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#ICYMI in 2014: 4 Paid Search Tactics Your Campaigns Can Still Benefit From In 2015

4 paid search tactics from 2014 that will still be useful for your 2015 paid search strategy to-do list.

In 2014, there were a lot of new tactics and products to help influence a paid search campaign’s optimization strategies. In this post, I have highlighted four areas that will still be useful on your 2015 to-do list.

The four tactics we will be covering include:

  1. Callout extensions
  2. Bid strategies
  3. Custom affinity audiences
  4. Engagement ads

Implementation of Best Practices

These paid search tactics can also work together, in the right context, to create an even better user experience and campaign performance. If these tactics are new to you, I sometimes suggest implementing in a way that it is easy to track the specific tactic’s performance before adding in another layer.

As an example, I would run an engagement ad with current display targeting methods to set an engagement ad benchmark compared to image or text ad performance. Then, using that benchmark, add in a custom affinity audience or a bid strategy to see if the performance improves. This will give you better, or at the very least, easier insight into each test’s performance improvements or failures and how to proceed in fixing or improving on the previous results.

If you have had a chance to implement some or all of these, I would love to hear from you about your success in the comments.

1. Call Out Extensions

Call out extensions came out in September of 2014 and give the ability to add even more messaging to ad copy. Three new messages up to 25 characters each can be shown below the main description lines to help build up the brand’s message. This extension can also be used alongside other extensions like reviews and sitelinks. The other aspect of call out extensions is scheduling.

Based on seasonality, the callouts can support different aspects of the business. If free shipping and 24-7 support happens only during the holiday shopping season, make sure to schedule it and create new callouts for the offseason around price matching, always in stock, or other compelling messages to help drive sales.

callout extensions google blog

2. Bid Strategies

There are now six flexible bid strategies available that can help improve the success of an AdWords campaign. As I’ve said in a recent SEJ post about the newest bid strategy for outranking competitors, play it safe and always use sparingly until actual results are seen. With that, being able to set a strategy and monitor it closely will return the best results. The strategies can be created through the “Share Library” section within AdWords and can be applied to specific keywords, ad groups or campaigns. This gives the flexibility of not having to fully restructure an account just to try out a target CPA on, for example, two well-performing keywords in separate ad groups and/or campaigns.

The available bid strategies include:

  1. Maximize clicks
  2. Enhanced CPC (maximize conversions)
  3. Target Search Page Location (ad positioning)
  4. Target CPA
  5. Target ROAS
  6. Target outranking share

bid strategies overview google blog

3. Custom Affinity Audience (For Display)

In October and November, Custom Affinity Audiences were introduced in the Google Display Network. This allows for a combination of sites and interests to be attributed to the ideal customer in order to drive better engagement and reach deeper in the funnel, ready-to-buy visitors. This can be found under the Interest & Remarketing tab within the display network. Once Affinity audiences are selected from the drop down menu, a “+ Custom” button appears. This will allow for a custom affinity audience name and the ability to stack interests and visited sites to build up the right audience for the ads.


The new custom affinity audience also gives a much deeper awareness into the audience segment by including which interests will resonate with the desired visitor group and their demographic information to help inform and to allow for smarter targeting for better results.

custom affinity audience insights

4. Engagement Ads That Include Video

Engagement ads are probably the newest tactic available through the Google Display network. This type of ad allows someone to click on the ad and open up a light box with a more engaging user experience. Its biggest advantage is the opportunity to truly make an ad shoppable in a PLA format. Other engagements include watching a video and connecting with a brand without leaving the original page. The other great part about engagement ads is the ability to be used across devices. It’s available for mobile, tablet, and desktop.

My prediction for 2015 is that engagement style advertising will become the major display ad option for brands because of its capability to not just direct someone to a website and a landing page, but allow for true brand interaction directly within the ad before they ever leave the original site. In terms of the shopping ability, this gives a new dimension and direct buy scenario through a new ad type outside the search page and the usual shopping campaign. With the ability to use this alongside affinity audiences, the value of this ad type sky-rockets.

shoppable engagement ads

I am confident these paid search tactics can help your end of year planning and 2015 performance. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind during implementation:

  • Play it safe and test before large-scale implementation on strategies that require budget:
    • For callout extensions or other sitelinks this doesn’t apply, in most cases.
  • Try multiple variations:
    • For any of these strategies, just because one strategic direction or implementation didn’t work, doesn’t mean that a minor or even major tweak proves different results.
    • Try out multiple callout extension variations to see which increases ad engagement the most.
  • Track different metrics of success for engagement ads:
    • Only using one or two KPIs can limit the story being told. Just because conversions weren’t happening directly doesn’t mean an engagement ad wasn’t successful overall. Maybe it helped generate view-through conversions over a short period of time or these ads had a higher assisted conversion rate.
    • Based on the strategy goal, results could be different for brand versus conversion goals. For example, video engagement ads may need to look at view-through rate or other engagement metrics besides direct conversions. So, set the right expectations with your superiors or clients to set the campaign up for success.

Happy optimizing!


Image Credits

Featured Image: Creative Commons
Screenshots taken December 2014

Category PPC

Michael Knight

Senior Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

Michael, a featured PPC Hero blogger, is a Paid Media expert working to build strong results-driven paid media strategies. Being ...

#ICYMI in 2014: 4 Paid Search Tactics Your Campaigns Can Still Benefit From In 2015

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