What’s in a Report?

Working with an Agency – Reporting Expectations

In a recently conducted survey, we noted that 25% of the clients that we work with have never worked with an agency before. While working with an online agency can be exciting, you may get more out of the experience if you know what to expect and what you want out of the relationship.

There are many posts available if you do a quick Google search on what to expect work-wise, but what should you expect in terms of reporting? Reports are often one of the only ways that many businesses know what is working within their Pay Per Click account.


Our agency used to report on a weekly basis to our clients. We found that this period of time was too brief, and often small daily fluctuations would show as spikes or decreases in overall weekly performance for our clients’ accounts. We have now found that providing our clients reporting every fifteen to thirty days is more actionable for our clients businesses. We still perform our more frequent internal reporting to make needed changes and modifications, but we do find that our mid-month and end- of month reports are a win-win for both our client and our agency.


In February 2011, Google made updates to what type of information certain agencies should provide to clients. Google’s newly updated policies state that:

Third parties should at minimum provide advertisers with monthly data on Adwords costs, clicks and impressions at the account level.

While we agree that this is a nice start, there are many other metrics that you should receive in the periodic updates that your search team provides.

Cost/Conversion (Sometimes notated as CPC or CPA) – The price paid for each new conversion or acquisition. Conversions can be defined by the client as a sale, lead generated or visit to a particular page on a site. We suggest that instead of seeing a total lump sum for total CPA across your entire site, that instead you ask your search provider to provide this information on a product level that is more manageable. This is needed because the CPA that your business is willing to spend to acquire one overnight visitor at your hotel versus a convention may differ.

Later this week we will look at additional content that should be included within your reports and also the level of transparency you should receive from your agency.

How Google’s Real-Time Web and Personalized Search is Re-Shaping the Search Landscape

The internet is abuzz with news of Google’s real-time Web and personalized search queries and the potential implications for users and search marketers vary across the board. With live updates from Facebook, Twitter and Myspace appearing in the search results, marketers may need to add a stronger emphasis on social media to their rosters in the coming months.

In the initial rollout, the feeds show in a real-time scroll box above and below the fold. While these live updates don’t currently use a large amount of retail space, the ubiquitous nature of social media and the influence these feeds posses may urge retailers, especially business to consumer, to implement overarching and in-depth social media pushes. As the updates appear on the first page, this change could also push weaker sites to the second and third pages of search results indicating businesses may make a heavier push to PPC marketing to boost first-page present.

As the rollout for the real time search was only recently launched, only keywords such as Taylor Swift and Tiger Woods prompt the real time search.  Keywords such as Oprah and Obama SERP still do not contain the scroll box.  This demonstrates that although having the social media presence on the result page, that the real effects will not be seen until the update is fully integrated.  In the future if this real-time scroll bar does take up more real-estate, this will make the top organic listing highly competitive and a SEO campaign almost crucial for all online marketers.  It also seems that a social media marketing campaign is needed for online campaigns as well as top search results will show tweets from Twitter.  It almost seems that the roll out of this product creates the need for a blended online marketing campaign including PPC, SEO, and SMM.

2010 Online Advertising Forecast

Here is an interesting article that I came across.  The article takes a look at the forecast for online advertising for 2010.  You can read the full article and we have also listed some high level insights below:

Video Usage:

  • Senior Analyst David Hallerman suggests that more marketers will embrace online video advertising, and that more sites will support the growth of video.

Ad Targeting and Privacy

  • With the main stream availability of consumer behavior online comes more scrutiny about privacy policies:  What this means to us is users are becoming aware of ad-blocking software or add-ons and more deletion of cookies that makes the availability of what you’re doing, where you’ve been, and where you go online a lot harder to companies to gather.
  • On the government side there is potential for more federal legislation limiting website tracking
  • Again what does that mean: in order for search engines to get ahead of this legislation there needs to be a greater deal of transparency
  • In 2010 we should start seeing websites letting users know what data is being kept about them and give them access to remove themselves
  • Ultimately publishers will need to come up with better trade-offs if they want to garner any information from an individual


  • Social sites and video results is something to change in search.  You will start seeing more of these results as part of general search queries.
  • Advertising is also predicated to continue increasing as we come closer to 2010
  • 2010 spend = $11.4 billion
  • 2011 spend = $12.2 billion
  • 2012 spend = $13.6 billion
  • 2014 spend = $15.8 billion

Internet Users and Usage

  • As we move into the new year internet usage is predicated to increase as the ease of accessing the internet continues to grow with the use of laptops, smartphones, and gaming consoles.
  • It is predicated that we see the most change within the adults ages 55 and older, who are now discovering social networks.
  • Number of internet users will begin to stabilize, as penetration reaches 66% of the US population, or 205.3 million people.


Diversify Your Search Portfolio

Anyone that has ever dabbled in investing their hard earned savings into trading stocks has been forewarned… Be Diversified.  Investment diversification is so very important to success because each financial instrument reacts differently to external market forces.  When one of these external market forces throws off the performance of one your investments, a diversified portfolio can react with their counter-performing investments.

I know, you are asking how does this relate to SEM?  Well imagine that you are only concentrating your efforts on Google Search and neglecting to research how your account would perform on MSN, Yahoo or even through Content/Display Advertising.  What happens when an external force (new competitor, new guideline change, bidding war) causes your performance to tank?  Without a diversified search portfolio, you are at the mercy of Google and turnaround/adjustment time can intensify.  So how do you know what search engines to diversify? Ask yourself or your SEM team the following:

Where are my competitors?

With the use of some internal tools, our team is able to take your keywords and scrape Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and to see what competitors have a presence there, what impression share they are getting and what keywords/ad copy/landing page strategy they are using.

Brand Contribution will allow you to have insights on what competitors are bidding on your main terms for each of the mentioned Search Engines above and what share of impressions they are getting.  This is important because if a majority of your main competitors are on another engine, wouldn’t you want to gain presence there as well?

What type of visitor am I targeting?

Another issue that is important to understand is what type of visitor is most qualified.  A good example of this is in relation to targeting B2B traffic, expanding to Yahoo because of search volume may not always be the best move.  Instead looking into engines like MSN (Bing/MSN is the default engine in IE which tends to cause a lot of business traffic) and Business .com might be the best way to get the qualified traffic you are looking to expand.

Another example of expanding to diversify may be seen in branding efforts.  If you want to push your brand, using search networks like Google, Yahoo and MSN is not always the best avenue to push branding efforts.  The reason being, Search traffic is more for demand fulfillment where it meets the instant need/demand that a visitor already has.  I need “new shoes”  today, I will go to a search engine and type in the term “new shoes”, then look for the best pricing/shipping/benefits available.  The brand may weigh into my decision but I have a demand and the benefits can outweigh this option.

For branding, however, you may want to target Content Networks (Google, Yahoo and MSN), Social Networking (Facebook PPC) and Display Advertising Networks (Yahoo Display, Quigo) where your goal is to actually generate demand.  This is where a good branding effort and understanding the available networks and how to use them to diversify is very important.  In the cases above, by branding properly you can actually push your branded searches and have visitors bypass the category search, in the case of our example instead of searching “new shoes”, the visitor would see your ad and search “nike shoes” if you were Nike.

Where am I performing well now?

One of the most overlook ways to diversify is through what you are already finding success in.  When starting a Google Campaign, by default you are opted in to the “Search Partners” networks which are other search engines that serve Google Ads.  The main search engines that are on the “Search Partners” are:


What we tend to see is that clients who are on the Search Partners Network either perform extremely well or they don’t. When the conversion stats via the Search Partners Network are performing much better than on Google’s Network.  The tricky part is that your control of bidding, negative keywords and ad copy is very limited when you go through Google however the insights show that you are performing well.  Our team has found success in taking accounts that are successful on Google’s Search Partners to the search engines themselves, starting with and, so that we can be more aggressive in our strategy.   By going to the search engines themselves you are able to have better targeted:

  • Bids
  • Ad Copy
  • Landing Pages (when necessary)

By giving yourself as much control as possible the Search Partner Networks, you are allowing your success to expand ten-fold.

Overall, Google will dominate the SEM world in terms of search volume and it is the preferred Search Engine of most people.  This can cause many people to solely rely on Google for results and not look to diversify their search portfolio.  There is no telling when Google performance can take a turn for the worse due to one of many external market forces which can cause your online sales or leads to crumble along with it.  By diversifying your portfolio, and growing on other engines that can bring in qualified traffic you are strengthening your defense against any of these external forces and giving your business another source of sales and leads while the proper adjustments can be made to get your Google Account back on track.  If you have any questions about what engines may be best for you, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialists for more information….

Google Adwords has released a Beta User Interface

Google has been working on a new User Interface. It has been in a limited beta for the past few months, but keep an eye out for it because over the rest of this week they will be rolling it out to everybody.

The first thing you will notice is that it looks a lot like Google Analytics. They took the concept of the Account Snapshot and put it on most pages. The other thing you will notice is that they tried to incorporate many of the features from the Adwords Editor.

They have included a new help section and it includes top help subjects that corresponds to what you are looking at. It also has a help search box on every page. In the past all you had was a link to the help page.

The features that I like the most are the ones that allow you to make changes without refreshing the page. Just by clicking on a bid you can make a change. Once you hit “ok” the change is made.  You can copy ads to different campaigns. You can also check the box next to an ad and click “More Options” and “Copy” and a box will come up with a list of campaigns and ad groups to copy it to.

The biggest change is that they have streamlined the entire process. You now have fewer clicks to get to many of the things you do regularly. And you can easily hide the boxes on the left to make more room on the main page.

Remember this is a Beta and there might still be some bugs. And once you get used to the new layout and how things work, you’ll be able to get things done a lot faster.

Choosing a Domain Name

Below are some general rules you should follow when creating a domain name. These aren’t hard-and-fast and this list is certainly not exhaustive, but rather some things to keep in mind when you’re registering a domain name.

Try to get a .com.

    The public has been conditioned to think of websites as being .com’s.  If you don’t get a .com you will probably lose some traffic to the person that owns the same domain you have but has the .com.

Keep the length of your domain down.

    The longer your domain is the harder it is for people to remember. Try to keep it under 3 words and 15 characters. If you use 3 words make sure one of the words is very short. The reason for this is that people are lazy and will just go type in something shorter in Google. Also don’t forget you’re probably going to be using this domain in print on cards and promotional material, so the shorter it is, the less room it will take up on your printed materials. Before you buy a domain type it out and print it and see what it looks like in print. Another big reason for shorter domains is that if you plan to do pay per click advertising a shorter domain name will give you more text on your display url. You only have space for 35 characters in PPC and it is a very common practice to add extra text after your display URL to get more text in to your ad. I like to put stuff like /Free_Shipping after the domain or /Brand on ads that I create.  If you have a really long domain name you’re not going to have this option even if you remove the www from the front of the display URL.

Keep your domain name Phonetic.

    This means that when it is spoken out loud the spelling should be obvious. No silent V’s or weird foreign spellings unless you are targeting a foreign market where that is common. This is especially important if you plan on doing any radio or TV ads. Even if you don’t plan on doing any radio or TV ads your going to be telling people about your website and more than likely you will be using it as your email address.

Using Google Trends to improve sales

Google Trends is a tool many people don’t know about and those who do don’t understand how powerful it is.  Google Trends will show you the traffic on search terms.  It allows you to show the data by month or by years or by multiple years.  It also shows you traffic by country and states.

The first thing that I do when I go to Google Trends is type in a term and select the last year.  This shows me a complete year from Jan to Dec.  Next I look at the last 12 months to see how things are going right now.  Both times I look down at the bottom and see where people are typing in my terms.

The next thing you can do is start comparing terms.  You can use a comma between terms to compare terms together.    Here is a search for “hunting, fishing, skiing, sailing” for 2008.  This shows you the comparison of the different types of outdoor sports.

Direct From Google – Display URL Policy Change

In an effort to provide more relevant results and a higher quality experience for users, Google has made the decision to no longer allow multiple domains within a single ad group. Going forward, all display URLs within an ad group must be for the same top-level domain.  In an effort to ensure the least amount of down time for our clients, the team here at Leverage Marketing has been busy updating URLs for this coming change to Google’s policy.

It is important to note that this amendment to Google’s policy applies to all advertisers, regardless of previous exceptions or acceptability of any campaigns. While Google understands there are legitimate use-cases for multiple domains within one ad group, they ask that separate ad groups be created for any given domain.

PPC and SEO Work Well Together

When dealing with the complicated world of internet marketing, there are numerous headaches to getting a web site noticed. Whether it is the competition or the clutter, really driving prospective customers to a site can be a hassle. Some seem to think internet ads are the best way to go, while others would rather crawl their way though the ranks of search engines to come out on top. While many internet companies search intently for the solution, the true answer is easier than it may appear. The answer is BOTH: Paid search ads and natural search optimization together work more effectively and efficiently than either by themselves.

*12.6% of conversions credited to natural search were preceded by ad clicks

*Searchers use nearly as many branded searches as non-branded searches

*Branded ads increase new visitor traffic by 12%

Some internet businesses stick to one or the other, but the truth is that they are an effective tag team for many reasons. Most companies aren’t the number one result in an online search results page immediately when they begin their search engine optimization, so while your web site climbs in search rankings internet ads keep you in the customers immediate search results.While your natural rank may not show immediately, your ad will. This supplementation will lead to valuable traffic as your ad can drive interest to your web site. Many companies believe they are done with advertising once their site has a sufficient rank. Sadly, this is not the case. Many times customers’ searches are too long, too specific, or just to general. Paid ads can help insure that your relevant page is still displayed even in these instances. Another benefit with the saturation and supplementation of both elements is it can aid in brand association, so that customers think of your product or service in a particular category due to its dominate presence in a search.

A successful marketing campaign must include both advertisements and a high ranking natural search result. In the highly competitive internet market no company should simply be satisfied with a decent ranking or clever advertisement. Using both strategies ensures that you are receiving the maximum return on your investment. – J

Is Your Pay Per Click Account Holiday-Ready?

{Editor’s Note: This is one of a set of articles on ways to approach and prepare for the traditional Holiday Shopping season. I’ve dubbed these articles as “The Marketer’s Perspective” and “The Analyst’s Perspective.” A smart online marketer will use both of these approaches. Here’s the Analyst’s Perspective — Michelle}

As the weather cools down, leaves change color and football takes over the television it is clear that Fall is here.This can only mean one thing to any Online storefront….the Holidays are near!!!Over the years I have experienced the Highs and Lows of proper planning for what can be the busiest time of year for any online business in retail.Are you Prepared?Will you see December come before you realize the missed opportunity?Not if you follow the 3 steps that have helped me to prepare my clients for the Holidays:

1.Know Your Trends

The biggest mistake that any business owner can make is not knowing the online trends for search volume.Tools such as Google Trends: can help you to prepare for the significant increase in traffic that comes with the Holidays.Knowing when the traffic picks up will allow you to make the following adjustments to your accounts:

  • Adjust Budget so that you don’t lose out on impression share
  • Keep an eye on the competition’s strategy for possible marketing advantages
  • Knowing which regions/cities to target for regional targeting strategy

Let’s use the term “video game” as our example for the holidays.Here is the results that I get when I use that term:

The immediate trends that you can see circled above are definite increase in traffic volume which starts in October for this term in the US.This traffic hits its peak throughout November and starts to fizzle out during December.If you wait until December to run more ad budget, you will have missed the boat. The top cities and states that search for this term are below which may help allow for a regional targeting test to focus on areas which have a bulk of traffic for testing. This would be especially helpful if you are working with a limited budget during the Holidays and want to maximize impression share.Now that we know the trend of our term, lets move on to the next step, preparing our account.


2.Prepare the Account

Now that we see our trending, we need to prepare the account for what’s to come.The first area that I would get started with is a Competitive Analysis to see if your competition is offering anything like FREE SHIPPING, SALES, MONEY BACK GUARANTEES which all may provide them with an advantage.Also look at their ad text and landing pages to see if they using any of these benefits to draw the visitor’s attention.

Once you have the Competitive Research done, look to prepare your Content and Search Campaigns. Start with the Content Network Campaign that targets people that are in the “researching” phase of their shopping. Remember to always “think out of the box” and not target keywords, but themes for the Content Network.Think about the type of traffic that would be interested in video games and where they would be likely to visit on the internet.I would recommend testing out the products with the term “review” as well as use the site/placement tool to find where your target, “parents” would be researching games that their kids are asking for.Early in the buying cycle is the “researching” phase where the Content Network can provide branding for your site, so use it to its full advantage and make it work with your Search Network.To prepare the Search Network, always review the following:

  • Keyword Refinement: Always look to see if keywords have changed to add new Negatives or Longtailed terms
  • Refine Ad Copy: Make your ads stand out based off what you found in the competitive analysis {this does not mean copy other people’s ads – make yours stand out — Michelle}
  • Landing Pages: Update landing pages with any sales or offerings that you are adding for the Holiday Season
  • Have Analytics implemented to collect the Interaction Metrics on your traffic

I would always recommend starting the Holiday rush with a big net and once you collect initial data, you are on to the next step… weeding out the unqualified traffic.


3.Weed Out the Unqualified Traffic

The holiday rush has started and you have the first7-10 days of data to review, it is now time to adjust quickly to the data.The first step is to run the following reports:

  • Ad/Keyword Reports
  • Placement Reports

Starting with the ad report, we are going to look to see which of our ad tests is performing best and run it with a new test based off the results.We don’t want to have an ad that is converting lower to be in rotation longer than necessary during the busiest time of year.Once you have made the adjustments to the ad text, look over you keywords to see which ones are performing well and which aren’t.Once you have that information, simply adjust by taking those that aren’t performing out of the mix and getting those that are performing more exposure.The placement report will show you all the sites that the are leading to conversions and those that are just costing you precious budget.The adjustments to this is quite simple as well; take out anything that isn’t performing and give the sites that are performing more exposure by creating an Enhanced Placement Targeted Campaign that focuses your spend on the sites that are converting well for the account.

The three steps above are just the ground work for being successful during the holiday season.Once the rush comes, the biggest factor will be the ability to adjust quickly to what is and isn’t working on your account using the tools available.