Putting Google Experiments to the Test

Putting Google Experiments to the Test

Analytics

I always found AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) to be a slightly cumbersome way to test different variables with online advertising campaigns. Reporting, particularly at the keyword level, took some effort, and the setup of the test itself could be time-consuming. So, when Google announced it was going to replace ACE with “campaign drafts and experiments,” I was rather giddy. Now that I’ve had some time to work with campaign drafts and experiments (aka Google experiments) option, I urge you to try it.

With experiments, Google allows advertisers to create a draft campaign (a replica) of a real campaign they are running. By doing so, the advertiser can make adjustments to advertising campaigns in a number of ways, such as changing keyword bids, ad group setup, ad copy, ad scheduling, and geo-targeting.

And how can an advertiser run the 50/50 split properly? Well, Google now asks advertisers how much traffic (budget) they want to spend on the new experiment campaign and how much they want to spend on the control (current) campaign. And with Google experiments, if an advertiser wants to run a test with 90 percent of traffic being piped through the control and 10 percent through the test, they can do so. Having the option to test traffic in this manner gives advertisers the capability to test even if they might be wary to spend more on a true 50/50 test.

Unfortunately (there’s always an unfortunately, amirite?) there are limits to what an advertiser can test, but those limits are not nearly the same as with ACE. For instance:

  • Some reporting isn’t available such as ad scheduling, auction insights, display placement reports.
  • The Dimensions tab is not available. Dimensions reports on search terms, by-day results, paid versus organic, and other deep-dive report.
  • Some automated bid strategies (e.g., “target search page location,” “target outranking share,” and “target return on ad spend) and ad customizers (e.g., “target campaign,” “target ad group”) are not available, either.

But, how many advertisers are looking to test these settings? Not many (other than me, that is). Rather, most advertisers will be using experiments for testing many of the basic questions, such as:

  • What messaging performs best in my ad copy?
  • Do increased keyword bids improve conversion rates?
  • What landing page leads to higher conversion rates?

For those with more advanced tests in mind, advertisers are able to dive deep into each campaign and try testing a number of variables, such as:

  • Excluding a search partner (e.g., another engine powered by Google, such as Ask.com) from the test campaign and keeping a search partner in the control campaign.
  • Targeting a city/state differently in the test campaign then in the control campaign.
  • Bidding differently on gender, age, device, or income.
  • Testing a different ad schedule.

The best new feature of the experiments is easier reporting. Instead of pulling segments, subtracting test totals from the overall totals, or having to run a crazy formula to confirm all of the test keywords were pulled correctly, Google breaks out campaign experiment results simply as “Experiment” and “Original” in the experiments tab. The totals are easy to see and couldn’t be easier to pull. Even better, these numbers are reported on in Analytics! The Analytics feature wasn’t possible through ACE.

After an advertiser does the tedious work of building out an account’s keywords, ad copy, and extensions, experiments allows the advertiser to test, and testing is the fun part of the job. Experiments allows us to get actionable data that can lead to better decision-making, not just for display or paid search, but in some cases across multiple tactics. Those results may give senior marketers another view of their marketing campaign effectiveness and rethink their approaches.

It’s Time to Adopt a Video Ad Strategy

It’s Time to Adopt a Video Ad Strategy

Uncategorized

Cable (read TV advertising) is growing old and becoming outdated. It’s time for businesses to seriously embrace YouTube advertising. Brands that invest in YouTube advertising can say goodbye to the days of wondering if their customer segment actually stays tuned in for their commercial or if they get up to get a snack. And gone are the overpriced commercials, the imprecise targeting, and the broad strokes of data that they receive.

To most CFOs, branding is an excuse to spend additional advertising dollars without a distinctive reward. One of the biggest and most expensive methods of branding is a traditional television advertisement; just take a look at the cost for a 30-second TV spot during the Super Bowl LI ($5 million or $166,666 per second). That commercial may be funny, distinctive, heart-warming, and informative, but what do you really get out of it? Other than getting Nielsen ratings for when the commercial ran, is there any way to measure the success? Did you hit your primary customer target? Were you speaking to a new segment of customer, and, if so, did the message resonate with them? Did your advertisement drive any direct sales? These are all good questions that any decent marketing strategist wants answered — and quickly. But with TV, those answers aren’t immediately available and can take months, if not years, to be fully fleshed out.

TV is a traditional outlet in a digital world, and according to Fortune.com, nearly one out of every five households “cut the cord” in 2016. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. households are no longer reachable via traditional TV advertising! This new gap, and a gap that is more than likely going to grow in the coming years, opens up a new medium for businesses of all sizes: YouTube In-Stream and YouTube 6-second bumpers.

According to Google, the average YouTube session is 40 minutes, and during that 40-minute session, there is ample opportunity for companies to show users a video ad at a fraction of the cost of a traditional TV advertisement. In many cases, video ads can be served to a viewer for anywhere between 5 cents and 25 cents. Yes, you read that right: a nickel and a quarter!

What are YouTube In-Stream ads? What are 6-second bumper ads? Well, everyone knows what they are; you just may not know them by name:

· An in-stream video ad is the sponsored video that plays before your video selection on YouTube (and across the entire Google Display Network) and gives you the option of skipping the full ad after 5 seconds.

· A 6-second bumper ad is the quick advertisement (6 seconds) that is shown before your selected video and are forced to watch before your video begins.

Both ad types are available to all advertisers but are typically pushed aside because many advertisers continue to look at them as a direct acquisition tactics, rather than for what they really are: TV commercial substitutes.

Since advertisers look at YouTube as a direct acquisition tactic, they expect to see a return on their investment. But, do advertisers expect to see a return on investment from TV? Of course not — because conversions can’t be directly attributed to TV advertising. The same strategic thinking should be applied to YouTube, and, once applied, you will see that the cost per view and the cost per conversion is much more cost effective. But, how is YouTube much more cost effective?

Any marketing strategist/manager thrives on data. Some like to slice it up into dozens of different views and others just want to see the overall worth of a tactic. But, with TV advertising, doing so is nearly impossible. YouTube and the Google Display Network, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to target even the smallest customer segments. Are you looking to reach females, age 25-34, who are political news junkies? Trying to target moms, 35-44, who are foodies, and have already visited your website? How about men, 18-24, interested in gaming? Men, 45-54, interested in cars? You can target all of them with YouTube!

Not only can you target customer segments, but you can see how many of them interacted with your site, subscribed to your YouTube channel, made a purchase, or watched another of your YouTube videos (other than the ad you just showed them). Not only can advertisers see the different interactions of an audience, but they can also see how much of the video ad that they watched. Doing so allows advertisers to determine if a video ad is too long, how much of the video a person watches before deciding to skip it, or see what percentage of viewers are tuned in for the entire video ad. All of these results can be determined the very next day.

Advertising pioneer John Wanamaker once famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” Take advantage of the new, digital video ads, get ahead of your competition, and study the results so that you aren’t wasting this half.