Do SEM Ads Result In Organic Drop?

New Google Test: AdWords Ads Can Result In 15 Point Drop In Organic Click Through Rates:

There haven’t been any big studies on the impact of PPC, AdWords ads, on organic click through rates since Google dropped ads from the right rail in February. But a new small test has one advertiser saying their click through rates on their number one listings drop 15 points when their ads show, that is a CTR of 35% dropping to 20% when their ads show. […]

He wrote:

We’ve done some tests where we have toned down on PPC, but for the most part this test has been brought around because we’re spending 3x as much on PPC for certain commercial keywords. This has impacted the traffic we get through organic significantly. The most extreme case is where we spend a lot more money on PPC and our SEO CTR for keyword goes from 35% CTR to 20% CTR. It’s almost like dropping from position 1 for a term to position 2.

Although this study is very interesting, it does raise a few concerns. First, we are talking about brands that rank #1 for the studied search terms. That is certainly the minority of advertisers. Second, what does it mean for organic listings when competitors advertise above them? There would definitely be some lost traffic in that situation. So the question should revolve around the total net impact of the two scenarios, instead of one ad vs one organic listing.

Visual Appeal vs Usability

First Impressions Matter: The Importance of Great Visual Design:

A study examined the effects of visual appeal and usability on user performance and satisfaction with a website.

Users completed different tasks on websites which varied in visual appeal (high and low) and usability (high and low). Results show that first impressions are most influenced by the visual appeal of the site. Users gave high usability and interest ratings to sites with high appeal and low usability and interest ratings to sites with low appeal. User perceptions of a low appeal website were not significantly influenced by the site’s usability even after a successful experience with the site.


Key takeaway: Invest in design – it’s what matters the most for pulling users in. Funny enough, great visual design will lead to higher usability ratings even. And actual usability will matter much less if the overall visual appeal is low.

There are a lot of folks in our industry that fly the usability flag high. The arguments they make are sound, but this study pours cold water on some of them. Perhaps a good first impression, via good design, sets the table for better performance – even if usability is lacking. At the end of the day, the real question remains:


Protect Against Duplicate Conversions Data in Analytics

via Google+:

Starting today, advertisers can insert Order IDs into AdWords conversion tags to automatically filter out duplicate conversions from the same device. By minimizing duplicate conversions and reviewing more accurate conversion data, you can make better budget and bidding decisions for your campaigns.

Until this update, advertisers added website code to make sure conversion tags didn’t fire again when people refreshed or returned to confirmation pages. For example, if you’re a hotel brand, you may notice customers returning to their booking confirmation pages, perhaps to find the reservation number or room check-in time the day before a trip. By including an Order ID into conversion tags, AdWords will not count these subsequent conversions with the same Order ID, so they won’t show up in your reporting.

Visit our Help Center to learn more and get started:

Although the negative impact has not been significant for most industries, it is nice to see Analytics taking steps to protect the accuracy of traffic data. At least now advertisers have a tool to protect against this sort of data bias.

Google Testing Extended Ad Headlines

In new test for Google text ads, headlines are expanded without sacrificing ad copy:

Hot on the heels of removing text ads from the right rail of the search results on desktop, Google is beginning to test a new format for text ads. Dubbed Expanded Text Ads, the new format features longer headlines. Currently, headlines can extend to include the first line of description copy when that line ends with a punctuation mark. This formatting has only been available to ads served in the mainline, but now that the right rail ads are gone, Google can change the convention text ad formatting systemwide.

The big difference in this test is that the text ads will feature a double (extended) headline and the full 80-character count of description copy. Advertisers get to have their cake and eat it, too. The other change with this test is the display URL formatting. Advertisers will be able to append up to two paths or directories to the domain name. In the screen shot below, for example, the advertiser would have entered two paths as “/NewYorkCity” and “/Budget.”

Here’s a before-and-after look from a tweet that has since been deleted. The second headline in test version is “Best NY Hotel Rates in Seconds.”

AdWords Expanded Text Ads

This is another AdWords beta that PPC managers need to keep a close eye on. If this test graduates to a standard AdWords offering it would continue the trend of pushing down organic search results, placing an even greater emphasis on paid advertising.

Google Trends Upgrades To Help Advertisers

In several different areas of AdWords, advertisers can harness “Topics” as a targeting tool. However, until recently, topic-based traffic data has remained somewhat obscure.

Last week, Google updated the Google Trends tool to include topic data, in addition to keyword data. Now advertisers have a resource for gauging traffic volume, as they refine their targeting.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.01.20 AM

Take it for a spin: here.

Two Big Changes In Local Search


Google makes 2 ad updates that will affect local search marketers:

Ads in Local Finder results

The addition of the ads (more than one ad can display) in the Local Finder results means retailers and service providers that aren’t featured in the local three-pack have a new way of getting to the top of the results if users click through to see more listings. (It also means another haven for organic listings has been infiltrated with advertising.)

The ads in the Local Finder rely on AdWords location extensions just like Google Maps, which started featuring ads that used location extensions when Google updated Maps in 2013. Unlike the results in Maps, however, advertisers featured in Local Finder results do not get a pin on the map results.

Google Maps is no longer considered a Search Partner

Google has also announced changes to how ads display in Google Maps. Soon, Google will only show ads that include location extensions in Maps; regular text ads will not be featured. The other big change is that Google Maps is no longer considered part of Search Partners. Google has alerted advertisers, and Maps has been removed from the list of Google sites included in Search Partners in the AdWords help pages.

This change in Maps’ status means:

1. Advertisers that use location extensions but had opted out of Search Partners will now be able to have their ads shown in Maps and may see an increase in impressions and clicks as their ads start showing there.

2. Advertisers that don’t use location extensions but were opted into Search Partners could see a drop in impressions and clicks with ads no longer showing in Maps.

These changes signal some interesting new pay-to-play opportunities to brick & mortar advertisers looking to connect with local traffic.

Google Takes On TV Advertising

Building the future of TV, with you:

Announcing personalized TV ads with DoubleClick Dynamic Ad Insertion

Viewers no longer expect content personalized to them, they demand it. And that includes ads.

Today we are taking big steps to bring new addressable advertising capabilities to TV Broadcasters and Distributors by announcing DoubleClick’s Dynamic Ad Insertion. This makes ads hyper relevant for viewers across any screen that they watch. By creating individual streams for every viewer using server side ad insertion, we are able to deliver a better, more personalized viewing experience that looks and feels as seamless as TV today.

It was only a matter of time.

AdWords Report Editor Now Supports Labels

Yes, AdWords Report Editor now supports label columns:

google-adwords-editor-labels-supportGoogle has added support for the labels columns in AdWords Report Editor.

The labels show up at all levels of the account, with color coding and all, as shown [above] in the screen shot posted by Google’s Jon Diorio on Google+.

Hot damn! For AdWords managers that frequently run large promotions for clients, this feature was painfully absent. Easily segmenting reports for particular labels (i.e. Fall Sale Ads) will help streamline relevant reporting.

The One Thing C-Suite Leaders Need To Know About PPC

Explaining The Value Of PPC To The C-Suite:

“There Isn’t Really A Traditional Funnel Anymore…It’s all about the micro moments.” – Jeff Allen

If there’s one drum beat I see our industry hammering this year, it’s that competition is just going to increase so getting creative and opening up your marketing scope will be the surest way to profitable campaigns. Each year there are more advertisers in the space, which drives up costs for the competition and then on top of that – the engines themselves change things fairly frequently (see: sidebar ad removal) and not always in a way that works out well for brands.

To complicate things further, as the search & digital landscapes continue to evolve, the consumers on the other side of the screen are maturing, as well. They know to research in more detail to make sure they’re getting the best deal and so on. The buying cycle is longer and starts earlier than it ever has before so the key is to solidify your position in every segment of the sales cycle, from consideration to purchase. This is a fact, and you can see it in the number of platforms, engines and technologies at the digital marketing industry’s fingertips. And they are all massively important to achieving continued and increasing profitability.

cross-channel conversion pathsDigital marketing has matured by leaps in bounds in the past few years. We now have a plethora of options – both in networks and targeting. However, the biggest shortcoming of our industry remains to be cross-channel tracking. That is folks who interact with ads on several different networks before making their buying decision. From each network’s reporting tools you can see only parts of the conversion path. But no reporting tool gives you the entire picture. Meanwhile, conversion paths are getting more and more complex. The temptation is to base advertising decisions based solely on what can be tracked (via Google Analytics or the like). But although the data doesn’t show the whole picture, we know these complex funnels are happening – both through buyer behavior studies and our own personal behaviors. We often see clients who want to limit their advertising to what is directly trackable, thereby neglecting the rest of the sales funnel and likely limiting their account’s true potential.

This is the biggest ‘miss’ in digital advertising today. And with most major search engines moving increasingly towards privacy (and rightfully so), it is unlikely that this type of tracking will be available anytime soon. In the meantime, smart marketers will need to rely a little more on intuition than raw data, if they want to fulfill their digital marketing potential.

Facebook Launches New Tool For Ads Manager

Facebook Launches Delivery Insights for Ads Manager:

  • In a wide-ranging blog post on getting value from Facebook ads, the social media giant announced a new tool called Delivery Insights that will be rolling out globally to its Ads Manager platform over the next few weeks.
  • Delivery Insights is designed to find ads that aren’t as competitive at auction and provide marketers with recommendations to improve the underperforming ads.
  • Delivery Insights are intended to help Facebook meet its goal of showing its users more relevant ads and maximizing value for advertisers.


Delivery Insights will identify “under-delivering ad sets, meaning ad sets that are set up to reach more people each day than they are actually reaching,” according to Facebook. “Under-delivery is a sign that the ad could be tweaked to be more effective at winning more auctions, and Delivery Insights explains why the under-delivery is happening and highlights suggestions for specific actions the advertiser can take to make their ad more competitive at auction.”

For advertisers that have become accustomed to the control AdWords provides, it is exciting to see Facebook continue to evolve its toolbox. We have all experienced a high quality Facebook ad that, for whatever reason, experiences this ‘failure to launch’. Having the ability to peek behind the curtain will be a welcomed resource.