Optimize your GDN accounts with more hidden gems
Looking for creative ways to optimize your Google Display Network (GDN) campaigns? Columnist Pauline Jakober has some suggestions for minor, overlooked optimizations that can move the needle.
In last month’s column, I talked about taking advantage of the summer months to optimize your SEM account. Using the summer slowdown (if it exists for you!) to examine your settings, review your ads and take a closer look at location options won’t transform your PPC account, but these small actions can add up to significant improvements.
Sadly, summer is almost over (sniff, sniff), but you can still make the most of any lull in business to conduct the same kind of optimization process with your Google Display Network (GDN) accounts.
So when you find yourself with a moment to catch your breath, here are five GDN hidden gems worth looking into:
1. Audit your display remarketing setup and audiences
When you originally set up your display remarketing, did you set it up in AdWords or Google Analytics? If you set things up exclusively in AdWords, this might be a good time to switch to Google Analytics or (at a minimum) add in Google Analytics audiences.
Two reasons justify the change:
(a) If your remarketing code gets stripped, you’ll catch it sooner in Google Analytics.
Recently, my team and I saw a slow and steady drop in a client’s remarketing campaign audience numbers and conversions. The dip occurred over the summer, which isn’t unusual for B2B clients. So we didn’t immediately comprehend the significance.
But as the dip continued, we did some digging and found that our AdWords remarketing code had been stripped from some web pages.
It’s true that Google Analytics code can get accidentally stripped from web pages just as easily. But the difference is that when that happens, your PPC team won’t be the only ones affected. Other stakeholders, such as SEO and email marketing teams, will also witness the decline in performance. Odds are, the problem will get caught and solved that much faster.
In the case of our client, we decided to set up audiences in Google Analytics. And because we could do this without involving the client’s development team, we got it done quickly (another bonus).
(b) You have access to many more options in Google Analytics.
Another major benefit of setting up your audiences in Google Analytics is having access to many additional options. In addition to targeting certain pages, you can also target specific audiences, such as all users, new users, returning users and so on:
You can find this list of audience options in the Google Analytics Help documentation.
At the top of this list, you can see “Smart List” as an option, which is also worth exploring. Per Google, here is how Smart Lists work:
Analytics applies machine learning to your conversion data to determine which users are most likely to convert in subsequent sessions, and dynamically manages the remarketing audience to focus on those users.
Machine learning uses dozens of signals, including location, device, browser, referrer, session duration and page depth to identify users for the audience. The model is typically updated daily to reflect the latest data to which Analytics has access, and users are automatically added to or removed from the audience based on that model.
Learn more about Smart Lists in the Google help documentation.
2. Review your display remarketing strategy
You may find that some of your longer-term clients are still working with display strategies you hammered out with them when they first came on board years ago. It’s well worth taking a moment to see whether that strategy still makes sense.
Even better, get a team member who doesn’t normally work on the account to review the account and onboarding materials.
It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes can turn up!
3. Update your display ads
In the day-to-day, it’s easy to get mired in the technical aspects of our jobs and forget that ad creative also needs freshening up.
I recognize that this is easier said than done. If it took you months to get the first round of creative approved, you may hesitate to step back into the fray.
One way to avoid this problem is to create more than one set of display ads at the outset and cycle through them over time, rather than having to drum up a new batch later.
A reminder: You can no longer create text ads on display campaigns, so you’ll need to test responsive ads.
4. Take a closer look at responsive ad performance
In most (not all) of our accounts, we’ve found that responsive ads generate more impressions and clicks — but not more conversions — than display ads.
Consequently, we devised a plan early on to segregate responsive and display ads into separate ad groups.
If you find the same discrepancy between responsive ad and display ad performance in your accounts, you, too, might want to consider a similar setup. Such a setup allows you to experiment with giving responsive ads a lower bid to increase display ad impressions and clicks.
Alternatively, this might be a place where AdWords labels come in handy.
5. Delve into mobile device performance on GDN
While we’ve seen an amazing increase in purchases from mobile devices (and therefore often grant mobile its own campaigns to optimize sales and messaging), we’ve found that mobile sometimes doesn’t perform as well on the GDN.
Take this new client account as an example:As you can see, both of these display campaigns are struggling to convert on mobile.
The first one, for example, has had two conversions, at a cost of $1,119.24 per conversion! Granted, the product is a higher ticket item, but even so, this is a bit rich — especially when compared to 34 conversions at $129.25 per conversion on computers!
We don’t want to give up on mobile entirely, as we’re big believers in cross-device synchronicity. But we will certainly be testing lower bid adjustments for mobile on this account.
Don’t overlook these hidden gems!
Summer might be nearly over, but it’s not too late to pick out and polish these hidden gems.
They won’t single-handedly make or break your account, but they can add up to significant performance improvements.
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