Radical PPC Minimalism

A PPC campaign so small you can swallow it.

Making the case for bite-sized PPC campaigns

When I received my PPC training, there was a prevailing belief that bigger was better. We would make gigantic keyword lists divided into zillions of ad groups, all in an effort to be hyper-targeted, hyper-specific, and hyper-relevant. The more important the client, the bigger the campaign we built them.

There is a clear downside to bigness, which is that it spreads your search traffic thin across too many variables. You end up diluting the very data you must accumulate in order to optimize your campaign.

What about the upside? The bigger-is-better philosophy hinges on the belief that you will get a steeper discount on each click the more precisely your keyword and ad text match the query. The assumed mechanism for that discount is the auction-time ad quality (wrongly called “quality score”), something that is poorly understood even by most experts.

In this post I will demonstrate why that assumption is wrong, and why most campaigns should be much, much smaller.

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By Kevin Frei at April 18, 2019

Stop Writing Compelling Ad Copy

Does this image attract the audience I want to pay for?

You don’t want to pay for irrelevant clicks

The fact that you are reading this now means you found this blog title compelling enough to click on. It’s provocative, it’s coy, it may even be clever.

But it would make a terrible PPC headline.

The key distinction between paid search and organic search is marginal cost. Every additional visitor to my blog comes at zero additional cost, so I can afford to be cute with my blog headlines if I think it will increase my clickthrough rate. I want as much traffic as possible.

The incentive to lure in visitors with sexy or even misleading headlines is so great that there’s even a name for it: clickbait. How many of us have fallen prey to those headlines promising to tell us why Hollywood won’t hire that celebrity anymore, only to find ourselves clicking “next” through a series one-sentence breadcrumbs only to discover that we do not, in fact, care?

When the marginal cost per additional eyeball is zero, by all means be as compelling as possible. But when you have to pay for each click, you want to be very selective about who is compelled to click – and who is discouraged.

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By Kevin Frei at April 10, 2019

How to Spot a PPC Loser

When to call it quits with your paid media campaign

As I discuss in my post on declining ROI in a PPC campaign, a well-run campaign should experience diminishing marginal returns. But this post is not about squeezing every last drop out of a successful campaign. This post is about how to know when your campaign is a dud.

My rule of thumb is if the client has spent three times the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) without a single qualified lead, that means further optimizations are unlikely to improve things enough to make the campaign profitable.

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By Kevin Frei at April 10, 2019

Ethical Digital vs Upwork

Round one… Fight!

Spoiler: Ethical Digital and Upwork are not in the same category

When people first encounter Ethical Digital, they often assume we are an Upwork for digital marketers.

If you are not familiar with Upwork, it is a marketplace of freelancers that was formed from the merger of Elance and Odesk. Its closest competitor is probably Fiverr.

Upwork is a wonderful tool that I have been using for years, but it is still essentially a high-tech Yellow Pages. Ethical Digital is something completely different.

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By Kevin Frei at April 10, 2019

Forget About Industry CPL Metrics

Scientific looking charts and graphs can mask fundamental misunderstanding.

Those industry averages tell you nothing

It’s tempting to want to compare your metrics to industry benchmarks, particularly when trying to justify your services to a paying client. To most of those clients, the metric they care about is the cost per lead, and there is plenty of research available online showing average CPL segmented by industry and channel.

These industry averages can be a useful way to start a discussion and see if your marketing efforts are in the right ballpark, but with so many variables that affect CPL the question is whether these benchmarks are more likely to help or hinder your ability to show value to your clients.

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By Kevin Frei at April 10, 2019

Keyword Match Type Confusion

Gulliver espies Laputa

A Critique of the Acquisio Study on Google Match Types

A few days ago Search Engine Land published the article “Google keyword match type tournament: Place your bets on Exact” by Marc Poirer, which details the results of a study on how match type affects various metrics in an ad campaign.

The catalyst for the study was a recent announcement by Google that “exact match close variants will begin including close variations that share the same meaning as your keyword.” Google included the following chart as an illustration:


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By Kevin Frei at December 2, 2018