PPC Advice from the Google AdWords Agency Team (sucks)

As an SEM agency we have a team at Google that supports us. They are cheerful and oftentimes helpful, but when it comes to any kind of PPC analysis, their suggestions are less than useful. Here are excerpts of our feedback on their latest advice relating to one of our clients (to be unnamed). While we can’t share the original PDF and Excel spreadsheet that Google sent to us, hopefully you can get the gist of things from the feedback we sent back to them. Parenthetical explanations have been added.

[Google AdWords agency support person],

Thanks for doing the work and for sending this (PDF document of AdWords account analysis and recommendations), plus for following up with the raw data (which we requested in order to further look at the same data they were referencing – p.s., when the data came, there was no date range anywhere on the document, so it was still difficult to look at the same data in the advertiser’s AdWords account – who sends data without referencing the date range from which the data is derived?? I mean, who does that???)!

In reference to the PDF, page 4 points out that during off-peak times, (our advertiser client: “the advertiser”) approaches “market” impression share, and that there is a gap between the advertiser’s impression share and the market during peak times. If we bid to a CPA target, how might we use this trend data to improve the account? In other words, if account clicks decrease, it is because conversion rates are decreasing and we are trying to hit target CPA. If we assume that the Google data shows we are missing out on an opportunity, how do we bridge the gap, knowing that we’re only decreasing bids to hit target CPA? Any ideas or insights would be great! (hint: I can’t imagine what these ideas might be — messaging that speaks to off-peak time periods? I don’t think so…)

Page number 6 assumes that the keywords on which we’ve lowered bids would actually convert just fine, if only we would increase bids to get these ads on page 1, but I’m not sure that’s indicative of reality. My feeling is that we have bid these keywords down for a really good reason – they are either not super relevant to the advertiser’s value proposition, or they are branded terms, where users have demonstrated they are really intent on seeking out the brand rather than signing up for another brand. (We’ve tested these branded terms extensively, of course.)

Thanks for listing some specific kw’s. We show that for (insert phrase-matched kw here) we have a CPA of (dollar amount), which is (about 30%) higher than target (dollar amount) CPA – but also that the Google Conversion Optimizer is doing the bidding – your spreadsheet is looking at the 1st page min estimated bid versus our current maximum bid – but our current max bid has no bearing on anything, b/c this is a conversion optimizer-managed campaign. We’ll go through the other keywords in the spreadsheet – maybe we’ll find something!

Page number 7 seems fallacious. The inference is that in general for this account (actually, the Google folks say this applies to just about any account), keywords in high ad positions convert better, which is totally false. There is a correlation between keywords in high ad positions and strong conversion rates; but the causality is that we bid higher on higher-converting keywords. We cause this correlation to be so.

Would love any thoughts.

  • Tell me about it! Our Google reps were all really nice folks, but they always wanted us to do things that had very low probability of succeeding.

    For example, they’d select any random word that popped out of the Keyword Tool, or recommend content campaigns on various random terms. We’d try them, and they’d fail as expected. Then they’d beg us to keep them running to prove that they really were no good — even when clearly the keywords and sites where our ads were running were terrible.

    I guess the upside is they keep you on your toes with new ideas — but so far, their campaign recommendations don’t usually pay off.