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New Ad Rotation in Microsoft adCenter
Critics of Microsoft adCenter have shunned the platform because of its inability to offer appropriate PPC ad rotation options. For years, there was one measly setting for ad rotation – ads were “optimized” so that only the ads with higher CTR’s were shown on a more regular basis. Some adCenter users utilized the skills that they learned from AdWords to manually rotate their ads so that they could accurately test the true effectiveness of one display ad over another. Even those who were in the know found the process tedious, and for the past six years adCenter has been taking the role as the lesser of the PPC giants.
Those who have been sticking it to adCenter for lacking the rotation feature – rejoice! When preparing ads and campaigns in adCenter, you now have the option to rotate your ads evenly. This feature went live in August, and users are already giving this update the thumbs up. You can choose to rotate ads evenly rather than optimize the ads with higher CTRs by visiting your “Advanced Settings” tab and clicking your choice in the “Ad Rotation” section. Your ads will not be subjected to any time limits or restrictions.
AdCenter seems to have listened, to a degree, and Microsoft is giving its users the option that they wanted. All that said, it’s far from perfect. You should note, this feature is only available on the web interface, and it works at the ad group level. This means that you will have to manually update your ad groups one at a time. You may also be fumbling around for a bit because the adCenter desktop tool does not offer help topics on using the new feature as of yet.
As with any choice you make in regards to your PPC campaigns, you should have goals for the testing process to ensure you’re getting the most out of your run. Initially, you should set your own time goals for the testing period. This will make sure you’re not wasting time and money on ads that have higher CPCs and vice versa. When testing your ads, try out different copy and see which messaging appeals most to your potential customers. By trying out two-three different versions, you may find that one ad hits significantly harder than another. Try using price points versus promo codes or something equally relevant to see what is most effective when reaching your customers. Make sure that you are measuring your costs along the way to gain a perspective on what the true ROI will ultimately become.
Rely heavily on your ad performance reports during the testing process. This is the best thing you can do to gauge how certain ads are performing over a period of time. Carefully review things like impressions, position, CPC, Spend, Conversions and Conversion rate. Also, don’t forget to check on the performance of certain keywords. It doesn’t matter how great the messaging is if your ads aren’t being triggered by users’ search queries. By having this information handy, you can make tweaks to your bids and keep an eye on your budget while your ads rotate in and out of display. Your knowledge will help you optimize your ads further down the road when you’re ready to start being more organized with campaigns.
This is a huge step for adCenter, but as with many new features it comes with its own obstacles. Be diligent while updating your ad groups, and be cautious when reviewing your performance reports. Patience is key, but avoid wasting time and rotating ads that are costing you more than they’re yielding. Over time though, surely Microsoft will issue updates, and if you stay savvy, you can easily become a rotating whiz.
Higher Education Marketing: Leveraging the Holiday Rush
The holidays are just around the corner. Thanksgiving is less than 80 days away, Christmas under 115 and New Years under 120. Sure, it’s only September but the busy season for some industries and the lull for others is just around the corner. It’s time to start thinking about your holiday marketing strategies.
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Privacy vs. Targeting in Search
Your potential customers should know by now that you’re keeping tabs on them. After all, it’s no secret that if you’re on a computer or other device with smart technology, your activity is being tracked. That said, most people may not be aware of exactly what details are being tracked. As the line between specialized targeting and breach of privacy becomes more blurred, you may have to tiptoe to ensure that you don’t have angry, violated people on your hands. There may come a time when these users say, “enough is enough”. Data collection will inevitably be stilted, so for now, make sure your customers are happy and still place their trust in you.
Traditionally, the majority of data collected used to revolve around certain websites that a user visited. Though this method is still used to a degree, the means to gather data is much less limited than it was in the past. Now users freely give up their information on social networking sites where they list everything from their phone number to their favorite sushi joint. The rise of apps has given advertisers more insight than ever. They can easily give themselves permission to track a devices’ location, or even delve into call logs and text message folders through confusing “allow” buttons, and fine print. This information wouldn’t typically be considered within the bounds of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), however, it’s being collected, and for many, it’s already taking it a step too far.
Modern technology is providing more targeting opportunities than ever, but critics are skeptical about the usefulness of some information. Behavioral targeting in particular starts to get muddy, because while a list of sites that a user visits could bear weight on whether a display ad should appear in their path, simply knowing a list of that user’s favorite movies on Facebook may not. The vastness, while exciting, can also complicate the targeting process, and offend users at the same time. This is obviously not a desirable result. Targeting should be set up thoughtfully and the information used should not be overly intrusive or obtuse. A 1000% rise in poor click through rates (.001) may just be one result of relying too heavily on this “big data”.
It’s logical to worry about a time when customers rise up against this data collection and reclaim their rights to privacy. We already see initiatives like the “Do Not Track” (the web’s equivalent to the phone’s “Do Not Call” list) movement popping up on the interweb. And speaking of pop-ups – folks have been blocking those for some time now. These are all just signs that people are fed up with being constantly bombarded by ads when browsing online. The time will come, and when it does, let’s go back to simpler times. Remember the good old days when gender, age and geographic demographics were enough to get your point across. Going back to basics can actually be a good thing, especially if you feel that some of your targeting may have started flying off the rails.
There is a settings feature in AdWords known as frequency capping that can benefit your cause. This feature ensures that the same ads are not shown to users over and over again. After all, you don’t want to drive your customers crazy, and you ultimately want them coming back for more. With frequency capping, you can set the number of times your ad is shown to certain users on the Display Network for a given amount of time (per day, per week, per month, etc.) You can modify these settings by visiting the “Settings” tab in AdWords and then clicking “Advanced Settings”. Next click the “Edit” button located next to “Frequency Capping.” By limiting the number of times that your ad is shown, your potential customers don’t have to feel like you’re constantly on their backs, or watching their every move. It alleviates that sense of urgency while still being prominent enough to stay top of mind.
Many professionals believe that we will start to see a natural balance occur in regards to how consumers will be reached. As users become more open about their frustration, advertisers will need to find new ways to reach these people. Remarketing is a great targeting option because you can reach out to potential customers who have already shown interest. It’s certainly less irritating if a user understands why you may be reaching out again. Perhaps they remember that they left your site, leaving behind a full shopping cart of items. This approach will help you supply useful messaging to your targeted audiences rather than just throwing meaningless ads into cyberspace.
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