#PPC Worst Practices: 5 “Smart” Strategies That Are Actually Dumb

As digital marketers, we have the “pleasure” of being part of an ever-changing industry. Consider Google AdWords, which has changed drastically since its inception back in 2000. It started out as an internal service, eventually became a self-service portal and has evolved rapidly from there. As paid search platforms become more complex and sophisticated, it’s critical that account managers remain flexible and adjust their strategies to match these changes. But I can’t tell you how frequently I encounter advertisers who are dead-set in their outdated ways, which drives me completely insane.

So, here’s my list of the top five outdated “best practices” that you should eliminate from your PPC repertoire immediately.

Worst Practice #1: Stuffing Your Account with Every Keyword Under the Sun

Back in the day, it was trendy to build expansive accounts with a gazillion keyword variations. I actually remember one of my first tasks when I started at Wordstream was to create a list of long-tail keywords for a cosmetics site. I spent hours dreaming up makeup-related keywords and when I finally submitted my list, my co-worker sent it back to me asking for permutations of EVERY SINGLE TERM. New to this whole shebang, I spent nearly two days developing a keyword list for only a few ad groups. It was so painful that I haven’t shopped online for makeup since.

Nowadays, keyword-heavy strategies on the Search Network are becoming extinct. Since the rollout of mandatory close variant keyword matching, we no longer have to obsess over adding every permutation, misspelling, plural and singular version of the keywords in our account. In fact, in doing so, we may actually be putting ourselves at risk. If you have a number of extraneous keywords, it’s likely that many of the low search volume terms are suffering from poor Quality Scores.

These can negatively impact the scores assigned to new keywords in your account, making it even harder to achieve good scores in the future. Moreover, if your account is cluttered with zillions of keywords, it can be challenging to manage it effectively.

5 "Smart" PPC Strategies That are Actually Dumb | SEJ

Our founder, encourages advertisers to delete the bottom third keywords in their accounts (the ones that are NOT converting) and re-deploy that portion of spend to a more fruitful strategy like remarketing, which brings me to my next point.

The industry is shifting away from keyword-based strategies altogether. More and more advertisers are dedicating significant budgets to networks using identity-based targeting. For example, through paid Facebook ads, you can market to an audience that fits very specific criteria. These settings range anywhere from basic demographic/geographic/interest-based categories to custom lists (based on prospect information that you already have).

Here’s an example—last week, I got the (somewhat bizarre) ad below while I was perusing Facebook.

5 "Smart" PPC Strategies That are Actually Dumb | SEJ

At first, I was like, why the heck is Facebook encouraging me to attend an EGG FREEZING PARTY?! And then I realized, the platform knows I’m single, I live in Boston and at 27, I fall right into the “baby fever” age group. Boom. This advertiser hit their perfect target. Pretty savvy, huh? As these methods continue to become more sophisticated, I predict that they’ll become even more widely used.

Worst Practice #2: Using DKI for All Ad Groups

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not suggesting that Dynamic Keyword Insertion(DKI) is a bad technique, but it should never be your go-to method for creating ad text. DKI is a fundamentally lazy approach to ad copy. When you’re pressed for time and looking to bang out some halfway decent ads, DKI is a temporary, quick-and-dirty solution.

However, it can introduce quite a few problems in your account. For example, if you are bidding on misspelled keywords, you could end up with disastrous, sloppy looking ads. Or, if you’re bidding on your competitors’ branded terms, you could end up with a nasty disapproval (or lawsuit, god forbid).

5 "Smart" PPC Strategies That are Actually Dumb | SEJ

The reality is, you may see decent performance for DKI ads, but they will never be your superstars. You’re much better off taking the time to create tightly knit, granular ad groups centered on distinct keyword themes. This enables you craft highly relevant ads that are guaranteed to be a good fit, regardless of the keyword match.

5 "Smart" PPC Strategies That are Actually Dumb | SEJ

If you’re attached to DKI because you love the idea of automated customizations, let me introduce you to the new “DKI on steroids,” ad customizers. These scripts give you the ability to tailor your ads based on sophisticated custom attributes, such as product brand and model, pricing and even a countdown functionality urging users to make a purchase sooner than later. Layering this on top of well-crafted ads is a true slam dunk for advertisers.

Worst Practice #3: Using the Same Strategy on Domestic and International Campaigns

Often when companies are ready to expand their marketing to international markets, they assume that whatever works in their current account will generate similar performance abroad.

What’s worse is their inclination is to dump their account into Google Translate and bid on whatever it spits out. This is PPC seppuku! Google Translate may suffice for basic translations, but it neglects to account for regional nuances. Mistranslated keywords can result in little to no traffic or worse — unqualified traffic – making a mockery of your PPC efforts.

Moreover, when targeting a different audience, it is critical to take cultural trends into account. For example, Americans tend to be attracted to bargains, so we commonly highlight deals and discounts in our ad copy to encourage high CTRs. This tactic would actually negatively impact CTRs in Switzerland, where consumers prioritize quality and are more likely to click on ads offering high-end, luxury items.

Given these cultural diversities, it’s critical to design campaigns that are catered toward your target marketplace. If you’re looking for guidance with this, I highly recommend checking out Katy Tonkin and Michael Stricker’s recent presentation on International PPC from HeroConf, which breaks down cultural marketing trends by location.

Worst Practice #4: Focusing All Efforts on Google’s Search Network

The Google Search Network is a wise place for advertisers to launch their initial PPC efforts, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of the PPC universe. In fact, if you’re solely targeting searchers on Google, you’re likely missing out on tons of opportunity.

The number one reason advertisers are hesitant to break out of this space is because they’re unsure of which avenue to pursue next. Don’t be paralyzed by choice, embrace it! Here’s a breakdown of some of your top options:

  • Bing Ads Search: Bing Ads is easy to experiment with because it follows a nearly identical format to AdWords’ search marketing. In fact, you can even go as far as to import your AdWords account into Bing and adjust it from there. On Bing, you can expect less volume, but cheaper CPCs.
  • Google Shopping: If you are an e-commerce advertiser, you should be running Shopping campaigns, which allow you to display images of your products on the SERP. While setting up and maintaining your feed can be an onerous task, the results are typically stellar.
  • Remarketing: I’ll be honest, I think remarketing is one of the most genius things you can do with digital marketing. It allows you to launch ad campaigns targeted to those who have visited your site in the past and therefore are more likely to engage with you. It works well for a wide variety of businesses and is easy to set up.
  • Google Display Network: The expansiveness of this network alone is appealing—it reaches nearly 90% of online users and nearly 2 million sites. This makes it a great venue to pursue a more passive, top of the funnel audience and promote your brand.
  • Paid Social (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn): Paid social advertising is becoming an increasingly popular way to build brand awareness and entice users to your site. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this channel is that you can layer in sophisticated targeting to reach your most ideal audience.
  • Yandex/Baidu/Seznam/Daum/360/Sogou/Yahoo! Japan: Living in a Google-obsessed country, it’s easy to forget that the Goog isn’t actually the top dog in other countries. If you are focused on foreign markets, it’s critical to understand the user behavior in those zones and adjust your strategy accordingly. The engines listed above are some of the most popular engines in Asia and Europe.

Worst Practice #5: Basing Account Management Decisions Solely on Quality Score Data

Before I giveLARRY KIM (our Quality Score-obsessed founder) a heart attack, let me quickly point out that I don’t want to downplay QS completely. It IS an important metric to keep an eye on, and the savings associated with higher scores are palpable. However, when optimizing an account, I believe that managers should first consult more concrete data, such as conversion rates, CPA, etc.

It’s important to remember that Quality Score assignments are somewhat subjective. It’s Google’s way of incenting advertisers to create customer-centric experiences free of spammy, irrelevant ads and landing pages. So, if you have a history of poor performance, even new keywords will start with low scores. We’ve even noticed that certain industries have lower average QS than others. My point is, just because a keyword has a low Quality Score doesn’t mean it’s necessarily yielding a low number of conversions (and vice versa). So, you should never look solely at QS when making big decisions.

Instead, Quality Score should be used as a secondary, “health-check” metric. I like to think of it as an indicator of which keywords need a little extra attention. For example, if you have a keyword with a low Quality Score, it may be worthwhile to assign it to a new, more targeted ad group with more catered ad text and relevant landing pages. By making changes to strive for better scores, you are cutting costs and taking action to improve your searchers’ experience—a win-win.


How Effective Is Your Ecommerce Campaign?

Are you getting the most bang for your buck?

PPC management for ecommerce campaigns tests the skills and bidding strategies of even the most seasoned expert. You may be thinking “my campaign is doing ok right now,” but take a step back – Is it as effective as it can be? Is it efficient and structured in a way that isn’t a chaotic mess? Are you continuously enhancing your ROAS?

At Hanapin, we ask ourselves these questions all the time and with some big brands as clients, we have to be up to snuff with our tactics, strategies, and expansion ideas. We also realize how important conversion rate optimization is when it comes to any PPC campaign and making sure that everything is cohesive (particularly for ecommerce…I mean how mad does it make you when you click an ad for those cute red high heels and end up on a product page with Nike running shoes??). And even more, optimizing your product pages, category pages, and your product feeds.

So we teamed up with experts from Visual Website Optimizer (also known as Wingify) for a new webinar today to lay out some advanced tactics for both PPC and CRO to supercharge the effectiveness of your ecommerce campaigns

Here’s a sneak peak of what you can expect from the webinar:

We’ll be talking about how you can front-load your most valuable terms utilizing SQRs and how to highlight the differentiators.

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We’ll be talking about why looking at just the last click is misleading and could negatively impact your sales if you aren’t careful. We’ll also be going through different attribution models you SHOULD look at and the important info you can glean from it.

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A Visual Website Optimizer expert will be talking about how you can optimize your product pages and your category pages and the specific areas you need to focus on for these pages to improve effectiveness.

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Pros And Cons Of Hiring A PPC Agency Or Traditional Agency To Manage Your PPC

Hanapin is running into more and more sales deals where the prospective client is basing their decision on whether they want to hire a specialist, which is us, or a generalist, which is sometimes their traditional agency of record and sometimes a full-service digital agency. This post will go through the various aspects of that decision-making process.


Client Request – “We Want A Single Point of Contact”


Pros: Clients are rightfully concerned about their workload. They’re outsourcing the work, which is one of the main reasons why – beyond expertise – they’re hiring an agency in the first place. The thought is that by hiring an agency for all of the various disciplines they need help, there’s a single person they can communicate with, streamlining the communication process and also decreasing the chances of miscommunication. It’s also a single point of contact that, in the case of poor performance, you have one person to “yell” at.


Cons: Various digital disciplines are becoming so competitive that, while having a single point of contact is ideal for communication, it’s not practical for performance. The person communicating with you cannot be an expert in every discipline, so they’ll bring in a subject matter expert (SME) to speak with you. In many of those cases, while that single point of contact can coordinate meetings on your behalf, which is one less thing you’ll have to do, you’ll still need to speak with the SME in those meetings and one-on-one in follow-ups to get the type of detail you may need.


Client Request – “I Want An Agency Who Knows My Entire Business”


Pros: For obvious reasons, you want an agency that knows as much about your business as possible. You want them to understand:


  • Your branding
  • How you want to be presented to the world
  • How various parts of the business interact with each other


In general, you want a confidant who can help you with big problems or troubled parts of the business because they know as much about your business as you do.


Cons: Agencies, by their very nature, will never know as much about your business as you do. Because they’re not working in your business on a day-to-day basis like you are, they will only know what you tell them. Boutique agencies, like Hanapin, will know their discipline extremely well and while they won’t know your business as well as you do, to win your business, they should know it better than other agencies. The confidant that prospects are looking for when they want a generalist is actually a business consultant, someone who is trained in the art of business and management consulting and has a good financial background to help you make and think through those decisions.


Client Request – “I Want Somebody Who Can Manage Both My PPC and SEO Because They’re Both Search”


Pros: From a macro perspective, PPC and SEO are both information retrieval, aka library science. And while one is advertising and one is public relations, in their most basic forms, they’re both website traffic. And, because the results for both PPC and SEO are intermingled on the page, the client feels they need an agency that can manage and understand both.


Cons: Managing PPC and SEO require different skill sets, even though to the client they’re both based on keywords.


PPC is analytical and requires a person who can sit in front of a computer in Excel for eight hours a day. There are some creative aspects to it, i.e. ad writing, but it’s less of a marketing / creative activity and more of an analysis activity.


SEO, while some aspects are analytical, is much more creative and nonlinear in nature. The goal is to create enough good content that attracts links and visitors to your website, which in turn increases your rankings. There are also many more technical aspects of programming and web technologies that are required in SEO than PPC. So while a PPC agency works with and builds landing pages, there are fewer technical aspects because those pages aren’t required to be crawled by a search engine.


My last three points aren’t so much pros and cons about whether to choose a specialist or generalist. They are about how certain characteristics of your account should inform your decision to hire a specialist or a generalist.


Small Budgets


If you have a relatively small budget, let’s say $15k monthly or less, and you already have a traditional agency of record, I would advise you to hire the traditional agency of record (or full-service digital agency) to manage your PPC. The reason for this is because no matter how good the PPC agency is, if you’ve hired a traditional agency of record, it generally indicates you’re a larger business and a $15k monthly budget would have a very small impact on your business. And regardless of the impact that a PPC agency has on that portion of your budget, it’s not likely to offset the cost in a meaningful way.


(If you’re spending $15k monthly or less and don’t already have a traditional agency of record, the advice in the previous paragraph doesn’t apply to you. Consider hiring a specialist or generalist based on the advice I give in the rest of the article.)


Large Budgets


If you have a relatively large budget, let’s say $500k annually or more, regardless of whether that is a small or large portion of your overall marketing budget, it’s a large enough number in and of itself that you should likely hire a PPC agency. The agency will be able to impact your business enough, spending between $40-$50,000 a month, that they should be able to make up for their fees both in terms of saving wasted spend and increasing account performance overall.




If your account has an array of technical issues (i.e. tagging or tracking), or:


  • There are multiple accounts with multiple brand managers
  • There are a million keywords or a million ads
  • You need to track from click to sale for lead generation
  • If there’s any demonstrable amount of complexity


I won’t say that you should hire a PPC agency, *but* you should at least speak with them to validate the depth of complexity in your account. Maybe they’re simple problems that, to someone not familiar with search, seem like complex issues and can be fixed easily. Or maybe there are blind spots you’re not aware of that a PPC agency could identify and help you manage.

New Scripts! Enhanced Monthly Budget Projections and Display Audit

Thankfully, AdWords Scripts has made it much easier for account managers to utilize their current data to make smarter choices for their campaigns. There are tons of important areas to focus on, but predicting your budget through the end of the month is paramount in order to have a successful PPC campaign.


But, if you’re uncomfortable with writing and employing AdWords Scripts on your own, never fear. We have easy to use scripts just for you complete with tutorials!


Monthly Projections


  • Quickly calculate how much you need to push/pull your campaign budgets to hit your cap.
  • See projections for Conversions, Cost, Impressions and Clicks at the Campaign Level.
  • Easily calculate your projections through the end of the month.
  • Find projected conversions and CPL for the month.
  • Schedule the script to run and send you and update e-mail with all the information, straight to your inbox.


Why We Love It: This will help you monitor your performance and start preparing in advance for any changes, without having to log in and manually pull data.


Hero Pro


Display Audit


  • Auditing placements can help identify which placements to pause.
  • Cut CPA and quickly identify non-converting placements.


Why we love it: Set your CPA and quickly check your display placements, and outputs Cost, Conversion, View Through Conversions (or VTC), and places any over CPA limits into a spreadsheet.


display audit


These scripts are only available with a Hero Pro account, which you can try free for seven days. Hero Pro offers 10 AdWords Tools and a library of 22 AdWords Scripts.

Why We Need Control in PPC

Last week, Google announced that the option to exclude close variant match types was going away in September. The PPC community, predictably, went ballistic. But then some began to question why we are all going so crazy – after all, how many of us actually exclude close variants anyway?

That’s beside the point, though. The point is that we want, and need, the choice.

Google has gradually taken choice away from us: In 2012, we temporarily lost the ability to rotate ads evenly, although that came back after an outcry from the PPC community. In 2013, with enhanced campaigns, we lost the ability to have separate campaigns by device, something that was once considered a best practice.

Now Google is taking away close variant options. And there is good reason to be concerned.

Brad Geddes of Certified Knowledge wrote a good article on why forced close variants is a terrible idea. He shows, with actual data, that close variants do not perform at all the same as traditional matches; in fact, in his examples, close variations have much lower conversion rates and much higher CPAs than their actual match type.

Sam Owen at PPC Hero also showed actual data on close variants, and his data was similar to Geddes’, although the differences varied by account. For some accounts, the difference was minimal, and the residual conversions gained from using close variants were worth the slightly higher CPA.

But for some accounts, especially lead generation accounts, the difference was significant, with close variants resulting in overall CPA increasing from $91.01 to $111.76. As Owen points out, this difference could be enough for a client to get upset and even decide to stop advertising with Google.

Mike Roberts at the SpyFu blog points out another huge concern about losing the ability to exclude close variants: the fact that close variants essentially turn phrase match keywords into broad match keywords.

SpyFu’s data shows that “If you spend $100K per month on AdWords, and all of your keywords are Exact Match, then you can expect to spend about $102,400 after ‘Close Variants’ is switched on at the end of September. If your account is organized by Phrase Match, then expect to be spending $117,200!” Wow.

I didn’t just take these esteemed authors’ word for it – I ran my own analyses on some of our clients. I was able to validate their findings.

The first analysis I ran was for a very large lead generation client. For exact match close variants, we saw an 11 percent higher CPA than on the exact match search queries. For phrase match close variants, we saw a whopping 35 percent higher CPA.


We also saw a higher CPC for the close variants than for the matched keywords.

All that said, for this client we are getting 20 percent more conversions by using variants, at only a 5 percent increase in CPA. So, on the surface close variants seem worth it.

However, several of this client’s campaigns are budget-limited. It seemed to me that if we excluded close variants, we would get more conversions without sacrificing CPA. So I ran the numbers.

 Scenario Impressions  Clicks  Cost  Conversions CPC  CPA  Conv % 
Without close variants  201,583 11,937 $64,171.41  142 $5.38 $451.91 1.19%
With close variants  290,112 14,630 $80,441.72  170 $5.50 $473.19 1.16%
If close variants excluded  290,112 14,630 $78,648.55  174 $5.38 $451.91 1.19%

If we excluded close variants, we could get more conversions at a lower total cost by putting the entire budget toward traditionally matched terms. For a budget-limited advertiser, this is significant. Who wouldn’t want to get more conversions for the same cost?

The bottom line here is, we need control. As Sam Owen’s data showed, for some advertisers, close variants result in more conversions for little to no additional cost. In e-commerce, for example, casting a wider net is valuable, since it’s nearly impossible to bid on exact matches for every product you sell.

But for other advertisers, close variants are costing them money, especially on phrase match close variants.

Why not give us the control we need?

To further illustrate why we need more, not less, control, let’s take a glance at the impact ofcombining tablets with desktop for the lead generation client I profiled earlier.

Device  Impressions   Clicks Cost  Conversions CPC  CPA  Conv % 
Computers 5,225,330 39,808 $122,578.89 206 $3.08 $595.04 0.52%
Mobile devices with full browsers 213,322 1,255 $7,675.78 97 $6.12 $79.13 7.73%
Tablets with full browsers 1,178,831 11,312 $16,355.79 17 $1.45 $962.11 0.15%

This client is using mobile click to call, and they get a lot of calls. That’s why the mobile conversion rate is so good. But look at tablets. The CPA for tablets is a whopping 62 percent higher than the CPA for computers. Don’t you think I’d rather use that $16,000 to buy more desktop clicks?

An easy solution here would be to add a tablet modifier. We could still bid on tablets, but set a bid that makes sense.

And how about the data for search partners vs. Google.com?

Network  Impressions  Clicks  Cost Conversions  CPC  CPA  Conv% 
Google search 1,064,870 16,231 $97,734.20 211 $6.02 $463.20 1.30%
Search partners 1,045,007 4,015 $21,250.66 43 $5.29 $494.20 1.07%

Well, this isn’t terrible. The CPC for search partners is lower, but so is the conversion rate. CPA is only 7 percent higher for search partners. But the total spend is pretty high.

A bid modifier for search partners would be great here. We could bid just 7 percent less for this traffic and be in good shape.

In fact, there are times I’d be willing to pay more for search partners! Here is data from a different B2B client:

Network Impressions Clicks Cost Conversions CPC CPA Conv%
Google search 32,606 1,057 $2,024.69 132 $1.92 $15.34 12.49%
Search partners 23,458 262 $333.76 44 $1.27 $7.59 16.79%

Search partner conversions at half the cost of Google search? Give me more, please! In this case, I’d be willing to bid 50 percent higher for search partners. Google is leaving money on the table in this instance.

New AdWords Scripts For Your MCC! Powerful Analytics Meets Simplicity

Wish you had an easier way to gather data on all the accounts in your MCC? Getting in the habit of monitoring key metrics before you start your daily routine will help quickly identify problem areas in your accounts and focus your marketing efforts on the right things at the right time. With Hero Pro’s two new MCC scripts you can pinpoint which accounts need attention first.


If you aren’t tracking your all your accounts KPI’s daily you are losing money.


If you see a sudden spike in impressions you might have an issue with keywords. If your spend spikes you might have inadvertently set the wrong budget. Whatever the reason, you’ll now have the tools in place to keep you informed and up to speed so you can fix a problem before it impacts your bottom line.


The Daily MCC Alerts script allows you to…

  • Identify any potential issues
  • Easily spot big swings in performance
  • Notify you of any drastic changes

Our Daily MCC Changes scripts lets you…

  • Monitor day to day performance
  • Quickly compare spend, conversions, and CPA to the previous day
  • Easily spot any abnormalities


Pay per click advertising isn’t a passive activity.

Hero Pro offers seven other tools and a library of 18 AdWords Scripts.


Protect yourself and your client.

Ad Guardian does the one thing you can’t, but should: It constantly monitors your website, detects when the site goes down, and then pauses your corresponding ad campaigns when the page goes down. When your site goes back up, Ad Guardian reactivates campaigns that were active before the site went down saving you thousands in wasted ad spend.


Build New Ads, Launch Multivariate Ad Experiments, Get Results.

As any PPC manager knows, ad copy testing can be a brutal, time-consuming investment, but Ad Automator let’s you Set up, execute and track a 26-round multivariate ad test down to the ad group level in only a few minutes. It then records, tracks and reports each round of ad tests each time one reaches statistical significance.


Tap. Swipe. View. It’s that simple.

3phonesWith the new mobile app from Hero Pro, you can keep your stats right in your pocket. PPC Headliner for iPhone and iPad isn’t the AdWords interface on a mobile, but you can use it to gain easy access to your metrics while on-the-go. With just a few clicks, you can see what your accounts are doing down to the campaign level ensuring you’re receiving the intelligence you need at all times.

– See more at: http://www.ppchero.com/new-adwords-mcc-scripts-power-meets-simplicity/#sthash.q63RIAVM.dpuf

New AdWords Estimated Total Conversions Tracks Consumer Purchases Across Devices

Starting today and over the next few weeks, Google AdWords will roll out a major reporting update to conversion tracking called Estimated Total Conversions. This feature provides estimates of conversions that take multiple devices to complete and adds this data to the conversion reporting we see today.

Following the launch of enhanced campaigns this year, search advertisers have combined mobile and desktops with the ability to further modify bids by mobile and other targeting factors. One gap in reporting and comprehension of the campaigns effectiveness has been the limited data on how consumers are navigating and converting via multiple device options.

What is a Cross-Device Conversion?

What is a Cross-Device Conversion

Consumers constant connectivity has enabled them to browse, shop, and interact with businesses on the go and from multiple devices.

A September 2013 Google study found that more than 90 percent of multi-device consumers move sequentially between several screens like mobile to desktop, or mobile to tablet to complete a transaction online. Google found that a high percentage of converters actually jumped from desktop to desktop too, presuming a work desktop to home desktop computer.

How Estimated Total Conversions Works

Measuring AdWords Conversions in a Multi-Screen World

Google calculates cross-device conversions for a particular advertiser based on how their customers convert when they are logged in. They then use this as the basis for extrapolating out to the complete data set to form an estimate of what total conversions that cross devices might look like. This data is only used in aggregate and not personally identifiable.

What’s Next?

Estimating conversions across devices (estimated cross-device conversions) is only the beginning and one conversion type Google intends to measure.

In the future Google plans to incorporate other conversion types such as phone calls and store visits where advertisers are hungry to gain new insights into how their advertising is working.

How to Run Foreign Language PPC Campaigns

English remains the single most widely used language online. But it still only accounts for around a quarter of total usage, and this proportion is falling. 

The growth in online use of languages such as Chinese and Arabic far outstrips that of English. Additionally, many users only speak English as a second language.

A recent study conducted across the European Union found that more than half of Internet users visited foreign language (usually meaning English) websites. However, only 18 percent said they would make online purchases from a site that wasn’t in their own native language.

The benefits of website localization are increasingly widely recognized. Although SEO should be an important part of any online marketing strategy, it can take time to yield conversions.

A pay-per-click (PPC) campaign can help speed the process and can also be a cost effective means of advertising and building brand awareness in a foreign market. Of course, it gets more complicated when operating across linguistic divides, and there are a number of issues that should be considered.

Go Beyond Google

Google is by far the most popular search engine worldwide and it should play a crucial role in most PPC campaigns. As of June 2012, Karmasnack reported the search engine giant had a whopping 87.6 percent market share worldwide. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.

In certain markets local competitors rule the roost. In Russia, for example, Yandex has the greatest market share while Baidu – the fifth most visited site in the world according to Alexa – is massively important in China.

Where local search engines don’t dominate but do enjoy a decent slice of market share alongside Google, they may offer a cheaper viable alternative for your PPC campaign.

Do your research though as PPC rules can vary between search engines. To open a Baidu PPC account, for example, you will need a local presence with a Chinese domain website and a valid business certificate issued by the Chinese government.

Keywords are Crucial

If you have fully localized and optimized foreign language websites, you may have your diligently researched keywords all ready to go. If not, don’t forget that straight dictionary translations of your English language keywords may not be adequate for the job.

What works in one language might not in another as colloquialisms, abbreviations, regional variations and other alternative terms may all be more effective.

A literal translation of “car insurance” into French, for example, would be “l’assurance automobile”. A quick run through Google’s keyword tool indicates that this term yields very poor results, with alternative terms such as “assurance auto” or “assurance voiture” being far more successful.

Don’t throw away your carefully researched English keywords, but use them only as a starting point. Brainstorm alternatives with the help of a native speaking translator and test their effectiveness using the keyword tools of whichever search engine(s) you focus on.

Consider Your Copy

PPC ads have to grab the attention and convey the right information in an extremely limited space. There’s an art to effective PPC copywriting but what works in one country might not in another.

As with keywords, you certainly shouldn’t rely on dictionary or machine translation. Context and culture should be taken into consideration and the tone of language used can be very important.

You should think transcreation rather than translation – combining the creative and translation processes to come up with vibrant copy that really speaks to your target market.

Monitor Your Campaign

As with any PPC campaign, you’ll need to constantly monitor your progress and results. Once the ads are live you should regularly check to see how many impressions, click-throughs and conversions each one achieves.

You should also keep an eye out for instances of potential click-fraud. As you’ll be dealing with foreign languages and possibly unfamiliar search engines, it’s likely that you’ll need the assistance of language professionals.

As with keyword and copy localization, native speaking translators are best, as they tend to have more of a handle on local practises and variations.

Adjust your Approach as Required

Monitoring your campaign’s ongoing performance allows you to make tweaks or large-scale adjustments as and when they are needed. Any PPC campaign is an ongoing, fluctuating process.

Comparatively small things like refining keywords can have a huge effect on PPC and this can be even more marked in foreign language and multilingual campaigns. The search engine(s) you originally used may not be as effective as you envisaged or you may find that your product or service is simply not as much in demand as your market research suggested.

The opposite may also be true of course. You may find your campaign has been more successful than you’d envisaged and decide to increase your spend. Measuring your return on investment will, of course, be the best indication of the effectiveness of your overall campaign.


Running a foreign language PPC campaign brings its own unique challenges. With a little forethought and planning however, it can help you increase sales and tap into whole new foreign markets.

Improving exact match and phrase match (Ad Words PPC)

When people search for your products or services, they probably misspell a word every so often. In mid-May, we’re making improvements to our exact and phrase matching options so your ad will be eligible to show when people search for close variants — yes, that includes misspellings — of your keywords. In addition to misspellings, other close variants include singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor andflooring), abbreviations, and accents.

With our improved exact matching and phrase matching, you can better target your ads, helping to improve your clicks and impressions.

Improvements to exact match and phrase match

With our improved exact and phrase matching, we’ll also show your ad when someone searches for close variants of your exact match and phrase match keyword. This means you can broaden your reach to customers who search for close variants of your keywords, while still having more precise control over which search terms trigger your ads.


Exact match keyword Ads may show on searches for Ads won’t show on searches for

[tennis shoes]

tennis shoes red tennis shoes
tenis shoe buy tennis shoes
Phrase match keyword Ads may show on searches for Ads won’t show on searches for

“tennis shoes”

red tennis shoes shoes for tennis
red tenis shoes tennis sneakers


We’ll use your exact keyword, and not close variants, to determine your Quality Score andfirst page bid estimate. This means that when a close variant of your exact match keyword shows your ad, it won’t affect your Quality Score or first page bid estimate.

Choosing your exact match and phrase match option

In mid-May, your exact match and phrase match keywords will automatically be eligible to show your ads for close variants. We recommend that you keep this default match setting for your exact match and phrase match keywords. However, if you’d like to restrict your exact match and phrase match targeting for new campaigns or existing ones, follow the steps below.

Here’s how to restrict exact and phrase matching for new campaigns:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com New Window
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Click +New campaign.
  4. Scroll to the “Advanced settings” section. Click the Keyword matching options link.
  5. In the “Exact and phrase match” section, select Do not include close variants.

Here’s how to restrict exact and phrase matching for existing campaigns:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.comNew Window
  2. Click the Campaigns tab. Select the campaign you’d like to change the matching options for.
  3. Click the Settings tab.
  4. Scroll to the “Advanced settings” section. Click the Keyword matching options link.
  5. In the “Exact and phrase match” section, select Do not include close variants.

Keep in mind

When you narrow your exact and phrase matching, your ads won’t show for close variants of both your exact match and phrase match keywords. Since your ads are only eligible to show when someone searches for your exact keyword, or your exact keyword with additional words before or after it, you might not receive as many impressions or clicks.

Performance and reporting

Viewing a search terms report

When you view a search term report, you’ll see a “Match type” column that tells you how closely the search terms that triggered your ads on Google are related to the actual keywords in your account. With the improvements we’re making to exact match and phrase match, you’ll see some changes to the “Match type” column.

Here are the additional search terms match types you’ll see when you view the “Match type” column:

  • Exact match (close variants): The search term is considered to be a close variant of a keyword from your account.
  • Phrase match (close variants): The search term contains a close variant of a keyword from your account.

Remember, close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents.


Let’s say you have two ad groups with the following keywords:

  • Ad group A, with the exact match keyword [purple flowers]
  • Ad group B, with the phrase match keyword “purple flowers”

This table shows the match type that appears in the column, depending on the search term and the ads it triggered:

Your keyword

Search term

Search term match type


“purple flowers” purple flowrs Exact match (close variant) The search term is a close variant (misspelling) of your exact match keyword from ad group A.
“purple flowers” free purple flowrs Phrase match (close variants) The search term is a close variant (misspelling) of your phrase match keyword from ad group B.

Using segments to view your keyword performance data

You can segment your keyword performance data by search terms match type to help you understand how actual search terms relate to the keyword you have in your account. Here’s an example of how your improved exact match and phrase match keywords will appear when you segment your data by search terms match type.


Let’s say you have a keyword, dog toys, that you’ve set to broad match. If the customer searches for buy dog toys or buy dogs toys, the search terms match type will be phrase. If the customer’s search is dog toys or dogs toys, the search term match type will be exact.

Your keyword Search term Search terms match type
dog toys buy dog toys Phrase match
buy dogs toys
dog toys dog toys Exact match
dogs toys

Next steps

Compare Your AdWords Performance With Competitors: Auction Insights

This week (May 25, 2012), Google introduced a new AdWords report named Auction Insights. The report gives you a glimp into how well you are doing for a specific keyword compared to your competitors.

The report contains the following fields:

  • Average position

Average position is a quick way to gauge how high your ads are ranking compared with those of other advertisers competing in the same auctions. Average position is the average rank of the ad in the auctions, which determines the order of the ads on the search results page.

  • Impression share

Impression share is the percentage of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. Eligibility is based on your current ads’ targeting settings, approval statuses, bids, and Quality Scores. In the Auction insights report, impression share also tells you the impression share of other advertisers as a proportion of the auctions in which you were also competing.

  • Overlap rate

Overlap rate tells you how often you and another advertiser received impressions at the same time for this keyword.

  • Position above rate

Position above rate tells you how often another participant’s ad was shown in a higher position that yours was in auctions in which you both received impressions.

  • Top of page rate

This statistic tells you how often your ad (or the ad of another advertiser, depending on which row you are viewing) was shown at the top of the page, above the organic search results.

Here is a screen shot that you can enlarge:

You can access it on the keyword level by clicking on the icon on the left of the keyword and then on the “activity report” option:

For more details, see this help page.

Forum discussion at Digital Point Forum