Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Managing a Comprehensive AdWords Campaign

Recently I read a post by Kevin Gold on searchmarketingstandard.com titled "Ah-Oh…PPC Feeling A Lot Like SEO"" that compares the complexity of Googles pay-per-click management to the tricks you play for Search Engine Optimization.

NCH Software recently released our 100th software application. For almost every application there is an AdWords adgroup related to it. If the application is translated into another language other than English then that version is also given its own adgroup. Windows, Linux and Mac OS X applications are also split in our AdWords campaign. There are many more splits for individual applications depending on which category they fall into and various other factors.

Needless to say this could be a nightmare to manage.

Fortunately Google provides a comprehensive list of reports to analyze your campaign with. It's pulling the relevant information and collating it that can be the hard part. As we are a software company it wasn't hard for the development manager to create a program that pulled in a number of reports and applied a certain mathematical formula which then spat out a text file of ad group and keyword bid updates which could then be copied into the miracle that is the AdWords Editor and posted.

The result first run of this AdWords "Mogul" could be classified as a failure. The advertising budget was blown for the month within the first week and conversions failed to follow the higher number of click thrus. Previously AdWords was tweaked on a weekly basis by a human being. If they didn't feel it was justified to raise the spend of an ad group or a keyword based on knowledge of the CPC marketplace then it was usually left untouched. "Mogul" stripped the human element. We basically closed our eyes and decided to trust the machine. Over 10,000 keywords were updated, 300+ ad groups were given new minimum bids. This was going to be a roller coaster ride that dropped us down a vertical path and all we could do is hang on.

Over a few months the formula was recalculated, new reports were added and other factors were taken into consideration. Mogul started to work. It also suggests new keywords, negative keywords and placements among other things. It allows us to update our campaigns on a weekly basis en masse with the help of AdWords Editor.

We have mirrored most of our campaigns on Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft's Windows AdCenter but with only web based interfaces (or poor imitations of the Editor) and a lack of comprehensive reporting there is only so much we can do to manage it.

If only Google had an offline editor for our web pages so we could update and optimize meta tags and other SEO tactics, we'd be set.
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