Microsoft Audience Network – Upping Remarketing Stakes

This post is a continuation of a thread I started on LinkedIn regarding remarketing & Microsoft Audience Network – sort of a Part I.

Part II: Remarketing Roots & Why They’re Important

Remarketing” was simple and direct back in the day.  Search marketers have known for a long time how powerful personalization can be in digital marketing. Prior to “big data”, databases were filled with (permission based) customer-centric data points, which is 180 degrees away from what Microsoft Audience Network presents.

Customers willingly and knowingly shared personal information by entering it into a form, subscription to an email newsletter, or even via face-to-face means such as through a seminar or live sales call.

Manually Configured Autoresponders & Mail Servers, Oh My!

Once you had at least their First Name and Email Address in your database (good ol’ Excel was the best still), you could plug them into your “autoresponder”, a mail server you could set up to send emails to your list, over and over and over until they finally either unsubscribed, converted, and in some cases, filed a SPAM complaint. As you know, CAN-SPAM legislation would not have been introduced. if there wasn’t a problem

Most email / digital marketers also were familiar with the 7 – 11 times touch points metric, that being that it would take at least that many touch points on average to convert a passive list member into a sale. Those marketers who were able to connect with their audiences in a meaningful way by providing authentic value, flourished. Those who didn’t… who abused their lists and offered little personal value started to feel backlash.

As evidenced by the steep drop off in email subscription and open rates across industries, audiences became fatigued with the constant bombardment of offers, newsletters, sales announcements, etc. in their inboxes.

My theory on this is that many digital marketers let greed guide their advertising, effectively exhausting their lists and turning list members sour to the whole experience. Unfortunate for those businesses that built themselves almost solely on this model – they are facing tough times.

The concept of tracking a user all over the web, gathering more and more data about their behavior and preferences was still in it’s infancy. A much different animal than we have available at our fingertips today.

Microsoft Audience Network: Making it Possible Deliver Targeted Marketing Messages Like Never Before

Maybe it still is possible to effectively utilize “mail merge” tactics to send personalized email messages. However, a large subset of audiences are even desensitized to seeing their own name in marketing. For most of us, you can only get so many emails like this before you’re over it already.

This is why when I read the line:

The future of advertising is non-advertising

I would have to agree. Now, with Microsoft Audience Network, the technology has the potential to be subtle. So subtle in fact, you may not even recognize the difference between ads and “real” stories on your screen. This is the evolution of native advertising.

If this takes off, Microsoft’s stock could get more (a lot?) valuable over the coming years.

microsoft audience networkmicrosoft audience networkAnd so the debate rages on, privacy or convenience (some might even call it congruence)?

Where’s the happy medium, I wonder. It must be there, and is worthwhile to seek. For the interim, I will be keeping my eyes and ears open. Soon, I will have the opportunity to delve into Microsoft Audience Network to see if it lives up to expectations.

PPC Intel – Late Spring 2018 Google AdWords News Updates

These Google AdWords news updates are coming a bit late… however are still nevertheless relevant news for paid search marketers. Below you will find a quick bullet list run down of the latest changes and updates (upgrades?) in paid search.

Get Your Google AdWords News Updates Hot Off Press


    • Local business marketers take note: Google is testing “phrase free” AdWords. It is not possible to request inclusion – AdWords randomly chose some accounts back in February to test this new feature where paid search results are based on verified location information rather than keywords. The platform pulls location, business type, business description, offerings etc. from the Google My Business (GMB) platform. Best to cross your t’s and dot your i’s (e.g. “jump through all the hoops”) on all Google platforms so you qualify when new changes like this go into effect, you may be a contender to “beta test” innovative new features.


      • Watch out for AI in Google AdWords. The platform is now harnessing the power of AI to automate processes in AdWords to presumably help marketers manage and scale campaigns more easily. I don’t say “effectively” yet, as this remains to be seen. As of April 29th, Google’s AI and related technologies are operating within the platform, gathering data and delivering ad campaign optimization suggestions. These suggestions will be based on prior campaigns, descriptions, extensions and other relevant information found on landing pages.  Keep alert for notifications in your AdWords accounts because unless you turn OFF suggestions, you only have 14 days from the day of notification to reject or accept the changes before they automatically go into effect. Egads. At any rate, this is likely a move toward allowing a more natural integration of voice-activated searches via devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, according to Ashley Fletcher, VP of marketing at Adthena.
      • Don’t want Google to run ads automatically? Learn how you can opt out of Ad suggestions here.
      • In more AI assistance (or interference?) news, AdWords although utilizing AI and machine learning technologies for quite some time (before it was the hottest new career track), has once again “upgraded” the platform with more automated PPC bidding features. However, the reader / marketer is warned that automated is not always the ideal bidding solution in all the situations. Check out this comprehensive article on PPC Hero that explains in great detail when you should not use automated bidding. For example, if your business has seasonal fluctuations and does not produce conversions consistently through out the year.
      • Google launches a new planning tool, but this time it’s not about keywords, it’s about reaching people. The  “reach planner” provides insights that help you plan video campaigns and spend your marketing budget wisely.
      • AdWords has launched TrueView that helps advertisers to promote their products/service more effectively in YouTube. The first ads to be introduced are called “bumper ads“, and are 6 seconds long.
      • No doubt by now you have heard about (or run into on your favorite websites) EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This is a new set of privacy regulations that were officiated May 25th, 2018. In response to this rule, Google is making big changes, especially within YouTube Ads. Learn more on AdExchanger.


    • Bing recently (April) launched 4 new features within their Bing shopping campaigns interface making it easer to get up and running with your Bing Shopping campaigns. Check ’em out on Bing’s blog. Sorry to not summarize. I’m tired already, but you’ll find it all clearly laid out on Bing’s site, very clean design.
  • Bing Ads has launched New Price extensions. According to Bing, this will help advertisers show the right product at the right time.

Welp, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed reading my Google AdWords News Updates. It’s a regular feature I’ll be doing over the coming months as it helps me to stay up to date in the fast changing industry of search marketing. I’ll back around later this month with any news or updates for June 2018. Cheers!

K.I.S.S. Google AdWords Certification Recap & Review

Keep it Simple Sweetheart – Google AdWords Certification

I renewed my Google AdWords Search and Shopping certifications a few weeks ago. The certs are good for 1 year from the date the test is taken.  Since a full year had gone by since the expiration of my previous Google Adwords certifications, I wanted to brush up on my knowledge of the platform and learn about all the new advancements in “one sitting” ( ikr?). In real world terms, that means I sucked it up and spent last weekend studying. Never tell me I am not a nerd.

google adwords certification

The course content did not disappoint: lots of new. Many exciting possibilities. Will get to some of that in a moment. For those of you interested in getting certified yourselves, you can access the course content at Google Academy.

My post right here will cover the following:

+ Overview of Google AdWords Certification Process
+ What I Liked About the Course Content & Exam
+ What I Didn’t Like About the Course Content & Exam
+ Ideas for Improving the Learning Experience (e.g. developing a better product)


Time Tested Nuggets, a.k.a “nuts and bolts” needed for complete understanding of search marketing and advertising. These concepts are core and will never change or go out of style, no matter how many new bells and whistles come down the pike. Like the title of this post, this is a caution to all you tech whizzes out there: keep it simple sweetheart. Here’s what mattered then, what matters now, and what will always matter as long as humans are the ones being served…

  1. Relevance
  2. Common Sense
  3. Focused on Needs and Wants of Customer

Upcoming Trends

  1. AI and machine learning
  2. Automated Bidding Strategies using AI
  3. Automated Ad Copy Suggestions using AI

I realize the list above may look a little redundant. I assure you, it is not. To hear Google tell it, AI is the new peanut butter that will make us search marketers lives easier by practically doing our jobs for us.

Possibly of like the self-checkout stations at Target. One has to wonder, will search get to a point where we just plug in the numbers – budget, ROI targets, long term customer value, desired CPA, website link – and then Google will do the rest and charge us a flat fee on top. Just kidding, I hope. I rather enjoy the human element of search.

What I Liked About the Google AdWords Certification Course Content & Exam

Personally, I enjoyed watching the Academy’s animated videos. They do a good job of introducing and explaining concepts, features, functions, techniques and best practices. Also, since I’m a visual and auditory learner, watching the videos definitely served to embed the content into my memory. My recall during the exams felt enhanced, and I think the videos for that. I scored 95% on the AdWords Fundamentals portion, 100% on the Search portion and 95% on the Shopping exams. Of course I would prefer to have gotten 100% every time, but hey. The nice thing about missing some of the questions is that the quiz engine gives you a list of concepts to study at the end so you can go on and master the material fully.

What I didn’t Like About the Learning Experience & Exam

  • Deceptive amount of study time shown for each module.

Ideas for Improving the Certification Experience (e.g. developing a better Academy product)

  • Make Google AdWords Certificate shareable. It would be really cool if Google offered a link to my Certificate that I could then turn around and share directly on LinkedIn and other social media sites like Facebook, twitter, heck, even Instagram why not? As it is now, I had to download to my hard drive a copy of my certificate in PDF form, upload it to Google Drive, and get a Drive link where anyone with the link can view the document (link to Quora article). So many steps! Why?
  • Allow simulated practice with dummy data, I think in developer’s terms this might be called a “sandbox”(?)

If you study the material, the test is not hard. As an alternative to reading, you can watch lessons on YouTube. As a visual learner, this worked great for me.

If you are about to take the Google AdWords certification test, best of luck!