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Understanding Ad Variables: Week 5

Welcome to Module 5 of The Google Ads Masterclass by ClickGUARD, where we teach you more about understanding ad variables in Google Ads, an essential step to creating ads that bring all the ROAS to your backyard!

There are several variables that you need to take care of and continuously optimize throughout your campaigns (because you should always monitor and tweak them, to make sure you improve your ad performance and ROAS).  

What are these ad variables, why are they important, and how to monitor and tweak them for optimization are the key topics that are covered in this module.

Let’s get started.

Ad Variables and Their Importance

Ad variables are characteristics and features of an ad campaign that you can tweak for optimization. For example, ad copy is a variable that you can tweak whenever you want.

Here is a list of the main ad variables:

  1. Ad copy
  2. Bidding strategy
  3. Landing pages
  4. Audiences
  5. Design assets

Making sure all your ad variables are in tune with your goals and constantly tweaking them will help you achieve better results in Google Ads. For example, the following ad copy was tweaked, which resulted in a 400% increase in CTR:

Good ad copy example

Here is the new ad copy that outperformed the old one:

tweaked ad copy example

This goes to show that sometimes, even the simplest changes can go a long way. 

But it isn’t always this simple. You never know how your change will impact ad metrics (because, let’s face it, nobody owns a crystal ball). As such, your changes can have a positive impact or a negative one.  

And yet, the only way to know how a change in an ad variable will impact ad performance is to do it.

And this is what makes ad variables such an important part of any Google Ads campaign. They provide you with unlimited options to tweak your campaigns and see what works best and what doesn’t work.

  • Ad variables help you identify elements that improve ad performance
  • It gets easier to replicate best-performing ads and avoid using elements that underperform
  • These variables give you full control over your campaigns. You can tweak any variable and related elements whenever you like
  • Ad variables improve decision-making by providing you with data-driven answers to your queries
  • Optimization of these variables gives you a competitive advantage over your competitors.

All the Google Ads users have access to the same dashboard, tools, and interface. Even your competitors use the same ad network to run their campaigns. How you use ad variables and at what combinations make all the difference. This is the key to success with Google Ads.

The next sections cover the five ad variables in detail so that you can understand them and know how to use them for better ad performance. 

Leo Burnett Quote Advertising

1. Ad Copy

Ad copy is the text that is used in an ad. It refers to the copywriting of an advertisement that includes a headline, ad body, CTA, and any other text that’s included in the ad. 

Here is an example of ad copy:

Google Ads copy example

The ad copy has multiple types. For example, in the case of a video ad, the video is the ad copy while in the case of a display ad, the creative is the ad copy. It isn’t just limited to text but since Google search ads is the most popular campaign type, therefore, ad copy is mostly used in terms of ‘text’.

Here are the major components of an ad copy (irrespective of its type):

1. Headline

A headline is the most crucial part of ad copy. It is the first thing that a user sees. An attractive and powerful headline persuades your target audience to move ahead and read the ad body.

2. Ad Body

It is the description of the ad that explains the headline and ad copy in detail. Depending on the space availability, the ad body could be short or long.

3. Call-to-Action

A call to action (CTA) is what drives clicks. It tells your audience what action they have to take once they have read the headline and ad description. It is the most important part of the ad copy.

4. Other Components

Google Ads copy components

Google text ads have other components too, which are part of the ad copy such as URL and ad extensions. When you are running a shopping ad, the product name, photo, price, and other extensions are all part of the ad copy that you must write professionally to drive clicks.

How to Nail Ad Copy

The performance of your ad and how well (or poorly) it will perform is tightly related to ad copy. It is a critical ad variable that is directly associated with ad performance, clicks, views, quality score, and conversions.

You have to do an exceptional job for ad copy to make it prominent, compelling, and outstanding. Here are a few tips on how to do it:

  1. Add keywords in the headline and ad body. Using the right keywords in the headline improves CTR as this is how users decide to click or pass an ad.
  2. Use power words in headline and ad copy. Power words trigger an emotional response and boost CTR. It gets hard for your audience to ignore power words as they're immensely persuasive. Check out this list of 400+ power words.
  3. Focus on benefits instead of features. For example, cloud storage is a feature while 24/7 accessibility is the benefit. You need to highlight product benefits as users aren’t interested in features. They want to know how a feature will benefit them.
  4. Use numbers, statistics, and special characters in the ad copy. Using a number in ad copy is a proven tactic that significantly improves CTR. MECLABS increases CTR by 88% by using a number in the ad copy.
  5. Use Google ad extensions as much as you can. It is a free add-on that makes your ad prominent in the SERPs. Though you can’t control the copy of most of these extensions, some are controllable such as structured snippets.

2. Bidding Strategy

Your bidding strategy is another crucial ad variable that determines the cost you are willing to pay per click or thousand impressions. Your bid determines at what position your ad will appear in the SERPs. Higher bids can easily make it to the top position provided they have a decent ad quality score.

Google Ads offers you different bidding strategies that depend on campaign type, targeting, and importantly your primary goal. For example, if you are interested in driving clicks to your website, CPC bidding strategy is ideal for you as you'll be charged per click:

Google Ads Bidding strategies

So, your bidding strategy determines how Google Ads will charge you. There are three bidding strategies that you can choose from which means you can choose to get charged based on:

  1. Clicks
  2. Conversion
  3. Impressions.

Let’s discuss each in detail:

1. CPC Bids

Cost per click bidding is ideal when you are interested in generating clicks or sending traffic to your landing page. In this case, you will be charged on a per click basis. Every time a viewer clicks your ad, you'll be charged irrespective of whether the visitor converts or not. Similarly, even if your ads have several hundred views but no clicks, you'll not be charged anything.

How much will you be charged per click?

It depends on the type of CPC bid you'll select:

  1. Manual CPC bidding
  2. Maximize clicks.

Manual CPC Bidding

You'll select your bid manually for ad groups, keywords, and placements. You'll set a maximum cost per click that you are willing to pay and your ads will be optimized accordingly by Google Ads.

Google Ads manual CPC bidding

Manual CPC bidding gives you control over cost and bids. You can increase bids for profitable ad groups and reduce for others.

When to use manual CPC bidding:

  • Your focus is on website traffic and you want to send traffic to a landing page without improving brand awareness
  • You need full control over cost per click
  • You are willing to spend time manually inspecting your campaign regularly
  • You are using search or display campaign types.

Maximize Clicks

It is an automated bidding strategy where Google Ads will manage cost per click based on your daily budget. All you have to do is set your daily budget and select maximize clicks bidding strategy. Google will ensure that you receive the maximum clicks possible in your specified budget.

Maximize clicks is the best when:

  • You are new to Google ads and don’t know how to control bids
  • You have a fixed daily budget that you want to spend on ads
  • You are interested in increasing traffic
  • You don’t have the time and/or expertise to manually monitor and adjust bids daily.

2. Smart Bidding

Paying for clicks isn’t always a good idea as not all clicks convert. A lot of people will simply click your ad and then leave your landing page without conversion. You'll, however, pay for all such clicks.

Therefore, bidding on conversion seems to be a great strategy where Google will charge you whenever a visitor will complete an action on your landing page (=conversion). If you want to focus on conversions, you need to use smart bidding that has five different strategies for conversions:

Target Cost Per Action

It is used to target a specific cost per action (CPA) that you want to target. You'll set your own cost per action that you can afford to pay. It is ideal when you want to focus on conversions. Your bids will be optimized automatically by Google for conversions.

Maximize Conversions

You'll have to set your daily budget and let Google optimize your campaign for conversions by setting bids automatically. Your budget will be optimized to give you maximum conversions.

Target Return on Ad Spend

You'll set a specific target ROAS that’s known as conversion value. Once you set a target return on ad spend, Google will automatically set appropriate bids to help you get more revenue from the ad spend.

Maximize Conversion Value

You can optimize your campaign for maximum conversion value by setting a daily spending limit. Google will optimize your ads by setting bids that will give you the maximum possible highest conversion value.

Enhanced Cost Per Click

This is an optional feature that is available with a manual CPC bidding strategy. The enhanced CPC ensures that you get more conversions. This is done by adjusting your manual bid for clicks. Your bid will be increased for clicks that are more likely to convert and will decrease for clicks that are least likely to convert.

3. Impression Bids

If you want to focus on visibility or impressions, you need to bid on impressions. There are four impression bidding strategies that are ideal for campaigns that are focused on brand awareness, visibility, and views:

Target Impression Share

It is a smart bidding strategy where Google will automatically set your bids to move your ad at the top of the page for increased visibility and maximum impression share. 

CPM

Cost per thousand lets you pay for the number of impressions your ad receives. You'll set a bid per thousand impressions and your ads will be optimized for views. You'll be charged irrespective of how many clicks you receive.

vCPM

It is a manual bidding strategy where you set a maximum bid per 1,000 viewable ad impressions. A viewable ad impression is counted as an impression when 50% of the ad appears for at least one second on the user screen. It is known as a viewable cost per thousand bidding strategy.

tCPM

The target CPM is a bidding strategy that allows you to set a target cost per thousand impressions. Google will optimize your ads to maximize unique reach by keeping your bid equal or lower than your target CPM.

Selecting the right bidding strategy is essential and there isn’t any single best bidding strategy that you can use for all types of campaigns and goals. Ideally, you must link your bidding strategy with the campaign goal such as:

  • If your goal is to generate traffic to your website and driving clicks is your main goal, go for CPC bidding strategy.
  • For brand awareness, views, and boost in the visibility, you must use a CPM bidding strategy.
  • If you run an ecommerce or a retail store where your focus is to generate leads, smart bidding is the right strategy for you.
  • If you want to generate leads, sales, and conversion, go for smart bidding.

3. Landing Pages

A landing page is a page that users see when they click an ad. By definition, it is a standalone marketing page that is specifically created for an advertising campaign. Here is an example of a landing page:

Google Ads Landing Page example

Since this is the page that visitors land on after clicking your ad, it has to be high-quality and relevant to the ad copy. Not only does ad-landing page relevance improve quality score but it improves conversions.

Here is an example of how ad copy and landing page must be perfectly aligned:

ad copy and landing page copy

If your ad is about Halloween candy sale, the landing page must have Halloween candy available on it so visitors can buy them immediately. Anything else on the landing page will ruin conversions and UX – leading to a high bounce rate that will hurt your ad ranking and quality score.

A landing page has several elements you can tweak to see how these changes impact ad relevance and conversions. Here is how a perfect high-quality landing page looks like and these are the elements that it should have:

landing page copy elements

If you can add all these elements to your landing page, it is great. At least, try adding as many elements as possible to make it look better.

Follow these proven techniques to creating awesome landing pages:

  • Have a clear goal for your landing page. One landing page must have one and only one goal
  • The landing page headline, content, and offer must be relevant to the ad copy
  • Create a dedicated landing page for each ad group or ad to boost relevancy
  • There must be a single offer per landing page. Avoid adding multiple offers on a single landing page
  • Make CTA prominent
  • All the CTAs on the landing page must lead to one and only one external page.

4. Audiences

Your audience is the most powerful ad variable that has a direct link to ad performance. Google Ads provides you with several targeting options so that your ads are shown to the most appropriate people.

Selecting and targeting the right audience is the key to success. Even if you are targeting the right keywords for your search campaign, your campaign will fail if you aren’t targeting the right audience.

Simon Sinek quote buying

Google Ads offers you three key targeting options that include:

  1. Demographics
  2. Affinity
  3. In-market

Demographics

This is the basic audience targeting option that lets you select your audience location, gender, income range, and age group. Selecting the right demographics for your campaign will ensure that your ads are triggered and shown to the right people.

Demographic targeting is linked to the buyer persona. Refer to the buyer personas to identify the most appropriate demographics. This is the information that you'll have in your buyer personas.

When setting location, make sure you select the right option from this list:

Google ads demographics

If you want to show ads to people in a target location, check the second box, else your ads will be shown globally to everyone.

Affinity

You can further refine your audience by selecting interests. Google Ads provides you with lots of affinity options to choose from:

Google Ads affinity

Again, if you have buyer personas, you'll know the interests and habits of your target audience. If you don’t know much about their interests, you can select the most appropriate affinity and see how it works.

It is an ad variable so you can change it based on ad performance.

In-Market

This is an interesting audience targeting option that lets you target users based on their recent purchases and are actively searching for products and services. You can choose from a list of in-market options:

Google Ads in-market options

You can choose to target an in-market audience only or you can mix these up with affinity. However, if you stick with in-market targeting only, it will make your audience too narrow. Your ads will be shown to people who are actively searching for a product or service. You might miss people who are searching for the product for the first time and Google hasn’t recognized them as in-market yet.

Again, it requires testing and you need to carefully analyze your campaigns to see how in-market targeting is working.

5. Design Asset

Design asset refers to the creatives that are used in display ads. It includes logo, buttons, color scheme, icons, shapes, and other creatives that are used to create and design display ads. Here is an example of a display ad that includes CTA, logo, text, and images:

Google Ads design example

The way how your ad looks is crucial.

It has to be visually pleasing and appealing to get attention. Depending on the campaign goal, you have to design your ad appropriately. For example, if your campaign goal is to increase brand awareness, the ad must be prominent so as to catch eyeballs instantly. You don’t necessarily need a CTA on such an ad.

Alternately, if your goal is to generate clicks, the display ad must have a powerful CTA that needs to be the most prominent element on the ad.

A display ad has four essential elements:

  1. Business name or logo or both
  2. Text or ad copy
  3. Image or a photo
  4. CTA
elements of a Google Display ad

It isn’t necessary to have all these elements in your display ad. As discussed, you can skip CTA for ads geared towards visibility and brand awareness. Similarly, you don’t have to add an image in all the ads.

Design isn’t just limited to how your banner looks rather it includes all the design-aspects. Here are some best practices to improve creating stunning display ads:

  • The display ad must a proper structure according to Google display ad specification guidelines
  • Use appropriate color schemes for the ad. Use a contrasting color to ensure your ad is visible on the webpage
  • Try using colors that aren’t typically used on websites so that your ad doesn’t mix and merge with the website. If it isn’t visible and doesn’t stand out from the crowd, it won’t perform well
  • Avoid using white color in the ad as most of the websites have a white background
  • Use white space in your ad as it is an important design element and it improves memorability, satisfaction, and comprehension.

A/B Testing Your Ad Variables

A/B testing or split testing refers to comparing and testing two variations of an ad variable and identifying which variation performs better. It lets you create a hypothesis and then test it by sending traffic to two different variations. The version that performs better is selected and used further:

AB testing Google Ads variables

Here is how A/B testing works:

how split testing works

The traffic is split and both the variations receive similar traffic. For example, you can create two variations of an ad copy that converts at 1.2%. You need to tweak the desired element in the ad copy (based on data) such as CTA.

Run both the ad variations.

If the change in the ad copy with tweaked CTA converts better, it should be retained. However, if it underperforms, you need to retain the original version and keep using it.

A/B testing is must-have for several reasons:

  • It improves ad performance across all levels
  • It is data-driven experimentation that provides you with useful data that you can use in future campaigns
  • You can improve ad performance without increasing the ad budget. You can boost the conversion rate with the same traffic and daily budget
  • It gives you a competitive edge as most businesses don’t invest in A/B testing.

To begin with, you need to identify what to test. You can’t and should not test an ad variable rather you need to test an element within an ad variable. For example, tweak the headline in your ad copy and test it to identify how a different headline performs.

If you'll test an ad copy with another ad copy that is totally different, you won’t be able to identify the exact element that is responsible for better performance. This is why you must test one element at a time to measure its impact.

Conclusion

Ad variables have the potential to make or break your campaign. Setting up an ad campaign and letting it run is the most ineffective approach to PPC. You need to test and improve your ad performance by running A/B tests continuously.

If you'll not run a split test, you won’t be able to improve, optimize, and scale your campaigns. You'll stay where you are. Besides, ad variables are there for a reason – so that you can tweak them. That’s what a variable is all about.

A/B tests help you measure the impact of your tweak. In the absence of an A/B test, you'll not be able to see how your change in an ad variable affected performance. You'll be making changes forever based on your judgment – and this is the worst-case scenario.

To help you with this, we have created an A/B testing checklist you can just grab and use when you want to split test your Google Ads (and you want that, for sure!). Just scroll up on this page and you'll find the download box in the top right-hand side of the corner -- get it for free and start using it today!


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