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Sadly, this happens to companies big and small: they hire an outside contractor or agency to manage their ads in Google and pay a monthly retainer fee. And pay is all they do.

They have no idea whether their campaign is working and what if anything the PPC manager is doing with it.

These are seven warning signs that something is wrong with how your campaign management, even more so if the campaign fails to bring visible results or management fees eat up a significant portion of your overall online advertising budget.

1. No changes

Every Google AdWords campaign needs to be updated on an ongoing basis. The Google Adwords interface offers a sneaky functionality feared by many paid online campaign managers: the ability to display a list of all changes in the campaign carried out recently. If you are paying someone tens or even hundreds of euros for “campaign management” you should be able to see regular updates (the following video shows how to find them).

A good ad campaign manager keeps testing new ads. Each campaign can be optimized: noone knows with certainty without trying whether an alternative ad would be more effective. Moreover, in most markets users grow tired of seeing the same ads over and over – they become blind to your ad after seeing it for several months. Of course, ads of your direct competitors change too and affect the response to your advertising.

Also every larger campaign offers a lot of data allowing you to optimize it by varying prices, targeting, breaking out more granular ad groups and so on.

Bonus: A good PPC manager should test on the basis of sensibly formulated hypotheses – new ads should not be created at random but he or she should seek out and test elements addressing specific user issues.

2. Text-only

Google AdWords used to only display Words – text ads. Later, there came images, animated images, video ads and many other formats.

For most larger campaign it makes sense to test the effectiveness of various formats. Google directly offers simple solutions for creating animated banners. Some ad formats in some markets come extremely cheap.

Examples of Google ad banners

So if your PPC campaign manager plays text-only, he or she is depriving you of many effective advertising opportunities.

3. Invisible ads

Try to search for expressions that you think your potential clients search for and check if your ads show.

If you are searching from a geographic locale and a browser with settings corresponding to expected clientele (e.g. searching from Vienna with browser language set to English), your ads should display.

Bonus: Are your ads showing up in the evenings or at times when they have the highest chance of succeeding? Many campaigns exhaust their budget during the day, rendering you invisible in the evening.

4. The ad does not fit

Is the ad or banner showing the correct answer to your potential client’s questions? Does the ad text and content fit the query? Is your ad suitable in the view of what your competitors’ ads claim?

Bonus: Try to search from various devices in various locations. Watch out for personalized results – searching from your own computer can lead to results very different from what others see.

5. Missing negative keywords

Make sure your agency has set up negative keywords in targeting your ad groups and campaigns – search keywords, for which you explicitly do not wish to display ads.

Just to illustrate: for our services, we exclude searches such as “free SEO” or “how to do SEO” because they are usually by people who have proven to be very unlikely to order our SEO services.

6. They have never discussed landing pages with you

Effectiveness of an ad campaign stands and falls with the quality of the page where you send your audience.

It is not sufficient for it to match the topic of the ad and contain a strong call to action.

For any larger campaign, landing page optimization is potentially the most important thing you can do to create a more effective campaign. You can address colors, formats, call to action, images…

Landing from travelbagltd under Creative Commons licence on flickr.com

If your campaign manager does not address landing page quality, he or she is letting you waste your ad campaign budget.

7. You do not know what you are paying for

Almost always campaigns are measurable – if not directly then you can measure partial steps leading to results (micro-conversions).

Transactional websites or those with an online form can measure conversions directly in AdWords or your analytics package (Google Analytics or otherwise).

Google has been devoting a lot of attention lately to the issue of measuring conversions offline. For instance, you can easily record conversions over telephone using Google Forms.

An old but good method calls for displaying a separate phone number online for visitors coming from a PPC campaign (for large campaigns you can even use a dynamically changing set of phone numbers allowing you to match a specific visitors to a specific phone call).

An even older method known to businessmen through the ages is to ask the customer in person, by email or over the phone how he or she discovered your business.

It is normal to expect the agency managing your online ad campaigns to provide this information to you regularly and in an understandable format.

But what if I am not sure?

At Pizza SEO we have four Adwords-certified people on our team (we are also certified in using the regional online ad network Etarget and feel at home in the Czech Sklik or Russian Yandex).

We create new campaigns – both in Slovakia and internationally and can improve the efficiency of existing campaigns. If several of the warning signals apply to you, we can run a quick audit of your campaign to satisfy your doubts or propose improvements.

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  • Larry Widman

    Terrific page! I’m in the business and I learned from it!

    One point of word choice in your fluent English copy: the word “bases” in “updated on an ongoing bases” should be “basis” if your intention is the singular usage. If you wanted to refer to updating on several bases, you would take out “an”, but that would be awkward wording. Thanks for an excellent article!

    • Andrej Salner

      Thanks a lot, Larry. Fixed!