Growth hacking is an inventive approach to marketing using a variety of tools, data, and high-level experience. It's an iterative, experimental mindset that aims to playfully tease out incremental (or viral) growth from a complex environment. Growth hacking requires a mastery of the product, the marketplace, wide-ranging knowledge of technology, marketing tools, design, psychology, etc. In essence, growth hacking attempts to achieve business results through genuinely new approaches. It's the best kind of marketing, or perhaps, the only kind of marketing.
"Callout" extensions became available to many AdWords users within the last week. This is potentially a huge change for advertisers who have previously included callout-like information within the standard AdWords ad format.
The results of this change will take months to fully digest. The most important thing right now is to begin experimenting with callouts in your campaigns.
As with many AdWords features, remaining ahead of the pack is advantageous. When the overall masses are using callouts, any potential advantage they offer will be smaller than what is (or may be) right now, at the outset.
Below is an example of callouts in an AdWords ad.
Google recently announced that they will be discontinuing support for pure exact and phrase match. Lots of people are afraid about what will happen to their campaigns after this change is rolled out.
I think it'll work itself out just fine. It's a situation where you're penalized for doing it wrong, but only if there is the opportunity to do it wrong. This is not a trivial AdWords topic by any means, but I'll attempt to explain my position in this video.
This is one of the most promising marketing startups I've seen in awhile: Predicative.
We all have the same problem: How can you make ads show in more relevant places? Predicative has developed a "location intelligence engine" that helps you to target ads in genuinely new ways.
Also worth noting:
The Predicative dataset contains billions of global geolocations, painstakingly generated by data mining a variety of extremely large datasets. Our proprietary indexing technique is lightning fast, making Predicative ideal for programmatic buying.
I can't wait to get my hands on predicative!
This is part 2 of a 2-part series about advanced location targeting in AdWords. See also part 1: Demographic (Household Income) targeting in AdWords.
Google has quietly launched the ability to target central commercial areas, airports, and universities within AdWords. They call it "places of interest" targeting. Here's how it works:
It's been possible to target these areas manually for a long time, using radius targeting. This is a nice upgrade that makes things easier. Or does it?
Does places of interest targeting work?
One of my clients sells into commercial areas, so I gave that feature a spin. In my own testing, only the large commercial areas are included. Downtown areas in smaller cities were missed. Unfortunately, Google doesn't provide any background or documentation on this feature. Like its cousin household income, this feature is somewhat half-baked. Still, it's nice to see Google heading in this direction.
I haven't tested University targeting yet. Although, it's easy to do this manually.
Why would I use central commercial targeting?
As with demographic targeting, it's not hard to imagine how this feature is useful. If your business offers services or products that are of interest to white-collar suits downtown, or students, or travellers, "places of interest" targeting is worth exploring.
Google has quietly launched demographic targeting for search campaigns in AdWords.
Here's how it works:
Quite simply, you can select the household income of people who will see your ad.
It's not hard to imagine the possibilities. If your company sells low-end laminate flooring, you might gain an advantage by advertising in the "Lower 50%" income bracket. If you sell private jets, it might make sense to limit your searches to the top 10% of household income.
Okay, does this really work?!
Last time I checked Google hadn't even announced this feature, much less describe how it works. How do you know that the top 20% is really what it appears to be? Does this include business parks? How large are the areas?
Keeping complexity out of AdWords
As Google adds more advanced features to AdWords, it's clear that they face a dilemma. What's the balance between user-friendliness and fine control? Demographic/household income targeting appears to be a case where Google hasn't decided which way to go.
And Google isn't the only player in this space. My friends at Predicative are developing an advanced location intelligence engine, which could likely be more useful than Google's version, which inevitably has "user friendliness" as a more important requirement.
Places of Interest
In my next post, I will talk about places of interest targeting. This includes targeting central commercial areas, airports, and universities.
Recently I was reviewing Dynamic Search Ads, a new AdWords feature, and wondering how Google's motivations play into their feature announcements.
Clearly, Google is a financial superpower. As one of the largest companies on earth, they make the majority of their money from AdWords. And like all public corporations, they are self-interested. I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that public companies are obligated to act in this way, and doing otherwise could result in investor lawsuits.
I've been an AdWords professional since 2002. In those early years, Google was clearly trying to build a first-rate product. That was their priority. Over the years, their feature announcements gradually became more self-motivated. This isn't a problem, but as an AdWords user, it's important to understand how decisions get made.
Ultimately, Google is trying to balance several issues:
So basically, it comes down to profit. And that's okay.
Evaluate new AdWords features for YOUR needs.
Some people have the same reaction every time a new AdWords change is made: "It's all about Google's stock price!" I don't think that way. The questions I ask are:
It's about the ROI! Your ROI!
Dynamic Search Ads is a feature for Google Innovations that lets you target relevant searches with ads generated dynamically from your site. Google keeps a database of your content, and uses this to target your ads. When a user search happens, Google generates a custom ad based on that query (using your predefined parameters). Dynamic Search Ads enter the ad auction just like normal PPC ads.
Benefits of Dynamic Search Ads
The principal benefit of Dynamic Search Ads is convenience. If you run an active website, with new products arriving daily, or frequent changes to information, you may benefit from Dynamic Search Ads.
When evaluating any new AdWords feature, it's always useful to ask "What's in it for Google?" In this case, I think Google is simply trying to expand their keyword inventory, and spread the money more evenly across un-monetized areas of that keyword inventory. I don't smell anything fishy.
Are you missing relevant searches?
Anyone actively managing an AdWords account knows that new searches are important. Keyword tools can scan your website to find these words. Dynamic Search Ads is in some ways similar to that, except it happens without your involvement.
Dynamic Search Ads and Low Search Volume
I wonder how Dynamic Search Ads will play together with Low Search Volume keywords. On the sites I manage, much of the content would be considered LSV. Is that stuff included as triggers for Dynamic Search Ads? Could this be a way to unlock the power of the long tail. Is this effectively an end to Low Search Volume? I hope so.
Adwords isn't a meaningless game of math, stats, A/B testing, rules, scripts. First and foremost, it's a marketplace of ideas, culture, and people.
It's easy to think AdWords is like math. There are so many numbers to think about. Thousands of keywords, ads, each having their own stats. You can get multi-dimensional about everything and pimp out your pivot tables until you drive yourself crazy. (I know, I sometimes dream of my AdWords stats).
But taking a step back, it's not about that. It's about people doing searches to find what they're interested in. A lady looking to hire a web designer for a small business. A man wondering how to fix his aching back. A kid gathering research for a science project.
Math doesn't care about you. People do.
Optimize for real people. Use the AdWords stats to help you. Don't fall into the trap of optimizing for the sake of the stats. The math doesn't care. The people care.