On June 22, 2009 Yahoo announced its first version of their new self service display ad builder called My Display Ads. Yahoo didn’t jump into the display ad match when others like Google, Facebook, and Myspace did.
According to Yahoo’s press release, the intention with My Display Ads is to be of service to specific types of advertisers. The first is small and mid-size local marketers. What better way for Yahoo to showcase its enthusiasm to the local market than by doing a case study on a real local advertiser. The local targeted mid-size advertiser had never used display ads prior and was a part of Yahoo’s Spring pilot. The advertiser used display ads targeted to the Greensboro, NC marketplace for its Memorial Day sale as well as its regular television, print, and radio efforts. The traffic was so compelling and converted well enough for them to pull out of other marketing efforts to spend more online using My Display Builder and target other geographies.
Ad networks see Yahoo’s quality inventory as niche and well targeted. The ad inventory fed into their display ad system includes both Yahoo-owned and network properties through Yahoo’s Right Media exchange. This allows other small networks to opt into Yahoo’s display network. Thus, advertiser’s ads can be seen on other small search engines, news articles and so forth.
Those who aren’t running paid efforts in other engines and use Yahoo search marketing solely, now have another performance tool to help increase spend and revenue. Yahoo added new targeting options including geographic and demographic targeting late last year. Now with the release of the display ad platform, the advertising targeting options will open up a new playing field for advertisers.
Yahoo display ads can help national advertisers target specific local markets. Serving display ads to specific locations gives the ability to create detailed ad messages for regional markets and gives an opportunity to national advertisers to grab hold of their targeted audience.
The best time to jump on board to Yahoo’s display advertising program is now. Competition is relatively low and bids are as well. Once word gets out that the feature is available and marketers start using it, the bidding war for ad space begins.
So your AdWords campaigns have grown into architectural masterpieces -structured with multiple, tightly-themed ad groups each containing precise keyword lists that have been expanded, scrubbed, and polished over time. You are rotating 3 or more versions of ad copy concurrently, removing the impression-cannibals and replacing with fresh ads — always aiming to improve upon click through rates. Now what?
To make even more of an impact, consider layering on Google’s Conversion Optimizer as part of your overall bid strategy. Conversion Optimizer is a feature provided by Google that allows you to bid using a max CPA (cost per acquisition or lead) strategy. This setting is applied at the campaign level. Google will optimize your campaign performance for the best possible ROI. CPA bids are set, but you are still charged on a per click basis. The tool calculates a CPC bid, working back from the max amount you are willing to pay for a conversion, and also using historical conversion data to determine the likelihood your ads have to convert.
Conversion Optimizer should be considered for campaigns:
Be aware that it is possible to exceed your max specified CPA. Changes to your website and ad copy should be made cautiously during the early stage use of Conversion Optimizer. These types of changes can have a huge impact on your conversion rate. If the actual conversion rate turns out to be lower than the conversion rate predicted by Conversion Optimizer, your actual CPA may exceed your maximum CPA bid.
As with any new strategy, tracking results after changing from manual bidding to Conversion Optimizer is critical. The chart below provides a snapshot comparison of campaign performance for a 10-day timeframe running Conversion Optimizer versus manual bidding.
If we were measuring success by click through rate or cost per click, our test would appear to be a failure. However, our goal with this client was to maintain a consistent lead flow at a pre-determined cost per lead. With the implementation of Conversion Optimizer, we saw just under a $6 decrease in the cost per conversion over the first 10 days of use……translating to 14 additional leads for our client.
Don’t overlook your top campaigns for bid optimization! While a manual bidding strategy is necessary for establishing strong positions and click through rates, a CPA bid strategy powered by Google’s Conversion Optimizer can be ideal for taking established campaigns to the next level. Although campaigns may continue to convert at a respectable rate, you may be missing out on volume by not leveraging this free tool.
If concentrated visibility in front of a segmented demographic is one of your PPC goals, Demographic Exclusion is the vehicle that can help get you there. Age and gender segment exclusions are just one of the tactics that the top search engines are providing advertisers with to help refine their PPC campaigns. Options for targeting vary by engine. Check out Katherine Bennett’s recent post for more on the details.
Google has been rolling out similar features at a higher rate since their acquisition of DoubleClick was solidified. With more demographic data available form a higher volume of publishers, Google is able to offer smaller advertisers (budget-wise) the opportunity to target their core demographic with a minimal cost of entry. While higher budgets will get you more visibility, it is possible to be effective with modest budgets as well.
Demographic exclusions can be implemented quickly and easily, from a technical perspective. However, it is important to know your audience and even to have solid evidence to support your exclusion choices prior to implementation. Have you profiled your customer base? Reviewed demographics for the websites you are advertising on? Be sure to do your due diligence before testing.
To adjust your demographic settings in AdWords, select the campaign (available for content only at this time) and click “Edit Campaign Settings”. On the Edit Campaign Settings Page, Demographics are located within the Networks and Bidding section. In the example below, we have excluded all known users up through age 34.
After two weeks, we saw Click through Rate increase by 175%. See below for a comparison as shown in AdWords Account Snapshot report.
Although ads within this campaign received fewer impressions, we have eliminated known unqualified users from clicking our ads. From here, we can refine our Click through Rates even further by segmenting into gender-based ad copy. One option is to set up a duplicate campaign, each targeting either Male or Female users. Ad copy should reflect the audience being targeted. For example, an ad targeted toward Males for Mother’s Day gifts could be:
Browse Thoughtful Gifts
Get Your Wife What She Really
Wants For Mother’s Day This Year!
A Similar approach should be taken with display ads. Use male-themed images to attract your male audience and female-themed images to attract your female audience.
If you have not checked it out already, I highly recommend taking Demographic Exclusions for a test drive.