10 Questions with Brad Geddes on Google PPC Campaigns 

When it comes to Google Adwords marketing, there are so many articles and resources for what you search, but the chances of finding what might actually help you are quite rare. There is so much wisdom out there that it can be a little exhausting.

That’s why we came up with Freshmarketer 10. This is our own humble attempt at fighting this marketing clutter and delivering a little value. We ask 10 questions each to the marketing professionals who’ve been there, done that. So you can learn from the pros!

We’ve talked about different marketing topics with marketers who’ve had hands-on experience. We go over marketing campaigns that worked and didn’t. Also, there are great tips and advice in there as well. All of that in 10 questions. No more, no less.

10 Questions with Brad Geddes on Google Adwords Campaigns 

Brad Geddes is the founder of Bgtheory.com and co-founder of Adalysis.com. He has been involved in online marketing since 1998. Over the years, he has provided a variety of consulting services, including usability, conversion optimization, product development, product positioning, and agency consulting. 



1. How Google AdWords has changed over the years? 

I started working on paid search before Google AdWords was even a thing. Google AdWords came around in 2002, which was a very basic system. What really changed was people started using search more, which then meant a lot more advertising dollars flowed into the system. And as soon as you have more advertiser’s investment, because that’s who the users are, you get tools that didn’t exist. There weren’t keyword tools or measurement tools, analytics and call tracking when people started doing the paid search. Most of them came much much later. 

So what’s really evolved is, money flow into the system. Advertisers were spending more money and needed to know how to do it, how to do it well, and how to do it at scale. And then the engines say — okay, you’re doing all this, we need to add more features for you.

So that’s kind of been the loop for many years now of how a lot of things have sort of grown.

2. How to get a Google Adwords campaign right?  

Number one is a strategy. What do you want to accomplish? Why are you advertising? I mean, pretty basic questions but are you trying to get leads? Are you trying to get sales? What are you doing?

And then that translates to a really good ad group organization, which is your keyword and ad copy relationships. Having really granular ad groups is still incredibly important

  • The ability to measure the ad group performance, so whether it’s conversion, tracking, analytics and so on. 
  • And then the ability to read the data to make optimization decisions.

If you could start there, then you’ll start successful, and you can layer on more features such as audience and stuff, in the future once you’ve grown a little bit.

3. Tell us about some of the successful Google AdWords campaigns? Why do you think it worked? 

I’m going to go back for many years because it was the fundamental basics. But Yellowpages.com was first launching yp.com, which at the time was a $100 million website, which is not a big deal today, but at the time they were huge. And they did it right. They said, hey, we want to spend money on paid search, but we know our website’s not for conversions, so we want you to make us a converting website.

So essentially they’re advertising for advertisers, so they wanted to figure how to do that. So we took every industry there was, which was about 4500 industries, every single city name there was, and every single state name. It was US-based, mixed and matched every one of those combinations, which is several hundred thousand ad groups, got images for every single city and state. So when a user came to the website, we would read off the URL string to put the image with the user location name, with a picture of the industry and information for the industry.

And overall, it was probably 500 paragraphs of content that could be switched in and out. But it was always a relevant website. So their first click turned into a $25,000 client, which was equal to their spend and PPC for the month. After five minutes, we were given $100,000 to spend that month because their first click was $25,000. The organization and website strategy would still work today.

4. Where do people usually go wrong when it comes to Google AdWords campaigns?

There are usually three or four ways that most people go wrong, to begin with. It’s the stepping one and a fundamental piece of information.

  • Not understanding what’s a good AdGroup, 
  • What’s a good keyword-to-ad relationship and landing page. 
  • Match types and using a lot of broad matches, which means you can show for anything Google deems similar, which can waste a lot of money.
  • Not being able to measure what you’re doing, so you’re spending money, but not really understanding the returns.
  • Listening to the search engines too much. Their goal is to make money, they’re for-profit companies. 

They give recommendations that may not work, you may have a rep who’s actually never run an account trying to get sales before. In the end, you’re responsible for your money, not Google, right, their goal is to go spend it somehow.

Usually, when something goes wrong, it’s one of those four issues.

5. What’s your take on bidding on competitor’s brand names? 

I have two takes. So, number one, I’m not a throw-the-first-stone person. If no one’s doing it, then everyone’s getting their own traffic and if you throw the first stone, everybody will pile on and your brand terms will get more expensive. If someone has thrown the first stone and it’s already in the marketplace, you almost have to play to some extent in that game.

So while that being said, where I am okay with brand bidding is — and this is a little more advanced — but you have current customers, so if you take a customer list, you can tell Google — hey, these are our customers — essentially. And if your current customers are searching for other people’s brands, that is a signal to you, you need to reach out to them, you need to see why they’re searching them, what have you failed in?

So that’s not necessarily trying to go after someone looking for something else, that’s more of a — how do we serve our own customers better — because we failed him in some manner. So I’m pretty okay in that instance of doing it because they’re already a customer, to begin with.

6. What approach do you recommend for testing and optimizing Google AdWords campaigns to improve results? 

There are three types of testing. 

  • You can test your ads. 
  • You can test your landing pages. 
  • You contest various settings — what happens if we switch automated bid types or something?

Ad testing is what everyone should start with. This is sort of like if you watch TV, you may see three different commercials for the same brands. They’re testing their commercials, they’re laying out different things. It’s the easiest to start with. If you have a small account, it’s a matter of going to AdGroups, writing two or three ads, looking at numbers. If you have a big account, that’s when tools and some more advanced ad testing comes into play because you can easily test a million versus a million ads, it’s a whole different thing.

So once you have that going, then you won’t look at your websites and say, how do we make this better? So you can either use landing page testing software, make two pages and use your ads to split it, but that’s the user experience, the user interaction with the brand is what you’re testing. And then you have tested the other settings, which is conditional on what you want to learn.

So that’s like the testing part, incredibly important, but it’s ads, landing page, and settings.

From an optimization standpoint, if you’re not testing stuff, then you’re working with the data that has come in. So this is often looking at — 

  • What are the search queries? 
  • What did someone type in the engine? 
  • Which ones should be keywords or not? 
  • Which ones should be negative keywords and 
  • What we want to remove them from our system?

You’re going to look at the data flow that comes into your account to say — yes, we like it, let’s make sure this is consistent, or, no, we don’t like it, let’s get rid of it — and that’s a lot of what optimization really is, in the end, is keeping it or removing different data points flowing in.

7. What are the important metrics to determine the success of a Google AdWords campaign? 

My goal is always to actually know profit. What was the profit? We made this, we spent this, what’s our profit? Now, sometimes you can’t get there. Whether it’s some cost of hard goods in e-commerce or the sale cycle is too long, so then it’s, how close can you get to profit?

In e-commerce, you can get to revenue. If it’s a lead-gen company like a SaaS product lead-gen. Then you have leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, free trial, and then a paying subscriber, and then subscribers of varying lengths, which determines the lifetime values. In that case, lifetime value profit is the best metric. But if someone just signed up, then you don’t really know what it’s going to be. You can guess, but you don’t really know. So you’re going to do some estimates of, here’s our overall lifetime and let’s go backward.

If you can’t get to that, then you say — okay overall, someone who subscribes, we have a 20% subscription rate from a free trial. So if our average customer makes this and their free trials worth about this, that’s your next best metric to get to. Then if you can’t get that, then it’s like — okay, if someone is a sales qualified lead, here’s how often they churn their free trial. And you kind of back up the funnel until you’re very confident in your data and then you work forward towards using the best possible metric, which again it’s going to be profits and revenue.

Now again, in enterprise companies, they may say we want to raise our share of voice by three points in this market. Totally different campaign tally, different measurement tactics. But for most people, it’s profit, or how close can you get to profit?

8. With the overall cost per click going up year on year, how can a business with a low marketing budget make use of Google AdWords campaign?

Most companies, most industries, don’t have steep CPC rises year over year. In fact, our personal CPC is less this year than last year. It’s actually gone down by 17%. So if you’re a lawyer, a dentist, a whatever, you may not have this.

Two, you have to consider — is there a lot of venture capital money in your industry where they don’t have to make money, instead, they have to get user bases?

Marketing automation is probably 10 times more expensive than a Helpdesk system, they’re just not even close. The HelpDesk has been around for a while, it’s established, marketing automation has a lot of money flowing into it, many of them don’t have to make money. So it’s a whole different thing, and those industries are really tricky. You’re going to leverage things like audiences, similar audiences.

Google has a new setting that — it’s only in like 20 countries or something so far — that lets you advertise based upon company size. So if you’re marketing automation, you don’t want to show that to a company of three people; you want to show it to a company of 100-plus people. So you’re really getting rid of wasted spend by looking through more advanced features.

For example, whether it’s — hey, we’re spending money on people under the age of 24 on marketing automation who really aren’t decision-makers; maybe we should cut off that group. Or — hey, look, when you look at the income levels, most of our sales come from the top 20% of income levels in these three countries, we should increase our bids there.

Videos or YouTube is a cheap way to increase brand traffic, Gmail Ads, etc. So you’re going look to see — maybe we want to increase top of the funnel, which is a cheaper customer than the bottom of the funnel. But they’re not going to decide anything for a while. So let’s just increase top of the final so that eventually they’re searching brand when they get to the bottom of the funnel, which is way cheaper for us to manage.

So, there are several different approaches, but those are a few to kind of think about.

9. Tell us about your PPC tool Adalysis and how it helps businesses?

We took a look at the market and said, what’s the biggest problem? And it was Google Adwords managers spending all day in Excel and not getting anything done. They were analyzing too much data.

So we automated all the data analysis and then presented it to users to easily manage the marketing workflows. You have automated recommendations where you can take a single click and either apply it or unique data views.  So you can really dig into some pretty advanced data.

If you’re running ad tests, we automatically create all the ad tests for you and just say, hey, here’s where we have winners and losers. If you’re managing big accounts, you need scale tools. We have an advertiser who does a million ads, versus a million ads per week, and it takes them less than 15 minutes to look at the results, pause a million ads and create a million more. So it’s in scale.

But we’re really focused from — get you out of Excel, make a workflow that is easy for the beginners to get into, then as you learn more, here are all these advanced bulk things you can get into as well.

10. What advice would you give someone who is just getting started with Google Adwords?

I would first start with the mindset, then move to advice.

Go with the mindset that you’re responsible for your campaigns, you need to you to learn paid search for yourself, so you can listen to what the experts say, listen to blog’s like this, go to a workshop, whatever. But then you need to test it to make sure it really works. How you manage accounts for your type of business, and not just take everyone’s word for it. 

So you sort of need this mindset that — I need to know it.

And then you need to learn how to analyze data. You own the words. If you don’t know what a pivot table is, conditional formatting, so forth, you’ll be pretty good in Excel understanding the data. Once you have that, then you really need the GoogleAds 101 education — this is exactly what a match type is, this is exactly what an ad group is — and truly understand how pieces fit together.

if you don’t have an education, go somewhere like OMCP that does digital certifications, or you’ve got Simplilearn which teaches classes at like Duke and so forth, but you can do it online. And make sure you truly understand how things work. That education is really important, there are so many moving pieces. Google was not always forthcoming with how things work.

And once you know this stuff, you know how pieces fit together — you can start to see big pictures — to be great at PPC, you have to enjoy it. It’s one of the few places you get to start your day with analytics, you’re digging into data how things work, and then you look at that and you go, okay, so what now, the creative side, your brain engages. Okay, so what new ads or what new things can we task to see if we can make this better? And so we use the creative side that wants this test, and then you’re going to use your analytic side to say, well, how did this do? And it’s one of the very few industries where you get to use the analytical side of your brain and the creative side of your brain on a very regular basis.

So if you’re not enjoying it, switch industries you’re in, some are more creative, some are analytical. But you need both in paid search. Which is either going to be really fun and engaging for you, or you’re just not going to like it at all. It’s one of the fun places for multi brain engagement, or bilateral brand engagement.