Frequently Asked Questions

Your PPC & Agency Questions Answered Here

Navigate by category below to locate answers to questions about pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns, digital accounts, ad technology, campaign performance and reporting, and PPC competition.

Ask Blastoff Labs any question, and we’ll answer it via email. If your question is of general interest, we may post it below to our FAQ section, or post a blog article about it.

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PPC Technology

Paid search success is measurable, but the time frame required to reach success varies widely depending upon type of campaign, the associated website, the level of competition, ad spend, the quality of the campaign, and other factors.  However, we can discuss some ranges to set expectations.

New and re-engineered PPC campaigns take a little time to develop a normal serving rhythm; typically a few days to a week.  Shopping campaigns can take a little longer.

Once a campaign has ramped up to serve it’s daily budget, data is collected which allows us to begin the course optimization process. Our procedures are different for each type of campaign, but general this period will run about 4 weeks. Usually during this period we build adequate conversion data to serve as a baseline to move the campaigns onto automated bidding.  Then the campaign enters our fine optimizaton phase as described elsewhere on this site.

How long does it take to know if a paid search success is likely to happen?  That depends upon many variables including the nature of the market targeted, type of product, buyer behavior, primarily ad spend, average cost per click, conversion rate, and cost per conversion / CPA.

There are a few campaigns in extremely challenging markets that can take six months or longer to forge into winners. But many campaigns become successful within 2 to 3 weeks. Average is 4 to 6 weeks. Most campaigns reach the point where we’re confident they’re successful within 6 to 12 weeks, depending upon the market being served.

If you are an existing client, Blastoff Labs may assist if for some reason your account is suspended.  But it is unlikely to happen. 

We don’t take on suspension projects because the only person the ad platform will talk to is the account owner. What you should do is to file a written request for assistance from the help link in your Merchant Center. Be patient because they have a massive backlog and may take 2 or 3 weeks to answer. Keep your communication cordial, lay out the facts succinctly, and explain why you ask that they should unsuspend your account. 

Just email a polite note, with a bullet list succinctly summarizing the steps you’ve taken. They will ask you for the email you received stating the reason you were suspended. If you owe them financially, you’ll have to pay it; the odds of winning a discussion about that are so close to zero, it cannot be measured.  To their credit, the ad platforms are usually right.  So don’t feel singled out. Just bite the bullet and pay.  The large tech companies are not going to reason with you, they simply understand power – and they 100% of the cards here.  So don’t get into this expecting a break. 

Unless they’ve permanently banned your account, which is unlikely unless there have been repeated terms of service violations over a long time period.

Ad platforms become alarmed easily, sometimes false-alarmed, at the slightest possibility of legal jeopardy. There are several reasons – first, they are frequently a lawsuit target, and Shopping transactions put them legally in the chain of a transaction.

Business Questions

We see these issues regularly on incoming PPC campaign rebuild projects:

  1. The wrong type of campaign could have been deployed. For example, a search campaign may be used when shopping would be a more effective choice.
  2. The campaign may be configured improperly, for example the wrong type of bidding may have been used. Or – the campaign may be scheduled to be ‘off’ on Saturday when (e.g. residential solar) the most conversions occur.
  3. Usually just a select few keywords form the backbone of a search campaign. Some or all may be missing for various reasons. Or ‘conversion assist’ keywords may have been paused because last-click attribution model doesn’t spread the conversion credit to them, so the role they play isn’t obvious.
  4. The negative keyword base may be faulty, or inadequate. So the ad spend is wasted on irrelevant traffic.
  5. The agency may not have been given enough time to optimize the campaign. It can take from a few weeks to a few months to optimize campaigns running in highly competitive markets.
  6. The wrong images or ad copy may have been used in a Display campaign. In display campaigns, the image is crucial.
  7. TV-style, professionally-produced, slick ads may have been used in a video campaign; they often don’t work online even they are more costly and time-consuming to produce.
  8. The targeted market may have “keyword silo overlap” bidding up clicks to a point where it’s difficult to optimize a campaign into profitability.
  9. Bidding may be too conservative, leaving the best clicks for other campaigns.
  10. The Shopping feed may not have been optimized properly.
  11. The campaign audiences may be setup wrong, or entirely the wrong audiences.
  12. A Shopping campaign’s product taxonomy may not have been setup right.
  13. The ad copy may be weak, and untested.
  14. The site may have major CRO problems. Many that we see, do. It’s one of the first things we check.
  15. Ad budget may be inadequate to get over the “success threshold”, a ‘quantum effect’ similar to FM Radio lock.
  16. Ad extensions may be poorly implemented, written, or missing.
  17. The product/service is weak, so conversions are light to non-existent.
  18. Inadequate click share in the geographic region targeted; and/or keyword matching may be setup too tight.
  19. The advertiser may be a late market entrant, and there are too many established, high-spending competitors have built up high quality scores, so their ad spend goes farther.
  20. Conversion tracking may be only partial, or they may be exposed email addresses on the site causing conversion tracking leakage. Not all PPC pros place enough emphasis on setting up and testing thorough conversion tracking. That’s often because it’s many times tricky to get conversion tracking setup and working; other times they just don’t spend the time, or have the skills. The conversion tracking setup and debug often involves some JavaScript skills, and being able to localize issues in code on the site, and tags firing when they should. It’s not always an overlapping skill with campaign development.

We don’t want to get involved in projects that are destined to fail, disappointing a valued client. So one of the first things we look at before taking a project on, is site CRO quality, and past campaign configuration-history.

If we take a project on, we are confident we can succeed. It doesn’t always work out that way, but we will have reasons to believe it will, and in the majority of cases, we end up with profitable campaigns. But not usually immediately, and not always 100% of the time.

It is important to recognize that PPC campaigns are a form of digital advertising, and they carry business risk.

Sometimes failed campaigns come in where the client has been “burned” for one reason or another. But we have to see failed campaigns as “water under the bridge”, since Blastoff Labs would be a new party. Because we are not able to assume baggage from mistakes made in the past, or made by consultants or agencies that may have approached the campaigns in an ineffective or unsuccessful fashion. Maybe they just lost the battle because the budget was too low, or time too short? PPC can be difficult!

We will expand on these topics in a forthcoming blog series: “100 reasons PPC initiatives can fail“.

We recommend spending enough to generate at least 20 clicks per day in most markets, in order to accumulate statistically meaningful data in each 24-hour period.

The daily spend is the number of clicks times the average cost per click.  So, the question becomes what is the average cost per click (CPC)?

CPC is dependent on quality scores, competitive bidding pressure at the time of an auction, and where the platform sets the minimum bid.

Once a campaign is known to be profitable, an advertiser will likely want to raise their daily ad spend become it is generating a profit. A number of considerations come into that, and it’s the subject of other FAQs. This FAQ addresses where to set the initial spend at launch, for a new or re-engineered campaign.

Our tools estimate CPC’s, but they are only approximate levels.  Before launch, we will likely be able to provide a CPC estimate within ~±15% of actual.

Most new campaigns develop higher quality scores as they run, so the minimum recommended ad spend will decline after launch as a campaign runs, undergoes post-launch optimization, and settles into a serving pattern.