Hot Off The Press: PPC News, Tips & Tools From SMX West

Matt Van Wagner on
  • Categories: Channel: SEM, Paid Search Column
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  • Winters get long here in New England and so we often find ourselves travelling here and there to break up the long, dark winter and get some time outdoors before the first crocuses pop out of the ground. Some folks prefer to get outside onto the ski slopes while others head south to grab some rays on Caribbean cruise. Me? I prefer search marketing conferences.

    Thankfully, SMX West was out in San Jose last week, so I got the best of both worlds. Though SJ is not exactly tropical this time of year, going out doesn’t involve five minutes of layering with hat, gloves and boots.

    During the week, I picked up some just-off-the-presses PPC updates as well as a slew of new tools to help optimize and manage PPC accounts, recommended by from PPC  colleagues at SMX.  Here are just a few I’d like to share today.

    Microsoft Pushes Ahead With New adCenter Features

    Microsoft, who started slowly a few years ago with their adCenter platform development, continued their forward momentum with a slew of new AdCenter features announced last week, including:

    Mobile Device Targeting

    You can now target smartphones and other devices including Android, Blackberry, iPhones and Windows Phone, and iOS, Android, and RIM operating systems. Device targeting can be done at either ad group or campaign level, giving you more flexibility than your AdWords device targeting settings.

    Local Ad Extensions

    As the name implies you can add contact details for your local businesses and the ads present like this:

    AdCenter now offers extensions for local ads

    More information about implementing local extensions within adCenter can be found at the  adCenter blog.

    Bidding, Budgeting Suggestions

    Great new feature to help you discover areas of your adCenter campaign where you can improve performance by adjusting bids and openingup your budgets.

    Impression Share Report

    You can now get impression share reports at  both the ad group and campaign levels within AdCenter.

    Power Tools For Paid Search

    There was an interesting SMX session on power tools for paid search professionals that highlighted some interesting and not widely-known tools
    to help with various aspects of campaign management and optimization. Here are a few interesting tools mentioned at that session that are worth exploring:

    James Zolman, (@jameszol) of Quality Scores,Inc mentioned a tool that can help you get more quickly identify sources of poor quality traffic in your display campaigns. has a competitive analysis tool that lets you identify sites owned by, or closely-related to, the low-quality traffic sites you’ve identified in your Google Analytics and Google AdWords network reports.

    We all know that owners of really crappy adsense sites tend to have more than one of them. This tool lets you identify more of the bad actors more quickly.

    Fellow SearchEngineLand columnist, Brad Geddes (@Ck_org) of Certified Knowledge, observed that a surprising number of PPC account managers are still not using the free, well-known vendor-supplied tools like AdWords Editor and adCenter Desktop Editor, but then mentioned a few of his own favorite free or nearly-free tools: Google AdWords Modified Broad Match Keyword Tool. This simple, free utility from Acquisio quickly converts your broad match keyword lists into broad match modified lists.

    Brad also mentioned another free tool, the AdSense Sandbox, that allows you to find competitor’s text and display ads running on adsense network sites by typing in a keyword and an geographic region.

    Adsense Sandbox allows you to find text and display ads for keyword interest areas


    David Rodnitzky (@PPCAssociates) of PPC Associates, had a few more good tools to help advertisers with their display ad campaigns. He mentioned two great tools for uncovering competitors in the display advertising space,  recommending the free tools from and MixRank .

    Finding the time and creativity to develop your own display ads is always a challenge. David recommends the free and nearly free tools and services from a company called, 4Mads which can help you reduce the cost of developing mobile and other online ad formats.

    Chad Summerhill (@ChadSummerhill) at ABF U-Pack Moving, recommended a few great tools for Adwords account management. High on his list is a free tool from Gazel, a company he is also associated with, that allows you to creating AdWords dashboards in Excel.

    Developing and maintaining KPI dashboards can be mind-numbing. Gazel offers a free AdWords campaign performance template for Excel that accesses APIs, to help automate the creation of som really slick and really useful performance dashboards.

    Another free tool Chad has developed is an Ad Relevance Checker to help you adhere to best practices for ad copy development and testing. This free ad relevance tool is available at Chad’s blog.

    These are just a few of the news  items I took note of during my escape from winter trip to SMX West last week, and I look forward to getting more breaking news, tools and tips at the upcoming SMX shows in the coming months. If you haven’t already, reserve your spot at SMX Advanced in Seattle on June 5-6th and at SMX Toronto on April 25-26th.  See you there!

    About The Author

    Matt Van Wagner
    Matt Van Wagner is President and founder of Find Me Faster a search engine marketing firm based in Nashua, NH. He is a member of SEMNE (Search Engine Marketing New England), and SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization as a member and contributing courseware developer for the SEMPO Institute. Matt writes occasionally on internet, search engines and technology topics for IMedia, The NH Business Review and other publications.