Within the Google AdWords interface there are some awesome tools, like:
These controls are fantastic power tools for power users that allow for a lot of great campaign optimization tactics.
Some other tools inside the AdWords interface either aren’t so useful, are hidden from view, or can have a dubious overall impact on your campaigns — like the hard to find IP exclusion tool and conversion-focused bidding options like Enhanced CPC and AdWords Conversion Optimizer, which can generate terrific improvements in many cases but force advertisers to cede control of their bids to Google.
A great example of a tool that falls into this second category is the AdWords opportunities tab. The opportunities tab is billed as a chance for advertisers to identify different ways to get more out of their AdWords campaigns, but for novice advertisers it can wind up being more of an opportunity for Google to increase AdWords revenues than for the small business to increase theirs.
As with settings like optimizing ad text rather than rotating, automated bids, or expanded broad match, if left unchecked and not used thoughtfully these default campaign settings can lead to a steep AdWords ignorance tax. Google wants happy advertisers, but they also want to drive more clicks on paid search ads whenever possible. This is evident in the default view in the opportunities tab:
Click the image to enlarge, but the basic idea is that the first problem Google is trying to solve for you is a lack of clicks, not a lack of conversions or revenues and profits for your business. They do this by:
Now for profitable campaigns raising budget may make sense. And some of the keyword expansion opportunities may be great ideas. But the reality is if these instructions are followed blindly, the advertiser may see clicks skyrocket and cost per conversion jump right along with it.
The good news is that, like with many things in the AdWords interface, the default treatment focuses on an increase in clicks, but there is an option that allows you to make decisions that are better aligned with the advertiser’s interest — like the option to look for suggestions that maintain or decrease cost. Remembering how many ideas Google had to help us spend more money above, let’s see what they can do if we want to cut costs:
Despite having all the data Google doesn’t have any ideas to help us lower our AdWords spend :).
It’s worth noting, of course, that this is just one campaign and that the AdWords opportunities tab does make suggestions (some likely helpful) on how to decrease costs.
AdWords is getting pretty complicated, and Google is working hard to bridge the gap so that small businesses don’t churn and can profit from AdWords:
The problem with suggestions from this “optimization specialist” is that:
I think the opportunities tab is important for two reasons:
For some advertisers, relentlessly analyzing every new AdWords feature to determine how it can help them convert more prospects and grow their business is second nature, but for others the controls available in AdWords are overwhelming, and seemingly helpful suggestions look like a life preserver — therefore it’s important to encourage new users of the AdWords interface to think strategically about how they leverage the opportunities surrounding Google’s paid search platform. If you’re new to AdWords and wondering how you can avoid similar pitfalls, I’d encourage you to:
But whichever route you take for next steps, be sure to constantly question the default settings in your AdWords accounts and focus on the metrics and tactics that will help you grow profits.
Tom Demers is Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content.
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