Surviving the Google Mobile Advertising Bootcamp

On Friday, I attended the Google Mobile Advertising Bootcamp. I have been managing PPC campaigns since 2004. However, mobile PPC is still in its relative infancy and I looked forward to a day focused exclusively on mobile marketing matters.

Adwords Advanced Certification Bootcamp Mobile Advertising

Adwords Advanced Certification Bootcamp Mobile Advertising

The Bootcamp

The mobile bootcamp is a day long training course with a built in exam at the end. The course was held at Google’s London Victoria offices. The course was well attended, with approximately 50 or so delegates. All seemed to be owners of, staff members from, small Google Adwords agencies.

Google Adwords Certification

Successful completion of the Google mobile advertising exam provides and additional certification in the Google Adwords Partner series. Official recognition as a Google Agency Partner requires current certification in the Google Adwords Fundamentals exam and certification in at least one other subject area. There are currently 6 different exam certifications available:

  1. Google Adwords Fundamentals
  2. Google Adwords Advanced Search Advertising
  3. Google Adwords Display Advertising
  4. Google Video Advertising
  5. Google Adwords Shopping Advertising
  6. Google Mobile Advertising

Passing an Adwords Certification exam provides a 12-month validity for the individual certification. Where Simply Clicks has a currently valid certification, it has been bolded in the list above. There is also a web analytics certification. This is called the Google Analytics IQ exam. This certification is also held by Simply Clicks but is outside of the Google Adwords system. However, a knowledge of Google Analytics, and web analytics in general, is highly useful in passing many of the Adwords Certificated subjects.

Training Course Structure

The Google Mobile Advertising course consisted of 4 training sessions plus the exam.

  1. Understanding the value to sell Mobile: A Mobile overview
  2. Developing a Mobile Strategy for Success
  3. Reports and Attribution Modelling
  4. Advertising Mobile Apps

Session 1 was very much a study of the current dynamics of the mobile search market. One of the first concepts covered was show rooming. The process whereby people visit a physical store then check prices and features of similar products via their mobile phone. The opening session came across as an attempt by Google to convince the audience of the value of the mobile market. With my recent experience of several successful mobile marketing campaigns, I am a keen advocate of a mobile-first mindset.

Adwords Mobile Bid Adjustment Calculation

Adwords Mobile Bid Adjustment Calculation

The Value of Mobile Search

Session 2 mainly covered how to incorporate a mobile approach into an existing Google Adwords campaign structure. Making sure that you have a mobile adapted, or responsive, website, landing pages and conversion funnel. Then calculating and adjusting mobile bids relative to bids for desktop and laptop. Again, Google appeared to be slightly defensive regarding the value of mobile search. As most of the discussion concerned the down-weighting of mobile bids. The discussion largely focused on search as opposed to display advertising.There was some coverage of display as well as a short mention for Admob. The Google-owned, but separately managed, mobile-only advertising network.

Mobile Bidding Strategy

In my own experience, I have up weighted mobile bids above those for desktop and laptop. Simply because of the relative value and the propensity of mobile users to convert. The key message, however, was the requirement to target the top 2 advertising positions. This is based on October 2014 research that shows an acute difference in click-through rate (CTR) of mobile searches vs desktop and laptop searches. Position 1 on mobile generates a mean click through rate of 27.5% vs 19% for the same position  in desktop search. Essentially, if you are not in the top 2 positions for mobile search, you may as well be on page 2.

Adwords Mobile and Desktop CTR by Position

Adwords Mobile and Desktop CTR by Position

Web Analytics and Mobile Attribution

Session 3 looked at the issues surround analytics. It was made clear that typical performance analysis measures under-valued mobile search. Essentially because many searches that began on a mobile concluded with a store visit or desktop sale or lead completion. The reverse of this sequence also takes place, but not to the same degree. The key approach to addressing this misattribution was to understand and properly measure cross-device search activity. Data regarding this could be found within Google Analytics. However, to be recorded accurately this requires people to be logged into Google and be using the same login across all devices.

Advertising on and Understanding Mobile Apps

The last part of the course was focused on apps. This was pretty tough for me, and it seems for many others on the course, as I have no previous experience of this area. I use apps. But I barely notice the advertising. I am a great fan of permission-based marketing, but advertising on apps comes across as a touch too intrusive for me. However, the app advertising market exists, Google promotes it, and understanding app downloads and promotion is part of the exam. So I had to grin and bear it.

The Mobile Advertising Exam

The exam follows the same format to others in the Adwords Certification programme. It is online. Taken on a laptop. Is multiple choice. And is against the clock. The mobile version  consists of 70 questions and lasts 90 minutes. The pass mark is 80%. Requiring no more than 14 incorrect answers. The timing clock on the exam counts down both the time and the number of questions. Allowing you to track your progress. Throughout, I appeared to be on schedule. However, one downside of taking the exam at the same time as 50 other people was that either the site or the wifi appeared to be running very slowly. After you have completed exam you are asked some feedback questions. These are before you are given your pass mark.

Fortunately, I passed the exam. Along with most people in the room. Once you are finished you are required to give your score – pass or fail – to one of the Google invigilators. This entitles you to a Google Goodie Bag. And then it is time for a bit of fun and networking with the other candidates. The score from the exam is then fed through to your Google Adwords Certification page. Mine appeared the following day.

Mobile Search – Where Next?

The day proved well worth the time, cost and effort involved. I learned some valuable tips about mobile pay per click, web analytics and mobile advertising in general. These will all be put in place as soon as possible. And later this week, I am attending Google’s video advertising bootcamp.


Return of a Kent Travel Client

Simply Clicks would like to welcome back Get Travel to our portfolio of PPC management clients. Get Travel is a Kent based client that last worked with Simply Clicks in 2013. Get travel is an independently-owned travel agency that also builds its own dynamically packaged ski and cruise holidays.

Get Skiing PPC and SEO Project

Get Skiing PPC and SEO Project

Ski and Cruise Holiday Specialist

Get Travel specialises in Ski and Cruise holidays. The initial activity, which already underway, is to reorganise Get Travel’s PPC management with a specific brief to improve their performance in the market for group ski holidays. Group ski holidays are typically for groups of 10 or more skiers. The typical accommodation is for catered chalets.

Google Adwords Changes

Given that there has been a two-year gap since we last managed the account, Google Adwords has moved on quite significantly. Google Adwords and Google Analytics are vastly more integrated allowing much better targeting of higher converting keywords, ads and landing pages. As a first stage, we are reviewing the performance of individual keywords, ads and landing pages and ensuring that these are all correctly aligned.

Lowering Conversion Cost is Key

The key as with most PPC campaigns is lowering the cost per conversion to as low a level as possible. In this market segment, group ski holidays, the key conversion is an enquiry. Rarely will a large ski group book online. Direct online bookings are unrealistic as each booking needs to be matched to the exact needs of a large group. Skiers travelling in larger groups tend to be more experienced and have more specific requirements regarding ski resort, accommodation type, catering arrangements and location relative to both ski lifts and other resort amenities such as shops and bars.

A Realistic Approach to Travel SEO

Once the PPC campaign is in order, the project will shift its focus to travel SEO. That is, attempting to generate as much visit traffic as possible via organic search engine results. However, being realistic, it will not be possible to dominate the rankings for the key ski terms. The major ski tour operators are now too good at SEO for that. The objective will be to dilute the cost per conversion of the mainly PPC derived traffic.


Bonfire Sales Rocket on Mobile First Website

How to ensure your fireworks display goes off with a bang!

Ashford Fireworks Display 2015

Ashford Fireworks Display 2015

2015 is my fifth year involved in managing the online promotion of a fireworks display in Ashford, Kent. A market town of 50,000 people and the fireworks display is put on by the Ashford Rugby Club. My role has involved building, hosting and optimising the website as well as providing assistance on issues such as online booking and payment systems. As I write this article, 2 days before the event takes place on 7th November, website traffic and sales are up more than 165% on 2015. With pay at the gate customers, a total attendance of between 3 and 4 thousand paying customers is expected. Not bad for an event with a zero promotional budget. This article is about how to replicate that success.

The Key Components

1. Create a simple dedicated website
2. Mobile first
3. All the key information visible above the fold
4. A moving picture replaces a thousand words
5. Understand your market
6. Get a wide spread of traffic
7. Tickets need to be bookable online
8. Offer an incentive to book now
9. Learn from each year’s experience

1. Create a Simple, Dedicated Website

By simple we mean simple. A one page website of 16kb, running a Bootstrap theme, with less than 300 lines of code, including more than 30 lines given to analytics and comment tags. Dedicated, because the website is for solely promoting and taking online bookings for the fireworks display. For 11 months of the year the website largely remains redundant. The website and attendant services are provided free by Simply Clicks. That’s my business. My costs are negligible. In total, the theme, domain and hosting costs work out at less than £50 per year.

2. Mobile First – Especially if you want Facebook Traffic

Mobile Phone Browser Penetration Ashford Fireworks 2015

Mobile Phone Browser Penetration Ashford Fireworks 2015

Almost 66% of the website’s visitors use mobile phones. A further 13% use tablets. Mobile users outnumber desktop and laptop users by a factor of more than 3:1.The site is therefore built primarily with the mobile user in mind. Facebook (See 6 below) accounts for more than 20% of total visitors and of these, 97% have used a mobile device. The simple rule here, is that if you want social traffic, you need to be mobilised. However, even when we exclude Facebook traffic from our device usage analysis, we see that 58% of Non-Facebook users have accessed the website via a mobile phone.

3. All They Key Communication Elements Should be Above the Fold

The date and time and a button for purchasing tickets are all clearly visible on smartphones, desktops and laptops. The event has other attractions than just a fireworks display. We have real ales, a beer bus, food stalls and children’s amusements. But these can all go below the fold, or be found by scrolling on a mobile.

4. A Relevant Moving Picture Beats a Thousand Words

Despite its minimal budget this year’s site has a moving graphic that demonstrates what the event is about better than a thousand words. In previous years we used a moving graphic. But the dynamic graphic has led to much better conversion performance, more inbound links and better social media traffic.

5. Understand your Market and the Conversion Process

This is a market largely for families with young children. The average booking value is £17 and the most common purchase is a family ticket for two adults and two children costing £15. 80% of the online bookers come from the 3 immediately adjacent postcodes of TN23, TN24 and TN25. The market is therefore very local, the bulk of customers living within a radius of 2 to 3 miles.

Anything more than a local market would be wasteful and largely irrelevant. Conversions and repeat visits were the only relevant metrics. For example, bounce rate is irrelevant on a one page website. Of the unique visits approximately 25% clicked the “Buy Tickets” button. Of these, 55% actually completed a purchase. Therefore the website had an overall e-commerce conversion rate of 14%.

6. Tap a Wide Spread of Traffic Sources

Deliberately, the site draws its visitor traffic from a wide range of sources

  1. Ashford Rugby Club 24.7%
  2. Facebook 21.2%
  3. Google 20.2%
  4. Direct 16.1%
  5. Other referring sites 14.4%
  6. Other search/social 3.4%

Total 100.0%

Of the traffic derived from the Ashford rugby club website, 71% had originated from search engines. Adding this indirect search traffic back into the overall calculation implies that approximately 36.6% of the website visitors originate from a Google organic search. Those of you that understand SEO will appreciate the lack of dependance on organic search. The site ranks no.1 for all the key terms but if the fireworks display website suddenly lost rankings due to the vagaries of the Google algorithm, all would not be lost.

The other issue the experienced SEO may spot is the traffic generated from referring websites. This imply links. Links are the gold dust of SEO. In this case we have a wide spread of links. Some we have put in place directly from sites we or the Ashford Rugby Club control. Some have come from credible sources, such as the local Kent media and tourist office websites. Other links have been requested from specialist local directories and others have been provided by specialist sites within the Fireworks manufacturing and distribution industry. We even have links from Mumsnet and Families Online.

7. Tickets Need to Be Bookable Online

This gives the website a primary revenue function. Yes, it is about communicating to the wider audience, but online revenue is the primary function. Online generated ticket sales provides the following benefits:

  • Guaranteed attendance and revenue
  • Less cash handling on the night
  • Simplified accounting
  • A potential database of future attendees

8. An incentive to book Now!

The incentive we have used is the same over the previous four events. A discount of up to 25% and of course people get the convenience of paying by credit card. In future years we may add other incentives to this.

9. Learn from Each Year’s Experience

Each year presents a new challenge. The rise of Facebook as a traffic source and mobile phones as the key access device have had major implications for the updated website design. But mobile usage also means many of our bookers no longer need a paper ticket. Indeed our volunteers checking tickets at the gate will be equipped with an app that can read smartphone screens. Paper records wil only be used as a contingency mechanism.

If you are reading this, have used the fireworks display website, made a booking or are planning to attend the fireworks display, I would be glad to hear your feedback.