Conversion Tracking for Facebook Ads

One element that justifies any marketing budget towards digital media is measurement and being able to prove Return on Ad Spend (R.O.A.S). There are many ways to track and measure ad performance, but conversion tracking is easy for most people to understand. In simple terms, Conversion Tracking is when a piece of web code is placed on the confirmation page of your website, normally the “Thank you for purchasing/enquiring/subscribing” page. This code only renders after the desired action on the website has been completed, therefore a successful and accurate conversion is recorded. The conversion can then be attributed right down to a specific ad or keyword and in most cases is a powerful metric for determining campaign success.

Google AdWords conversion tracking has been available for a few years, but very recently Facebook woke up and gave all Facebook advertisers access to conversion tracking for ‘off-Facebook’ ads. These are ads that direct people away from Facebook and onto a different web address (i.e. your landing page/website). We have tested Facebook Conversion Tracking and it works much the same as Google AdWords:

To generate a Conversion Pixel, simply navigate to the Facebook Ads Manager and select “Conversion Tracking” on the left hand side.


Then click “Create Conversion Pixel” in a green button on the far right, give it a name and select the conversion category.


A Java Script code will be generated after you create the conversion pixel, copy this code and place it on the confirmation page of your website (instructions for your developer), then join all the dots in your Facebook Ads Manager by linking your ads to the Conversion Pixel (edit your ad, tick the Conversion Tracking box and select the corresponding Conversion Pixel). Next you’re ready to check the tracking status of your Conversion Pixel. This can be done by visiting the conversion page where the code was placed, thereafter in your Facebook Ads Manager, the tracking status should be updated to, “Active” (people who have visited the conversion page within the last 24 hours). The Facebook Conversion Pixel will only report conversions that happened as a result from clicking on a Facebook ad.

Along with conversion tracking, Facebook offers Optimised CPM bidding for conversion driven campaigns, not only focusing on clicks. Optimised CPM bidding will dynamically adjust your bids in order to capture the highest-value impressions that are most likely to convert, in-line with your campaign goals and hence delivering the best possible ROI. It is said that Optimised CPM campaigns will deliver better returns than CPC or CPM campaigns, but standard CPC or CPM bidding is still available for the automated skeptics.

Our tests over the last four weeks have converted post click and at a reasonable cost. Conversions fall under “Actions” in your Facebook reports, so you can run an “Actions by Impression Time” report and filter down to ad level, you’ll find your Pixel name under the “Action Type” column (post impression/click). Conversion tracking allows you to determine which ad delivered the highest ROI, so you can make data driven decisions regarding campaign or website optimisation.

It can be argued that users who are on Facebook, want to stay on Facebook and that purchase intent is much lower on Facebook, so why send people to a website? I think it all depends on the objectives and strategy of the campaign. At least now there is an additional way to attribute return from ‘off-Facebook’ ads.

AdWords Impression Share Changes

How many times are your Exact match keywords triggering an ad instead of a Broad or Phrase? How many Impressions are you losing because your daily budget ran out early or your bids/quality score weren’t high enough? All questions that “Impression Share (IS)” metrics in Google AdWords can help answer for advertisers. Google’s “Analyse Competition” tool shows competitive insights, but IS metrics are perhaps a little more accurate to gauge performance against your competitors in a Google AdWords auction (showing an ad, an impression). Impression Share is calculated by the number of impressions received, divided by the estimated number of impressions you could have received – based on your targeting settings (keywords, locations, languages etc), approval statuses, bids and Quality Scores – Google says Impression Share changes are coming!

Originally you only had four IS columns, namely: IS, Lost IS (budget), Lost IS (Rank), Exact Match IS. You’ll notice historical data is no longer available before October 2012, this is to enable the new IS column transition, all new data will go as far back as 1 October 2012. The changes below are set to arrive immediately for some advertisers or by February 2013 for everyone!

What are the Changes?

  1. Distinct Search and Display Columns. New columns separating Search and Display IS.
  2. “Hour of Day” Segmentation. Evaluate ad coverage by segmented time “Dimensions”.
  3. Filters, Charts and Rules. Apply filters, automated rules and graphs using IS metrics.
  4. Accuracy. Improvements to the calculation of IS.

The new columns are simply Search and Display variations for each original column, as above – Now here’s a question: Can you tell us why there’s no Exact Match IS for Display? comment and WIN a massive, virtual high-five!

Source | More Source

Compare Dates Comes to Google AdWords

As an online marketer it is essential to be able to easily compare your data between two date ranges. Knowing if your campaign experiment or test has improved results or not and having a clear understanding of account performance between two date ranges is often critical when making educated decisions with regards to campaign optimisation.

Google Analytics always had date range comparison options

Unlike Analytics, Google AdWords has previously only ever allowed advertisers to select a set group of possible dates (this month, last month, last 7 days etc) with only one customisable option. Today, we noticed that Google has finally added a “Compare Dates” feature to the date range options in AdWords. Now allowing advertisers to choose/compare two custom date ranges and data is also displayed in your AdWords performance graphs. Now you can see at a glance the stats between two date ranges, instead of switching back and forth or exporting and arranging the data. Custom date ranges seem to remain saved when switching between accounts in your MCC.

Now available in Google AdWords
Performance Graph illustrates data between date ranges

Well done Google AdWords, we take our hats off to you on this one. Been waiting ages for it.

Recent Changes to Remarketing

Remarketing is a very useful AdWords tool for targeting users who have already been your site but did not complete the desired action (eg. A newsletter sign up or a product purchase). There are various methods for using Remarketing to work for your campaign objectives. Please see my previous post on the basics of Remarketing.

Earlier this month, Google made some changes to how marketers are able to use this feature. The first change allows for Remarketing lists to be created and managed within Google Analytics, allowing for deeper analysis of these ads. This can be found in the Admin section under “Remarketing Lists”.

The second change is the ability to create various Remarketing lists using one piece of code instead of many.
Before, if you wanted to separate ad messages according to the page category that the user was browsing before they left the site, a unique code for each of those categories would have to be generated and implemented within the corresponding webpage. For example, if you have a site selling shoes, you would have to have a unique code for running shoes, a unique code for boots etc., in order to be able to deliver Remarketing ads specific to those shoe types.

Now, only one Remarketing code needs to be generated and implemented across all pages of the site. Some accounts may already have this code automatically generated. If you have this, it will be found under the “Audiences” tab, within the shared library, named “Main List”. If your account does not have this pre-generated list, then click ‘New audience’. Select ‘Remarketing list’ and then ‘define a list of site visitors by placing a new tag on selected pages’. Select the ‘+New tag’ button, name your remarketing list as ‘Main List’.

When the code of this Main List has been implemented across the site, you will then be ready to create category-based lists. From the Audiences tab, select ‘New audience’ > ‘Remarketing List’. Then select ‘Define a list of site visitors based on the selection below’. You can then create a list defined by the contents of the URL. For example, if you want to create a list for all users who viewed running shoes on your site, you would select all URL’s containing the term “runningshoes”. This method is therefore dependant on the URL structure of your site.

If you have already been using Remarketing, you can continue to use the old method, but some changes will need to be made in order to be able to use this new feature. See an explanation from Google on these changes here.

This new way of Remarketing has the obvious benefit of not having to deal with too many separate pieces of code, which can get especially complex when emailing to clients with explanations on implementation. It is also a time saver in that you would no longer need to keep adding additional code when there are changes to landing pages and promoted products.

Image source.


Container Tags Can Save Time and Resources

It is a well-known issue for digital advertising agencies and expert PPC and analytics agencies in particular – tracking and tagging the right events and conversions on a client’s site by implementing the right scripts to accurately measure the success of marketing initiatives, page traffic and site usage. The problem I am referring to that can arise is not the actual tracking software, but the correct setup on the client side.

If you provide paid search marketing, you will often require your client to implement the AdWords conversion code somewhere on their site to track how many leads or sales have been generated by your campaigns. So far so good – you will contact your client, who will forward the request to their IT, who will implement the script for you and ideally it will work as intented. If the script has not been correctly placed, you will have to repeat this procedure. The larger a client, the longer it can take to forward your request through all the necessary instances. Now you also want to remarket certain sections of the site by placing individual scripts on pages of these sections and showing users who have looked at washing mashines different ads than users who have demonstrated interest in high-end gaming PCs. You will have to explain your exact requirements to the client again, who will have to execute the implementation of the needed scripts for you. This costs both you and the client time, resources, and therefore money. If you are offering web analytics advice and implementation, the list goes on .. events want to be tracked, user behaviour measured, e-commerce scripts enabled and tracking scripts amended. Every time a change is needed a new communication process will have to be initiated.

Container tags can take care of this issue for you. A number of different vendors with varying service and pricing models have come up over the last year. These so-called tag management solutions provide you with a JavaScript tag similar to any other tag you would use for Google AdWords or Analytics. However, this tag can contain numerous other tags which you can specify and edit at any given time using a web interface. So you would simply ask your client to implement one single tag across their whole site, and you can take care of the rest. You can include AdWords, Analytics and any other scripts you need in this tag – it empowers you to immediately make changes when needed and to always stay on top of tracking traffic and conversions in the correct way. I think that all of these systems provide you with the possibility to only place certain tags on certain pages you define, and many allow you to pull data from the HTML of a page (or, better, data layers – see reference below for more on this topic) and amend your tracking accordingly (great for instance if you are using Google Analytics e-commerce tracking).

There are of course also downsides to using container tags for your tracking. If you would like to read up on these and find out more about tag management, I highly recommend Google’s Justin Cutroni’s concise and highly informative article on the state and possible implementations of tag management here:

AdWords Labels Allows You To Customize Your Data

AdWords labels is a nifty new feature allowing you to organise your account’s keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns into your own custom groupings. This allows you to quickly filter and report on the data that’s of most interest to you. It also allows you to see how the custom categories you’ve created are performing relative to each other and the unlabeled entities in your account.


Phil is an online retailer selling a large variety of shoes in South Africa. He’s AdWords account has campaigns targeting 3 different regions (Western Cape, KZN and Gauteng). Within each campaign he has separate ad groups for generic and brand keywords. His structure (e.g. – Cape Town – Sneakers – Generic and – KZN – Sneakers – Generic) means that he has the same ads and keywords spread across different parts of this account. By applying a label “sneakers”  he can now easily sort his account or quickly run a labels report to see how well “sneakers” related keywords are performing in terms of sales across all three regions.

He can also now compare the performance of different types of shoes he is selling across these regions.

Labels can be used to organize your campaign elements in a way that you choose. Report on brand keyword performance versus all other non-branded keyword performance. You can measure how ads that mention “20% off” versus ads that mention “Save up to 25%” perform. You could also simply label your best performing keywords across ad groups in order to quickly review them. AdWords labels is a simple, yet handy tool have for any campaign manager’s tool box.





TrueView Video Ads Bring AdWords and YouTube Together

In the attempt to get more small and medium AdWords advertisers to try video and to simultaneously expand and improve the targeting options on YouTube and the Google Display Network (GDN), Google video ad formats and targeting options have received a significant update.

The first big change is that most of these video ads will no longer be charged for per click, but per view. A view counts as either a full watch of the video, or, in the case that it is longer than thirty seconds, a view of the first thirty seconds of the video. This will clearly make the video ad formats more lucrative for advertisers, as they will only be charged for potentially interested viewers. Users who skip their ads won’t leave a dent in the advertisers’ marketing budgets. Video ads will now also receive a sort of “quality score” similar to search ads that can, for instance, determine their position on the YouTube search results page along with the bid. This also adds a dimension of ‘engagement’ to the video ad model. Google thinks advertisers will aim for shorter, high quality clips more than ever to assure good scores, which would also be a definite win for the users.

The second big change is that you can manage all this from within AdWords now. You will also get additional metrics (such as view rate, thumb impressions and video impressions) and will be able to search for your YouTube videos from the AdWords interface to easily upload them. First and foremost, however, you will have access to AdWords’ highly sophisticated targeting methods. You can now target users by audiences consisting of interest categories, topics, content keywords or YouTube search keywords, for instance. This should make video advertising much more efficient.

The four ad formats promoted as “TrueView” video ads are as follows:

  • In-search (previously known as promoted videos, showing on the YouTube SERP and targeting YouTube search keywords)
  • In-stream (videos that show within a video – mostly up front, but can also be shown in the middle or at the end – and that can be skipped after five seconds)
  • In-slate (this is a new format where users will be shown a selection of three videos, and can choose the one they want to watch before proceeding to the actual video they came for – this will be more “opt-in” than in-stream ads, as the user is given a choice, however note that with this format the advertiser will already be charged for the click of the video)
  • In-display (these ads can show on YouTube or the GDN – for instance as a promotion on the right hand side of a YouTube video that is currently being watched)

Thinking about getting your advertising YouTube-ready? Remember that rich-media ads are becoming more important and effective than static banners in many cases and that YouTube is in fact the second largest search engine in the world. Two good reasons to give these new formats a try! Visit for more!

Enhanced Cost Per Click (CPC)

The question of whether to let AdWords handle your budget for you in the name of conversion goals is a tough one to answer. Do we trust these features? Are they more effective than manual bidding practices? When a typical online marketer asks these questions they will probably be thinking of Conversion Optimizer, and the available Enhanced CPC feature can often be overlooked.

How Does Enhanced CPC Work?

Each time an ad is activated, the maximum CPC on keywords or placements will be automatically increased or decreased, based on the chances of a conversion being achieved. The following variables are considered to predict the conversion rate:

  • Location
  • Browser
  • Language settings
  • Time of day
  • Day of week
  • Words in search query
  • Match type
  • Historical performance

Bids can be increased by up to 30%, and there is no limit to decreases.

Initially, Enhanced CPC will take effect on 50% of the auctions entered into. After gaining enough data to analyse performance of the feature one of two further steps will be taken. If it has been found that it has not benefited performance of the campaign, it will reduce its effect, but will not stop running entirely. If it has had a positive impact on the campaign, it will start to modify bids on up to 75% of auctions entered into, and if positive impact on modified bids continues 100% of the auctions will be affected by Enhanced CPC. There is no notification given when the feature starts to modify more than 50% of the auctions.

How is Enhanced CPC Enabled?

Activation within a campaign that has conversion tracking is simple. Within your AdWords account, go to Bidding and budget section under the campaign Settings tab and click “edit”. Then check the box under Enhanced CPC that is labelled “Use my conversion tracking data and bid to optimize for conversions”.

It can also be activated within AdWords Editor on the Campaigns tab, by selecting the drop down under Enhanced CPC to change from “Disabled” to “Enabled”.

How Does it Differ to Conversion Optimizer?

Enhanced CPC gives marketers more control, as they can override bid manually or use external bid management systems, whereas Conversion Optimizer does not allow continued management of CPC bids.

Conversion Optimizer is not limited to the 30% rise in bids that Enhanced CPC is. Conversion Optimizer lets you set a target CPA which it will work towards. Enhanced CPC does not take into account this goal.

Where Conversion Optimizer can only be implemented if the campaign has received 15 conversions within the past 30 days, Enhanced CPC does not have this requirement.

Who Should Use Enhanced CPC?

The feature appears to be a useful tool for experienced marketers who would like to benefit from automated bid management to maximise conversion rates, but retain the ability to control the bid themselves as well.

Because, unlike Conversion Optimizer, a campaign does not have to meet certain conversion requirements before it can be implemented, consideration must be taken into account as to whether the campaign is suitable for Enhanced CPC to be running. Enabling it on a campaign that is young or unstable could have no effect or negative results.

As with any automated feature (like Conversion Optimizer and Automated Rules), careful analysis is needed to ensure that the business KPI’s are not being affected negatively – particularly traffic received, as the limitless decreasing of bids may see it dwindle.

Why Should You Advertise on Facebook?

Many marketers view Facebook ads in the same light as the Google Display Network. These advertising messages are not as accurate as people actively searching for your product or service, but they both target relevant users. Last month Facebook’s online population exceeded a staggering 677 million users. 50% of these Facebook users log on to Facebook daily, have an average of 130 friends and spend around 55 minutes on Facebook per day. An active audience this size is reason enough to consider advertising on Facebook, but let’s go a little further.

Facebook is unique in that it does not target users based on relevant website content or keywords, but user generated profile information. Facebook allows people to “Like” website content, Facebook pages or groups, links and just about anything where there is a “Like” button present. Accompanied to this Facebook knows your location, marital status, education, birth date and demographic details. All this information can be used to target ads to a relevant target audience. In short, Facebook targets people and not website content or keywords. Yes, some people don’t fill in all their profile details, but an IP address can still be used to target based on location and you ultimately want to serve ads to a user who is likely to engage with your message.

Why Should You Advertise on Facebook

You can advertise your website, but lower bounce rates and community development can be achieved when advertising something on Facebook (directing users to a Facebook page, customised app, event or group). Keeping users on Facbeook after they click an ad and getting them to like your brand, means you can remarket to them in the form of status updates, pictures, links and conversation. Facebook serves ads in a social environment and they really have made the most of this by adding social context to ads. If your friend likes what an ad is advertising, this is then displayed on their profile page, the home page and under the ad when you see it. Research has proven that we are more likely to act based on peer recommendation rather than advertisement. Think about it; are you more likely to try a new restaurant based on a friend’s suggestion or an ad you saw on a website? Google has started moving in this direction with the recent release of the +1 button, but Facebook is way ahead of the pack in this regard. With so much time spent on the site, the social influence on ads can result in many people engaging with your brand from just one person clicking through and “Liking”. This is known as social amplification and increases your reach virally.

Ad real estate on Facebook is available on profile pages, in apps, photo albums and a few other areas within the platform. Impressions are free, just like search, with a Pay Per Click pricing model. This means great exposure for your brand from a manageable budget. So where is the ROI or considered conversion? A questionable topic, but Facebook is improving its reporting centre and targeting parameters as the ad platform develops. Recent studies prove that Facebook increases overall conversions, but they are not attributed to a last click conversion. Many people who click a Facebook ad first, eventually end up searching for your brand and convert at a later stage. Business dependant of course, but the above is reason why we believe you should be advertising on Facebook. If you have a question or would like more information, please leave us a comment below or contact us.

Does Google's +1 Button Affect Advertisers?

Google is finally making a social move in the right direction. Past experiments (Wave and Buzz) left a sour taste in many people’s mouths as the value was questionable. It is no secret that users are more influenced by other humans rather than an algorithm, so adding social signals to search results makes complete sense. The plus one button will be added to organic and paid search results. The +1 buttons will not change the way Google calculate quality score, however users may be more inclinded to click on ads due to personalised annotations that increase user interaction with the ad (similar to ad extensions), therefore increasing click through rates, which will directly influence quality scores.

Does Google's +1 Button Affect Advertisers_1
Ad with+1 button
Does Google's +1 Button Affect Advertisers_2
Ad that has been +1'ed


Google mentions that it plans to make the +1 button available for publishers too. This means people can reccommend your web pages for Google search results without leaving your website. Sign up to add the +1 button to your website.

The new and socially attractive +1 buttons will be rolling out on and only in English to start with. The +1 buttons will not be visible on Internet Explorer 7 or earlier versions of IE. The button will also not be visible to people that are not signed into a Google account, although there is talk that Google will consider allowing access via a Twitter log-in. Google say there is no need to make any changes to campaign strategy for the +1 button and that advertisers should, “Think of +1 buttons as an enhancement that can help already successful search campaigns perform even better.”

We look forward to seeing the +1 buttons in South Africa. Learn More.

Image source.

Joke: Apparently you will not be able to +1, because he can’t get any more awesome!

Paid Ads Looking More Organic

New Blue Pins

Location extensions became available to AdWords advertisers two years ago as a means to give specific information about the location of the business being advertised. (Read more about location extensions)

The new blue pin that was launched in February 2011 is a new feature on certain ads with location extensions that appear in the top 3 ad positions.  In addition, it will only be triggered if there is a Local Universal map the right side of the search results page. If there is no map, only the standard location extension will be shown.  Whereas before a plus box was used to indicate location extensions, the address is now displayed automatically if other Google Places Listings appear within the top 10 results.

The pin looks just like the red pins that appear for Google Places results. The blue pin will also appear on the Local Universal map along with the Google Places pins. This new marker seems to be a way of making the paid ads stand out a bit more, since Google Places listings may have taken away some of the focus.



Looking More Like Organic

Other recent changes to paid search ads include limiting the Display URLs to lower case only, and headlines being extended to include the first description line. (Read more on extended ad headlines)

These changes, along with the new blue markers for certain ads with location extensions, all make the top 3 ad positions look a lot more like organic search results. No doubt this plays in Google’s favour, as users will probably be more inclined to click on these paid ads, as they are confused with organic results which they may have selected over obvious paid ads. This means more cash from PPC advertisers.

Paid ads looking more like organic results is of course a good thing for online advertisers. An increase in click through rates is probable. However, appearing in the top 3 results has become even more desirable, and this increased competitiveness of being on top is sure to drive up CPC’s (another benefit to Google).

Advertisers who wish to embrace these changes and make the most out of them will need to focus on making sure their ads are eligible to trigger these new ad formats. Another major area of attention is Quality Scores. With competition for the top 3 positions, on the rise, optimizing Quality Scores is more important now than ever in order to make being on top as affordable as possible.

Image source.

Maximise on the New Looking Extended Headline AdWords Adverts

What do these new looking adverts mean for AdWords advertisers and users? The first description line of a text advert becomes an extension of the headline, divided by a hyphen. Is this a positive step for better performing adverts or a silent factor that could be negatively affecting your account performance? I don’t think Google would implement a new feature on their biggest revenue stream without having done their research to get more clicks.

Google says that higher click through rates have been achieved with this new layout. To me, PPC adverts are now starting to look more like natural search results. I’m interested to know how SEO experts feel about this change. It could be argued that the new headlines have the reverse effect and highlight or isolate the shorter headline adverts. Either way, the new extended headlines are definitively something to consider for your search advertising campaigns. The only requirement is that your advert has to have individual description lines one and two. What this means is your advert needs to be constructed in two separate sentences. Here is an example

New Headline:


Description line 1:       Mobile | PPC | Online Advertising.

Description line 2:       Get Fast Pay Per Click Results Now!

Original Display:


Description line 1:       Mobile, PPC and Online Advertising

Description line 2        With Profitable ROI. Call us Today!


The benefit of this is that your adverts visibility looks more natural and eye catching. The overall proximity of the advert changes with the longer, bolded headline. We are now more educated after reading the headline text before our eyes drift further down the advert, or at least we should be! Now an enticing call to action, what a welcome! A clever idea now would be to add Sitelink Ad Extensions to present further interactive information as your second line of text (image above) above your display URL, but this is all only possible if you score in the top 3 advert positions.

Vuala, you have the perfect AdWords advert looking very natural, offering great value in terms of targeted user experience and increased click through rates, quality scores and sales. The only caution to advertisers is that the increase in click through rates should be accompanied by an increase in conversion rates for profitable return and to yield an overall increase in performance.

Try it, test it with AdWords Campaign Experiments on adverts with good traffic and let us know your findings for further discussion!

Preparing for Instant Search

Along with the roll out of Instant Search by Google on 8 September this year, came a big response from the SEM community. Many feared negative effects that it may or may not have on the way marketers would have to adjust their AdWords campaigns and budgets. Instant Search is not yet a feature on This gives us an opportunity to study it and derive methods, if we decide necessary, in order to cope with the feature and maybe even take advantage of it.

What is Instant Search?

When searching on Google in the US, or when logged into a Google account in certain countries outside the US, the feature will predict your query and show result pages as you type.

Since results pages, probably containing paid search ads are being displayed as the user types, an issue is what is considered to be an impression, as the user is not necessarily looking for what Google is predicting for them. According to Google, the display of an ad will be counted as an impression id the user:

Presses “Enter”
Clicks on “Search”
Selects a prediction
Stays on the page for longer than 3 seconds
Clicks on a result
Clicks on a refinement (maps, news etc.)

One of the most common concerns is effect on Quality Scores. If a user not necessarily searching for your product stalls on a result page for over 3 seconds, the number of impressions would be likely to increase, without an increase in clicks. This will have a negative impact on Click Through Rates, lowering Quality Scores.

Another major concern of Paid Search Marketers is the effect on long tail keywords, which usually have lower CPC’s and yield many conversions. Looking at the snapshot above, the user would be unlikely to complete their search query if they are looking for hotels if there are already ads displayed for hotels. This forces marketers to bid more aggressively on “Las Vegas” to compete, instead of “Las Vegas Pyramid Hotel”, for example. “Las Vegas” would obviously be an expensive term to bid on, and is likely to become even more expensive.

It would also be necessary to bid more aggressively on broad match types, in order to ensure your ads are displayed on terms that Google suggests to the user through instant search. Broad match is an expensive way of advertising on AdWords.


So, it pretty much seems like Instant Search has been implemented for the sole purpose of sucking money out of those advertising on AdWords. There are, however, some subtle advantages to this feature.

Advertisers will be receiving free sub 3 second impressions. They are considered free, as they are not technically counted as impressions, therefore not affecting Quality Scores.

Since users will be exposed to more results, they are likely to be more informed when they click on your ad. More of these qualified visits could lead to an increase in conversion rates.

Results So Far

A great number of Search Engine Marketers in countries where Instant Search is a feature have carried out tests on user trends with regards to Instant Search and have recorded their findings.

A few weeks after Instant Search was launched, a UK Travel Blog released results from a study they carried out using eye movement detection technology. They came to the conclusion that no one noticed the instant result pages, and they went on to complete their search query as they normally would. Going by this information, no adjustment should be made to campaigns as Instant Search has no effect.

A global search marketing software developer and agency reported that average number of terms in their trigger keywords has decreased by 1.64%. One-term keywords have increased and two-term keywords have decreased. They observed there was no change from three+ terms, which indicates a shift from two-term keywords to one-term keywords, without the long tail being affected. An overall decline in impressions of 6.75% has been seen, but the amount of clicks has increased by 4.54%. This has resulted in a highly improved CTR.

More recently, a paid search management platform provider has released results that show Instant Search has had a significant effect on PPC campaigns. They noticed that impressions and clicks increased by 9.3%, and CPC’s decreased while overall campaign costs increased slightly. As opposed to fears of broad matches becoming more necessary, results showed that the opposite has happened. Impressions and clicks for phrase- and exact-match terms have increased by a higher percentage than that of broad-match since the implementation of Instant Search. This could be indicative of users becoming more engaged in Instant Search and pausing to click on ads that pop up mid-search. Instant Search may also be helping user to phrase queries, where they may have been unsure about what terms to search for results they wanted to see.

How to Prepare?

Studies show that the effects of Instant Search are not necessarily uniform for all Search Engine Marketers. At first it may appear that the new feature does not have much of an impact on user behaviour at all, but this is something that can change as people become more familiar with it. It would be a good idea for South African online marketers to think about ways that they can adapt their campaigns to cope with, or take advantage of, Instant Search when it does become a feature available on

Some methods may include bidding on partial search phrases in order to place ads on each result page that a potential customer would likely see as they type a query for your product. Google suggest may become a useful keyword research tool. Users may be more likely to scroll between the predictions given, as clicking is not even necessary to see the results.

Depending on which reports you would like to follow, you might decide to increase the number of phrase- and exact-match keywords in your campaigns, or eliminate two-term keywords.

For the time being, the most important change that will be help campaigns when Instant Search arrives is to make ads more clear and concise, and focus on branding, as users will be seeing more ads in shorter increments of time. It is up to each marketer to analyse data for the weeks after Instant Search is implemented to see how it has affected their traffic and user behaviour and adjust campaigns accordingly. Note that this data should be filtered by Browser, as Google Instant is not supported on Internet Explorer versions below 8 and Firefox versions before 3.

Enhance Text Ads on Google Networks with Ad Extensions

Posted by Adam Mitchell on 17 Nov 2010

Google Ad Extensions offers PPC advertisers more opportunity to stand out with text adverts on desktop and mobile devices. Ad extensions such as: Location extensions (map), Sitelinks (additional page links), Product extensions (catalogue/shopping cart), Phone extensions (click to call) and recently announced Seller Rating extensions (consumer reviews) all make up the Ad extensions tab in AdWords. In South Africa we are only previewed to Location, Sitelinks and Phone Ad extentions, but this is a superb feature to increase your ads appeal.

Location extensions appear as a link under your text ad to an expandable window that leads to your Place page and website. Using a Google Places listing in conjunction with AdWords will optimise on appearance and usability of text ads. Location extensions allow you to promote very relevant information about your business such as the business name, address, contact number, pictures and consumer references as a simple added benefit to the standard four line text ads. Manually entered, static Location extensions require regional specific targeting in the settings tab to function effectively, but will show relevant extensions to users based on their geographic location which makes your ad more relevant.

Sitelinks allow advertisers to promote other pages on the website with four additional links appearing under your ad. This is really effective for dominating those brand terms and to showcase other areas of your site that the user might also enjoy. For example, a bank offering various financial services could use Sitelinks to promote all of them through one text ad. Chances are increased that the ad will relate to the users query and induce a click. This can improve click through rates, quality score, CPC’s and conversions. Sitelinks will however only work if you are advertising on a keyword that has the ability to appear in position one.

Phone extensions work on a click to call basis and can be extremely cost effective tracking metrics such as click to call’s and call duration. A direct conversion straight to the clients phone line. Google Voice allows synchronisation of all business telephone lines into one, which will be very handy when it’s available in South Africa. A Television show in the US made excellent use of Google Voice to inspire interaction from the audience with thoughts on the show, “leave us a message”. Explore the campaign site here and listen to people’s contributions.

Ad Extensions are measurable as per normal columns, but with two limitations in the Ad extensions tab. Data on individual Sitelinks is unavailable and shown as sets on campaign level. Clicks on the ad headline are not separated from clicks on Ad extensions, therefore this could exaggerate your reports if exporting data directly from the Ad extensions tab. To gather accurate data on our “ad extender” friends, make use of the “Segment” feature on the campaign and adgroup tabs in AdWords. From the Segment drop down menu, select the “click type” filter to view granular information on your Ad extensions, including clicks, CTR’s and conversions.

The financials are always important and this is my understanding of the costs related to Ad extensions. Clicks on Ad extensions are only charged for when the user clicks through from the search interface or display ad (not charged to expand windows), so be sure to also focus on your landing pages where users are not taken straight to your website (Place page). Enjoy and feel free to share any success or other related stories in the comments area below.

The evolution of keyword length in search marketing

Posted by Matthias Wobrock on 28 May 2009

The evolution of keywords has progressed as users have become more specific in their requirements.

Our societies are rapidly being broken down into small areas of experts. People work in more specialised groups and more specific fields than ever before. The web supports this development, streamlining workflows and establishing world-wide connections to very specific information or niche areas of interest.

This trend can easily be applied to the commercial sector. If you view the web as a global marketplace, niche products also dispose of relevant sales potentials. Best practice example: Amazon. It achieves the majority of its profits through rare, long search term combinations. In the beginning of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), competition was relatively small. Today thousands of vendors offer essentially the same books, shoes or laptops and companies struggle to position themselves in terms of cost and creativity.

Expanded ranges make refined searches necessary in order to find the desired product. Additionally, internet users have become more skilled in using search engines and use more accurate terms to arrive at their destination faster. This development could even be partially owed to the relatively low precision of search engines. If “eBay Smartphone” does not bring the desired result, a search for “iphone 3g eBay app download” could do the trick.

Statistics not only show that the length of search terms is increasing (see bottom graph) but also that the percentage of searches with only one or two words decreases in relation to the total amount of searches. Searches consisting of 7 or 8 words are constantly increasing.

Interestingly, the number of total searches rises faster than the number of displayed paid ads, which means that the ad coverage on user’s searches is becoming a lot scarcer. Easy money if you manage to cover those complex search terms with your campaign.

From the first search for basic information to a more concrete purchase intention, search engine users may switch back and forth between generic expressions and long tail search terms. If you lose them on their course, you cannot influence their buying decision any longer. And if they use long tail keywords, they generally already have a more specific idea of the product they are looking to buy.

Bidding on long tail terms therefore offers two decisive advantages: on one hand, conversions are more likely due to the fact that the potential customer has already thrown a glance at a unique product. On the other hand, they are much easier and cheaper to rank for than general terms because the competition on that particular expression is a lot less: a better conversion rate for a lower cost.

However, these numerous keyword variants do not only need to be generated, but also managed, and their cost-effectiveness has to be proven. At Traffic Brand, for example, we use a custom-made system to identify and efficiently manage promising keywords to create additional value for our clients. We are prepared for this new trend and very curious to see how search engine usage will continue to change.