Pay-per-click advertising requires near constant optimization to achieve any semblance of high performance and account efficiency.
Without knowing exactly what is working and what is not in relation to very specific performance metrics, it is very likely that you'll be wasting advertising budget and missing out on the conversions required to sustain your enterprise and achieve success with your digital campaigns.
The different performance-based PPC advertising networks (the two biggest of course being Google's AdWords and Microsoft's adCenter) provide a variety of reports, the purpose of which, of course, is to indicate to advertisers just how well their account, campaigns and keywords are performing. Exploring even the most basic reports can yield important insights, revealing opportunities that can be capitalized upon, and waste that can be reduced or eliminated. But what types of performancebased PPC reports should advertisers become familiar with? Four, in particular, should be high on the list for every advertiser - account history, impression share, quality score and click-through rate.
Those that don't know their history are doomed to repeat it, right? That adage rings very true for digital advertisers. Exploring the history of an account reveals any and all changes that were made over a specified period of time. The reason to pay particular attention to account history reports is that if an account manager made a campaign change that generated positive results, it is far easier to pinpoint the technique or tactic responsible and, ultimately, repeat that success.
The often fast-paced and competitive PPC ad market requires constant attention and maintenance; let the first PPC report you explore be that which details account history and campaign changes. You never know what you'll find, but chances are that it's something that can move the performance needle in a positive direction.
Share of Impressions
Advertising is about raising awareness among prospective audiences. That's often achieved by leveraging "creative" elements and assets (the text/copy and images choices that have been made for example) but in a performance-based advertising model, awareness is also heavily influenced by how much is being spent. For this reason, understanding the share of impressions is vital. Impression share details how often ads were shown when searches or queries relevant to them occurred.
There are a variety of reasons that a campaign could have a low share of impressions - from a limited ad budget to the type of keyword matching setup. Knowing the baseline of impressions being received is of course the first step toward optimizing for a greater share. Within AdWords specifically, impression share data is available at both the campaign and ad group levels. Microsoft provides what they call "Share of Voice" reports within adCenter, which provide advertisers with an opportunity to understand the reason(s) for lost impressions on that network. Most commonly those reasons are budget, rank, bid, or keyword and landing page relevance.
PPC search advertising networks spend immense amounts of time and manpower on ensuring the experience they provide is relevant to the queries conducted by users. While scoring an account or campaign could seem like an arbitrary assignment by the networks that provide it (most notably Google Adwords and Microsoft adCenter), it is for many an important indication of performance - the name of the game in PPC. Quality score measures how relevant ads, keywords and even landing pages are to the user/searcher. Factors including click-through rate (CTR), account history, landing page quality and more are typically taken into consideration when quality score is calculated.
Quality Score in Google AdWords determines whether an ad is eligible to participate in the keyword auction, how much the cost-per-click (CPC) will be and the position in which the ad will appear on the results page. Low-quality scores forces advertisers to pay more for ads that often end up in lower positions.
Microsoft's method of quality scoring differs slightly from that of Google Adwords. adCenter on the other hand offers a historic quality score report, which makes it possible to identify the actual dates that changes took place that ultimately makes it possible to diagnose account issues that may be signaled by a drop in quality score.
Keyword-Level Click-Through Rate
One of the most basic - yet essential - reports to explore is click-through rate (CTR) reports on ad groups and campaign keywords. CTR is the ratio of the number of times an ad was shown to the number of times it was clicked by a searcher. The CTR is an important factor in quality score (as are landing pages) and clear indicator of performance. Exploring the CTR of individual keywords, for example, indicates relevancy of ads; if users aren't clicking, however, there is likely a problem with the keyword in relation to the ad creative being used.
Keep in mind that while some of these reports will matter only to those managing the ad account, some of the information can be (or should be) shared with others. For example, keywords with the best click-through rate should be shared with marketers within your enterprise, who in turn, could develop articles, whitepapers or creative assets such as infographics with this information.
Accessing these performance-indicative reports, from whichever CPC advertising networks are currently utilized, is the first step toward improving the results of pay-per-click advertising accounts, campaigns and keywords. With a focus on achieving high performance, your business will benefit, and you'll find you have more time to explore other ways to achieve success with your digital enterprise efforts.