Google website on laptop
advertising, adwords, digital

4 Quick Google Ad Strategies

Google Ads are a great way to reach your potential customers and make up for the deficit you may be encountering with search engine optimization. But, it’s also an easy way to blow through your online marketing budget if you are not careful.

Here are a few quick strategies that will help you get the most from your Adwords campaign:

Target Languages

One of the simplest things you can do to focus your ads is to make sure you have selected a language preference. It really comes down to the languages you are ready to support through your website.

There’s no sense in having ads that will drive German-speaking consumers to your site if your site is strictly in English. Similarly, it isn’t very practical to have ads in English displaying in people’s browsers who speak German.

I’d venture to guess you won’t get a whole lot of clicks, so you may not be wasting money in a direct way, but you’ll be missing out on valuable ad impressions that could bring business your direction.

Target Regions

Along the exact same lines is choosing a region for you ads to display. You might think that setting English as your target language would take care of everything else.

What if someone in Kazakhstan who speaks English, and has his or her browser set to display English, comes across one of your ads. They click through to your website and attempt to buy what you are selling. If you aren’t prepared to ship to or provide your service to Kazakhstan, you just spent money on an ad and click through without getting a conversion.

Make sure your ads are targeted to a region where you are fully capable of doing business. Google is great at letting you drill down not just into a continent or country, but you can even select a state or city.

Depending on the nature and targeted reach of your ads, you may want to split them into different ad campaigns according to region. This will allow you to track click through and conversion rates for each, which can prove especially useful when budgeting for future campaigns. I mention this because it is actually quite remarkable how different online shopping conversions can be for different regions of the world. People in the USA are, for example, much more likely to convert quickly as opposed to shoppers in the UK.

Graphic Ads

Most people assume that Google Ads are just word ads. But, the fact is, Google serves up a huge amount of graphic or image ads through its Adsense program and the Google Display Network.

Anyone with a blog or website can sign up to be part of the Display Network and Google pays them to run ads, both text and graphic, on their website. You can actually choose to have your text ads included with those served in the Adsense program.

But, not all websites participating in the Adsense program allocate space for text ads, or the space in which they do is likely to be anything optimal (crammed with a bunch of other ads in a side column).

Graphic or image ads will be displayed through the Display Network at a higher rate than text ads and normally have a much lower cost-per-click and outperform text ads with clicks by a huge margin. In some cases, I have seen graphic ads get 300-400% more clicks than text ads, at 50% cost-per-click.

Google also makes it very easy for you to see the websites where your Display Network  ads are being displayed. Make sure you look through the list on a regular basis and if any seem unlikely to bring good, quality traffic, move them to the Exclusions list.

Quality Score

Another thing Google provides is a Quality Score warning. You’ll see this appear when it has been determined the ad and landing page are not in sync to make for a good conversion.

In other words, Google has scanned the ad and the landing page and found the keywords you’ve used in the ad are not relevant or found in the page where you are directing the traffic. It’s like having an ad that says “Sweaters Now On Sale” driving people to a page featuring running shoes.

Make sure to pay attention when Google gives a Quality Score warning, since you’d likely be wasting money on people who make clicks on that particular ad.

That’s it for now. The tips I have outlined above should help you to refine your ad campaigns and reduce unnecessary clicks (and expense).

Happy hunting!


The Power of Words

Here is a rather touching video (granted: it is an advertisement) that illustrates the power of words to radically change your message, and thereby, your effect on the world.I really like this as it shows the incredible power of words. Words, and, more importantly, the way they have been arranged, have started or ended wars or relationships, created hope or despair and given encouragement or caused hurt.In advertising, a particular arrangement of words could lead to a sale…or, an abandoned sale. Just that quick. Think of the many times you yourself have walked into a store, ready to purchase something you have been excited to acquire. All you really want to do is buy the thing and take it home…and over comes the sales clerk. Of course the clerk feels a need to “sell” you the item, and they begin their babble, babble, babble about every detail. Pretty soon your desire to buy the thing is diminished as their words wearily complicate the whole process. So, you walk out of the store without the thing you wanted so badly just a few minutes before.

It is the same on the web, in print ads and especially TV commercials.

I was watching something the other day and a commercial came on for a chopper thingy that would let you dice up a cucumber in less than a minute. The voice-over was a man who resembled a carnival barker…yelling all the details and with an inflection that made me feel like I was on the roller coasters of sales pitches. But the best part was at the end when he said, “AND, if you CALL RIGHT NOW you can get TWO for the price of ONE! THAT’S RIGHT: TWO!” I thought to myself, what could I possibly do with two of those things? And why was it that he’d suddenly turned me off from buying one?

Maybe that’s just an example of terrible advertising as opposed to an example of the negative power of words. After all, if you follow this blog, you know I am definitely annoyed by TV advertising (see: I Hate This Ad).

Instead, check out these examples of poorly (and humorously) worded classified ads:

  • Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too.
  • Wanted. Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.
  • Wanted. Widower with school-age children requires person to assume general housekeeping duties. Must be capable of contributing to growth of family.
  • 3-year-old teacher need for pre-school. Experience preferred.
While those are funny, advertisers who know the power of words (and their usage) often use what is known as Weasel Words to create phrases that lure the consumer. A weasel word is basically a term for words and phrases arranged in a fashion that create the impression something specific or meaningful has been said, when in all actuality, only a vague or ambiguous statement has been communicated. It’s phrases like:

  • “Four out of five people would agree…” [Out of how many?]
  • “Nothing is safer…” [Nothing??]
  • “More people are now using…” [More than using what?]
They mean nothing and yet they are compelling by nature.

It’s like me saying, “It has been suggested that this blog posting appear on the Fast Company website.”

[Suggested by whom? My mom?]

If you would like to read more about the power of words in advertising, I recommend Taking Advantage – The Power of Words: Advertising Tricks of the Trade Part One of a Two Part Series byRichard F. Taflinger.

advertising, marketing

What is Marketing?

Seth Godin, the marketing genius behind bestsellers like Purple CowTribes and Linchpin, was asked to define marketing on Copyblogger Radio’s Internet Marketing for Smart People (podcast available on iTunes).

His response was, “the easy answer is that marketing is not advertising.”

Godin then went on to define marketing as: “the art of telling a story that resonates with your audience and spreads.” And, he added, “that story better be true, which means that, implicit in marketing is making something for which or about which you could tell a story that resonates.”

I really like that definition. It goes completely hand in hand with what Jay Baer has described on his blog, Convince & Convert, as YOUtility marketing. It is the act or process of becoming more than just a purveyor, but rather a valuable resource. “Sell something,” Baer explains, “and you make a customer. Help someone, and you make a customer for life.”

This is especially insightful in a world where the balance of marketing power has swung dramatically in favor of the customer. People, as consumers, are not only more connected and savvy then they ever were before, but have reduced attention spans as they are pitched, cajoled and bombarded by millions of messages across billions of mediums simultaneously.

Therefore, Godin emphasizes, marketing should be brought in even before you have your product, service or idea. The hard part of building a business in this modern age isn’t the implementation (you can literally source anything from China in no time at all), it’s creating the the story that people will choose to listen to. And, as such, the purest form of marketing starts from scratch, where you spend your time designing products or services that don’t need advertising.

The art of telling a story that resonates with your audience and spreads — Nothing could more sufficiently describe the process around marketing and the methods for connecting and communicating with existing or potential customers.

advertising, fail

J.C. Penney — AHHHHHHHHHHHH! (The Ad from Hell)

J.C. Penney has a new ad running on T.V. that is probably the most annoying thing I have seen since the dreaded AT&T commercial that was airing last October.

Watch it and see for yourself, however, I caution you to turn your volume down a little.

On one hand I’d like to ask, “What were they thinking!?” It hardly even makes sense (why are they screaming exactly?) and is truly obnoxious on a sensory overload level.

On the other hand though, it was pretty darn clever.  It sure made you sit up and take notice. I know I sat bolt upright when it came screaming on my TV last night.

There I was, half-lidded and slumbering through something (I think it was Up All Night) when it shook me to a height of awareness I haven’t experienced since I nearly got ran over by a city bus, mindlessly strolling across the 16th Mall.

Today the Internet is on fire today with people blogging and commenting on it, and I’m pretty sure it’s water cooler talk in a lot of offices across the country.

But, everyone’s talking about J.C. Penney, aren’t they?

It made an big, immediate impact.

Of course it’ll never be anything that the “Just Do It,” “Where’s the Beef” or “Think Different” ads were. And for that reason, and the sheer annoyance level, I’d think the marketers at Penney’s would be smart enough to give it a short run time and be done with it. After all, there’s a brand backlash movement brewing out there already. People are saying they will never shop at J.C. Penney’s again. That might just be talk right now, but if that ad keeps airing, it could turn into a reality.

While I feel strongly about it too, finding the mind-numbing screeching truly horrific, it will never compare to the insipid AT&T ad that insults its own clients.

What do you think? Is the Penney’s ad the worst ever?

advertising, branding, fail

Lululemon’s Marketing Lulu

Lululemon Athletica Inc., the yoga-inspired athletic apparel company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and commonly known as just Lululemon, pulled a marketing lulu recently by putting “Who is John Galt?” on their shopping bags.

Along with the shopping bags, they feature praise to author Ayn Rand and her novel Atlas Shrugged on their website and blog. 

The blog states [rather defensively] that the whole idea came from Lululemon CEO Chip Wilson, who from an early age embraced the ideals of the book and found influence by the lesson that if we all pursue our own self-interest, the world can be a better place.

I’m not sure it is entirely necessary for me to give a complete recap of Atlas Shrugged, but let’s just say it is the most extensive statement of objectivism found in any of Rand’s works of fiction. Objectivism being the pure rationalization of selfishness in the form of individual rights over a community of rights, private property over any form of collective or government owned property, and the free market as the singular driving force behind personal happiness. 

It is truly a mix of conservative and libertarian ideals and in some circles (the Tea Party, for example) the novel is considered a bible. I say that factually and without making any political judgements or taking a stand on either side of the political spectrum. Rand, and Atlas Shrugged, are conservative and both are extremely politicized.

The lulu in Lululemon’s decision to embrace Rand is the fact that many people who practice yoga do not aspire to a political belief that champion objectivism. They are, instead, on what would be considered the other end of the political spectrum.

I’m not saying that a company can’t have a particular voice, or that a CEO can’t express particular values. But, embracing Ayn Rand when you are a yoga clothier is an almost perfect example of biting the hand that feeds you. From a marketing standpoint it is, well, to put it bluntly…myopically moronic!

Of course Lululemon is in damage control mode now, although the discussion on their blog is crafted to look anything but. They are back-pedaling and trying to twist it so that the average, liberal (unread) yogi is supposed to think that individual selfishness (as a good in and of itself) is suddenly a yogic way of thinking. After all, meditation is a singular and solitary thing, right? Therefore, the practice of yoga is about finding oneself and one’s sole purpose through exercise…and ultimately selfish manipulation of the free market.

Seems a stretch to me, and there are a lot of Lululemon shoppers who agree or are just plain outraged.

I suppose the one saving grace, for Lululemon anyway, is that most of their apparel is completely out of the price range of those who would probably be the angriest. Upper class yogis, I guess they figure, might not find the whole Ayn Rand connection all that offensive.

But, in the long run, the big lesson in this is:

Sometimes the CEO should just leave the marketing to the CMO.


I Hate this Ad!

If you haven’t already seen this fairly new ATT commercial touting unlimited messaging you might want to watch. It has moved to the top of my current list of most hated commercials.

I don’t just hate the ad because I despise the mean and insufferable wife and loathe the milquetoast, pansy husband. I hate the ad because it is not only flawed (I will get to that in a minute), but is another in a recent scourge that would seem to have no target audience whatsoever.

I cannot imagine a single average American male watching that ad and saying, Oh cool! I should sign up for unlimited messaging! I would guess that, like me, they are instead blurting out profanities directed at Mr. Milquetoast’s wife.

And I would like to think that there aren’t a whole lot of average American women aligning themselves with the insufferable wife (even though I know that women are supposed to the the target audience).

However, my presupposition means that the latest glot of male-bashing ads on TV aren’t actually working on female consumers. Maybe they are and the joke’s on me.

But I would still like to think that ads that pit people against each other, depict family dysfunction or use cruelty (in a humorless way) cannot possibly be successful. There’s nothing cute about the ad. There’s nothing fun. It’s really a mini-story about a marriage that is crumbling in a bad economy and two people that actually despise each other. Nothing in that premise makes me want to grab my (ATT service) phone and enroll in unlimited messaging. It only makes me swear at the woman when I am watching live TV and hit the fast forward when I am happily watching something I DVRed.

Oh yes, and the flaw:

The husband says he signed the whole family up for mobile-to-mobile minutes. The wife berates him for not asking her and for being so stupid as to spend money on something like that (when they are apparently having a bad time in this forever recession). The husbands response — he says, they were free. I got them when I signed us up for unlimited messaging. For all of one second the wife looks moderately embarrassed for the way she responded to him. Then the voice-over tells us blah, blah, blah about ATT’s plan.

Why didn’t she say, Well…how much did the unlimited messaging cost?? 

After all, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t free.