Managing the AdWords Signal to Noise Ratio

AdWords is practically engineered to be overwhelming. When you add to it the ocean of "AdWords education" from people like me, all trying to convince you that you don't know enough, and the demands and temptations of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, you have a perfect storm recipe for debilitation.

In this 8-minute video, I share the causes and the cures for that overwhelm. And yes, there's a product for that ;)

If, after watching, you'd like to find out more about the Traffic Surge course that officially begins on November 23, you can read all about it here:

If you find this video helpful, please leave your thoughts, questions, and comments in the Comments section below. Thanks!

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26 Comments. Leave a comment or send a Trackback.
  1. #1 • Steven said on November 9 2010:

    Howie,  Thanks for the content..  I'm just getting back into the adword arena and want to know if your 'adword' material is just as effective with Yahoo Local and Bing Local?

  2. #2 • Howie Jacobson said on November 9 2010:

    Steven, there are two audiences for any pay per click advertising strategy: the machine and the searcher. The Yahoo-Bing machine works differently than AdWords (and generally speaking, much worse), but the humans at the end are the same everywhere.

    Also, I can’t think of a situation where I’d begin a buildout on Ya-Bing, instead of AdWords. Google’s platform is easier, faster, more traffic, and more useful for testing. One something works on AdWords, the next step is to migrate it to other PPC platforms where optimization is harder and slower.

  3. #3 • Grant said on November 9 2010:

    Thanks for taking the time to make the video, thoroughly enjoyable, just like your book :)

  4. #4 • Howie Jacobson said on November 9 2010:

    Thanks for the kind words, Grant. I’m getting into video, prodded by my friend, student and video mentor Gabriella Donivan, so it’s good to get positive feedback for my efforts. The camera lens just stares at me impassively, whether I sparkle or stumble ;)

  5. #5 • Grant said on November 9 2010:

    We are struggling with a campaign at the moment that we have taken over on behalf of a client. He started the campaign about 6 months ago with only one adgroup and 570 keywords and is somehow getting what I consider fairly good results – roughly 300 clicks per day with a budget of 290USD per day in an extremely competitive market.
    We setup what we considered a very well researched campaign with multiple adgroups and very targeted keywords around each adgroup and we are getting roughly 30% worse performance across the board with less clicks and more cost! We are baffled to say the least.
    So my question is – even if a campaign isnt set up the way it should be initially, does the fact that it has been running for a certain length of time mean that slowly but surely you begin to benefit from it? Is it simply a case that our implementation needs more time? How can a poorly created campaign be doing better than a properly executed campaign?
    Would appreciate a small insight or two on this otherwise I will be forced to pay for your course :)

  6. #6 • Sandy Barris said on November 9 2010:

    Howie, thanks for the kick-in-the-butt reminder to toss out al the Gooroos and info that are redundant. That surely will save me and anyone else who does it a lot of time.
    I don't suppose you'd like to share a few of the key metics that you feel are most important in a GAW campaign?
    Great video and ideas, please keep them coming.
    Sandy Barris

  7. #7 • Howie Jacobson said on November 9 2010:

    Hi Grant,

    What specifically is doing worse? Fewer clicks based on what? Lower CTR? Lower position? Higher CPC?

    And how long has the new campaign been running?


  8. #8 • Michael said on November 9 2010:

    Hi Howie,
    I'm interested in your course, but find that my company's adwords needs are pretty unique, and when I sit in on your webinars, rarely do you cover issues that we can relate to on our specific campaigns.  Here are a few specific issues:
    -Our average sale is $2,000+ and most of our customer don't check out on our website, but rather use purchase orders or accounts to initiate orders, thus we have no real data on ROI for each campaign because it is very difficult to determine what campagin/add resulted in a sale.  Without any real data showing closed sales from specific ad, what would you suggest we use as proxy metrics for determining the effectriveness of a particularly campaign?
    A couple of other experiences/observations:
    Google staff set us up with two custom adwords campaigns, one for display and one for search, both of which we could have spent $10K/day on as they used nothing but broad match keywords.  I had no faith that these would work as at a $300/day budget, our ads were only showing less than .10 of the time, so I concluded they were way too broad.
    -Our competition does not appear to sophisticated as their ads and landing pages are generally low quality and dated, so we like our chances but can't seem to measure exactly how we are doing with adwords.
    Business is good though.
    Please let me know why traffic surge would be a good fit for me and our company given these issues.

    Howie’s note: at Michael’s request I’ve removed his website URL and email from this comment.

  9. #9 • Howie Jacobson said on November 9 2010:

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for the kind words. Flattery will definitely loosen my tongue! ;)

    The key metrics depend on your situation and goals. You definitely want to reverse engineer your business goals and look for metrics that directly support the business goals. For example, if you want leads. figure out your breakeven cost per lead and then set up filters for all keywords and ads that deliver leads at greater than than amount.

    Filters and automated reports are everything. Start by creating full reports with all metrics, print them out, and pay attention to which columns and rows are “noise” – not helping you understand what’s going on in your account. Keep re-running the reports with fewer and fewer fields until every field tells a story that matters.

  10. #10 • Grant said on November 9 2010:

    Thanks Howie,
    We are mostly experiencing a lower CTR on the same adspend per day, roughly 200 clicks vs their 300+. The positioning is roughly the same but the CPC is almost double.
    As for the duration of our campaign, we have only been running it for a week so I realise we might simply not be giving it enough of a chance, but our problem is that a precedent has been set the number of leads their call center is receiving from the GA campaign, so until we can find a solution for why our campaign is performing so poorly, we have switched back to their old campaign while we do some further research on the matter.
    Very frustrating indeed!


  11. #11 • Paul Bellerose said on November 9 2010:

    The video made a lot of sense and to be honest I started thinning my list of gurus that I receive info from about 4 months ago.   There seems to be an 'expert'  for EVERY aspect of online marketing and they…. in turn,  have recommendations for other 'experts'….. so it becomes a vicious cycle of information.   Sticking with one expert to get off the ground is the best solution for me.   Now all I have to do is get off the ground!
    P.S.   I find that your Ad-Words book is an excellent reference source when questions pop-up on how to use Ad-Words…….It was a good investment!     

  12. #12 • Howie Jacobson said on November 9 2010:

    Thanks, Paul. Honest “experts” realize that they don’t know it all, and love sharing their teachers with their students. The affiliate commission complicates things, because now there’s a potential for conflict of interest. And of course, my preference is for you to buy something from me as opposed to not.

    There’s nothing wrong with me or anyone else trying our hardest to sell you what we think will help you achieve your goals. Just realize that us marketers are likely to be a bit more persuasive than some other folks who may actually have products and services of greater value to you.

    In terms of getting off the ground, what do you think is holding you back?

  13. #13 • Bill said on November 9 2010:

    Howie, I always appreciate your genuine and fresh approach to the way you do your marketing. Of course I was curious what books were on your bookshelf.  Thanks for the reminder about removing my email address from list.  Good words of advice.  Although I have removed my name from many email list, I still enjoying learning and seeing what the next big thing is. Yet I try to do this selectively.   And yes I want to keep my address on your list. Bill

  14. #14 • Howie Jacobson said on November 9 2010:

    Thanks, Bill. I appreciate your vote of confidence. (Even more so now that you’re a big winner in the Bobsled Run :)

    The books that have influenced me most lately include: Start With Why, The Talent Code, and The Hero Within. In case you’ve got some amazon gift certificates you need to spend :)

  15. #15 • Charles Prosper said on November 9 2010:

    Thanks for the video.  Just recently I had realized that the lack of my success was not due to my business acumen, industriousness or intelligence, but to my tendency to try to get on a horse and ride out in all different directions at once trying to follow too many gurus' advice simultaneously.  I agree with your advice 100%, and I have accepted you as my sole guru through the journey of AdWords.  I have read cover-to-cover your Google AdWords for Dummies twice; I am on my third reading as I meticulously do the computations and exercise metrics of each chapter.  It has only taken me about 6 weeks of study, but I do read and study you about 2 hours a day.  I will launch my first AdWords campaign this month, and I will LEARN and improve as I go.
    The Spanish philosopher Miguel De Unamuno said it best, "It is not necessary to know everything, only the most important things.
    Again, thanks for having written such an excellent and thorough book.  And just as an aside "It ain't for no dummies". 
    Best wishes,
    Charles Prosper
    "The 12-week fitness guru"

  16. #16 • Howie Jacobson said on November 9 2010:

    Charles, I’m honored to be your AdWords guy. Be aware that some things have changed since the book was published in 2009 (new edition scheduled for mid-2011, gulp), but the basics still apply.

    Regarding knowing the most important things only, the Chinese Taoist scholar who wrote the definite guide to the I Ching in 1796, Lu I-ming, was known by his admirers as “the One Who Has Realized the Fundamental.” He was also known as a “Free Man.” I believe that the power of focus on fundamentals – in business, as in life – is the one skill that can keep us from being enslaved by the onslaught of bits and bytes that threaten to anesthetize our brains and spirits.

    I commend you for going through the chapters and exercises so diligently. If I exercised that way, I too would not look like Winnie the Pooh anymore ;)

  17. #17 • Arna Zucker said on November 9 2010:

    Howie dahlink, I loved watching your video. Also want to report that I had my first successful adwords campaign recently.. My hubby & bro had a Halloween store in FL. I did a local campaign, 45 mi around the store. Because I had control of the website and they were into putting some cash into the campaign ($100/day during the last week), it actually increased their earnings by 15-20%. Now I'm the hero, and just happy to have a good AdWords experience. Thanks for all your input over the years, and keep on juggling!

  18. #18 • Gregg Crystal said on November 9 2010:

    I like the book and I do like this approach. There are so many websites offering services like this, but I think you do have to pick one way and just go for it. I am considering this approach as I was very happy with the Google Adwords for Dummies book.
    I would like to see a few more testimonials. My biggest fear is that even with all of Howie's great advice, I still don't have enough time to make it work out, and I wind up just muddling along.

  19. #19 • Joe C said on November 9 2010:

    Embarassing Signal to Noise Admission… I kept catching myself focusing on the noise (ooh, look – Howie and I have a bunch of the same books… ) and then picking up the thread of what Howie was saying.  Lucky for me I jumped on the Traffic Surge offer already and can attest to the focused, high signal quality to the material.  Howie is definitely on my Keep list when I prune my newsletter accounts.

  20. #20 • Dan R said on November 10 2010:

    You are always signal. 
    Thanks a lot.

  21. #21 • Howie Jacobson said on November 11 2010:

    Joe, nothing to be embarrassed about – I do that all the time. It's how our brains work, unless we're Zen monks with years of meditation behind us.

    In fact, that's the reason we have to filter so ruthlessly. Once it's in front of our eyes and ears, we're already lost.

    Which books do we have in common? ;)

  22. #22 • Ruth Marbaek said on November 15 2010:

    Thank you , Howie –  that was excellent. 

  23. #23 • andrew fearnley said on December 20 2010:

    HI Howie,
    Another 8 mins well spent, as usual very informative and educational.
    Please keep the videos coming.

  24. #24 • Howie Jacobson said on December 20 2010:

    Thanks, Andrew. I’ll make some more as soon as I tidy my office and put on a clean shirt.

    What sorts of things would you like to hear about? Got any questions I can answer in a youtube video?


  25. #25 • limud machsev said on March 27 2011:

    Hi Howie, I agree with Andrew, you asked him what he would like to hear about. I would be very interested in learn more about the broad match modifier , as it’s still a bit confusing. Thanks for all the work you do. I also found you dummies book excelent.

  26. #26 • Howie Jacobson said on March 28 2011:

    Thanks, Limud (I spent enough hours in ulpan to suspect that’s not your real name ;). I’ll put broad match modifier on the list for future videos.