A few of our clients are running Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns with Google’s AdWord program and it seems on a weekly basis the guru’s at Google are trying to better serve you and/or your money, depending how you look at it. One of the newest additions to the AdWords stable is the Conversion Optimizer (CO).
What is the Conversion Optimizer?
The Conversion Optimizer (beta) is an AdWords feature that manages your advertising costs around specific conversion goals.
What this means is you can specify how much money you want to spend on a conversion. This is set by determining your maximum Cost Per Acquisition or CPA. Once you set the amount the CO ‘manages your CPC (cost per click) bids for you, making adjustments and showing your ads only when you’re likely to get conversions.’
To some this sounds like an interesting concept, and it is. Who wouldn’t want to know that their ads are showing when someone is almost certainly going to convert? I know I would but all this automation leaves me a little uneasy. I like being to able to look at what words are converting, what ads are working and how I can better my chances at conversions. I’ve never been an auto-pilot type person but it does sounds intriguing.
It’s always a gamble to play a ‘what if’ game like AdWords, some people win and some people lose but ‘What If’ you could pay only when someone converts? Google has that base covered too. It’s Pay Per Action (PPA) model lets you do just that – pay when someone completes a predetermined action. These actions can be making a purchase, filling out a contact form or signing up for a newsletter to name a few. You will only get charged when someone does what you want them to do. This is a great thing as most advertisers money goes down the drain when someone accidentally clicks on your ad and does nothing on your site. It sounds like a great concept.
If you’re thinking what I’m thinking you are wondering if there is a catch? There is, a couple actually. Currently PPA only runs on the Google Content Network. The ‘Google Content Network’ is the Google’s Adsense program, wherein your ads run on sites that opt in to having Google’s ads run on their site or blog. I’m sure you’ve seen them before, many well designed sites offset the price of hosting by placing Google’s ads on the site. Many times it interferes with the overall look of the site but if your ads are placed on the right sites it can work in your favor. Some people may see your ad on someone’s blog and use the blogs author’s integrity as a good indicator of whether they should click on your ad or not. You have some control over your AdSense ads but they can eat up your daily budget if your not careful.
The other catch is how many conversions you’ve had in a specific time frame. Even though Google’s mantra is ‘Don’t Be Evil’ it needs to protect it’s bottom line and investors so they’ve come up with a specific criteria to joining PPA. Google states you are eligible only if you’ve ‘received more than 500 conversions through a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) campaign in prior 30 days.’
This is where the investor interest comes in to play. If you aren’t a big time player in the game they don’t want you. Remember Google is the one that collects all the money so if you aren’t generating much then they don’t want to help you help them.
The Conversion Optimizer is much the same, ‘your campaign must have received at least 300 conversions in the last 30 days.’ This can leave a lot of folks on the outside looking in.
So where does that leave us? Well for the small potatoes business we’ll still have to battle it out on the front lines, using our brains and cognitive thinking to outwit the other guy. For the big time players – Welcome to the ‘Members Only’ club. Grab a cigar and a brandy and don’t worry about a thing – Google is now going to choose how to spend your money for you.