Forget what you know about bid modifiers for a 15% higher CTR

Blog | 13 Nov, 2015

PPC Director Matt Read recently spoke at London's Hero Conf; the first PPC only conference in the UK run by the brains behind PPC Hero.

The conference ran over two days and included talks from the likes of Larry Kim the Founder of WordStream, Biren Kalaria, Head of Performance Activation at Google and Federick Vallaeys Optmyzr's CEO.

One area that was focused on quite heavily, especially during the second day, was the use of AdWords Scripts. Matt shares how these can be used to innovate paid search here: 

What are we bidding?

Stripping AdWords back to its most basic form, we have keywords and bids for these keywords to tell Google the maximum we are willing to pay for each click. However, our bids are never as simple as this.

We use multiple bid modifiers to alter how much we are willing to pay depending on the time of day, location and device etc., i.e. how attractive it is to our target audience.

Over the years Google has kindly given us lots of data for us to modify our bids against. However this has made remembering what we’ve bid on at any one time on any given keyword a real challenge!

How bid modified ads start to look after some honing:

PPC Metric Circles

On top of all this Google recently gave us the functionality to add the weather as a bid modifier so using the weather script you can set a bid modifier by location, for example, and based on whether it’s raining, sunny or windy etc.

This all sounds great as we can say “our men’s clothing website has more sales when it’s raining so let’s bid more when it’s rainy and less when it’s sunny”.

However, given the sheer volume of modifiers on the bids, another slight increase or decrease often leads to little improvement.

More to the point it is massively undervaluing the opportunities Google is giving us to use this data.

Think of it like this, you know there is a difference in performance when it’s sunny and rainy, so Google give you access to information to make changes based on this, yet all you do is change the bids slightly… it got me wondering, what can be done?

Why change the bids when you can change the full user journey?

If you compare a simple bid adjustment to a mobile responsive site or mobile preferred ad copy – the mobile tailored PPC would have a much bigger performance impact.

The same thought process should apply to all data segments.  For example, rather than saying “it’s rainy let’s bid more for our men’s clothing ads” the approach should be “it’s rainy let’s use an ad that talks about coats, jeans and boots etc. and sends traffic to a relevant page”. 

By taking the weather script and replacing the bid modifier function with a pause enable function, it is possible to do this.

Simply having 2 ads (1 for sunny and 1 for rainy) and using a label on each ad means the script can pause and enable dynamically based ad on the weather condition.

An example of an ad based on weather and location:

Jamie Magazine PPC

There are LOTS of other data APIs you can use to tailor your paid search ads

The beauty of doing this is once you start running these scripts is it becomes easy to use any data that Google will allow you to alter.

Here are just some of the free data sources you could use and all of this can be pulled directly into your ads using simple scripts:

  • train times
  • event dates
  • TV listings
  • exchange rates

For example, using the Google Finance API we were able to pull the live trading data for the FTSE 100 into a Google Spreadsheet and from there use an ad param to feed the live data into relevant ads:

Money Week share price PPC

We ran these ads across 100 ad groups, alongside standard ads with no live data and we found that on average, these had a 15% higher CTR with a much higher level of site engagement and conversion rate.

Are you getting the most of informational data for your paid search ads?

The point of all this is Google are data mad and are willing to give us pretty much any data we like about our users behaviour.

This is hands down much more impactful than simply modifying bids and a much better use of the data available to us.

You have the data, you have the power, don’t just change the bid and choose to change the whole journey. 


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