Google AdWords Insights and Strategies from Mike Rhodes

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I’m sure you wouldn’t deny it or argue against it. You know how powerful it is and how, when done right, it can have a profoundly profitable impact on your business.

I’m talking about Google AdWords, of course. 😉

So, are you using AdWords in your campaigns? Are you using it well?

If you’re looking to know more about…

  • how artificial intelligence (A.I.) will affect Google AdWords
  • where to get started with Google Display and mistakes to avoid
  • what’s in store for AdWords Bidding

…and more, then this post is for you!

I had the chance to sit down with one of the top experts on Google AdWords, Mike Rhodes, at Traffic & Conversion Summit 2017. Mike wrote the book on AdWords. Literally.

Check out seven quick videos below with their transcripts. These videos will help demystify Google AdWords and give you insights you can start implementing in your business.

Mike Rhodes on AdWords Search vs. Display

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Russ Henneberry: All right, everybody. Russ Henneberry, Director of Editorial at DigitalMarketer, and I’m super pumped. I’m joined by Mike Rhodes. What’s up, man?
Mike Rhodes: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Russ Henneberry: We’re going to pick his brain here at T&C and talk about some awesome stuff that’s going on in the AdWords world like: What’s the big opportunity right now in the Google AdWords space?
Mike Rhodes: The opportunity is where people are having trouble. The opportunity as an agency, certainly, is where are people finding it hard? Two big opportunities that we’re loving playing in at the moment: Google Display and the shopping side of things.
Russ Henneberry: Great.
Mike Rhodes: So, we can dig into either of those, or both, or whatever you prefer.
Russ Henneberry: Well, talk to me about Display, because one of the things I hear so much from people that are working in Google Display is it doesn’t work, right? Why are people frustrated when it comes to Display?
Mike Rhodes: It is much harder to get right, I think, than either Search or Facebook. And so, a lot of people end up teaching those things because it’s easier to learn, easier to master, and therefore easier to teach and easier to, I guess, maybe sell the dream a little bit of, “Hey, it’s easy. Come with me.”

Display is certainly a lot more nuanced, you know? If Search is a game of checkers, then Display is a game of chess.

Russ Henneberry: Really?
Mike Rhodes: There are more moves. It’s more complicated. It takes longer to figure out. But in terms of opportunity, when you get it right, oh my Lord. There is so much traffic to be had at such a good price. That converts really well, and if you want to scale, if you want to go big, there’s just tons and tons and tons of traffic there.
Russ Henneberry: So, just so everyone knows, the difference between Search and Display… what we’re talking about is when somebody might come in… I think you used the example… I can’t remember what it was, but it’s in the article you just wrote for us.
So, let’s just take a key word like beard oil, right? So, you’re going to get your beard all nice and soft or whatever. So, you go out there looking for some beard oil, and you type that into the Google search engine. Those ads that show along the right side and along the top, those ads are more search ads.
Mike Rhodes: Yep.
Russ Henneberry: And one of the things I know you’ve always said to me is that that traffic… there’s a limit. There’s a limit.
Mike Rhodes: Right, there are a certain number of people searching for every term each day, and obviously, it varies a little bit because it was a different hundred people yesterday compared to the hundred people today compared to tomorrow.

But each keyword has roughly the same number of people searching. Which is what makes the whole game work. And you’re not going to change that number dramatically from one day to the next. You’re not going to cause ten times more people to go search for beard oil tomorrow.

But on the display side, so 2 million plus websites out there, everything from Oprah, CNN, and ESPN all the way down to tiny little blogs and forums that you or I have never heard of but some of them are all about beard stuff or beard oil.

And you can basically go teach Google to go find those sites or even just pages about that stuff. It could be an article on The New York Times talking about how to care for your beard. You can tell I’m an expert on the subject. This is a year’s worth of growth for me.

And tell Google, “Go find this content. Go find these articles. Go find these pages. Even go find people who are interested in beards or interested in baseball.” Based on their behavior over time, you can tell Google to figure out who those people are and follow them around.

Russ Henneberry: And I’ve heard you say that the amount of traffic on the Google Display network, as opposed to its brother, the Search side of Google’s advertising platform, is virtually limitless.
Mike Rhodes: It’s vast.
Russ Henneberry: Yeah.
Mike Rhodes: Vast. I don’t know what this year’s stats are. I think YouTube is up to something like 4 billion impressions a day. Gmail is being used by more than a billion people, and that’s just the Google-owned stuff.

And then, you’ve got these other 2 million sites. Again, some of them, enormous sites. But you can just be running ads and all different types of ads. And then, you’ve got YouTube, and then you’ve got apps, which is an area that nobody goes and plays in. You can put your ads inside other people’s apps, whether you have an app or not.

Russ Henneberry: Right. And all of this is running off of the run of the mill Google AdWords interface?
Mike Rhodes: It’s all through the same account, all through the same interface that you’re used to. Different ways of doing it, certainly, like different ways of targeting, a different style of ad. Obviously, you can have a graphical ad, which you don’t get on Search.

So, from a branding point of view – not that either of us are brand marketers.

Russ Henneberry: Yeah.
Mike Rhodes: But from a brand point of view, you get that benefit. It’s just, it’s a fun place to play.

(RELATED: [Parts 1 & 2] The Display Grid: How to Scale Your AdWords Display Campaigns Profitably with Laser-Focused Targeting and the Right Choice of Ad Type)

Mike Rhodes: Where to Start With Google Display

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Russ Henneberry: All right, everybody. Russ Henneberry, Director of Editorial at DigitalMarketer, and I’m super pumped. I’m joined by Mike Rhodes. What’s up, man?
Mike Rhodes: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Russ Henneberry: We’re going to pick his brain here at T&C and talk about some awesome stuff that’s going on in the AdWords world like: If I want to get started in Google Display, where should you start with Google Display?
Mike Rhodes: The little list, I’ll share tomorrow is, do you have traffic? If you do, great. Start with remarketing, because remarketing is taking candy from a baby.

(RELATED: The Remarketing Grid: The Science of Ad Retargeting Audience Segmentation)

Russ Henneberry: What you’re saying is, use remarketing. In other words, show ads to people that you know their prior behavior, in some way. They’ve watched a video.
Mike Rhodes: They’ve been on your site or something.
Russ Henneberry: They’ve been on your site. We know what their behavior was and run display ads to those group of people that are already familiar with your brand, in some way.
Mike Rhodes: Yeah. That traffic, for a lot of our clients, and, I think, many, many people here do the same thing. They might be driving a lot of traffic to a site from, maybe, Facebook and then remarketing on the Google network, as well as Facebook.

Remarketing isn’t just about where the people came from. I know people think, “Oh, but I don’t do much Search, so there’s no point in doing remarketing because there wouldn’t be many people there.” But you can remarket to everybody that came to your website. If that’s what you want to do.

Russ Henneberry: From any source.
Mike Rhodes: From any source.
Russ Henneberry: You can be running your traffic out of Facebook that hit your blog posts. You segment and retarget them on the display network.

(RELATED: How To Write Blog Posts That Sell)

Mike Rhodes: That’s just another bite at the cherry. Why wouldn’t you? If remarketing is working for you on Facebook, why wouldn’t you do it on Google Display, as well, and, maybe, YouTube and show up in different places?

Mike Rhodes: Mistakes to Avoid on the Google Display Network

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Russ Henneberry: All right, everybody. Russ Henneberry, Director of Editorial at DigitalMarketer, and I’m super pumped. I’m joined by Mike Rhodes. What’s up, man?
Mike Rhodes: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Russ Henneberry: We’re going to pick his brain here at T&C and talk about some awesome stuff that’s going on in the AdWords world like: Why isn’t everyone on the Google display network?
Mike Rhodes: Because it’s hard.
Russ Henneberry: Is it hard?
Mike Rhodes: I think that’s it.

Yeah, I think if you’re going to lose a chunk of money month one, it’s much easier for a lot of people to go, “Well that doesn’t work. I’m going to go over here and master Facebook.” And if Facebook’s working for you, that’s awesome. Do it.

But I’m a big believer in not putting all of your eggs all in one basket. Maybe only two or three baskets. Don’t try and do 15 things and don’t run off and do Pinterest and this and LinkedIn and do everything, but at least diversify it a little bit.

Russ Henneberry: I know I’ve heard you say before that when people go and try the Google Display Network, they stick with some pretty basic placements. When we talk about these Display Network ads, we’re talking about banner ads, what else are we talking about?
Mike Rhodes: There are a few different types. But, essentially, if you just think of it as banner ads, that’s probably easier.
Russ Henneberry: Those banners that you’re seeing all around the web, managed, a whole lot of that ad inventory is managed by the Google Display Network. You’ve talked about in the past that a lot of people will take Google Display Network and use some of the most basic placements available, and that that can be a mistake.
Mike Rhodes: Yeah, they’ll say, “Okay, where does my target market hang out? Oprah. Okay Google, go put my ads on Oprah and just that, please.”  Or maybe do a little bit of research and, “Okay, sports fans. So, I’m going to go on ESPN and a couple of other sports blogs that I know about.”
Or they’ll use a tool that’s inside of AdWords called the Display Planner. It’s like the keyword tool, which people might be familiar with, but kind of for the Display side. It says, “Oh you’re interested in baseball, here’s a whole bunch of sites about baseball.” So, they’ll take this little list of six, or a dozen maybe and say, “Hey Google, show my ads here.”

Now, that’s somewhat safe. If you are doing this for clients, that can be an okay place to start because you can tell your client with some certainty, “This is where your ad is going to be seen.” Whereas with some of the other methods, you don’t actually know where your ads are going to show up, which can cause some issues sometimes.

It’s safer. There’s no scale in that, and it tends to be the sites where everybody else wants to place. So, it tends to be a bit more expensive, more competitive, and therefore you’re just not going to get the same level or result. You’re not going to be testing a whole bunch of different ideas. You might think, “Oh, is that it? $30 CPA that’s what I have to pay. That’s my cost per lead.”

But because you’ve never tried all of these other different ways of targeting, you’ll never know that maybe you can get them for five over here, and ten over here. It’s all about testing, and testing, and a bit more testing.

(RELATED: [Parts 1 & 2] The Display Grid: How to Scale Your AdWords Display Campaigns Profitably with Laser-Focused Targeting and the Right Choice of Ad Type)

Mike Rhodes on Google Shopping

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Russ Henneberry: All right, everybody. Russ Henneberry, Director of Editorial at DigitalMarketer, and I’m super pumped. I’m joined by Mike Rhodes. What’s up, man?
Mike Rhodes: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Russ Henneberry: I’m going to pick his brain here at T&C and talk about some awesome stuff that’s going on in the AdWords world like: Why are you so excited about Google Shopping?
Mike Rhodes: Again, in terms of opportunity, people have difficulty dealing with stuff like feeds, even though all of the main platforms make it really, really easy now. Shopify would probably be the main one.
Russ Henneberry: By feeds, you mean being able to feed your different products?
Mike Rhodes: A list of your products. Right. Yeah. So, Shopify has essentially hidden behind the scenes somewhere, basically, an Excel spreadsheet of all of your products and the images and the price and the titles and a bunch of other, barcodes, all this information.

So, you have to feed that into Google and it’s a little bit of a roundabout way of getting all of that data inside of Google, but once Google has that, then Google is going to decide when somebody comes searching for, I don’t know, “Buy beard oil,” Google’s going to say, “Oh. Hang on a minute. There’s this merchant over here that’s got all of these products that are about beard oil. I’m going to show that graphically, I’m going to show an image of the product, with the name of the product and the price.” And you typically will see five or six or eight of those across the top of the Google Search results.

And people are pre-sold before they click on a thing. They’ve seen the products. They’ve seen the price. They’ve seen the name of it. They’ve seen it next to some of your competitors.
Russ Henneberry: All before they’ve clicked so you haven’t paid a thing yet.
Mike Rhodes: Just like regular Google Search, just like everything with Google, you don’t pay to show the ad. You only pay if they click, and they tend to convert really, really well.
Compared to the number of ecommerce stores that are out there, which is growing by the day, there are relatively tiny numbers of people that are using Google Shopping.

Mike Rhodes on AdWords A.I.

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Russ Henneberry: All right, everybody! Russ Henneberry, Director of Editorial at DigitalMarketer, and I’m super pumped. I’m joined by Mike Rhodes. What’s up, man?
Mike Rhodes: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Russ Henneberry: We’re going to pick his brain here at T&C and talk about some awesome stuff that’s going on in the AdWords world like we had you on a webinar a few months ago where you were foreseeing the coming of the A.I., right?

The artificial intelligence that is being leveraged on the AdWords platform is changing. Is it not? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Mike Rhodes: My team, ha, are sick to death about me going on about the robots.
Russ Henneberry: The robots are coming.
Mike Rhodes: The robots are coming, the robots are coming.

A.I. is going to change everything. Not just AdWords, it’s going to change how agencies work. It’s going to change everything.

From an AdWords point of view, Google bought this little company for a tidy sum of about 480 million, I think it was, called DeepMind in England, who had about 110 of the best A.I. machine learning dudes on the planet and they snapped that up for half a billion. It started off playing Atari video games and it would basically play the game and learn to play the game just by trying different things and seeing what happened to the score, but it would teach itself.

If you go back maybe 30 years or whatever it was, a computer beat a human at chess for the first time.

It’s this complicated game called Go. It’s an ancient Chinese game on a big grid. There are more possible moves in the game of Go than there are atoms in the universe. It’s a complicated game. They said, even 10 years ago, it would be impossible for a computer to beat a human at Go. It’d be impossible to teach a computer how to play this thing.

Well, Google DeepMind built a computer that taught itself how to play. They fed in every move of every game ever played and it went, “Yep, I’ve done that. Now what?” They basically had to build another computer so they could play each other 100 million times, so they could both get really, really, really, good. Then, they played the world champion and everybody predicted that the computer would get smashed and it won five to one.

That happened at the beginning of last year and that was one of those tipping points.
The reason I tell you all of that story is that that machine, essentially, is now controlling the bidding for Google AdWords. You’ve got this machine that teaches itself to do stuff that people even five years ago predicted could never happen or wouldn’t happen for hundreds of years. That has perfect information because it knows everything inside of every single AdWords account and it knows a heck of a lot of stuff about all of us. When we’re doing the searching and the clicking and which websites we go to and how long we stay there and which times we buy and which times we don’t and which device we might be on and the fact that I’m in San Diego now and Melbourne, which probably means I’m going to behave a bit differently on this than I normally would. It has perfect information and it’s learning by the second.
I don’t think you’re going to be able to beat that computer in the fairly near future.
Russ Henneberry: When you say, “Beat this computer,” you mean the agency that would be controlling someone’s bidding like for a client?
Mike Rhodes: Exactly. Yeah.
Russ Henneberry: In other words, you would just essentially give Google a certain amount of money and just say, “You play with my money.”
Mike Rhodes: That is pretty much the ultimate of where they’re going. It’s almost feeding your zero API. Tell us everything about your business and where you make money and just leave it to us.
Russ Henneberry: Let us run it.
Mike Rhodes: Let us just do everything for you.
Russ Henneberry: Right.
Mike Rhodes: We’re a fair way away from that. I mean there’s a huge, huge, huge place still and will be for a very long time for human ingenuity, for creativity, for strategy and obviously for relationship building with your clients, but more and more that is the game. The job of an agency is changing.
It’s about the bigger picture and it’s about more business strategy than AdWords strategy.
For us, who’s predominately an AdWords agency, we’re having to have different conversations with clients. My guys are having to do different things because running an AdWords account the way that we did five years ago, just ain’t gonna cut it anymore.

(RELATED: 3 Advanced AdWords Tactics That Increase ROI)

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Mike Rhodes: The Future of AdWords Bidding

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Russ Henneberry: All right, everybody. Russ Henneberry, Director of Editorial at DigitalMarketer, and I’m super pumped. I’m joined by Mike Rhodes. What’s up, man?
Mike Rhodes: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Russ Henneberry: We’re going to pick his brain here at T&C and talk about some awesome stuff that’s going on in the AdWords world.

There are even today some places where you can almost go in and hit the “easy button” inside of AdWords to allow Google to basically control your spend. What are those different opportunities?

Mike Rhodes: There’s a bunch of different ways.

Bidding is probably the easiest one. You need a little bit of data first. So, it’s really good to understand how the machine works and to do it manually first so that you’ve done grade one and grade two before you let the computer take over. It’s good to know the basics.

But then once you get a little bit of data, it’s like, “Hey Google, I need $7 leads, please. Off you go,” and it’ll take a week or two to learn and sometimes it gets it horribly wrong, but that’s less and less and less these days. It’ll start getting you leads. There’s a new model that’s coming out later this year, which is pay per conversion, so not bid per conversion, but literally only pay.

Russ Henneberry: I’m willing to buy a $10 lead in the financial space or something like that.
Mike Rhodes: But right now, you sort of set that limit and say, “Hey Google, aim for 10 bucks.” And it says, “Oh, I tried, I got you this one for $30 and this one for $12 and this one was $15, but this one was $9. Here you go, you have to pay me now.”

This new model will be: “Did you get the lead?” “Yep.” “Okay, 10 bucks please.” And only pay when you get the lead. So, they’re starting to automate more and more stuff. They will write part of your ad for you. So, that’s on the search side. This thing called dynamic search ads or DSA. So, you basically point Google in the right direction and say, “This chunk of my website, please. Keep an eye on it and if someone comes searching, but I don’t have the right keyword, then you figure it out and you show an ad and you decide the bid and let them see my stuff, please.”

Mike Rhodes on AdWords Bidding Strategy

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Russ Henneberry: All right, everybody. Russ Henneberry, Director of Editorial at DigitalMarketer, and I’m super pumped. I’m joined by Mike Rhodes. What’s up, man?
Mike Rhodes: It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Russ Henneberry: We’re going to pick his brain here at T&C and talk about some awesome stuff that’s going on in the AdWords world like: When you’re looking at a client’s spend, how do you go about deciding like, “This percentage of my dollar’s going to go to Display, and this is going to go to search. And this is going to go YouTube.” How do you guys sit down and start to strategize where that spend goes with so many different opportunities available through AdWords?
Mike Rhodes: It’s a tricky one because… Where do I go with this? I’m always focused on the bullseye. What’s most likely to be profitable and part of that is going to be based on data? So, from your existing traffic, what’s working right now? Does your desktop convert four times better than your mobile? Well, how about we just turn mobile off for the time being and just focus on the here. Part of it’s gut and experience, and part of it’s what makes sense for the business.
So, for some of our clients where it might be a $50 a click market on search, where you’re probably going to be three to 500 bucks for a lead, then we’ll be looking more at Display because we know that we can get leads on Display cheaper than you can buy a single click over on search. If they’ve got a ton of traffic then we’ll be thinking remarketing and leverage, and, “Let’s use that list. And load your list up and target those people.”

(RELATED: The Remarketing Grid: The Science of Ad Retargeting Audience Segmentation)

I don’t tend to think in terms of percentages. I don’t draw the pie chart and say, “This much here,” because that frustrates me if I’ve got a marketing manager doing the same thing. It’s like, “This much to TV and this much to radio. And digital can have this little slice.” If I can prove that you’re getting a 9:1 return on this little slice, why wouldn’t we have a bigger slice? “Oh, well, because we’ve got this money allocated for TV and this money for radio.” “Yeah, but it’s 9:1. Give me more money and I’ll go get you…”

Russ Henneberry: And there’s more scale.
Mike Rhodes: And there’s more scale.
Yeah, when you talk about mixing it with other media, which you didn’t. That wasn’t the question you asked, but that’s sort of where my thinking goes. Essentially, the longer answer is, test a hell of a lot of stuff and double down on the stuff that’s making money, and quit the stuff that isn’t.

That requires a different mindset. And for someone my age, if we’re dealing with a marketer that’s a bit older and went through uni 20 years ago, then it might be a little bit different and there might be a bit of an education process there. If it’s a younger marketing manager, it’s probably not going to be the same hassle with that. But test a lot of stuff and see what’s working and double down on that. And then go ask for more money for them to invest more money. So, it’s all about investing. Investing in experiments is probably the best way I can put it.

Russ Henneberry: Right. Well, this is exciting. Sounds like there are some super exciting things going on in the world of AdWords. Again, Mike Rhodes, check him out at AgencySavvy.com and we’re looking forward to seeing your session here at Traffic & Conversion Summit.
Mike Rhodes: Looking forward to it. Thank you, Russ.

(NOTE: Need customer acquisition training? Get a guaranteed traffic plan and system for acquiring new customers from all traffic platforms with DigitalMarketer’s Paid Traffic Mastery Certification. Learn more here.)



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