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Google AdWords Forum

Competing against the big boys
An impossibility?

 9:58 am on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

We have a client whose Adwords account we take care of. We are usually comfortable at acheiving decent results through CPC, but this particular client deals in a highly competetive market.

Against him in the listings are some Household names, who I imagine have massive budgets. Obviously, given where the listings are appearing, much bigger budget's than we've got to play with.

We've even increased their maximum daily spend to around 500% of what they're actually looking to spend, in the hope it might give them a boost. It hasn't.

We've put the CPC up to as high as I see reasonable; without the brand name of his competitors I think we'd be looking at a negative ROI if we were to go any higher.

So I'm stumped. Because the listing is appearing so low down, it get's very few impressions, and even then, the average position is around the 20 mark.

The CTR is admittedly quite low, 0.84%, so this may be harming things slightly. Is this likely to be something I can change by modifying the wording of the ad, or is it just a problem associated with being low down on the second page most of the time?

I'd appreciate any tips or advice.




 10:18 am on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

That is a tricky one.

I would not recommend Adwords for any new client of mine anyway because they are too unstable. I might rethink that once they have a change of senior management, but at the moment those at the top taking the decisions are too far removed from the consequences of their actions to be trusted running a toy sweet shop, let alone a multi-million dollar enterprise with a substantial part of the online economy in its hands.

But, if you client insists, I guess you have to do it. Just warn them to be ready with a new url and to have to start building CTR again from scratch at a moment's notice.

CTR is what it is all about. Are you split-testing your ads? Thats the first thing. Next is getting some clicks on them.

I should think modifying the wording will help. Also you need to be on the content network. If you are using dynamic keyword insertion you will need far greater granularity in your adgroups because the keyword that triggered the ad will not appear in it unless it is also the default text.

Be aware you are playing a rigged game. Especially considering Google might well be managing your competitors ads themselves.

[edited by: Alex_Miles at 10:22 am (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]


 10:55 am on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your help.

We do test split ads, however it's difficult to get any useful data from it because the number of impressions are so low.

I don't know what to do, no changes I make seem to make any difference. It seems to me that it's purely a money issue, so if so, is there any way round it?

I suspect that the answer is no.


 11:45 am on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hm. I think I best answer this one in private.

..But beyond what I said in the PM. I recall being in a similar position when I was a hotel room affiliate. I used a very long tail approach, filled up my adwords account with words, refined my ads every day and my average position did indeed creep up.

If CJ could track I'd still be at that. [In fact the campaigns are all sat there ready to go if there is a reliable hotel merchant with lonely pages].

[edited by: Alex_Miles at 11:57 am (utc) on Aug. 3, 2006]


 5:32 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, if you are new to the game, you are going to have to drop some cash to get higher spots in order to build your history. It probably won't be very easy and it could end up costing a lot. Adwords in my opinion is a first come first serve. If you are on top of your niche in the beginning, you have a much easier time keeping it.


 6:14 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Although it is getting more difficult to do (as advertisers grow in both number and sophistication), a time-honored technique is to work towards finding other targeted keywords which will bring you the results you want at a lower cost than the more 'obvious' keywords.



 6:23 pm on Aug 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

maybe the content network is for you?
or tell them to invest into seo ;)


 11:16 am on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'll try the content network, thanks for the suggestion.

Regarding finding more, less-competetive keywords to source traffic from; this seems difficult. We've got a good range of keywords, around 30 per field that we are targetting. These range from quite general, to very specific.

It just seems that the less-competetive, more specific keywords are not yielding enough searches to make them worthwhile. Very little success is being had from these.

I'm not sure what the best way of going about this tactic is, but using all of the methods I can think of, all of the relevant keywords available appear to have already been selected.


 11:29 am on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Your best bet then is to use MSN Adcenter. Its on the way up, while Google is on the way down.

Its still a little buggy, but it seems more interested in doing business than interfering in other people's.


 11:35 am on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

"a time-honored technique is to work towards finding other targeted keywords which will bring you the results you want at a lower cost than the more 'obvious' keywords. "

If your site has a low QS, you could try all you want, but you will never be able to get a good position or impressions. What AWA suggests does not work if the site QS is low. The min CPC is absurd.


 12:20 pm on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sorry, I'm not familiar with the acronym 'QS'. Could you elaborate, please?



 1:04 pm on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Although it is getting more difficult to do (as advertisers grow in both number and sophistication), a time-honored technique is to work towards finding other targeted keywords which will bring you the results you want at a lower cost than the more 'obvious' keywords.

If only. Allow us to test those underused keywords without having to pay silly amounts just cos theres no history for them in the system, or impose low limits on the number of keywords we CAN test in an account, and maybe, just maybe, this advice would still work. And thats not even mentioning how you test new keywords without tripping over the "quality" score. Testing is such a mess now because you dont know what the system is doing or why - why is it expensive for this keyword? Is it the landing page? Is it the keyword? Is it really worth it to test lots of keywords now?

In fact put back the 0.5% ctr rule and let the market decide the cost per click, then we could test new keywords again.


 1:13 pm on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sorry, I'm not familiar with the acronym 'QS'. Could you elaborate, please?

Technically 'Quality Score'. Its actually a misnomer because the only quality that is being measured is that of your wallet.

Its the reason my clients can't advertise their legitimate and quite legal services on Adwords, while ebay are free to promote 'stolen cars'.


 1:26 pm on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've been using Adwords for the past 4 1/2 years and find that there are what I call "power keyword phrases" that account for most of the traffic. The 80/20 rule is in effect here. Twenty percent of all the keyword phrases accounting for eighty percent of all the impressions and clicks (higher or lower depending on your industry). I've also trolled for more clickthrough and conversion by expanding the keyword phrase set to include as many possibilities as logical. Bottom feeding on low impression phrases has been a poor use of my resources. If I can't compete by placing in the top 6-7 ads at a tolerable price, CTR or conversion then it's time to: 1.) modify the campaign and delete the high cost/poor performing phrases; 2.) shift dollars to better performing campaigns; 3.) drop the ad campaign; 4.) focus on natural Google SE results for the phrases; 5.) re-distribute the budget to other CPC programs like MSN Adcenter.

I would disagree with AdWords Advisor on his recommendation. I don't see any magical keyword phrases that are overperforming and underutilized. The AdWords program has been around too long for webmasters and campaign managers not to exploit all the possibilities.

The value of your campaign may be greater than you can measure. Purchasing or lead generation is a fairly non-linear behavior. Users are bookmarking, surfing, noting and often taking weeks and months to make a purchase decision rather than the more linear impression/click/conversion so there may be value in maintaining the campaign that's not quite measurable and that's advertising, isn't it?

Google Analytics has been an eye opener for me. I ran it for a month and the results indicated that most of my traffic was actually coming from natural SERPs so I tighted up the AdWords budget and work harder on natural page performance.

If you're competing with a highly competitive set of KW phrases against power players in AdWords you will not win- you will probably waste a lot of money. Better to reinvent your web pages, redistribute your spend and restrategize your marketing campaign to includes traditional media and tools.


 1:42 pm on Aug 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Sorry, I'm not familiar with the acronym 'QS'. Could you elaborate, please? "

Quality Score is some unknown value assigned to your website ( landing page) that currently determines your minimum CPC and position in the content network.

They assigned this value to knock off MFA kind of sites from the SEARCH network and also knocked off many legitimate sites who did not have deep pockets.

If your CPC values are much higher than you anticipate or have gone up recently you may be a victim of Low Quality Score.

Low Quality score websites have little recourse except to go to the content network or up their bids significantly when they 'presumably' become acceptable to Google search network.

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