061: The Ins and Outs of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising – The Best of PPC 

C: Podcast

Join us for this special episode of The Digital Marketing Mentor as we reflect on our conversations with various guests about their experiences with PPC advertising. We cover everything from why our guests entered this industry to bid management, control metrics, conversion tracking, and GA4. Whether you’re new to PPC or a seasoned pro, this Best of PPC episode will offer advice and anecdotes regarding this rapidly evolving industry.

Key Points + Topics

Getting Started:

How did you get into PPC?

  • [0:49] (Duane Brown) Duane dove headfirst into PPC with his first job, being told by his employers to learn all he could. Fortunately, he enjoyed the industry, understood it, and was good at it. 
  • [03:00] (Kirk Williams) Kirk fell into PPC while searching for a marketing job, and found himself enjoying the combination of the psychology of determining what the customer wants versus the statistical analysis element of PPC 

PPC Community and Conferences

  • [4:09] (Amalia Fowler) Fowler credits her former mentors, Julie Bacchini and Ginny Marvin, for making her feel comfortable in an already ‘established space’ that is the PPC community by supporting her at conferences and speaking engagements. 
  • [5:26] (Kirk Williams) Kirk shares that there are tremendous benefits in networking at PPC conferences and for collaboration given that so many people from various educational backgrounds, such as philosophy or literature, are drawn to digital marketing and PPC. Combining a creative component with quantitative data has attracted many people to PPC and continues to keep them interested, like Kirk.

PPC Audits and Setup

  • [6:52](Sarah Stemen) Each person has a different process when starting a new campaign or optimizing a current one. For Sarah, verifying the client’s location settings ensures they aren’t vulnerable to outside competition and reviewing ad copy are two tasks among many that would help in properly setting up a campaign. 
  • [8:46] (Duane Brown) Duane explains that his agency focuses on lowering the client’s PPC costs when and if possible. He likes to ‘trim all the fat’ of all the client’s current campaigns to get down to the bare bones of a client’s campaigns to determine what steps to take. 
  • [10:43] (Duane Brown)Duane shared that in his experience, he’s seen many in the PPC industry scale too fast or prematurely. Duane recommends collecting an extensive amount of data first before trying to scale and getting impatient.

Manual vs. Automation: Bidding, Control and PMax


  • [11:30] (Rachel Howle) Manual bidding is crucial when launching a campaign as it allows for control, such as adjusting your demographic bids to ensure higher conversions. Before moving into an automated bidding strategy, she advises trying to achieve as many conversions as possible that can be completed quickly through manual bidding efficiently and economically. Rachel cites that a second reason to use manual bidding is if your automated strategy isn’t garnering enough conversions. Sometimes, the best approach is to return to a simple manual bidding strategy and regain control, maximizing CPCs and utilizing budget money efficiently. 
  • [14:00] (Susan Wenograd) Manual bidding can be very effective for a brand because its intent varies greatly. If the client opts for manual bidding, Susan often recommends capping the bids because it can get much more expensive than it is worth. Susan tends to lean into Google to be able to make many decisions in split seconds, determining a consumer’s behavior faster than she can. Ultimately, she is happy the industry is moving away from manual bidding. 
  • [16:49] (Susan Wenograd) Susan says that determining what metrics to measure is important when it comes to maximizing conversions. Once that determination is made, Susan then shifts her focus to ROAs and works on increasing them.


  • [17:47] (Rachel Howle) Initially, with Google Ads, Rachael recalls having more control over the metrics, including your bid amount, ad groups, and the specific phrases you could bid on. However, this has changed dramatically in the last five years, and things have become increasingly automated. She describes Google Ads as having done a 180 in terms of manual to automatic bidding and concludes that Google’s ease of use is helpful to small businesses that don’t want to hire for PPC campaign management.
  • [20:13] (Susan Wenograd) Susan advises turning off the auto-apply feature when writing headlines to avoid unwanted recommendations, though admits that reliance on ChatGPT sometimes comes into play when needing to differentiate messaging and writing headlines.
  • [21:35] (Rachel Howle) Rachel stresses the importance of not relying entirely on automation. She shares that someone from an agency should evaluate and monitor a company’s PPC campaign to ensure the best use of budget and to provide consistent monitoring and adjustment for lead-generation. 


  • [24:29] (Kirk Williams) Kirk has many unanswered questions about Performance Max  and its meaning to the larger business landscape, but welcomes the use of it. He cites examples of ‘bad faith’ gestures by Google, and the speculation around PMax being used to help the search engine’s bottom line, but notes that it can ultimately be worthwhile if PMax is assisting a campaign in hitting its ROA targets. 
  • [31:11] (Navah Hopkins) Navah firmly believes every account should utilize PMax and suggests that those unconvinced of PMax’s abilities should try their Google Ads campaign for one quarter without it and analyze the results. That said, she says that brands will benefit most from using both traditional and PMax campaigns. 
  • [33:34] (Navah Hopkins) Navah says that PMax can only shine if you provide maximum conversion values. Unless you’re in a particularly niche market with very few competitors, she does not recommend executing a PPC campaign without PMax.

AdCopy, Match Types, and Budgets

Ad Copy

  • [36:12] (Caroline Pham) The value statements you want to highlight most are what sets your brand or company apart from others. Caroline states that the challenge of creating value statements becomes adjusting your message to the different mediums (i.e., Instagram vs. Facebook) and relying on demographic data and testing to see what works and what doesn’t. 
  • [37:56] (Duane Brown) Duane thinks that people often underestimate the importance of good ad copy and not overcomplicating things. Sometimes simple changes could be made, such as adjusting the ad copy, that really impact the overall PPC campaign.
  • [39:52] (Duane Brown) Duane has frequently seen problems with inaction during campaigns.  Duane believes that taking action – even by just changing the ad copy or lowering the budget – when downward trends are noticed can make or break a campaign’s performance. 

Match Types

  • [41:05] (Navah Hopkins) Navah is a strong proponent of broad match. However, in her recent case study, she compared broad match to exact match. The latter was far superior in cost-per-acquisition, cost-per-click, and conversion rate. The belief within the industry that broad match is the cheaper way of getting the exact phrase is, in fact, false, according to the study. 
  • [42:51] (Navah Hopkins) Navah stresses that there is a place for broach match in PPC campaigns, but it shouldn’t be the only tool used. That exact match is equally as capable and relevant.
  • [43:47] (Susan Wenograd) According to Susan, the distinction of match types is slowly fading and she likes to use broach match with filtered audiences. Susan stresses that learning how to manipulate these match tools to your advantage is critical to a successful campaign.


  • [45:02] (Brianna Deboever) Brianna says that PPC budgets are often limited, and the goal of an agency is to generate as many leads as possible while staying within the allocated financial parameters.
  • [45:06] (Duane Brown) Duane says the challenges of working with larger budgets are all the different moving parts that must be managed and notes the importance of having a system in place, including procedures to measure the different performance indicators.
  • [48:32] (Caroline Pham) Increasing budgets on a PPC campaign is easy if it’s doing well. Caroline says if the sales volume is steadily increasing and she has the research to predict future revenue, she has no problem asking the client for a PPC budget increase. 
  • [49:32] (Caroline Pham) In a lead generation campaign, some key indicators to evaluate include the length of the campaign (how long it has been running), CPL to acquisition, visibility, and conversion rate. Having that information will determine whether or not a budget increase is a feasible conversation to have with the client.

Tracking, Attribution and GA4 


  • [52:39] (Brianna Deboever) Brianna says that UTMs have been ‘game-changing’ when attached to leads, allowing PPC specialists to amass a large amount of information about customers.
  • [53:42] (Caroline Pham) Tracking is only effective if you’ve identified your goals and established a good connection between online and offline sales. 


  • [55:44] (Brianna Deboever) Call tracking software allows digital marketers to determine if the call was relevant to the business, if it produced a good lead, and whether it was attributed appropriately. This is all important so that the cost-per-lead information is accurate to the campaign. 
  • [57:39] (Brianna Deboever) The second important aspect of attributing phone calls is communicating the data that has been amassed back to Google so that it can optimize off of only the quality calls (i.e., 40-60 seconds in length) and count them as conversions while disregarding the bot calls.
  • [58:20] (Sarah Stemen) Attribution has been a dilemma for PPC since 2007 and still persists. Regardless of what you feel about attribution, what’s most important is alignment between how a client’s business is growing and the PPC campaign numbers. 
  • [59:29] (Sarah Stemen) Sarah says you will often see a disconnect between a PPC campaign’s numbers and the actual sales numbers from the business owner. It’s important to take the next steps that are correct from a marketing perspective. 


  • [1:0:42] (Sarah Stemen) There’s still a lot of confusion surrounding Google Analytics 4 and how to interpret the data. Sarah says most web content management systems, from WordPress to Squarespace, have analytics pages that can be more easily digestible and applicable for marketing professionals..
  • [1:01:36] (Navah Hopkins) Navah states that because of the thresholding element with GA4, you will need to rely more on native audiences than personal ones and that it’s crucial to map the data you receive from GA4 to make the most meaningful decisions.

Third-Party Cookies

  • [1:04:18] (Susan Wenograd) Google’s announcement that it will phase out third-party cookies from Chrome by the end of 2024 hasn’t shocked business owners. Susan says most owners don’t utilize that data effectively. She thinks more companies need to understand how valuable their customer data is and see it as an asset that can be leveraged.  
  • [1:06:58] (Susan Wenograd) The deletion of third-party cookies will tremendously affect businesses that don’t have an e-commerce presence as it will significantly impact the accessibility of customer data. Eliminating cookies will make accessibility to this data much more difficult and Susan encourages her clients to take a closer look at the B2B enterprise sales, lead generation, or anything else that doesn’t transact on their site. 
  • [1:08:30] (Susan Wenograd) She says businesses have gotten used to being spoon-fed this data by Google or Meta for so long and that with the omission of third-party cookies, companies without an e-commerce presence will have to get creative to acquire that information.

Guest + Episode Links

Full Episode Transcript

Danny Gavin Host 00:05

Hello, I’m Danny Gavin, founder of Optidge Marketing Professor. Now get ready to get human for its direct results and strategic complexity.


This episode dives into effective PPC methods, from choosing the right keywords and managing bids wisely to using data for campaign improvement. We also delve into Performance Max campaigns, uncovering strategies for leveraging Google’s latest offering to maximize reach and efficiency. Our expert Guests share insights on using Google Ads effectively, creating ads that resonate with audiences and adapting strategies in an ever-evolving digital landscape. Beyond tactics, we also explore the human element of PPC, highlighting the importance of understanding customer behavior and the impact of personal touch in crafting successful campaigns. You’ll hear about using data for smarter decisions, designing compelling ad creatives and tips for enhancing ROI, all while maintaining the human connection essential to digital marketing success. Join us as we dissect the strategies behind successful PPC campaigns, guided by experts who face these challenges daily, ready to dive into the tactical and personal world of PPC. Let’s get started. 

Most of your positions have focused on PPC. What drew you to PPC over the other realms of digital marketing?

Duane Brown Guest 01:49

It’s more because I got it in my first job. This is like we’re in PPC and here’s a book. To be honest, there was no opportunity to do SEO in the first job. We did some programmatic, maybe some display stuff like that. But PPC was just what I was given and I liked it and I thought I was good at it and it made a lot of sense and I enjoyed it. And it wasn’t probably until years later that I really started to read about PPC and read Moz as the SEO Bible and beginners 101 on SEO. So that’s really why I got into PPC.


I look at SEO these days and I’m like, even if there would have been an opportunity to learn SEO even seven or eight years ago so half my career almost maybe I would have learned it on the side as a good thing to know, but I’d never master it. And these days I understand the basics of SEO. I at least know enough to know when people are bullshitting a client and I know enough to know when something makes sense or doesn’t make sense at a very basic level. But I wouldn’t master it. So it wasn’t so much a choice as much as like here’s the thing you need to learn for the job. I didn’t really know the difference 100% back then between PPC and SEO necessarily, and so I just took the opportunity and ran with it.

Kirk Williams Guest 03:00

I just needed a job to basically help me pay the bills, so sure, anything that came along, a marketing opportunity came along and then eventually in that company I got into the PPC realm and for whatever reason it just clicked. I just really love that aspect. There was a psychology trying to figure out people and figure out how you present benefits in that, but also it’s still like PPC has historically been very data driven, stats driven, analysis driven right. It’s not just like you’re getting, you’re really thinking through this video and thinking through an anchor video and creating it and it’s kind of hardcore audience and that it’s also kind of at least especially when I started it was even very like. Sometimes there’s like mind numbing copy paste work involved too, like you’d go through the keyword list. You just build out this expansive keyword list and then like to set your manual CPCs and adjust things manually and for whatever reason. I just love doing that.

Amalia Fowler Guest 04:09

Julie has become a very good friend. So this is one case where someone who has been a mentor to me has become somebody that I am very close to and love dearly and we talk about our lives. And when I was sick with COVID in Italy, she was one of the people who zoomed with me to make sure I didn’t die of loneliness in a different country. Julie is the current manager of PPC Chat. She is not the founder, if I’m correct.


She manages a bunch of PPC communities, always shows up for everybody in the space, new or old, and Julie, along with Ginny Marvin just to give credit where credit is due. Those two are the reasons that I started speaking on the PPC speaking circuit. And Julie, if she’s at the conference, I’m at. She’s front row, she’s front row and she’s clapping and she’s making eye contact with me. So I’m not freaking out and it’s like having a supportive mom. I don’t want to call her mom, she’s like an older sister, like having a supportive older sister all the time in space. But early on in particular, she was instrumental in me feeling comfortable in what is an established space. I was so lucky that Julie just welcomed me into the PPC space the way she did and extended a hand.

Kirk Williams Guest 05:26

Sometimes at those conferences you really do have presentations that are just that, stuff that’s not presented somewhere else. It’s really, really good. I just have always thought that the benefit is exactly that networking aspect, where you go and you can sit there and then it’s like talking about it in between the sessions. It’s like going to lunch and chatting with other people who are actually in PPC accounts and just asking them some of those questions that maybe you don’t feel like voicing online right For the world to see on Twitter or Reddit, and just pondering that stuff together. There’s just incredible value with those.


So I was just talking to someone about this, where in the PPC community, you’ll meet people like this person has a philosophy degree, this person has a theology degree, this person has a literature degree, whatever it might be, and it’s just a cool thing about digital marketing and PPC is that it just brings all these people together. I’m starting to meet more people with marketing degrees, but overall I just think that it’s been attractive to anyone who has done a little bit of work and there’s something about the creative plus stats analytics side. For certain people. That’s just a draw and that’s what it was for me.

Danny Gavin, Guest 06:52

When you have a new client, are there any setup 101 steps you take when first optimizing a new or existing campaign?

Sarah StemenGuest 06:52

Some of those little sneaky, like the Discipline Network checked you know when is a search campaign? So just all those little sneaky. It’s going through each and every campaign. So that is like bare bones. The first place that I am going to start. Probably the second place is going to be those ads.


And just because a lot of times I do see just not capitalizing on all the headlines, all the descriptions, and then from there, you know, I can’t believe I can just rattle this off this a little bit. It’s just when you’ve been doing it so long. So I go in and I sort by budget, right? So I’m looking at all my campaigns, top budget, and then I literally look at the click-through rate, right? So here’s the budget and that, just bare bones, is going to tell me what is that relative to everything else? Where should I start focusing?


And then, as I focus in, I go out down into the ad groups and the keywords and then you just continuously start asking questions that go down and up and back around and circle through. And then you know I am and I probably said this, I think, on the panel, the conference that we got to finally meet in person that I gave the analogy of somebody who plays a video game and they’re like a button masher, where they’re like, just that’s like me in Google Ads. I go into Google Ads and I click on every button, every setting, I’m always expanding it and I’m looking what does this mean? What does this mean? What is this doing? And I just cycle through. That I almost call it cycling, and it’s probably my ADHD brain slash, dyslexic brain that has to see it. And then I just have a map for spotting things, and so that’s my process.

Duane Brown Guest 08:46

For lots of clients it’s usually like lowering their cost to acquire customers is usually the first thing we work on, because part of the reason they’re not hitting their you know, either their ACOS or the ROAS or something like that, is because they’re spending too much money acquiring a customer. So September 9th will actually be one year since we took on a client. Obviously, this is probably going to come out after that date, so people are going to hear and think, yeah, this happened before, so it’s going to be a year with that client. But basically it’s a client in the sports hobby area and they were on a call with them. They’re like well, how are you going to help us make more money? And I’m like I honestly don’t know. But what I do know, based on what you said, is we need to both lower the cost to acquire a customer but also increase your average order value. That way it’s cheaper to acquire a customer but you’re having each customer spend more money so that your return on ad spend actually increases. You know, oftentimes agencies will probably work on one or the other, but it’s rare for agencies to try to work on both and even though I can’t guarantee that I can convince every customer that comes to the website to spend more money. The more customers we can convince to spend more money, though, is better off than not having tried to convince them to spend more money, and so, when it comes to cost versus revenue, we generally work on lowering the cost to get rid of things that aren’t converting, get rid of things that are wasting money. We also see ad accounts that have things like YouTube campaigns running or display campaigns running, where, if you’re a small advertiser spending a bit of money, or even if you’re a large advertiser spending a bit of money, you’re just going to start with Google. Spending money on display or YouTube is often a waste of money. So we cut all the fat, figure out what the true cost is to acquire customers, based on what’s working, and then we audit. Obviously, as we audit the account, figure out like, okay, how are we going to fix this account? Do we need to consolidate campaigns? Do we need to break out two campaigns? Do we do change some sort of set in or feature in the campaign? And then, once we get things sort of stabilized, where you know we have pretty consistent sales coming through, there’s a pretty consistent, let’s say, cpa to acquire the customer, then we can worry about scale and revenue at that point right, because the ad account is stabilized.


Too many people try to scale an ad account too quickly. It’s like, oh, I’ve got a week or two of data, things are consistent. How do I scale? And I’m like a week or two of data is great, but you want to have a month, two months, three months of consistent sales that you can kind of predict what you’re going to have sale-wise. And then you want to try to get a little bit of data and scale because you’re impatient. Impatience is often a thing that breaks more ad accounts because people are trying to do things too quickly, and so that’s how we tackle it. We sort of hammer away, sort of, at the CPA and then we worry about scale. We don’t try to actually do both at once, which is probably what most people try to do, but I’d rather spend a little bit of money or less money than what the client was spending get things consistent and then figure out how to scale, versus trying to scale at the same time as trying to load a CPA.You can’t actually do both at the same time. 

Danny Gavin, Host 11:26

Does it make sense to do manual bidding anymore? 

Rachael Howle Guest 11:30

Absolutely, and there are a couple of different scenarios that pop in the mind. Just an obvious answer when to use manual bidding Number one is when you are just launching a campaign, and this is, it’s just important to start out. Where you have control, you really can tell Google hey, these keywords. I want to bid X amount but maybe there are some other, say top of funnel keywords that you’re not willing to spend $10 a click, and so you want to bid down on those.

Rachael Howle Guest 12:02

You also get insight into and and I mean you would get this with an automated bid strategy too but when you’re seeing the age ranges or the household, income or demographics. You’re able to manually adjust the demographic bids that you’re saying. Hey, this age range is we should be bidding up for them, because they’re converting really well. And having that control in so many different ways is important because, in order to move into automated bidding, you want to achieve a high number of conversions in a short amount of time. There’s, you know.


I would say that 30 conversions in 30 days is kind of the statement that people will make of when you want to start considering moving into an automated bid strategy and just as your campaign gets started, you having the control right away, it can be more efficient with how you use your budget and help generate those conversions quicker, so you can then move into the automated bid strategy. So that’s the first way that you would use a manual bid strategy.


The second, and this is, I would say, a little bit more stressful way is when you move into an automated bid strategy and you’re not seeing the success that you’re hoping to, and you can test different automated bid strategies, and sometimes it’s just you need to go back to square one and you need to get that control back, and so we’ve taken campaigns off of different bid strategies or automated bid strategies and move them back to manual and gotten that control back really just worked at that granular level that we need and to better control cost per clicks and where a budget is being spent, and have then been able to move those campaigns back into automated bid strategies and seeing success from them.

Susan Wenograd Guest 14:00

I still do manual bidding for brands, just because brand intent is so widely varied. I really you know a lot of people are like, well, they would click on our brand anyway. When it comes to brand, I’m like that’s a business decision if you want to defend that turf or not. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve never been a very declarative statement person. I’m a huge believer there are a million shades of gray in life and that’s usually what I teach. And brand is one of those things where you’ll have people kind of declaratively state we should always do it or we shouldn’t. It really depends on the company. I mean some companies. They have competitors with really deep pockets that are just trying to steal their traffic no matter what. So that’s one of those situations where you know whether they should do it or not. If they do do it, I usually recommend that you cap the bids because it will get more expensive than it probably needs to be for the fact that it’s brand, because Google’s just it’s going to do what you tell it to do, right. So I’ll still use manual bidding for that.


I really don’t use it much anywhere else. Reason being Google knows better than me what people are likely to do which is creepy, but it’s the truth. So they can make millisecond decisions on costs and bids that I can’t possibly make as a human being. They know everything this person has done in the past three months. I have no clue. So their value to me as a marketer is in their likelihood to purchase or likelihood to be a good customer. It’s not necessarily. It’s because they search for this thing. They’re going to be a great prospect, right.


So I think we’ve finally gotten away from that, which, as a marketer, kind of makes me happy, because I feel like it was just getting so nitpicky with that stuff that I was like we’re really getting away from marketing at this point. I tend to rely on the bidding strategies and I usually am pretty much a fan of, when it comes to lead gen, figuring out a target CPA that’s going to work, just because it’s really easy for it to quadruple what you want if you’re not careful With ROAS. I kind of find that if I tell it to maximize ROAS, that almost always works better. I don’t find that it works as well on conversions for some reason. It might just be my experience, but I’m a pretty big fan of target ROAS, assuming that they’re e-com, with a wide variety of product costs. So at this point that’s pretty much what I rely on is going to be either automated, with a target for CPA and then automated maximize ROAS and then obviously manual bidding for brands still.

Danny Gavin Host 16:15

Will you start off with the max clicks or do you go straight to the automatic for a new account?

Susan Wenograd Guest 16:20

I usually go straight to automatic. But what I will usually do first is, if it’s conversions, I’ll try to maximize conversions first, just to kind of see what it’s doing and where it is coming in. Because you can have the opposite problem where you feel like I want my CPA to be $10. And if it’s never going to get below $80, it just won’t spend anything. So what I’ll usually do is I’ll usually kind of warn the brand and say, look, this might come in higher.


But we’re doing this on purpose because we want to understand what it looks like out there? Like how much are these clicks? How likely is it we can even reach this CPA? Because if we’re within a couple bucks of it we can do it right. But if we’re like $50 off, we got to figure out is it the click-through rate, is it the cost, is it the conversion? You’re like what are the metrics that we can control? Is there anything we can do to fix that, right? So that’s usually where I start off. And then, with ROAS, if they’ve had, you know if it’s been connected to Google Analytics or God sorry, ga4, and it has, you know historic data that it’s been pulling in, I find it doesn’t take it that long to fall in line pretty quick with getting a decent ROAS if it has the data that it needs.

Danny Gavin Host 17:25

I think it’s a good point. I don’t think people think that when you connect it to GA4, Google Ads actually gets that data.

Susan Wenograd Guest 17:31

Yeah, I feel like it responds faster with ROAS than it does with CPA. I’m sure that some technical geek can tell me why it’s. Just my marketing brain’s observation has been that it tends to respond faster to a good ROAS than it does CPA.

Rachael Howle Guest 17:47

When I started working in Google Ads we had so much control – I mean just down to the price that you were willing to bid on a single click. You could manage that connect down to the cent almost, and you could fine tune your ad groups to where you would bid on one specific phrase and you would pay this much for that phrase. And it was just very, very granular. And then over the past five years we’ve slowly lost that control and so it has now evolved to where you could very just turn on a campaign and Google will take advantage of of everything from your keyword bids to your, you know when it needs to be bidding up for certain audiences or time of days, things like that.


So it’s almost on a 180, very, very quickly.

Danny Gavin Host 18:42

So why do you think Google is going in this direction? Why is it so important for them to try to make things as automated as possible?

Rachael Howle Guest 18:49

So there are a few big reasons that Google touts for these changes. One is that it’s easier right and it makes it more manageable. Not everyone has access or even knows that there are agencies that can manage campaigns like this, and so if you are a small business and need to run these campaigns for yourself, then Google’s intention is to make it very, very easy for you to generate leads for your company. Additionally it gives access, through these automated bid strategies, to a bunch of different additional contextual points that Google has access to.


So, me, looking at the Google Ads screen, I can see age, gender, demographics but Google is collecting all of this data in the background about user behavior and things like that and can make more intelligent decisions of when you should be bidding up or bidding down, and by you I mean Google will be doing that for you bidding up or bidding down and therefore is, in theory, using your budget in a wiser way, because it sees more than you do.

Danny Gavin Host 20:00

How do you avoid Google from basically forcing its recommendations and AI on your campaigns? How do you avoid Google from basically forcing its recommendations and Ai on your campaigns?

Susan Wenograd Guest 20:05

So, I turn off auto-apply recommendation stuff. I am not a fan of auto-generated headlines. They’re terrible.


I have used ChatGPT, though. I mean sometimes when you do a product for so long you’re like I don’t know how else to say this in 30 characters for a headline. Like it does a really good job of coming up with short, snappy text. When I get stuck it’s really helpful for writer’s block because a lot of times with ads you’re not saying something completely different, you’re just saying the same thing eight different ways. I can get through about three to four and then I’m like I’m out of ideas. I don’t know. I’ve used it for that for sure. Just not for longer form copy because it sounds like AI.


But short, snappy attention getting stuff it’s actually pretty good for. It’s really good at making alliterations. It can make some really cute puns. It can make some stuff that would stand out in ad headlines. So I’ve definitely used it for that purpose. Other than that, I don’t use it a ton, other than I said Google’s odd, because Google just scrapes stuff on your site and sometimes it’ll pull the weirdest metadata as a headline. I’m like that’s not a headline. So I don’t really use Google’s that much, at least for the. For a creative perspective, I do like the automated insights they give in the account. That’s actually helpful, like when you look in Performance Max and it’s like insights and it tells you how audiences are indexing. I like the data output that they give you from the AI side to help guide the decision making, but I don’t necessarily implement many things using it aside from bidding, like we discussed.

Rachael Howle Guest 21:29

There is definitely the need for human touch with these campaigns.


It’s good to have somebody from an agency or have a team constantly looking at your campaigns, making sure that Google’s not taking liberties like bidding $200 for one search term that it feels is just the best search term and then to see that it doesn’t convert and you’ve spent a significant amount of money on just a single click. Really, and that’s a huge benefit of having again a team where people are looking at that and that doesn’t get tossed under the rug, and we have the tools and the strategies to adjust for that and monitor that over the course of the campaign.

Danny Gavin Host 22:15

So it sounds like there’s certain things that Google automates right, but if you don’t have the right person pulling the levers, pushing Google in the right direction, then Google can really go off. And I think I’ve seen it before, like with some of the you know. I think it’s called smart campaigns, right, where it’s like you know a local business can go, you know, put their budget, say what they do and then just hope that things happen. And that’s like a good example where, kind of like you let Google do everything on its own. Often those sorts of campaigns don’t really do too well, but in our case, where we’re talking about large and technical Google ad campaigns, that automation is there, but it’s only a part of it. It’s still just like another tool. You still need to have that master craftsman who’s putting everything together.

Rachael Howle Guest 23:04

Exactly, exactly. And I would say that there’s I call it the service level right, but it’s just in the Google ads platform, right? Like we are toggling things such as budget. We are managing the organization of the campaigns to ensure that the budget is being sent to the proper places. We can see where we need to adjust because other areas are receiving too much budget. We are ensuring that search terms the search terms that we’re showing for are appropriate and have a good potential of generating leads, or they are generating leads and we need to drive more of those leads.

But then and I would say that this is the biggest benefit of having an agency: there’s all of the backend conversion tracking and really ensuring that anyone can see that you’re generating leads, but on the other hand, who’s ensuring that those leads actually convert?

Rachael Howle Guest 24:00

What’s the revenue associated with those leads? Can you funnel that information back into Google ads to better inform your campaigns and again. That’s really taking advantage of the automated aspect of Google, but it’s a very manual process of working with the sales teams and getting that information, making sure you’re funneling back into the account and, again, just better informing Google and its decision-making.

Kirk Williams Guest 24:29

So I just had literally just had an extended conversation on Twitter about Performance Max today where I kind of like I’ve not talked about Performance Max a lot online and I think this is why. So the timing of this is kind of humorous, because I I think I have a better idea of what I think about Performance Max, and that is that I just don’t know. I think there is so much we don’t know about Performance Max that it’s very difficult to formulate hard opinions, and my concern is how much I’m seeing Google and, in some ways, other advertisers pushing hard opinions about Performance Max, especially when it’s in the positive way, because there are certain aspects of it that I feel like I have unanswered questions to that are pretty big. So a few of those would be okay. First of all, what we’ve seen is that overall, if you have and this makes sense, but if you have a lot of data, so you have a lot of conversion data, you have a lot of spend, you have a lot of ability for Google to just go nuts and really find stuff, at least even within directly tracked stuff, Performance Max really does seem to do well. It can just be very hit or miss and tends to be more on the miss side for smaller accounts. But again, that’s oftentimes who Google suggests should try Performance Max right. Google suggests you should try Performance Max right, and so you just have oddities there, especially the disconnect between who they say should use it. And I don’t know, maybe that started a change shift within Google, but as far as I know that you know they’ve always been big proponents of hey, this is for anyone in some way, so go ahead and try this. You’re just starting out Sweet Build, a Performance Max campaign. So you have that aspect. You have the aspect of we are very early in a significantly account-consuming campaign type. We are very early in identifying what that does to a bigger business reality.


So what I mean by that is if someone primarily uses Performance Max, let’s just give it a bent out, even if it is sending directly tracked sales and you’re hitting your ROAS, you’re hitting your efficiency targets sales and you’re hitting your ROAS. You’re hitting your efficiency targets. What is that doing? So if you’re going to run that for the next three years of your business life, five years of your business life, what are they doing? Who are they actually running after in their targeting for their audiences? Especially, are they primarily and this is what a lot of people have investigated and talked about is that, are they primarily? And this is what a lot of people have kind of investigated and talked about? Is that are they primarily? Especially if you have a ROAS target on there, are they primarily pushing at your bottom funnel? Because if that’s the case, then how is that a sustainable long-term solution if you’re just never really going after, you’re just never generating demand, you’re never really going after top of funnel stuff? So at the very least and this is part of what we do when we utilize Performance Max is we still utilize it in a fairly comprehensive account wide. We have YouTube stuff running, especially for the top of the funnel. We’re still very much targeting specific things with search. We’re still running standard shopping campaigns on the side as well and we’re utilizing Performance Max.


So I just think that there are some questions around that sort of mindset that still has me just going huh. With Performance Max and we’re testing it we have found it to be in terms of I keep saying, directly tracked efficiency and revenue for a very specific reason because based on what Google’s tracking and what Google says as far as what you’re receiving, then it can often do very well, especially if it has enough data and enough revenue. But again, kind of that bigger picture of how it’s working within all of your marketing channels, I actually think still is not fully answered, at least from what I’ve seen. So I’m just, I’m concerned when people are just very much all in on PMAX, even to the extent of primarily using PMAX because of those questions. So it was a very long, rambling reply but again, like I said, it’s kind of great, it’s kind of in my brain as of this morning. 

Danny Gavin Host 28:55

Not to bring up conspiracy theories, but do you feel like things like PMAX are just here to cover up, Like it’s like oh, we’re not getting enough retargeting spend, so let’s find a way to get people to do more retargeting.

Kirk Williams Guest 29:07

I don’t know. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch at all because Google has been found out, if you will, sued there’s settlements in that for a variety of bad faith gestures that they’ve done. And I’m forgetting some of the names of those. There’s one that I’m pretty sure has the word Jedi in it. Actually, ironically, I want to say it’s like Blue Jedi or something I can’t remember. Mike Ryan we’ve talked about. To say it’s like blue Jedi or something I can’t remember Mike, mike Ryan, we’ve talked about this and he’s brought it up Like I think project Berninke is something like.


So all that to say that you know, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not saying, I’m not explicitly stating that I they are doing something wrong. I’m just saying, like there is, there is evidence that they are not unwilling to mess with ad targeting and that in a way that helps their bottom line, right? So if you have, let’s just say, a campaign type like Performance Max, where you can target any placement within Google Ads, so any placement within any auction that the system wants to target, and there’s no external visibility on that at all. So, like your question, right, and you know this. So I’m saying this more for your audience.


But, like your question, it’s very fair. And guess what? Neither of us can determine whether or not Google’s doing that, because it’s completely hidden within the system. And so is it that much of a stretch where, if they have some placements that are lower value but they have some spend to attribute, and as long as they’re hitting your ROAS targets, to slough off traffic and spend into those poor performing placements that otherwise someone explicitly targeting them would never choose. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch or conspiracy theory at all, and that sort of campaign type offers the perfect environment to do that.

Danny Gavin Host 31:04

Now not directly related, but does this change your view at all on Performance Max or how people should look at Performance Max campaigns?

Navah Hopkins Guest 31:11

So, interestingly enough, I firmly believe that Performance Max needs to be part of every account, and I would actually argue I think I made this point in the post that your broad match budget had a broad match budget would be very well suited going to Performance Max. What’s actually very interesting about Performance Max, with how much more data they’re sharing, is that you can now start to get a sense of what your exact match terms or concepts should be off of your Performance Max campaigns. And if you are uncertain and you’re still not sure about Performance Max, try running without it for this quarter just to see how you do, and then there are actually a lot of benchmarking tools that will let you see how you’re performing against your competitors, and you can even look at your own internal data. If you feel like you are still in a perfectly viable place, then that’s totally fine.


But I have a feeling that what you’ll see is that you’re a little bit down on performance, and it’s not because your standard campaigns or your traditional campaigns aren’t beautiful and wonderful and doing great.


It’s just that there are certain placements that you will be depriving yourself of and there are certain kinds of I don’t want to call it preferential treatment because it’s not stated.


In fact it’s actually the opposite: the standard will get the preferential treatment, but you’re not kind of leaning into Google’s toys. So I feel like you will and this is again a feeling. It’s not I know this conclusively but I feel like you will see worse results, not including Performance Max, but to that point, whenever we’ve tried to just run Performance Max, we see those Performance Max campaigns suffer. So there is a place for Performance Max in traditional campaigns and I actually am really excited for the day when we just run Performance Max campaigns and we don’t have to have a budget for traditional standard campaigns. Not because I don’t love traditional standard campaigns, they’re wonderful, they’re what we built ourselves towards Because I don’t think the average business should need to, or is going to be able to, at scale, have a budget for Performance Max and traditional. You typically have your PPC budget and you shouldn’t have to have double, triple campaign budgets.

Danny Gavin Host 33:28

What you’re saying about Performance Max. Do you feel like it’s the same for lead gen businesses or lead gen accounts, the same as e-com?

Navah Hopkins Guest 33:35

So this is where I think you’re going to get so many different opinions and I really want to preface this. This is my opinion based on what I’ve seen. Everyone is going to have a different opinion. I believe Performance Max works as well as it possibly can, provided that you give it the customer values for your conversions. The moment you do, you will see beautiful results.


If you deprive Google of your conversion values or in max conversion value bidding, you are going to see worse performance with Performance Max because it’s oriented around revenue. That is the main driving force of that campaign type and part of the reason why it’s so powerful is that it’s able to look at the full funnel. It’s looking at display, it’s looking at YouTube, it’s looking at now like demand gen type campaigns. It’s looking at search shopping. It’s looking at all these things. So I definitely think that there’s value in Performance Max by 100%. I don’t think you can get away with running a campaign without Performance Max, unless you are so niche that there isn’t enough data or there aren’t enough competitors that you can just get away with running standard. But for most people, you will need to have Performance Max in your arsenal.

Danny Gavin Host 34:52

Final question: Do you like to remove branded terms from Performance Max campaigns or not?

Navah Hopkins Guest 34:57

I personally will remove the brand. I don’t think it’s reasonable to average branded into Performance Max, but there’s actually a really useful distinction on new customers versus new visitors. If you are looking at new visitors, that is going to be the true mark. Just excluding new customers, you might still end up with people who’ve been exposed before or have engaged. So you definitely and thank you to Kirk Williams  for that little shout out. I definitely recommend looking at your new visitors and doing your best to exclude them, but I also think you will do very well. This is one of those times where it does make sense to engage with the Google reps. Ask them to remove your branded terms. Use the branded terms exclusion for the broad match campaigns. If you’re using that, yes, keep them separated. And, on the flip side, make sure that your branded terms are negatives in your traditional campaigns, because that negative protection is actually very, very powerful. You don’t just want to rely on audience exclusions or pressing a button. You actually want to go ahead and, where possible, add in its negatives.

Danny Gavin Host 36:08

So how do you determine what creative and value statements you want to highlight most?

Caroline Pham  Guest  36:12

Yeah. So this one is definitely more challenging and, depending on your brand and your company, you may not have a very well-developed brand story, company story, value propositions, and so it’s going to take. And if that is the situation, then you’re going to want to see what your competitors are doing. And the first question and this is for any business, even without any marketing you need to know why somebody is going to want to do business with you. What is it that makes you special? What is it that makes you better? What is it? Why purchase from me? And that’s what you’re going to want to put into the ad to test out.


If you have your brand as well established and you have a specific look or image, then I think it’s a little bit easy. You want to. Even then it can be really hard because on the different mediums, the audiences can be very different, and so if you have available to you any kind of demographic information or demographic indexes, that’ll help you identify elements that your audience could potentially resonate with. Perhaps they watch tennis alot, you know, just those, and then you can test those different elements until you get a good quantitative benchmark of what works and doesn’t work. So there’s testing. So I said a lot of things here. So branding, value propositions you’re going to have I mean, if you don’t know what those are, you’re going to test them out. Having good understanding of demographics and then just a lot of testing. 

Duane Brown Guest 38:00

People often underestimate the value of really good ad copy. Right, you know, people see your ad, whether it’s, you know, a shopping ad or a search ad or discovery ad. A Google now has a new ad type called demand gen sounds made up, but it’s a new ad type campaign. So I think people often underestimate really good ad copy. You could have the right shop and feed, you could have the right keywords and the difference between success and failure could be just writing better ad copy, because maybe your ad copy is the issue, assuming that your shop and feed or SKUs or the keywords weren’t the issue. So I think that’s something really good. I mean, something we were talking about with a teammate the other day actually is sometimes people overcomplicate things. Sometimes the solution is actually very simple. The analogy I give is you pull a lawn mower outside of the garage, you’re going to try to mow the lawn and it doesn’t turn on. People would often try to say, oh, let’s pull off the cover and see if the wires are just connected, or they’d go really complex, when maybe the issue is if it’s a battery-operated lawn mower, maybe the batteries need to be charged or there’s no gas in the lawnmower. Sometimes the solution is actually very simple and we try to overcomplicate things, even though, in some ways, Google and Meta has gotten more complex because of automation. It’s actually gotten really easy because they want you to simplify things, to make it less complex than it used to be.


Trying to simplify things, I think, is number two, add copies, number three and then beyond that, if something’s not working, I always say they need to change something. If you see something that’s like it’s day one, it’s day two, it’s day three of the week. So this week is Wednesday. If it’s wednesday and something didn’t work on sunday, monday and tuesday, then maybe make a change of some sort. Don’t like to watch the thing that’s not working, continue on throughout the week. You know, if a campaign’s been running for, you know, a month, three months a year, and then all of a sudden it stops getting conversions on Sunday, it’s now Wednesday. You need to make some sort of change.


Watching something break and then not doing anything, you might as well not even watch it break because you didn’t take action, and so I think taking action is really important. People often will just look at something, see a problem and then not do anything when, if you don’t do anything, you’re part of the problem. You need to take action and make a change. To take action and make a change, even if that change is something as simple as, like, I’m going to lower the budget or I’m going to change the ad copy. Those are two simple changes you can make in a campaign, depending on what the problem is.


That could turn things around. But just watching, hoping that it’s going to turn itself around, is probably not going to be the case, because our general rule is if something happens over one to two days, that’s an anomaly. Over one to two days, that’s an anomaly. A campaign could have a bad day. It could even have a bad two days, but if you’re on day three or you’re on day four, well, that’s a trend. So you need to take action and do something come day three or day four so you can turn things around. Otherwise, the campaign is probably going to continue on the same path and not do anything.

Danny Gavin Host 40:47

So, Navah, I know you’ve been a proponent for broad match for a while. Recently, you and Optimizer put together an amazing study about the difference between broad match and exact match, as well as optimizing on maximized conversions or maximized conversion value, and I’d love it if we could dig into that a little bit deeper today.

Navah Hopkins Guest 41:05

For sure an important disclaimer this is just as much a case study in being okay, being wrong and pivoting off of the data as it is a case study on match types and bidding strategies. So a little bit of context I have defended broad match for a very, very long time and I truly believe that there is value, even after this study. If a broad match is doing its job and you give it its very specific job, it can still do beautiful things. However, we as marketers particularly those of us that maybe have had the volume of many accounts or high spending accounts have maybe given broad match a little bit too much credit, because what we actually found is that when broad match and exact match are compared, exact match not only wins when it comes to cost per acquisition, cost per click, conversion rate, all these things, but you don’t actually lose any of the conversion volume that you would expect to lose when comparing broad match to exact. And part of why that bit was so impactful for me is that, as a pragmatist, I kind of just went along with it. I mean, broad match is where it’s going, we kind of just have to deal with it, but in looking at the actual data and seeing it play out in accounts that’s using both broad and exact, it’s really hard to stand by the yes, we should really lean into broad match when we see how much value is in exact and some of the data points and kind of arguments I would use for broad match were actually completely countered. So one of them is broad match is the cheaper way of getting phrases and exacting. Exact match actually had substantially cheaper cost per clicks.


Another thing that was one of my favorite big, like lean into broad match, like it’s going to be great, is with close variants you’re able to get kind of these new and exciting ways of searching. You’re able to kind of really unpack these things. But when looking at the exact batch, looking at the rise of close variants with exact, you’re going to get the same benefit of close variants. You’re just not dealing with the grab back abroad. So this is not to say to uproot what is working currently in your account. If, if you’re seeing conversions, if you’re seeing a good cost proposition, if you’re seeing all those things, that’s great. But absolutely if you’re considering whether to pause your successful keyword concepts in favor of broad match, I would exercise a little bit of caution. What I will say is broad and exact. Every single account where the exact match did better, broad match was present. So there is a place for broad match. We just don’t want it to be the dominant force.

Susan Wenograd Guest 43:47

There really is no such thing as match types anymore. I mean, I think you know, aside from you know broad is still very broad, but phrase and exact are practically interchangeable at this point. So you know we used to be very intentional with match types. They’d go into their own ad groups because Google just it wasn’t smart enough to figure out what you were trying to do. Now it’s gotten smarter. I wouldn’t say that it’s the smartest At this point now. It’s kind of like we just start. You know more is kind of better. You know you kind of have to start lumping this stuff together a little more. So a lot of times you’ll see a lot of phrase and exact together.


The other thing I never used to use was broad, because it was terrible and it’s still not great for nuanced industries but for things like e-com or more commodity type products. One of my favorite things to do has been to just set up filtered audiences and run broad match to them and the cost savings is usually just ridiculously amazing. It’s like you get waste but it’s so much cheaper than phrase and exact that it doesn’t really matter. It’s kind of like well, insert the negative keywords. I’m not too worried about the media waste because it still winds up being cheaper. So it’s about finding those pockets of like where can I let Google kind of go crazy, but where can I put in some guardrails to make sure it doesn’t go too crazy?

Brianna Deboever Guest 45:02

So PPC campaigns are always the end goal. You’re usually working within a budget, a limited budget. People and businesses usually don’t have infinite funds. Funds are allocated to pay-per-click campaigns for one reason or another. So you’re working within a limited budget and then your goal and your KPIs are likely to generate as many leads as possible within that budget. Really, what most agencies are working on and optimizing off of is that cost per lead and getting that cost per lead as low as possible, because then, if you can get that as low as possible, you’re squeezing out as many leads as possible for the spend.

Danny Gavin Host 45:42

What are some of the challenges you experienced working with the larger budgets and how did you overcome them?

Duane Brown Guest 45:46

Yeah, I mean I managed campaigns up to a million dollars a month. You know the challenge is usually, all things being equal, you’re probably doing things on a global scale. You’re probably not just running ads in America unless you sell a product that everyone in America wants to buy on a repeat basis. And you’re probably maybe running ads on Google and you know Meta or Facebook. At that point, you know the biggest challenge as you have larger budgets even though larger budgets are easier to manage, all things being equal, versus a smaller budget because you have a longer runway you know the biggest challenge is there’s just more moving parts and so you’ve got to like keep your eye on more things. It’s kind of like someone on stage juggling plates or juggling balls. Right, you’ve got more things in the air to make sure things are going well, from conversion tracking to just like spend is going correctly. You know you set up the campaign correctly.


You know we’ve all seen campaigns where somebody meant to set up a remarketing campaign but they didn’t have the audiences. Someone meant to set up a non-marketing campaign, but they add audiences anyways. Just lots of little basic mistakes it’s easy to make when you’ve got dozens or maybe even a hundred campaigns across three or four ad accounts, because you’re marketing in North America, you’re marketing in Europe, you’re marketing in Australia, New Zealand, parts of Asia. So the larger your budget gets, the challenge could be, especially if you’re in six or seven figures. It’s just that you’ve got more things going on and you’ve got to have a better system and process or standard operating procedures of how to check performance, make sure things are going well. A good example for a client that we’ve had for three years is, early on in year one, one of the dev people made a change on the website, which is fine. Changes happen on websites all the time. There was a change where it worked out that the shopping campaigns stopped delivering conversions, but all our search campaigns were fine, and so someone on our team didn’t notice that, even though they should have, because some of the top campaigns were shopping campaigns.


And so, as you just spend more money, it’s just really keeping an eye on. My top campaigns are shopping campaigns, and so, as you just spend more money, it’s just really keeping an eye on, like, what are my top campaigns? Are they delivering consistent sales? Is conversion tracking working? People often ask what the difference is between small and spend. I think everything is just at a larger scale and you’ve got more moving parts and for me personally that’s more fun because you can test more stuff. You can try more things. You’re more likely to have somebody at Google or Meta reach out to try some sort of beta or some sort of alpha. But if you want to step up and play with all the adults, so to speak, and not be, let’s say, at the kids’ table if you think of small budgets as a kids’ table, even though it’s not because small budgets are hard work- you’ve got to be prepared to just work, have more things potentially break or go wrong.

Danny Gavin Host 48:28

So how do you approach a client, usually about increasing budget. After that, once approved, what strategy approach do you take when implementing a budget increase?

Caroline Pham  Guest  48:32

If the campaign is doing well, it’s really easy to have that conversation, at least in my experience and it’s about performance, right, because we’re creating marketing campaigns, because we want sales and if there are sales then we should do more of it. And that, to me, is a very easy conversation Because if the volume exists, that’s the first part. If the volume exists, the demand for it, and you can project what the incremental revenue, sales are going to be, then that conversation is super easy and a fun one to have.

Danny Gavin  Host 49:09

But sometimes you have a group like so when it’s ecomm it’s pretty straightforward, right? Sometimes in like these lead gen campaigns it’s not exactly clear. It’s not a hundred, you know. So I guess in those cases it’s a little bit harder, where it’s like you know you’re seeing the leads are coming through but you’re not exactly sure the conversion rate of those leads. But you know the budget is limited, so I guess in those cases it’s going to be a little bit harder.

Caroline Pham  Guest  49:33

It depends on how long the campaign has been running for, right? So if it’s only been running for a month or two, that may not be enough time to have a good sense of what performance is going to be. If you have a relatively good conversion rate for the industry, then it depends. So, okay, the first couple of things I would look at right. So what the CPL is looking at, like what the current CPL to acquisition, what that conversion rate looks like, If there’s any. If there’s none, then what do we think it’s going to be?


What is our current share of voice of the traffic that exists and what does our visibility look like? And so, knowing that information can help you determine are we spending enough money, right, or do we have a good enough chunk of it for this to be a good test? How do we feel about the quality of the leads? But even if they’re not converting, there has to be a sense as to whether the leads are of good quality or not. Right, Because you’re talking to potential customers and the answers to that question, those questions will help determine whether, how long a test and what the budget should be, and whether a budget increase should happen If the traffic volume, like we’re getting maybe 10% traffic share and the visibility is relatively low, then to me that’s a pretty easy suggestion, right? Hey, I don’t think we’re spending enough money to be competitive here, right? We barely show up, we’re not getting, we’re getting a lot of cluster pain. But for this set of keywords, for this industry, the right budget is probably X amount more based off of this traffic, right?

Danny Gavin Host 51:17

So when you do get an increase, what’s the strategy to implement that increase? Do you throw it in all at one time? Do you spread it out? How does that work?

Caroline Pham , Guest  51:26

With budget increases. I typically like to. This is definitely a personal approach kind of thing. Everybody’s going to do this a little differently. I tend to prefer doing it more conservatively. That’s just how I usually like to do this. Some people will throw it all in right away just because they want a quick read on it. It’s going to depend on the client too, right. You’re going to work together and be sure that you’re aligned with what we want to do with the extra budget. So sometimes a client will want to get the results really fast and then you’re like, oh, I don’t know about that, and so there needs to be alignment there as well. But typically I like to go in slowly and see, and I want to say that it takes generally a year to really get a good idea of what your paid search campaign is going to, how it’s going to perform. You want to have at least a good, solid year of good volume to have a good enough data set to make decisions off of.

Danny Gavin Host 52:31

UTMs provide us with all that extra value, then you can actually relate it to the customer. How have you seen this make all the difference with campaign optimizations?

Brianna Deboever Guest  52:39

It is game changing when we tie UTMs to leads that we are then bringing into some form of CRM and with that CRM we can organize and say here’s a lead and all of that leads information and this is the campaign it converted on and this is the keyword it converted on, and then the customer can tell us was it good or not. And we can combine all of that information to say, oh hey, these campaigns and these keywords drove more or less quality leads and that helps us make optimization decisions within the actual ad account and say this is really where we want to push spend. Perhaps cost per lead is always important, however, getting a good lead is always important. However, getting good leads is more important. So sometimes it’s thinking about how do we get more of those leads while maintaining a reasonable cost per lead and combining that information and those two goals to really reach the client’s goals.

Caroline Pham Guest  53:42

It really depends on what the goal is. That’s really it. You can’t answer any other questions unless you know what you’re trying to do and the goal is usually sales. It’s almost always sales. Even if the goal leads, it ultimately results in sales. But yeah, goals are usually sales, leads, traffic, impressions, some kind of action.

Danny Gavin Host 54:07

Do you ever find that you have to argue with, let’s say, a client or a boss where they feel like the goal should be maybe more of a softer metric, but you’re pushing for like no, it’s got to be something more measurable like sales and leads?

Caroline Pham , Guest  54:21

Usually, if that situation happens, it’s because there isn’t a good measurement infrastructure. There isn’t a very good connection between the offline and online sales, for example. That’s usually the case where you have to look at a different kind of metric, that is, a pre-metric to the ultimate metric, which is sales, and that’s where it gets a little bit fuzzier.

Danny Gavin Host 54:47

But I feel like these days it is a lot easier than, let’s say, 10, 20 years ago to kind of combine those two right. Things that happen offline. You can actually bring that into the platform and be able to optimize off of that.

Caroline Pham  Guest  55:01

Yes, it’s a lot easier today, but depending on the client, like you know, for example, if you’re like the places that work, that we’ve had brick and mortar stores and we want to know what the impact of an impression of a digital ad has on a store walk-in, and that’s where it gets a little bit harder to. I mean, there’s ways around it, but it gets a little bit fuzzier.

Danny Gavin Host 55:27

But for a lot of B2B and service-based businesses, people don’t fill out a form. They actually pick up the phone and call the business directly. So, okay, you’ve created this really nice system for when people fill out forms to be able to track where they came from. But what about the people who pick up the phone and call? How do we know where they came from?

Brianna Deboever Guest 55:44

First, it’s just really important to make sure you’re tracking all of those types of actions that somebody could take, because we’ve seen it in many cases where you think somebody’s going to fill out a form and it turns out the whole industry just wants to pick up the phone. So phone calls are extremely important. The way we deal with phone calls is we implement call tracking numbers, so we basically purchase a number that is the first number that somebody calls, but then they are routed to the client and to the business they are calling and what that allows us to do is, using that call tracking software, we can capture that phone call and all the. We can capture that phone call and all the information related to that phone call. We can see where that phone call came from. We can listen to the entire phone call. How did it go? How did the customer service member serve the customer? And then also, what were they asking for? Was it relevant to the business? Was it relevant to the client at all? Was it a good lead?


And then we can basically score all of those calls and say this is a possible lead, this isn’t, and frequently you’ll see we’ll get tons of calls that come up after one second or 10 seconds, and that’s likely a bot, and immediately we’re able to filter those out. What that does is we can say okay, we got X amount of quality phone calls and we got Y amount of non-quality phone calls, and then we can actually see okay, what is our cost per quality phone call? How much are we actually paying to get these? It could be you’re getting 10 quality phone calls and 50 other calls. So really that would very much skew your cost per lead and what you are reporting to the client in terms of success.


So I think that’s one major part of it. The other part of it is telling Google that information, and one way that you can do that is based on certain aspects of the call. So we’ll do like phone call length. If a phone call is 45 to 60 seconds, then we’ll feed it as a conversion into Google and say hey, Google, you can optimize off of calls like that, but calls less than that we don’t want you to optimize off of. You don’t even count it as a conversion. So then, the calls that are like 10 seconds long, we don’t want Google to continue finding those for us.

Danny Gavin Host 58:15

Is there any tracking that is often overlooked for agencies, in particular when it comes to PPC?

Sarah Stemen Guest 58:20

If you listen to the conversations in the industry, people talk a lot about certain attributions as being like this is the best one. I’m not going to name the company, but you know you do hear that. But then I also take a step back and realize that attribution has been a question since 2007. I remember when I was working on the corporate side at Nationwide, we put so much money into attribution and had perfect modeling and this and that, and I’m like I’m still having this conversation this many years later. So I’m just going to say our brains. And the reason I’m going to say that is I can read what the data is showing in the platform and I can ask my business owner how’s business going, and I have to align those two things. That’s what matters.

Danny Gavin Host 59:07

That’s very deep, because sometimes, yeah, a similar concept and I think we can break it down. That same call that I had yesterday. She said that my PPC agency is telling me I’m having this much ROAS and my Facebook agency is telling me I’m having this much ROAS. But if I had that ROAS together I’d be doing really well and when I look at it, I don’t have it. So like what’s going on, Danny?

Sarah StemenGuest 59:29

Yeah, and what’s going on is exactly what she knows in her heart that that’s not what she has. I’m proud of her, for that’s her first admission. So you know, if I were talking to her and I’m sure you had that be like, yes, you’re correct. Now let’s keep doing what we know are the right things from a marketing perspective and let’s see if we can directionally navigate and get these a little more online. But she’s right, that’s great.

Danny Gavin Host 59:56

And so you know, what’s also interesting related to this point is I don’t think we have to get super deep into GA4, Google Analytics 4. But in just a slight, you know small point, I feel like as we’ve gone into Google Analytics 4, it’s a little bit harder. It’s not as accurate, the data’s not as clear. You know there’s thresholding, there’s this and that, and it’s hard for some people because a lot of people look at Google Analytics as like the Bible, right, and that’s what it says. So, in a sense, people look at Google Analytics as like the Bible, right, and that’s what it says. So, in a sense, the fact that Google Analytics 4 is a little bit not as accurate, not as clear, it’s actually helping us portray this story, which has always existed. It’s been very easy to turn away and say no, you can track everything and everything is really clear.

Sarah Stemen Guest 01:00:41

So I have a little secret nugget on that one to help people. So I have a little secret nugget on that one to help people. Listen, you’re going to like and you probably know this. So I mean I have a Squarespace, I have a WordPress and I also can get into the back end of my Hosting. So guess what is in all those Analytics? There’s analytics in my Squarespace, that’s guess what? It’s a straight graph, right? Like you do not need to put your brain on, it’s what you want, you know. Same with WordPress, right? You have, like there I don’t know whatever they call it the C panel. I have a couple different Hosts. You know I could look at my server logs and guess what, when Google is still crawling your website, even if it’s not indexed, there’s a difference between being crawled and being indexed. Google is absolutely visiting my site. They just have chosen not to index it because my quality isn’t good, you know. It’s just you know. So the data is there, you know. And if you’re feeling really insecure, just look at your server logs.

Navah Hopkins Guest 01:01:36

On the subject of GA4, because you can’t talk about privacy without talking about GA4 and kind of how that data all lays out I think the biggest area that people are going to be impacted is really on audiences, because there’s a thresholding piece of you need to have a certain amount of people, and there can be some brands just are not going to have them. So you’re going to need to rely on more the native audiences than your own personal ones. And the other piece is the actual mapping of data. So a lot of people will get undefined or not set, or are all these things because of syntax, but also because some folks may have started opting out of letting their data be tracked, and that is a-okay. What you just then need to do is, with the data that you have, make the most meaningful decisions you can. So, for example, if you see that a certain page on your site is getting a lot of traffic and that page has nothing really to do with converting anybody, that’s a good sign to see. Well, is there an opportunity to update this page so that I can improve it, that it can convert? Is this a sign that I may be directing people to the wrong page. Now with paid, we have a little bit more control over that. On SEO, it’s what you optimized for, but that’s definitely a consideration.


But I think a lot of the general sentiment with GA4 is there’s this rush to fix it, even though we had two years to get it done, and there’s kind of this comfort in knowing how much data we were actually using versus how much we were hoarding.


And I think it’s a very important mechanic of being a human that we tend to hold on to things just because we feel like we have a lot of them, that we could have a use for it, rather than what is truly making a difference in our business. So from a GA4 standpoint, I think the more that you can make sure that just your baseline is set i.e. you have events that are tracking for conversions, I had a client that had no events for conversions for a little bit. That was scary, that was terrible. I was pretty sad. You probably have the information that you need. There’s no reason to stress. Where I do see some folks probably getting a little bit frustrated is going into the shopping season because we’re now using two completely different data sets. So unless you have your universal analytics backed up or you already can go to GA4, you’re probably going to hit an issue of, well, I can’t really truly compare the seasonality, but it’s not the end of the world.

Danny Gavin Host 01:04:06

So Google plans to phase out third-party cookies from Chrome by the end of 2024. It’s already begun the rollout of an update to 1% of users, which is about 30 million people. How should advertisers react to this major change to the marketing landscape?

Susan Wenograd Guest 01:04:18

The good part is they’re doing it at a time where I think most places have been conditioned to understand they have to own their data. I think if they had done this back in the day, before, that was really such a focus, it would be scarier In a way. I mean them doing this is kind of like phase two of what we experienced with Facebook ads and iOS 14, because a lot of places didn’t build a business, they were just essential, they thought they had an e-commerce business and then once Facebook couldn’t find those users because it lost, you know, 60 to 80% of the data it was used to having. They couldn’t fix the algorithm that quickly. So I think a lot of places learn the lesson that there are certain things that are going to change and we have to own what we own, and part of being a responsible business is having diversification, and part of that diversification is data that you own. So I think the good part is, you know places have been pretty diligent about understanding that they have to collect that data.


I think the part that most places don’t necessarily do effectively all the time is utilize it. So I know I see a lot of places that connect data but they don’t feed it back to Google so that it can learn a little bit more, especially with offline sales. You know what I mean? Like me, I just did an audit on a company that has both e-commerce but then they also have consultations and offline sales and they import back the revenue, which I am not. It’s like they’re like one of the first companies I’ve seen actually do that when they have e-commerce. A lot of places just like oh, we have e-com and then we have stuff that happens offline but we don’t really account for that. So I think more places are having to get savvier about understanding that their data is a big asset. I mean, they’ve only really thought about it as being an asset for their business internally. I don’t think many places have been trained to think of their data as an asset on the ad platforms as much beyond retargeting.


So I think that that’s just kind of a new habit places have to get into and I feel like they’ve been given ample warning to do it. So I’m not really freaking out about it that much, just because at least the clients I’ve worked with know it’s coming, they know they have the data. Most of it’s just a question of how they should be using it. You know it’s like they’re looking for advice like if I import it back in Google, should I change the conversions it’s optimizing to? It’s more technical questions like that as opposed to like oh my god, I haven’t been doing anything. I really don’t run into that. So I think we’re in an okay position. I mean, no marketer wants to see this stuff go away, but you can’t give us nice things. We cannot have nice things because there’s always bad apples that ruin it. So this was not a surprise that this is happening, because there’s always bad apples that ruin it. So this was not a surprise that this is happening.

Danny Gavin Host 01:06:46

So, let’s say, smaller business owners or smaller marketers, given that they’re so used to third-party cookies, what’s the first step you think they can take in order to get ready for these changes?

Susan Wenograd Guest 01:06:58

So one of the things that I’ve encouraged a lot of places to do, especially, and I feel like this actually it’s not even necessarily small business, but it’s kind of the non-ecom world that I think it’s tougher. You know what I mean? Because they don’t. When someone buys something, you automatically have data right.

Danny Gavin Host 01:07:13

You have all their information.

Susan Wenograd Guest 01:07:14

Exactly, but, like in long-term B2B enterprise sales, or you know, it’s like lead gen stuff or the stuff that doesn’t transact on the site or it doesn’t have a dollar value assigned to it. Those are the things that you know I’ve been advising start figuring out ways that you can capture data that would make sense, for you know, b2b SaaS one of the things that I was just on a call with a founder this morning and they’re about to close on their first series and he’s like we’ve done no marketing. I don’t know what to do, and so I said the first thing you do is like you have to start with their product, especially because they have to cut through a lot of noise. As I said, you need to come up with a really solid content strategy and, as quickly as possible, you need to make sure you reserve some of that content for you know email updates and get people onto your email as quickly as possible, so they have to retrain themselves to start thinking from a micro-conversion standpoint, because you know, so many people spend money, they dump money into these platforms and they’re like I want a conversion.


Yes, that’s always the ultimate goal, but at this point you have to start thinking a few steps back of, like what are other things you can own, other than just the sale, that will prepare you to be able to say, okay, hey, Google here’s, you know, here’s like all the people that have, you know, created a lead or they’ve signed up on the site, like feed that through GA4 to get it back there.


So you have to figure out, like, what are those other signals that show that someone is a good prospect that you want to feed back? Once people think through it, they’re like oh, that’s not so hard. But it’s like we’ve just been conditioned forever to be like. You know, even in Facebook it’s like setting it up, optimizing for sales, optimizing for conversions, and you didn’t have to think about that middle part. So we’re having to pay a lot more attention to that middle piece of marketing and a lot of places might be lacking that part of it if they’re not ecomm. So those are the ones where I say you need to figure out a reason to capture people’s email, but it has to be a good one. They’re not going to just fork over their email address and phone number because you’re like help me, I’m losing my data. You need to come up with something in exchange for that. So that’s sometimes. It requires a little creative thought.

Danny Gavin Host 01:09:07

Thank you for listening to the Digital Marketing Mentor Podcast. Be sure to check us out online at thedmmentorcom and at thedmmentor on Instagram, and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts for more marketing mentor magic. See you next time.

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