I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The power behind running successful pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns lies in the knowledge of the platforms and the knowledge of how online advertising and marketing works. So when a PPC manager like myself can find ways to make the hard work of implementing our golden knowledge easier, my heart leaps for joy! One of those leaps came courtesy of Google AdWords in the form of AdWords Scripts.
Save time on common tasks
AdWords Scripts are snippets of code that act as commands to the Google AdWords system to perform common tasks automatically. As any automation of common tasks will do, this saves you a tremendous amount of time and energy that can then be allocated to being more productive in other areas. There are a lot of common tasks PPC managers must do on a day-to-day, week-to-week, and/or month-to-month basis in order to effectively run campaigns, including…
- Adding and excluding keywords
- Landing page and ad testing
- Running reports for analysis
- Adjusting budgets and bids
- Starting and stopping promotions
- and much, much more!
Avoid major problems
Problems arise when you simply don’t have enough time to do all of these activities as much as you should. For example, I had a situation where website URL changes were made that broke the destination URLs of the ads I was managing. The person that made the changes failed to inform me of them and also failed to correctly re-direct the old URLs to the new URLs. Therefore, the ads in the account were directing visitors to the error page of the site. This went on for at least a week until I found out by spot checking the account myself. All bad! But now I can have an AdWords script in place to inform me of any broken URLs in the ads I manage.
As you can imagine, this allows a PPC manager to “perform” the right tasks at the right time, without actually having to perform the tasks at the “right time.” [Tweet This]
Make dynamic changes
Another great example is bid adjustments. Many businesses’ ads perform differently depending on time of day, day of week, or maybe the temperature outside. Of course, there’s more interest in ice cream when it’s 80 degrees outside than when it’s 40 degrees. Instead of having to manually jump in and change bids on hot and cold days in certain geographical areas, you can now automate the process so that you create more awareness at the times when it’s most appropriate for your business.
Automate reporting and optimization
Here’s a more expansive list of the types of things you can do, although certainly not comprehensive. But at least it gives you a place to start. The way I see it, scripts basically fall into two categories: reporting and optimization.
- Account performance. You can customize this to any level (campaigns, ad groups, keywords, ads, etc.). This automation allows you to segment your most important metrics by any of these dimensions to gain insights about what’s working and not working. Your data will export to a Google spreadsheet that can track historical performance in charts and graphs that allow you to benchmark and trend over time. Some examples of reports that might help are…
- Historical quality scores. You can calculate and keep track of impression-weighted quality scores that allow you to monitor how things change in your account after changes are made. What campaigns, ad groups, or keywords present the best opportunities for improvement? This can help you analyze how your changes affected your account and how you might adjust to lower your costs over time.
- Destination URL performance. How does the performance of specific landing pages you are using vary? What are the best and worst performers? How does performance change over time? Considering much of the ROI from PPC campaigns comes from what happens after the click, this can be a very valuable report to have automatically running for you periodically.
- Calls to action performance. How does the performance of specific calls to action vary across your account? Is your audience attracted to one more than another? You can compare call to action performance to find out, continuously testing to make sure you’re using the right words and actions in the buying process.
- My Client Center performance. For agencies, businesses, or PPC managers that have manage multiple accounts, you can consolidate data from some or all of your accounts into reports if you have an application for it.
- Ad groups with 1 text ad. Frequently, you want to have at least 2 text ads in each ad group of your account. You can be alerted if any ad groups slip through with only one ad.
- Ads with broken URLs. Like I mentioned above, knowing this is ultra-important.
- Duplicate keywords. If you have the same keyword in multiple ad groups, you want to know that so you don’t bid against yourself.
- Anomaly detection. Want to be alerted when the data in your account seems out of whack? A script can alert you that something doesn’t look right in your account compared to similar past time periods.
- Ads. You can dynamically change your ads based upon many factors.
- Countdown days until a promotion ends. This can be very effective to create a sense of urgency in shoppers. But, you can’t go into an account every day and change the number of days in an ad until the promotion runs out. For example, “Free shipping for X more days” or “X days until the application deadline.“
- Change status based upon product availability. Do you have an ecommerce site where products rotate being in and out of stock? Instead of having to manually jump into your account to pause and enable the appropriate ads, a script can do it for you!
- Bidding. Like my example above with the weather, there are many factors that can influence how you might want to bid for ad placement.
- Keywords. You can add, delete, or pause keywords that meet or don’t meet performance thresholds that you establish.
Use valuable resources to guide you
Now that you’re excited about all the things you can do with scripts, where do you go to find them? There are 3 main resources I’ve found to be very helpful. . .
- AdWords. With the functionality, they decided to also put out some standard scripts for all to use.
- FreeAdWordsScripts.com. As the name says, it’s a collection of freebies that can get more fun and exciting than the standard scripts provided by AdWords.
- Optmyzr.com. They take it a step above and offer paid scripts that can do some wonders that free scripts may not.
My advice is to first get your feet wet with some of the standard scripts from AdWords and then start branching out once you build your confidence with using them. Personally, I started with the anomaly detector script to be notified of anomalies in the data of each of my accounts. Having this helped take the stress out of not knowing what’s going on with each account on a daily basis. Wherever you decide to start, using scripts should make your PPC life easier and lead to better results. Happy scripting!