Sunday, July 08, 2012

Google Adwords

Note - this post is about advertising. If you're like me your eyes probably skip adverts. That would defeat the purpose of reading this, though. Because it's about adverts.

I got a nice surprise in the mail one morning - 100 francs from Google! The catch was that I had to use it for Adwords - those ads you see when you do searches. Fine with me - I could use it to promote my blog.

Setting up the Adwords account was easy enough, as was creating my first advert. Fine-tuning everything was a total pain in the ass, but I solved the problem by not fine-tuning anything.

It was fun thinking up advertising campaigns. My first was simple - I had just written my Lego Batman post and thought it deserved some extra hits. If you had typed 'Lego Batman' into Google a while ago you might have seen this:

Next I decided it'd be easy to get traffic to my 'score points with chicks' articles. I came up with this killer ad:

But dammit! The ad didn't meet Google's punctuation policy so the site wouldn't allow it. Adwords doesn't allow 'excessive punctuation.' WTF?!?!!!

Necessity being the mother of invention, I came up with one even better:

It had a sense of urgency guaranteed to have results!

Judging by the number of icons and tabs and subsections on the Campaign Management page, it was clear to me that there were a million tips and tricks to doing this Adwords thing right and that I knew none of them. It'd been 8 minutes since I'd set up my first ad, and I'd had zero clicks on it. I had to use the 100 francs by the end of the month, three weeks away. I was FAILING.

Solution? Create more ads! One of my True Love comics, the Harry Potter Sorting Hat one, received very little attention. It should have become an internet phenomenon because it's so outstandingly awesome. So I decided to blow half my budget on it.

What Harry Potter fan could resist that? I'd know when I woke up in the morning.


11 Hours Later

Advertising works! Look at my traffic:

The spike on the far right was mostly traffic generated by Adwords. It cost me 13.29 Francs. Was this good value? I had no idea.

Most hits went to The Sorting Hat advert, with far fewer going to the Score Chicks one. I think there's almost no-one else running adverts about the hat, whereas campaigns for being good with women are ten a penny. So the success of the Sorting Hat advert made sense.

Then I investigated the problem with the Lego Batman ads, which had generated no hits. It was my first attempt, and I probably didn't do it very well. Ah! I had set it up as UK-only. I set up a second, worldwide ad with better keywords and a snappier hook:

It worked for a couple of days, but with my balance dwindling I switched off all the ads and thought about which post I'd like to get most hits. The post about Kiva had inspired someone to join my team lending money to hard-working entrepreneurs, so that was an obvious choice. 

That worked pretty well in generating hits, but I was burning through my money.

Next day I got a scary mail from Google complaining about the Score Chicks NOW ad. Seems it's okay to lure horny men to my unhelpful blog, but it isn't okay to capitalise the word NOW. I didn't realise I had been breaking the Law of Google. They warned me that further breaches of the Law of Google could result in me having my account terminated and even being barred from using the internet for a period of up to 8 months. All hail our digital masters!

I wrote a brilliant piece about zombies, and decided to create two adverts for it to see which brought in the most traffic. Like a race or something.

Advert 1 used the keyword 'weird', which hooks me effectively. Many a time I've clicked on links such as 'weird celebrity weight loss secrets' or 'weird ways Google can make your life a misery forever'.
Advert 2 played on people's fears.
Notice how I messed up the word apocalypse? It didn't matter, because few people who search for information about zombie apocalypses can spell it, either!

I set up the ads with a daily budget of 5 francs, plus the Kiva one was still running at 5 francs a day. I slashed the Cost Per Click from .80 or whatever it was to 0.20. CPC is how much Google charges me when someone clicks an ad and visits my website. Amazingly, this simple change turned out to be the third best business decision I'd ever made. (Second best was to become addicted to The Apprentice. First was falling in love with Sarah Beeny from Property Ladder.)

On my first day of advertising, I paid 16 francs for 35 clicks. A week later I'd got used to the system and was paying 5 chuffs for 50 clicks. By the end of the project I was able to 25 hits per day with 1 franc by setting a CPC of 0.02. 

I'd proven that advertising works and that thinking up slogans is both fun and stupidly easy.

Q. How did you get the 100 francs?
A. I think it was because I signed up to put google adverts on my blog.

Q. Did anyone join your Kiva team as a result of the ads?
A. No.

Q. So if I do adverts should I just set a really low CPC?
A. I think so, but maybe I've missed the point a bit. I understand very little of the process.

Q. How successful were the ads?
A. The Zombies adverts ran the longest and the post is currently my number one ever in terms of hits. Of the two ads, the 'weird' one was slightly more effective than the 'fear' one.

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