Tag Archives: google adwords

adwords auto tagging

How to Verify Adwords Auto-Tagging is Working, Right Now.

adwords auto tagging Here’s the scenario – you’ve setup Google Analytics on your site, and verified it’s tracking  properly. You’ve also setup an Adwords account, and enabled auto-tagging so you can track the performance of your individual campaigns, ads, etc.  (don’t forget to enable cost data in your analytics settings, so you can integrate that into your reporting)

Now it’s time to link the two accounts together so you can get a holistic view of your website’s traffic, where it’s coming from, and how it’s performing. Simple enough you think, just hop in that adwords account, mosey on over to the ‘reporting’ tab and choose Google Analytics. There you’ll be presented with the option to link a new or existing GA account to this adwords account, do this now. (note: you should be aware that once you link this bad boy, all the profiles under that account will be affected by the cost data from adwords, so make sure you obey best practices and only setup profiles for that domain, or you’ll have other, bigger issues to deal with.)

linking adwords to google analytics and setting cost data

In most cases, this will be an easy step – though you may run into complications if there are multiple analytics accounts (I’m not talking profiles,here – actual accounts) setup for the same domain. This will be a rare case, but you might encounter this if you’re setting things up for a client that wasn’t really sure what they were doing before they called you to help. :) In any case, just make sure you know the profile ID for the analytics account you’re setting up, to avoid confusion later on.

Ok, so finally – to my main point, here’s how to verify your adwords auto-tagging is working, without having to wait for your analytics data to be reported:

  • add the following parameter to the end of your domain url, as follows: ?gclid=test (for example: http://www.mysite.com?gclid=test
  • now paste that puppy into your address bar and see what happens.

Hopefully, nothing unusual – i.e. the page still loads properly, and the parameter is still visible in the address bar. Now add that parameter to several other pages across the site, that you might use as landing pages for your adwords ads. If everything works as above, great – you’re good to go. If the parameters disappear after you load the page or you wind up with 404s or some other error, you’ve likely got some redirection issues to deal with before you’re going to be able to correctly identify that adwords traffic.

It seems like such a no-brainer to do this check, but I have to admit that I used to just wait a day or two and then check the analytics to verify everything was being sent properly instead. Sometimes the simplest solutions are right in your face, but you’re too busy looking past them to realize it. This is why I recommend reading ‘starter posts’ on occasion,  things move so fast, it’s near impossible NOT to miss something once in a while.

Big hat-tip to Himanshu for this idea, be sure to check out his site for some great tips on correctly setting up your Analytics account.

targeted ad example

Check Your Ad Preferences to Find Out What Google Thinks About You

targeted ad exampleWe’ve known for a long time that Google has a record of pretty much everything we do, including our browsing habits, who we email, what sites we control, who we talk to on the phone, our personal and work connections, where we live…ok I have to stop for a second cause I’m getting all freaked out again. [breathe, David....breathe]

Anyway, it seems Google is finally giving us little people a look into what it thinks about us – by allowing us to view and edit our ‘inferred demographics’ and interest categories.

google ad preference example
click image for larger view

For that, Google, you get a nice big +1.

Despite opting out of personalized search and web history, Google is still able to identify some likely interests and categories for me. Surprisingly, they even let you opt-out of categories altogether as well. (but you’ll still receive ads, they just won’t be as targeted or relevant in most cases.)

ad preference opt-out google

If you’re looking for a more full-featured solution that addresses behavioral ad targeting across multiple ad providers, then you should check out http://www.aboutads.info/choices/.  For now, I think I’ll just start with Google and delete the cards & greeting category….

google Tags replaced by Google Boost

Google Boost Ads and Why Tags Had to Die

google Tags replaced by Google Boost

With Google Places Tags now on the chopping block, it only makes sense that those advertisers should switch to Google Boost ads – right?

Wrong, and here’s why.

Those beautiful little tags are sadly to be no more, come May 2011 – much to the disappointment of myself and I’m sure, many other marketers who had actually tried them out. What made them so great, you ask?

  • $25 / mo flat fee – at that price, why wouldn’t everyone be running them?
  • If you were one of the few business appearing on the first page of search results and had a tag by your places listing, there’s no disputing that they stand out from the crowd.
  • You could setup coupons and assign codes to measure their effectiveness, or you could choose from other options such as view our site, check out these photos, etc…not perfect, but it was a start, at least.
google places tag
setting up the proper tag to show wasn't as easy as you'd think

They did have some annoying issues, though – choosing the tag you wanted to show would be an exercise in frustration as you’d have to activate the tag, then go back into your places dashboard and select the tag you had just activated for it to show up. Not the end of the world once you’ve done it a few times, but for my clients that like to go in and change their coupons once in a while, it would drive them nuts. But honestly, for $25 a month, I have a hard time complaining too much about it.

Now let’s look at Boost. Erick Schonfeld over at Techcrunch calls Boost ads “a refined version of Tags”, that are much more useful than Tags, because they display your Places information, including ratings and phone number – instead of a coupon or offer. This is better, Eric says – because,

Merchants don’t want to drive clicks to their websites, they want to drive foot traffic to their stores or calls for their services. Also Boost is a very straightforward online advertising product. Merchants set a budget and pay per click, whereas Tags appear next to organic results to make them pop and were sold via a flat subscription.

Google Boost ad with phone number
for only a few hundred dollars more a month, you can have this pretty blue teardrop


Except that’s not entirely true – yes, Tags were sold via a flat subscription which I stated earlier – $25/ mo. Typical Tag performance for most of my clients averaged between 8-20 clicks/mo. on the actual tag, but there was also a significant increase in visits to those client’s websites from their places listings while the Tags were running – for one client, the increase in visits nearly doubled; from ~50 visits one month to over 90 visits the next. Of course, it’s hard to really know the true impact of the Tag since we only have a few months of data to go off of, but I didn’t have any clients where it didn’t boost the performance of their Places listing at driving traffic to their site.


Now what if I told you I could get you about the same level of performance for only 10 to 20x that budget a month, minus of course, the ability to include a compelling offer – and that the ads would now appear in the Adwords area, instead of the organic listings? Would you still be as excited? Of course not. But hey, on the bright side, you do get that really cool blue teardrop with your ad, so….

So why is Google killing Tags and replacing it with Boost? Money, money money money! (you know the song, go ahead and sing it.)

recommendation for boost adspend
Hmmm...should I spend $1000 a month for no control of my ads, or just run an adwords account instead....


It’s the exact same reason everyone’s Adwords spend has been increasing, especially since Instant went live in September of 2010. You’ve probably already seen the Google earnings report – 2010 revenues up 27% over 2009, with earnings from paid clicks up 11% from Q3 in 2010 – but how much money is that, really?

How about an increase of $5.3 BILLION DOLLARS in advertising revenue, year over year. That’s not chump change – and the reason I bring this up is because Google is a publicly owned company, meaning they need to show profits to their investors so they can continue to get their money. The only way to do that is by looking for sources of additional revenue, anyway they can. Think the ‘Panda’ update was all about ‘improving’ search results for the good of the user? Maybe, but how do you explain the fact that Google’s own sites seemed to benefit the most – SEOMoz had a great post right after the update, including a chart from Sistrix that showed the % difference in the #of keywords various website properties appeared for, both before and after the update:

Here’s a snapshot showing how Blogspot and YouTube were affected.

data from panda update
that's a pretty significant increase in number of keyword searches where these sites appeared in top search results, wouldn't you say?

While a 12% increase in the total # of keywords a site appears for may not seem like a lot, when you look at the actual numbers it’s pretty damn astounding. How many blogs running on Google’s blogspot are running adsense, do you think? And aren’t video ads starting to be more an more prevalent nowadays? Or course, I suppose – this could all simply be coincidental.

How do you feel about Google trashing Tags and replacing them with Boost ads? Will you be trying them out yourself or for your clients, or do you already have performance data you can share? Let me know in the comments!