March 2014 -
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Archive for March, 2014

The AdWords Experts Take on Google Shopping

Posted by Ryan in adwords expert, Google Shopping

Monday, March 17th, 2014

The one constant in Google is change and that is as true as ever today. This applies to all aspects of AdWords advertising, and Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are no exception.
Recently, Google introduced Google Shopping as the next generation of Product Listing Ads. While Google Shopping is very similar to PLAs in many respects, there are some changes to the interface and reporting that PLA & Google Shopping Advertisers need to be aware of.


Retail Centric is a major buzzword that Google is throwing around when discussing Google Shopping campaigns. In plain English, this refers to the ability of being able to browse product inventory directly in the AdWords interface instead of having to go into the Merchant Center.

One new and useful aspect that falls under Google’s infatuation with the term Retail Centric is that Google Shopping makes it easier to break up the products in your product feed by Category (i.e. Business, Electronics), Brand (Specific Brand Name), Item ID (Specific Product Level), Condition (New, Refurbished, Used), Product Type and five Custom Labels.

Assuming, you have an active Google Merchant Center account (which is required to run both PLA & Shopping Campaigns), the system will create an All products category by default. From there, you will click the second icon (that looks like a pen) to start browsing your inventory.

Product Group in Google Merchant Center Screenshot

Once you select the elements of your product feed that you have broken things down by, you are able to set separate bids based off of each breakdown, giving you the ability to bid more or less based on the value you get for each separate Product, Category, Type, etc.

Google Merchant Center Product Sort Screenshot


One other weakness with PLAs that has started to be addressed with Google Shopping are the metrics used to report account performance.

The performance reporting metrics in PLAs are a bit archaic. The reporting metrics while still leaving a lot to be desired in Google Shopping, are a step in the right direction. In the Product Groups tab in Google Shopping, you can see performance statistics broken down by however you decided to break things down and you can even see Impression Share (percentage of time your ads show up when they are eligible to do so).

While Impression Share data has been readily available for Search & Display Network campaigns for a long time, this data has not been available for PLA campaigns.


They have even introduced a couple new Shopping specific metrics (Benchmark CTR & Benchmark Max CPC). Benchmark CTR is described as:

“…how other advertisers’ Product Listing Ads for similar products are performing based on how often people who see their ad end up clicking on it.”

Benchmark Max CPC is described as:

“The benchmark maximum cost-per-click (max. CPC) tells you how other advertisers are bidding on similar product.”

benchmark cpc screenshot

While these two new metrics may sound highly useful on the surface, the one thing you need to be careful with regarding these metrics is that while there is an element of truth in the numbers produced by these metrics, there is also an element of Google trying to get you to spend more money as well.

Currently, Google is still allowing advertisers to run both PLA & Google Shopping campaigns at the same time. Based on Google’s MO, our estimate is that at some point they will require advertisers to run Google Shopping instead of PLA ads.

Since this has not happened yet, our recommendation is to move products over from PLA to Google Shopping incrementally (a few product lines at a time). Google is saying that the matching criteria are the same between these two areas and there shouldn’t be a difference in performance but then again it’s not the best idea to blindly follow these types of recommendations.

For advertisers still transitioning from PLA to Google Shopping, you have the ability to choose Campaign Priority (High, Medium, Low) to tell the system whether the specific Shopping Campaign should be given higher priority in comparison to PLA campaigns that are still active.

To adjust this, you can go to the Settings tab, click on the Shopping settings (advanced) icon and select your preferred campaign priority.

campaign settings screenshot
While there are many similarities between PLA ads and Google Shopping, one thing that encourages us is that there is a little bit more transparency & ease in evaluating performance at the product level (even though we all know that the information is partial as always). Just like any other Google feature or update that gets introduced, the key thing is to stay alert and make sure you do not get tricked into spending more money than you need to.

Stand-up Desk Experiment

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in Uncategorized

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Several of my friends have been converting their offices to stand up desks and we have been talking about doing this for well over a year.  The challenge has been making the commitment and finding out if we will actually like this. My friends tell me that the first 3 days are tough and you have to just work your way through it. Knowing that not everyone who tries this likes it committing to the cost of the desks is a bit much.

So I built one from scraps in the garage so here is version 1 of my stand up desk experiment.


I worked on it yesterday and so far I like the standing but the design will  have to change. I mounted the monitors into the work surface and while it is a cool idea the pictures are poor when viewed from a 15 degree angle. It turns out that you need the monitors to be much closer to 90 degrees. So far the cost for the desk is under $10. My next one will be all new material and if I go fancy it could be as much as $30.

Stay tuned for the rest of the experiment.

Well this failed in spectacular fashion and it had more than a few design problems. The big one was the monitors when viewed at a 14-20% angle were impossible. Pictures were super saturated and some screens were impossible to read. I clocked the brightness to the max for the monitor and while this improved the visibility it was still a challenge, especially on graphic work.



So here is Version 2 :


The new version is more conventional with a flat surface and I made the top out of a high quality plywood so we can finish it to match the oak desks in the office. This has the extra benefit of having storage space under the desktop. Assuming this works out well for us my plan is to wrap the bottom in fabric so I will have access to storage giving me a place to put some of the extra desk things we all have.  I need to drill a 2″ hole in the desktop to route the wires through but so far I am happy with this new version. I made one for Dana as well although her’s is about 4″ shorter to get the right fit for her. The challenge with the fixed height design is that you have to measure and custom cut the legs.

The first three days were tough on my legs but as I go into my second week I am really starting to like standing up. I purchased a pad to stand on and I tend to skip wearing shoes most of the time. I purchased a two additional items for my desk and they are slant blocks and balance pad. The slant blocks provide a stretching of the lower leg but it will take time to use them for more than a few minutes. The balance pad is not in yet so look for another update.



Search Engine Optimization vs. Reputation Marketing

Posted by Roger McManus in reputation management, SEO

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

“But, I already have someone working on my SEO.”

As pioneers in developing Reputation Marketing systems, our sales team often runs into the objection “But, I already have someone working on my SEO”. The misconception that all things related to managing a business’s online presence are the same is amusing, frustrating and resolvable.

Perhaps the simplest way to distinguish the difference between SEO and Reputation Marketing is to acknowledge that SEO is more mechanical and factual, while Reputation Marketing is more opinion and emotion. And, when it gets right down to it, people narrow their choices based on facts, but actually buy based on emotions.
The differences between SEO and Reputation Marketing
Another distinction is clear from the names we put on these functions. “Search Engine Optimization” is a clear indication that the target of the effort is search engines. Reputation Marketing, on the other hand, is directed at real people. Mechanics vs. Opinions.

SEO has one objective; getting a business’s website to rank well in Google (68%) or any of the other search engines (32%). Reputation Marketing presents the business through the eyes of people who have actually experienced it. Their opinions are absolutely critical to the very success of a business – regardless of any SEO efforts.

SEO is like advertising. A business can put up billboards, buy newspaper ads, run spots on radio or cable TV, stuff flyers into Valpak or give away money through Groupon. Thousands of dollars can be committed to making people aware of your business, but the fact remains, over 80 percent of people will still check out a business online before initiating a transaction. If they see others are displeased, or even offer tepid reviews in response to their experience, all the advertising in the world will not gain a new customer.

A well-executed Reputation Marketing campaign is steady and never-ending. It involves monitoring what is being said about a business and providing the business tools with which to encourage customers to express themselves. It allows less-than-happy customers to get their issues resolved before “yapping on Yelp” and happy customers an easy way to know how to express themselves online. Over time, the preponderance of positive experiences will steadily have an “SEO effect” by lifting a local business in the rankings.

In fact, Reputation Marketing for a local company is vastly more powerful than SEO. While SEO is helpful for non-geographically-specific businesses, a local search always has two components; the type of business and the location of the customer (e.g. Plumber, Canton, Ohio). A national company does not have the advantage of such simplicity and is far more reliant on SEO to even be found, but will still rely on positive customer feedback to be selected.

In the end, the two strategies are not mutually exclusive. SEO is important to get search engine ranking. Reputation Marketing is important to establish trust with prospective customers and can supplement SEO dramatically. When it comes to local businesses, the lines are blurred even more where consumer feedback is treated by search engines in ways that optimize the possibility that a business will be ranked higher and found more easily.

This article is part of a series dealing with the new relationship between service professionals and their necessary connection to the Internet and online exposure.

Roger McManus is a principal at Mpact Magic (, a reputation management company that focuses on the service industries. Roger is the author of Entrepreneurial Insanity (Amazon) directed at small business owners who are stuck as the hub of their business’ wheel.