you find out that they are bidding on your client’s brand against rules. You can determine competitors that are conquesting, where they’re targeting your brand terms specifically.

Auction Insights myths, this is the last thing: You cannot back your way into competitor budgets and you cannot determine the keyword set of a competitor. The data’s just not there.

Microsoft ads is a little bit different. They do provide this data. The core metrics are a little bit different and you can only segment it by a limited amount of time, but outside of that and the general they have more noise in the data, you can apply the exact same template to that data as well.

So yeah, so don’t be emotional when you’re looking at the data. Be careful on how you convey that information to your clients because they will take it and they will be compelled by it. Don’t be irrational in how you sell it to them, even if you really want them to raise that brand budget because it can backfire in a big way. Besides that, just make sure you understand the data and use automation because it will save you enormous amounts of time and give you something that can really, really help you as you’re managing your clients. Thank you.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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FTC smacks down anti-review ‘non-disparagement clauses’ in form contracts



There are numerous studies circulating that show how important reviews are to consumer purchase decision-making. To protect the integrity of online reviews Congress passed The Consumer Review Fairness Act (CRFA) in 2016. This was largely modeled on an earlier California law.

CRFA makes non-disparagement clauses illegal. The intention of CRFA was to “prohibit the use of certain clauses in form contracts that restrict the ability of a consumer to communicate regarding the goods or services offered in interstate commerce that were the subject of the contract, and for other purposes.”

These terms are typically called “non-disparagement” clauses and have been used periodically by professionals and corporations to pre-empt and prevent negative reviews. They often provide financial penalties or the right to sue for their violation. But they’re illegal.

Trying to get away with it anyway. Apparently quite a few businesses didn’t get the memo. Last week the FTC announced that it had settled administrative complaints with five firms using these illegal clauses in their customer contracts:

  • A Waldron HVAC
  • National Floors Direct
  • Shore to Please Vacations
  • Staffordshire Property Management

The FTC administrative complaints were originally announced in May and June. (The Yelp blog has some additional factual detail about the companies and circumstances.) It’s not clear if these contracts have just been in use for years (pre-dating the CRFA) or whether the companies got bad legal advice.

Must notify all their customers. Each of these firms must now notify all consumers who signed their agreements that the contractual provisions in question are not enforceable. There are other multi-year reporting and compliance requirements that the FTC orders impose as well.

In addition, Shore to Please Vacations apparently sued a vacation renter, who had written a negative review, in Florida civil court. It must now dismiss the private lawsuit for breach of contract.

Why we should care. Any marketer, brand or business owner contemplating any scheme to prevent or preempt negative reviews needs to stop thinking this way immediately. These efforts invariably backfire and cause more damage to the business’ reputation than anything contemplated by the non-disparagement clause.

Marketers need to follow review best practices and treat reviews and responding to them as just an ordinary part of doing business. It’s also important to remember that businesses that have some critical reviews ultimately have more credibility than those with only five star reviews.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He researches and writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

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7 Expert Tips to Boost Your PPC Performance Today



Over the last decade, the number of account and campaign parameters to consider has shot up almost 20 times.

How are PPC specialists expected to know which actions to choose for the best results?

And what exactly do you need to do to continually increase performance while staying ultra-competitive in the marketplace?

On August 14, I moderated a sponsored SEJ webinar presented by Adzooma’s Puneet Vaghela and Sal Mohammed.

They shared seven essential PPC optimization strategies that are proven to boost ROI, save time, and reduce spend.

Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.

 Adzooma’s Puneet Vaghela and Sal Mohammed share seven essential PPC optimization strategies that are proven to boost ROI, save time, and reduce spend. From set up, budgeting and account structure, to the use of data, technology integrations and audience settings, this valuable webinar will cover it all.

So much has changed in the paid search landscape in the past few years. Today, it has become a complex ecosystem with:

With all of this to consider, it’s essential to determine what actions to take through all the clutter of managing a PPC account.

Here are seven areas to consider when optimizing your paid search campaigns if you want to bring the greatest returns.

1. Account & Campaign Settings

No one has an infinite marketing budget, therefore it’s important to find efficiencies wherever possible in your account.

There are three different settings in your account and campaign that you can easily change to boost PPC performance.


Location targeting

It’s important to use location targeting in your PPC campaigns to drive efficiencies and identify geographic areas with a higher propensity to convert.

It’s one of the best ways to actually reduce wastage in ad spend. Make sure to target your audience in the areas they’re searching.

If you don’t use location settings, you’ll be wasting budget showing ads to people who have no interest in your business.

Location settings also allow you to see in which areas you have the most traction. Therefore, you should concentrate budgets in these areas to maximize the effectiveness of your PPC spend.

Make sure you select the country you want to target when you set up your campaigns initially and then drill down and create campaigns for specific locations for the top-performing areas.


Device targeting

Ensuring you’re targeting the correct devices is also key to success.

Google has said that about 30–50% of searches on mobile have local intent.

If you’re a business or a high street store, you should be increasing bids on mobile targeting to reach people in the right place, at the right time.

People also interact on devices differently so use the data within your search engine to see which devices are driving the strongest KPI performance and modify bids accordingly.

Don’t worry about bidding too high, the data you gather will help inform you in your most profitable areas moving forward. That extra you spend in the beginning will just help you further down the line.

Ad Copy Rotation

Ad copy rotation

This is something that a lot of people just leave to Google to do for them.

But a lot of advertisers do like rotating ads evenly so they can optimize it themselves.

If the aim of your campaign is for branding, then this works. You can use tag lines from other media channels to support your messaging and then test it. Learn their ad copy to make sure you’re using the right one.

However, if you’re running a direct response campaign, then you should be trying to maximize the number of clicks or conversions coming to your site.

It would be a good idea to allow the system to actually optimize the ads for you based on the best click-through rate or conversion rate.

2. Automated Bid Management

Bid Management in the Engine

You should be using bid management in Bing or Google Ads to make your ads work as hard as possible for you.

Firstly, you need to analyze your data from the engine or analytics to see how many searches people take to convert with you. You need this to know which bidding works best.

You can then set up automated bidding in the engine based on the last-click conversion model if your conversion length is small.

If your conversion length is high, set it up based on a many-per-click conversion model so you can capture all the keywords required for someone to convert.

Bid Management Using Rules

You can also use automated rules to ensure your account is performing to the standards you expect using third-party bid management platforms, such as Adzooma.

When you’ve analyzed the data in your account, you’ll have identified how many impressions, clicks and conversions you need to drive profitability or hit your target KPI.

With this knowledge, you can set up automated rules to make changes to your account based on these criteria and help drive greater performance on your account while saving you time.

Bid management is generally a good strategy, particularly if you’re new and you don’t know which bids you should be putting in and how to manage them.

If you’re a large-scale advertiser and you’re inundated with different campaigns that you’re running, it is also another great thing you can use.

3. Data Integrations

Data integration is vital to any marketing team. There’s an easy way to integrate your analytics data with your search data in one platform.

Google Analytics, even if it’s the free version, is an important tool for marketers as it allows you to make more informed decisions on your PPC spend.

To link Google Ads and Google Analytics, you’ll need administrative access to Google Ads account and edit permission to a Google Analytics account.

Once you actually have the two platforms linked, you’ll be able to see a number of metrics you couldn’t before including:

  • How many of your clicks resulted in new visitors to your site.
  • How long people are spending on your site from PPC.
  • And, using goals in analytics, what actions people are actually taking on your site from PPC.

Using this data, you can see which keywords are working best for site engagement and optimize accordingly based on your KPIs.

If you’re running a branding campaign, you want more people to spend more time on your site and visit more pages if you’re running a direct response campaign, you want more people to interact with specific goals on your site and probably convert at the same time.

With an analytics integration, you can also start creating audiences based on people’s on-site behavior which is really important.

4. Audience Data

Paid search is based on keyword intent – targeting people based on what they are looking for at all times. It’s been like this since the start.

However, today’s climate is very busy with multiple channels, devices, locations, seasonality, increasing competition, and more data than ever been before.

So how do you sort through the clutter to make sure you’re targeting the people most likely to convert with you and thereby maximize the utilization of your marketing budget?

Why You Should Be Using RLSA

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) were introduced by Google in 2013 and have grown to become one of the most important strategies available to marketers.

Identifying where people are interacting with your site and gauging who are most likely to convert with you is key to increasing efficiency in your ad spend and improving your conversion rate and cost per acquisition or cost per lead.

In Google Ads and Bing Ads, you can create audiences based on which URLs people have visited on your website and then retarget them when they search for other relevant terms to either:

  • Ensure your ad is appearing in front of them (particularly good for generic keyword efficiency).
  • Or show people different messaging to entice them.

You can also use other data, like demographic data, to make your ads even more targeted. However, this is just one aspect of remarketing with audiences.

How to Create More Enhanced Lists for RLSA

Moving further along, you should also be integrating any CRM data with your search platforms to create customer match lists which are audience lists based on the email addresses within your database.

This allows you to target people you know have already interacted with you and creates similar audience lists to target people similar to people who have already engaged with you and should play a part in your CRM strategy.

Linking your analytics platform with Google Ads allows you to use other on-site metrics to create audience lists. Time on-site, bounce rate, goals, pages visited, etc. are all very important in creating audience lists.

This will let you retarget people, not only based on what pages they visited on your site, but also how long they spend. This means you have another engagement aspect you can layer into your audience strategy.

Why is this important?

Audiences allow you to narrow down your targeting ratio.

This means that rather than spending your budget guessing who might interact and convert with you, you can use this data to:

  • Make informed decisions on which groups of people have the highest propensity to convert.
  • Target them specifically – increasing the effectiveness of your media budget.

That’s really important because acquiring a customer can cost five times the amount of retaining a customer.

If you find someone who’s gone to your site and shown interest, then creating a strategy that can reengage or similarly find more people like that user is something you should be leveraging.

Demographic targeting is also key. It enables you to reach a specific audience based on age, gender, parental status, household income, and multiple other variables.

5. Generic Keyword Efficiency

With generic keyword being so expensive, it’s important to use them properly.

Generics are higher in the funnel, used more for research purposes. Conversion rates on generic terms tend to be very low, and far lower than brand terms.

It’s an ineffective way to drive business goals based on a last-click conversion model.

How to Use Generics Properly

You can use generics as a retargeting mechanism – targeting people in your audience lists when they search for generic terms are after visiting your site.

They will have already engaged with you and so they will be familiar with your brand. Thus, when they widen their search, keep your brand at the forefront of their minds and get them back to convert, either through:

  • A different messaging (i.e., put an offer into the ad copy).
  • Or by increasing your bids on your audiences so that you appear more prominently on generic terms at a time when people are more likely to convert.

This will allow you to concentrate your generic keyword budget to an audience with a higher propensity to engage which will drive higher click-through rates (and hopefully conversion rates), reduce impression wastage, and allow you to use your budget more effectively.

Using scripts can make the use of generics a lot easier. If you ensure your generic keywords are only live during certain moments or triggers, it increases their value to your business and makes the use of them more efficient.

One example is if you sell ice cream, use generic terms when it’s really hot to increase the likelihood of people purchasing your product rather than wasting money showing your ad when it’s cold.

How to use generics properly

To run a strategy like this you can either write a weather script in Google ads using an API connection from a weather information source or you can use a third-party platform that already has the API connection set up.

This will allow you to automate the process of activating ads for specific generic keywords based on the trigger you decide.

This strategy can be used with a multitude of triggers such as TV ads, programs, social posts, news articles, stock market fluctuations, pollution levels, sports, and even other events.

Basically, anything that you can get an API connection to, you can feed that back into Google Ads to trigger into a strategy like this.

6. Effective Account Structure

Your account structure forms the foundation of your entire account and how well it will performs.

A broad structure will lead to impression wastage.

A granular account structure may take longer to set up in the short run but will benefit you with more accurate data and bid management capabilities moving forward.

Ensure Your Campaigns Are Split by Products or Categories

Don’t lump random keywords together. This will allow you to write more relevant ad copy based on the keywords in your ad groups and campaigns.

Some people like to use their websites as a touchpoint on how to structure their account and that’s a good idea.

However, if it’s a particularly large website, it can get quite difficult to use so just make sure that you are splitting your products and categories into the keywords that they should be by a group.

If You’re Covering Your Main Brand Term, They Should Have Its Own Campaign

This will allow you to manage the daily budget for this keyword much more accurately than if it’s fighting for budget with other keywords.

The same here comes into effect for your highest performing terms as well, even if they’re generics.

Create Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs), Where Possible

For your top-performing keywords, keep them in their own ad groups to:

  • Make the ad copy as accurate as possible for testing and learning.
  • Give you the ability to manage their daily budgets and bids separately so all your other keywords in your account.

Split Your Campaigns by Match Types

Using the following match types is recommended:

  • Exact match for traffic generation.
  • Broad match modifier to identify new keywords to add to your account.

Why avoid other match types?

  • Using broad match can cause impression wastage and your budget can get depleted quickly.
  • Broad match modified basically can cover all phrase match plus can harness a large net for harvesting new keywords.

This will allow you to manage your traffic drivers more effectively and allocate the correct budget levels to them and then use your remaining budget to invest in broad match modifier terms to harvest new keywords

By following these tips to building a strong foundation in your account, you’ll be able to initially identify your optimal bidding levels and you can then allow the bidding algorithms within the engine or third-party tool you’re using to optimize activity for more secure base.

Once you’re happy with your account structure, you can use numerous review tools to check how it’s performing and benchmark against that.

Using Adzooma’s free Google Ads Health Check tool can help you quickly spot 47 automatic areas on your account to see if it is set up the correct way.

7. Attribution

When most people think about attribution, they think about a complex user journey and having to use a data science team to translate what the numbers mean into actionable marketing ideas.

But attribution doesn’t have to be time-consuming or something only data scientists can do.

Using Google Ads, you can use data-driven attribution to report on your performance and see which touchpoints along the user journey are leading to the conversions on your site.

You can also use it to inform your bidding rules – which keywords to bid on – not based on the last-click model, but based on the effectiveness of each keyword in the journey.

This means that rather than just pausing a keyword because it didn’t result in a conversion, you can now ensure that:

  • You’re visible on keywords that help in driving conversions throughout the user journey.
  • You’re optimized towards the ones which have the greatest impact at the beginning and in the middle of the journey

Data-driven attribution is different from the other attribution models in that it uses your conversion data to calculate the actual contribution of each keyword across the conversion path.

Each data-driven model is specific to each advertiser.

There’s a caveat, however.

Data-driven attribution requires a certain amount of data to create a precise model of how your conversions should be attributed.

Because of this, not all advertisers will see an option for data-driven attribution in Google Ads.

As a general guideline, for this model to be available you must have at least 15,000 clicks on Google search and conversion action must have at least 600 conversions within 30 days.

If you don’t have this volume of data, you can use attribution modeling in Google Analytics to identify your keyword values through the funnel, analyze that manually, and then attribute it back to your activity.

7 Key Takeaways

  • Push some simple change to your account that will make a big difference.
  • Automate the way you manage bids and improve performance.
  • Integrate data to enhance your bidding strategies.
  • Know why audience data is so important and how to use it.
  • Make generic keywords work harder for you.
  • Boost performance quickly with simple account structure changes.
  • Deploy data-driven attribution that drives performance.

[Video Recap] Improve Your PPC Performance Starting Today with These 7 Expert Actions

Watch the video recap of the webinar presentation and Q&A session.

Or check out the SlideShare below.

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, August 2019

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Are your Google text ads getting truncated? Here’s what to consider



This week, Andrea Cruz, digital marketing manager at KoMarketing noticed text ad headlines and descriptions getting cut off and wondered if is new.

I looked back at some older screenshots of search results and didn’t see truncation happening very often. But now I’m easily able to replicate the kind of result Andrea saw, including in the first text ad position, as in the example below.

Truncated headlines and descriptions in expanded text ads aren’t new, but it could be that it’s happening more often lately with certain ad renderings, which frequently include no ad extensions. Is the pendulum swinging back to simpler ads?

Why does ad truncation happen?

One thing to keep in mind is that truncation is about pixels rather than a specific character count, and wider characters use more pixels. In 2016, when expanded text ads were introduced, Google said advertisers should consider limiting headline length to 33 characters to keep them from potentially being truncated. That’s still the suggested length in the help center, even since Google added the third headline option:

“In some situations, Google Ads needs to shorten your text, usually with an ellipsis (“…”). This could happen if your ad text frequently uses wider characters (like “m”) instead of narrower characters (like “i”), because your headline text could be wider than the space available for it on some browser sizes. With most Latin languages, you can avoid this effect by limiting your line’s overall character count to 33 characters total.”

Additionally, if the ad preview in Google Ads shows the full headline, Google says it will generally render completely.

For descriptions, Google doesn’t give specific guidelines, and the preview tool won’t show truncation. Again, pixels will matter. In several results I looked at, description truncation happened between 84 to 86 characters, but a description with 91 characters displayed in full on one line because it had a lot of narrow letters.

Is ad truncation happening more often?

It may appear that truncation is happening more often because of the way Google often displays text ads now. The text ads above the organic results often show with just one description line, particularly on desktop.

Consider this screenshot of a results page for the query “car loan” captured last year in July 2018:

A Google search result from 2018.

Now, compare that to a results page served today in which the ads in positions two to four include just one line of description copy (the last ad’s description is truncated) and no ad extensions below them:

In a result from today, only the first ad shows ad extensions. The other ads show just one line of description copy.

I see this shorter ad rendering regularly across various queries, particularly on desktop. And the lack of ad extensions is interesting. Ads at the bottom of the page on mobile and desktop tend to show more description copy as well as ad extensions than ads above the organic results.

Ad rendering changes are constant

Google is always experimenting with the way it displays ads, even within the same results page. In the mobile example below (from today), notice the Expedia ad in the second position has a description that gets truncated and no ad extensions showing with it.

After refreshing that search result page later in the day, Expedia’s ad, still in the second position, appears with a description followed by callout extensions and an app extension, while the Hotwire ad in position three shows with just a description.

We don’t have control over how Google chooses to display our ads from one search result to the next, and it will vary based on device, browser and other contextual signals. It also decides when and what ad extensions to show. But we do have some control over truncation. If you want to avoid having your titles and descriptions cut off, experiment with length.

Something more interesting to watch may be the frequency with which your ad extensions show. It’s interesting to often see simpler ad treatments above the organic results these days.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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