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PPC Ponderings Podcast: Listen to Amy Bishop's Bonus Episode

PPC Ponderings Podcast: Listen to Amy Bishop's Bonus Episode

10/25/19 UPDATE: Hello Facebook Agency Visitor Person!  We’re delighted to have you visit this awesome post. About a year ago, ZATO stopped offering Facebook Ads solutions so we could focus solely on what we do best: Google Ads. Because of this, we’re always interested in partnerships with great Social Advertising agencies (like yourself, wink wink!) and we offer referral fees for signed clients!  Anyway, back to it, and happy reading…

Post Summary

Our bonus episode of the PPC Ponderings Podcast is now live!

Come listen to Amy and Kirk chat about her take on the keyword’s past, present, and future.

In this first bonus episode since our first core episode was released, we give you the full interview with Amy Bishop.

Amy was one of our guests on the first Ponderings episode, and we’re excited to share our full conversation here!

Listen on Apple Podcasts

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Listen on Spotify

If you haven't already, make sure to catch the first full length episode here: Episode 1 - The PPC Keyword, Past, Present, & Future

In this podcast, we are getting away from an interview approach, and come from more of an investigative journalism format. Enjoy!

Guest Information

Amy has built and implemented multichannel digital strategies for a variety of companies of all sizes from start-ups and small businesses to Fortune 500 and global organizations spanning several industry verticals. Her expertise includes e-commerce, lead generation, and localized site-to-store strategies. Amy owns Cultivative Marketing, a PPC agency. When not working, you can find her speaking at industry events across the US and Europe and talking shop on Twitter at @Hoffman8.

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Episode Transcript

Amy Bishop (00:01):

There are limitations to keywords and those alone don'tnecessarily tell us somebody's intent.

Kirk Williams (00:07):

Not just the technology, the way that users interact withthe technology has changed remarkably.

Amy Bishop (00:13):

I still think that keywords provide useful informationabove and beyond other information that we have in the account.

Chris Reeves (00:24):

Welcome to the ZATOWorks PPC Ponderings Podcast, where wediscuss the philosophy of PPC and ponder everything related to digital marketing.Today's show is a bonus episode of our full interview with Amy Bishop ofCultivate Marketing. Amy starred in our first episode on the keyword, and ifyou haven't heard that episode yet, go check it out now. Otherwise, here is ourbehind the scenes conversation with Amy.

Kirk Williams (00:51):

Okay. So, let's talk about the keyword. So this episode isprimarily about like the keyword itself and a lot of what I'm talking throughis how that it kind of has always, in some ways been the cornerstone of paidsearch. And some of that is, is that changing? Should it change? Should it notchange? So that's kind of in some ways the whole episode. So with that contextin mind, what do you like about the keyword, the PPC keyword?

Amy Bishop (01:24):

Yeah. Good question. So I am a huge fan of the keyword, abig fan of the keyword. I think that keywords provide super valuableinformation. They may not paint a whole picture, but they do definitely give ussome clues. And sometimes I think depending on the keyword, they can give someindicators of intent. I'm careful to say indicators because it's tough to sayexactly what a person's intent is, but I really do think it's the case thatthere are certainly some indicators that you can look for certainly to identifynegative keywords of people who aren't looking to purchase and things likethat.

Amy Bishop (02:01):

But also even beyond the keyword, there are certain thingsabout the fact that a person searched that give us some indicators of intenttoo. Just the fact that they're obviously searching for something and the timethat they searched is important too. And then also beyond that outside ofkeywords, obviously we have other indicators of intent in the account as well.But still I think that keywords, I'm kind of backtracking there, I still thinkthat keywords provide useful information above and beyond other informationthat we have in the account to get a sense of exactly what that person islooking for at least topically, and they do provide some kind context in thatway that we can't really get anywhere else.

Kirk Williams (02:48):

What are some of those indicators that you mentioned? Likewhat are indicators that a keyword can show in terms of intent?

Amy Bishop (02:56):

Yeah. Good question. So I work with a lot of SaaScompanies. So some of the keywords that we see are people searching for thingslike, let's say you are an accounting software, I see people searching forthings like invoicing templates. Those are people who are probably going to tryto DIY something with a Word doc or an Excel doc. They're not looking to buy,almost certainly. But if you see somebody that says best accounting software,those are people that probably are going to buy that realize that maybe they'vebeen doing it on their own, or they have a software that they don't love. Solooking for specific components of a keyword to identify exactly what theirlong term intent is, can be valuable.

Amy Bishop (03:39):

I also used to do some search for, it was an educationcompany and what I would find is sometimes people were searching for whatseemed like exact questions that were maybe going to be on a test. And so theywere trying to find the answers by searching these long tail searches. But alsothings like free. If somebody's looking for something for free, then that tellsyou that they're not looking to pay any money for it. They may be looking tofind something to use. They're not maybe not planning to DIY, but they'replanning to pay $0 for it. So if you're not offering something for $0, thenthat's probably a good negative.

Amy Bishop (04:18):

So there's just certain components of keywords that canhelp you bucket if that search is informational, if that search is transactionalor if it's somewhere in between where they are actually looking to acquiresomething, but they're looking to acquire it for no money.

Kirk Williams (04:33):

Yeah, no, that's great. Yeah, it is interesting, isn't it,with PPC. I know paid search has often been focused on that direct responsething. So we would look at something like ... I feel like years ago we wouldlook at something like a keyword, like you mentioned, maybe something likelanding page template. Let's say you're a SaaS selling landing pages or landingpage solution or whatever it would be. Maybe even service selling landing pagesas a service. And someone says landing page template. Well, like you said,someone typing that in, they're not looking to pay an expert a lot of moneynecessarily. They're just looking for that quick and easy DIY thing.

Kirk Williams (05:17):

But to me, that's where it starts to get interesting andcomplex to begin looking at it as marketers, which is, does that mean wecompletely write them off forever in all time those who typed in template or isthere a way that we as PPCs, as marketers, begin thinking like, okay, whatabout those terms that aren't necessarily focused, they're not immediate readyto purchase? So they are looking for that template, but what if they could beconvinced in six months, in nine months, in 12 months?

Kirk Williams (05:50):

And I think that's part of what I've started to learnabout the keyword as it's matured, as maybe my understanding is matured ofseeing it less as in, is this a keyword I want to bid on in my account or isthis a keyword I should exclude? Kind of in black and white and trying to thinkand then guide our clients more in that as well of, are there different placesin the funnel for these different keywords with the intent that we can nurturethem? How do we do that? How do we do micro conversions with those things? Thatsort of thing. Yeah.

Amy Bishop (06:24):

Yeah, I think that totally comes back to what your goals areand also what content that you have at your disposal. Because I think that'sexactly the key is what you mentioned, is trying to identify intent and I'mputting a vocal asterisk there, because I don't think you can fully identifyintent just based upon the keyword alone, but we're taking what we can from it.And so I think bucketing those by intent and saying, where are they at in thefunnel, and then are we interested in attacking that part of the funnel or not?And if we are, then we need to make sure that that part of the funnel isaligned with the right content for that part of the funnel.

Amy Bishop (07:09):

So if you're purely focused on transactions, then somebodythat's interested in templates is not a good fit, but if you do have eBooks orcontent that would allow you to generate leads at that high level that you canthen nurture, then you just need to make sure that that query is aligned withthat specific campaign, with those goals and exclude it from your transactionalcampaign, but you could still get runway with that keyword with higher funnelgoals. So yeah, I think that is the secret, or it's not really a secret, thekey is grouping those keywords and then making sure that the way that you'reapproaching them aligns with where they're at.

Kirk Williams (07:52):

And that goes into a lot of that stuff with CPCs and tolike you had said, what is the client's objective, what is their profitability?How much are they actually able to invest on keywords based on the market priceof those keywords for something like landing page template, because it might bea great idea at the front, "Well yeah, we should definitely nurture themdown through the funnel and build up our email list and stuff." Well, iflanding page template keywords are $26 a pop, CPCs then, unless you have a heckof a lot of money to invest in that, there's probably other better, go trysomething on TikTok for that price in order to build your upper funnel. So thatalso sometimes can be the challenge I find with keywords these days, especiallyupper funnel, sometimes they're just expensive. Yeah.

Amy Bishop (08:54):

Yeah. And I think a tricky thing about keywords is just thatthe price continuously goes up. You never see it come down. So originally whenGoogle Ads was created back in the day that it was AdWords, back in the goodold days. It used to be one of the big selling points for it was that smallbusinesses could compete equally with big businesses because it wasn't allabout cost. It was about quality and relevance. And while those two things arestill important at this point, it's also definitely very much about cost. Andso sometimes it's just out of reach. Certain keywords can be out of reach forspecific company.

Amy Bishop (09:35):

And it goes both ways. So sometimes it goes where higherfunnel is cheaper, so it makes sense to kind of target some of those cheaper,higher funnel words and then work to convert them longer term. But it also goesthe flip flop as well, to put it really eloquently, the flip flop, where thosehigher funnel terms are still fairly competitive. And since they're lesstransactional and they have lower funnel conversion rates, sometimes they'renot affordable. So it just also depends on the industry and how good yourconversion rates are and how much you're able to pay for of those types ofthings.

Kirk Williams (10:18):

Yeah. So you mentioned one of those, so one keywordlimitation just in terms of cost and rising costs and that. Do you have anyother keyword limitations that you can think of? What are maybe some of the, Idon't know if weakness is the right term limitation. Yeah.

Amy Bishop (10:36):

Yeah. I would say keywords definitely have limitations.Even if we know what people search for, we're still ultimately guessing whythey search what they search. So this is kind of a dramatic example, but justimagine if you played a game with your wife or a friend where for a full 24hours, they would text two to four words for you and you just had to guess whatthe other person was thinking or hoping to achieve based upon those two to fourwords. It would be such a dangerous game because we all know that communicatingvia text is prone to miscommunication because you lose a lot of context just inthe fact that it's text alone, even if you had more than two to four words. Andso that's the same context that we lose with search plus more because they'renot necessarily trying to communicate with us.

Amy Bishop (11:22):

And I know personally the better the search engines get,the less effort that we put into searching. At least that's definitely the casefor me. I kind of have this trust with Google. Like we're just such goodfriends at this point that I know what I type in, they're going to bringresults to me and just basically read my mind. So for search marketers, that'stough because these queries that are coming through, maybe aren't as detailedas they were before. I mean, definitely not maybe, it's definitely the casethat they're not as detailed as they were before. So we're trying to decipherwhat they mean without any of the cues that normal communication would have andthen also now, even with less words, because they're typing less and less.

Amy Bishop (12:09):

And then also I think one big piece of context relied onas search marketers is not only the keyword itself, but it's just the context,just the fact that they are searching. The fact that they're searching providessome context and that is part of what has filled the gaps that keywords themselveshaven't been able to fill. But there are still different reasons that peoplecould be searching for things. And I don't know you, but I think I use thesearch engines for more things than I ever did in the past, just because I knowthat the answers are there. So this may be more relevant for me than you, buthey, maybe both of us.

Amy Bishop (12:46):

Sometimes if I see like a cute sweater and I think, thatwould be really cute, but I don't know exactly how to pull that off, I wouldjust Google like outfit ideas. And I would look at Google images without evereven going to a fashion blog or anything like that. So there are just more waysthat people are using Google for information than they were before. And it'snot necessarily always as transactional as it may have been in the past, ifthat makes sense. But the fact that I'm searching for that sweater doesn't meanthat I want to buy it. I might already have it. So anyway, that was a reallylong-winded answer to I definitely think that there are limitations to keywordsand those alone don't necessarily tell us somebody's intent.

Kirk Williams (13:31):

Yeah. Yeah, no, I agree. I think that's great. I was justreading an article about Facebook and how much, I mean, we all probably knowthis, but still if you think about it, Facebook is only 17 years old, which asthe article said, is old enough to drive but not old enough to drink. And it isremarkable how much so much of that platform has changed and adapted andevolved in terms of, like the reason that it was originally made for, kind ofthis college frat boy type of a thing, it sounds like, I don't know the fullbackstory, but as opposed to now what is used for a lot with just Marketplaceand how the age demographic is getting older and older. And we just accept thatFacebook as an entity technology has changed a lot.

Kirk Williams (14:29):

I just think, sorry, not just Facebook, not just thetechnology and I think that's what I'm getting at, not just the technology, theway that users interact with the technology has changed remarkably. I justthink that that's possible with Google too, with search, the way that usersuse, that's repetitive, the way that searchers, the way that searchers useGoogle, almost certainly has adapted and changed over the past decade or more.Yeah, so that's a great point.

Kirk Williams (15:05):

Okay. Let's talk a little bit audiences, audiences andkeywords. Maybe give us a little bit of maybe a brief introduction intoaudiences and keywords. What's the difference, audience and keywords, and thenmaybe talk through just whatever comes to mind in terms of how that's changedwith Google, what that means.

Amy Bishop (15:26):

So keywords are what we put in the account basically tosay what we would want to bid on if somebody searched for this, we would wantto display and ad for it. Audiences are more around groups of people andspecific groups of people based upon either third party information or basedupon our first party information. So let me go into that a little bit deeper.Third party information would be information that Google has about who thesepeople are, what they're interested in, what they're potentially in market for.Affinity audiences are similar to those that you could use for broadcast media.And then our first party audiences, those are data, sorry, our first partyaudiences are audiences that we've collected based upon our own data in the waythat they have engaged with us in the past, either because we have their emailaddresses so we're uploading those into audiences, or because they've takencertain actions on our website that we've created audiences on.

Amy Bishop (16:26):

The TLDR, there as keywords give us a sense of what's on apurpose person's mind and clue as to what they're searching for whereasaudiences tell us more about who that person is and possibly some history onhow they've engaged with us in the past.

Kirk Williams (16:45):

Like it. Thank you. Let's see. I am thinking of thisquestion extemporaneously, so it might not make sense. Feel free to ask forclarification. So as we think about audiences and keywords, are there anystrengths or let's say, are there any weaknesses ... are there any strengths orweaknesses to audiences that are better or worse than keywords maybe?

Amy Bishop (17:13):

Yeah, that's a good question. So I think they both havetheir strengths and they both have their weaknesses and with a lot of things,as with other things, it's one of those situations where theoretically they'rebetter together, but the reality is when you combine them other, often it takesyour audience or shouldn't use audience in that context because then we'reusing audience as two different things, when you combine them together, oftenit takes your targeted folks, the number of people that are potentially goingto see your ad, it takes it away that.

Amy Bishop (17:57):

So I would say one of the biggest downfalls of audiencesis that you're potentially excluding people that aren't falling into thoseaudiences that could be a good fit that just maybe haven't searched for thesethings or haven't browsed pages about it in the past, but still could be areally good fit and you're not including them just because they haven'thistorically fallen into that audience. So that's a risk. And we know thisbecause if you do layer that audience onto a search campaign, you could go fromhaving 100,0000 impressions to 20,000 impressions, just because all of asudden, a bunch of people who were searching don't fall into this criteriaanymore, which tells us that audiences are obviously not comprehensive.

Amy Bishop (18:42):

On the flip side of that, audiences do have a strength ofbeing very specific to people that have historically shown an interest inspecific things. And in certain cases, especially for instance, B2B or thingslike that, where you're trying to be really, really focused on who sees yourads, audiences have that benefit of having that tried and true, we knowsomething about these people because they've taken in certain actions orthey've done certain activities that tell us that they're somewhat morequalified than just anybody on the open web. So that would be kind of thestrengths and weaknesses of audiences in my perspective.

Amy Bishop (19:23):

And then keywords are sort of like the yin to that yang inthe sense that you could get more volume from keywords low own, but they maynot always be as qualified if you have to reach a specific niche audience. Ifyou don't need to reach a specific niche audience, then that's really less of arisk. So I still think I really, really love both audiences and keywords, but Istill think they both have their individual strengths and weaknesses. And I maybe kind of tangenting here, but I always thought that keywords were going awayand that audiences were going to replace them. But now that we're kind ofheading to this cookie list future, or at least second party cookie listfuture, it kind of has me rethinking that because a lot of what I thought wouldreplace keywords is now potentially being replaced by flock or other browsersolutions that we don't necessarily know yet. It's now so far away that I'm notnecessarily confident that flock is going to be the answer either. We'll see.

Amy Bishop (20:27):

But I don't think those have enough detail to fullyreplace what at keywords were giving us. But I do think that the engines know alot, they know a lot more than we know. And it's really the context of all ofthese multiple data points being combined together that really helps defineintent. Like for instance, if you were a tow truck driver and you were tryingto advertise to people that were searching about tires or something like that,the fact that they're searching on their phone and potentially calling in wouldmaybe indicate that they could be stranded versus somebody that's searchingfrom a computer who may not be in a big hurry. They may just be like searchinglonger term.

Amy Bishop (21:15):

So there's a lot of data points beyond the audience theyfall into, beyond the keyword, but more around even things like time of day andwhich device that they're using and all that kind of thing, all those kinds ofthings that go into defining intent and the engines or platforms, if we want toinclude paid social into this as well are really, really smart about analyzingall of those data points immediately. And I have to admit, their biddingalgorithms are getting better and better because of that. But my fear is thatmaybe we're headed to sort of a black box future where we don't get as granularwith keywords and we also don't get as granular with audiences. And so that'salmost replaced by something like a performance max or a smart shopping that'ssort of trying to do this all for you, which is like where Facebook is prettymuch already at, to be honest. I don't remember how I got to this point. I tookthe scenic route on making that point and I forget where I came from.

Kirk Williams (22:20):

Well, I mean, it's funny because I agree. It's funnybecause I always thought privacy would really hit key hard and not as muchaudiences, but I agree, I think it's just going to hit both. Any sort ofkeywords where there's either not as many people searching, so a better chancebeing identified or if it's really, if there is personally identifiableinformation or some sort of interesting intent, something that for whateverreason just as the privacy thing continues to evolve, regulations come downthat aren't here before, I can see that hitting both keywords and audiences andI completely agree with you. I believe that the engines are ... Ironicallyprivacy is supposed to, the whole point of regulating some sort of thing issupposed to be that we're giving power back to the consumer and that we controlour own data and that sort of thing, and there's almost some level of like,okay, in some ways that's kind of the same because it's not all the third partystuff.

Kirk Williams (23:33):

But the people who win the most in a hugely regulatedprivacy world are the channels and the platforms, because exactly what yousaid, it's just all going to be muddled together and we're going to be helplessexcept to utilize their automated bidding and everything that they have. Likethe averages win in some ways and the platform controls all of that. And so,yep, smart shopping, performance max, I completely agree.

Kirk Williams (24:03):

One other thing I thought of too, and I've never quite putit this way, but as you were talking, it kind of hit me and I really like thisis that, audiences is who they are as people and keywords is what people areinterested in. And that's why I really do see the two of them as different.That's why we will have clients where we're like, man, you're, you're actuallygoing to be better to put, well, in the past pre iOS 14 five, you're going tobe better to put money at least initially into Facebook because you have anincredibly visual and you have designed your product for bearded 37 year oldmales. I mean, that's your product, Go on Facebook and advertise to thembecause you don't really have that ability with keywords.

Kirk Williams (24:56):

And then again, the keyword kind of being the oppositething, if someone really needs a great landing page provider, they're typingthat in. In some ways, their demographic layered on, audiences layered intohelp for sure. But in some ways, demographic doesn't really matter, who theyare doesn't matter because it doesn't really matter anything about them,they're clearly showing their intent, put it in those words before, like theaudience is being who they are and keywords being what they're interested in.

Amy Bishop (25:27):

Yeah. Totally. And sometimes there's not keyword searchvolume for specific things. Like if you're creating a new category or a productthat hasn't existed, people don't know about it to know to search for it, thenaudiences are going to be here better bet. But yeah, I see them both as havingtheir own pros and cons, but also still valuable in their own right.

Kirk Williams (25:49):

Yep. Yeah, totally. Yeah. PPC, paid search especially isprimarily like demand capture. It's just not demand creation or demandgeneration really. Okay. So let's talk close variants. The have been just a lotof changes.

Amy Bishop (26:10):


Kirk Williams (26:13):

Can you walk through like when a PPC-er says closevariants and usually that will involve some sort of groan or anger or that whenthey say close variants, but when someone says close variants, what are theytalking about? How is Google using them? What's kind of changed in the closevariant landscape?

Amy Bishop (26:35):

Yeah. So I would define close variants as queries that arecontextually similar enough to a keyword in your account that Google decides todeliver the ad, even though the query wouldn't have traditionally matched thekeyword based on the text alone. And when I say traditionally matched, what Imean is in the early days of PPC, queries had to really closely match thespecific text. Plurals and things like that, Google would go ahead and matchfor you. But if you had a certain phrase in your account, depending on thematch type that you had in place, they would have to type exactly that or includethat specific phrase in their query in order for an ad to show. But now Googleis kind of using all of their historical data to match queries to keywordsbased upon context instead of the specific text alone.

Kirk Williams (27:30):

Yeah. So if I remember they started by misspellings,plurals, plural and singular. If someone wanted the best basketball out there,like it would match to basketballs, they had an exact match. And now yeah, it'sreally started to evolve or devolve depending on someone's opinion intoincluding intent in there as well. Do you have any thoughts on that, on Googleutilizing intent more in close variants and maybe define what intent is forsomeone who doesn't really understand what you mean by intent and closevariants and then what are your thoughts on that?

Amy Bishop (28:15):

Yeah. So by intent, what we mean is what we talked aboutearlier in the conversation around, if we can start to part out from thespecific query that they search exactly what they plan to do or what theyintend to do. So if they intend to find information, it's just an informationalquery. If they plan to transact, we would call that a transactional query. Andso essentially what Google is now doing is they're looking at the specificquery and saying, this intent seems similar to what you're trying to targetwith this keyword in your account. So even though this isn't a keyword in youraccount, we're going to go ahead and deliver it for this other contextuallysimilar keyword in your account.

Amy Bishop (29:00):

And they started this first with exact batch, which wasinteresting because then it made phrase match a to tighter match than whatexact match would've been. And they got a lot of pushback on that. So it wasn'tlong, they came back and they said, no, no, we're actually going to go aheadand do this for phrase match too. So both the exact match and phrase match hadit. And then broad match of course, was already a broad match as it was.Personally, I would say eight times out of 10, my close variants are goodmatches, they're relevant, and I'm happy with them. 20% of the time andspecifically on really niche accounts is when we run into issues. And then Iwould also add to that I have seen in brand campaigns where competitors startshowing up in the search terms as close variants, and that's frustrating. So weadd a lot of negatives around that to try to stop that.

Amy Bishop (29:56):

But specifically in niche accounts, there are times whenthe queries that come through just are not relevant, that where word orderreally matters or the specific word used really matters. And I wish I couldthink of an example off the top of my head. I'm totally blanking on it, butthere are times that I wish that we had the option to turn it on or off becausethere are accounts that they just want as much volume as they can get and byall me means, if the close variants are relevant, then we would love to keepthose on. Then there are other accounts where it brings in so much junk andespecially during that time period when we couldn't see search terms, it was areal struggle because if this is what you're seeing and it's not good, andyou're adding negatives for that, imagine all the things that are comingthrough that you're not seeing and how bad those things could be.

Amy Bishop (30:44):

So thankfully, now we have search terms back so we can atleast add negatives around those types of things. But in certain accounts, itdoes seem like they're just a constant, just a hole in the bucket where we'rejust leaking spend.

Kirk Williams (30:59):

Yeah, yeah. We've I think we've seen similar things.Overall, I really do think I've seen close variants matching more impressivelythan they used to, or at least that I'm aware of. And maybe I'm thinking, Iguess, more of what I would've considered to be the close variant match in thebuild days, which was broad. And they certainly match much better, but like yousaid, it's one of the things that I've always been frustrated about Google,where they make business decisions, they're a business. They have 95% of theirclients, if you will, which is us advertisers who all have this as a need and thisas a behavior. And so they build for that 95% or maybe it's even 90%, whateverit might be and it's just like the 10% it is what it is.

Kirk Williams (31:56):

And the problem is is if your life blood, your business,your heart and soul is one of those 10%, you're kind of screwed. And that hasalways been a little bit of the frustration with Google, where again, I kind ofunderstand they're building whatever, but they might say, look, thisperformance max in our test worked for 90% of the people. It worked reallywell. Well, if they rolled that out and made that requirement, 0% of businessesin the US or the world is an astonishingly amount of people and that who arebeing now harmed by this. And that's sometimes what close variant ... I knowBrad Gettys has a lot of examples of close variants he's seen just because hesees so much data. So he has great examples of when like sure. But when thingsgo wrong, they go horribly wrong for an account.

Amy Bishop (32:50):


Kirk Williams (32:51):

But it is what it is. So cool, cool, cool. Let's see. Whatis the future of the keyword for Google Ads, do you think? Do you have any funpredictions for us maybe?

Amy Bishop (33:08):

Yeah. And it's a painful prediction to make, to be honest.And I definitely don't mean to be doom and gloom by any means, but do think weare probably headed toward a future where we have even less control than wehave now, which is already less control than what we're used to. Even if wedon't go full black box, which I think is a possibility, I don't think thatit's going to happen in the next like one to two years, but I do think it couldevolve to that over time. I definitely see Google pushing really hard on broadmatch. I don't know if you're kind of picking up on that same thing too, but itseems like every recommendation comes with adding broad match and using broadmatch and leading with broad match and use broad match combined with automatedbidding and things like that.

Amy Bishop (33:57):

Even in one of their recent articles where they weretalking about matching, the article was about, if there are multiple keywordsin your account and the query matches exactly, we will prioritize the exactmatch keyword in your account. But at the bottom of the article, then it said,if you have broad match in your account, you really don't have to worry aboutadding exact and phrase, because broad match will just cover it for you. And itwas just really weird because the whole article is about like, we'll prioritizethe specific match type, but you guys don't need to have those match types,just so you know, just use broad match. And I just keep seeing the same themeover and over.

Amy Bishop (34:38):

And I feel like we might be headed in a direction we or keywordscontinue to migrate or evolve or devolve into more of a broad match alone. Andthen eventually, maybe to more of a black box scenario. I'm really interestedto see what happens with audiences along the way. To be honest, I don't evennecessarily have a guess right now with everything that's going on that side ofthe house. But that's kind of my prediction, I think, long term for the futureof the keyword.

Kirk Williams (35:10):

There's been a couple of people I've seen on Twitter justin the past day who have now said, "Whoa, just talked to my Google rep andthey said something about how broad match keywords are going to be the onlyallowable match type." It's not like it had timeframe, anything like that.So I thought that was interesting. And as any of us know who have been aroundPPC for a while, you'll hear different things from different Googlers, whichnever helps the trust thing, but-

Amy Bishop (35:38):

Yeah, they don't always do.

Kirk Williams (35:38):

Yeah. But one of the things that in some ways, like I getit, but it's also insulting because I do this with my children, my really youngchildren, is there's almost a level of they just added new close variant, theyjust released some of those keyword changes like what, a week ago? There weresome changes done six to 12 months before that and before that. It's likethey're preparing us in a way that none of us are surprised about, but almostin this, we'll just keep eking ... it's like the boiling frog thing you'veprobably heard of, as horrible as it sounds like, something like you put a frogin boiling water, he'll jump out, you put a frog in a bottle of water and thenstart boiling it, he won't leave because it's getting hotter and hotter. That'swhat Google's doing to us. They're just boiling us frogs, I think.

Kirk Williams (36:32):

So yeah. You'd think that some point they'd just say,"Look guys, this is going to happen in a year and a half. We just need ouralgorithms to be a little better. So here there's the reality." But theywon't say that.

Amy Bishop (36:46):

No. Yeah. And I am testing right now, one of my accountsthey can't get enough volume, whatever they can get, they'll take. So we didlaunch broad match in a separate campaign from exact and phrase with exact andphrase excluded. And so we have automated bidding running for them and it does.I mean, the matches that they're getting from broad are pretty good, but on average,the CPL is always higher than what we see in exact and phrase. And I wish thatI could tell you a percentage off the top of my head and I didn't look intothat today, but it is enough higher that it does not make sense to combine thetwo campaigns. And so that was my initial reaction when I read that articlethat said, well, you really don't need exact phrase. But the point has neverbeen coverage. That's never been why people have used three different matchtypes. The point has always been for efficiencies. And that is definitely stillthe case.

Kirk Williams (37:51):

Exactly. And here's where if a Googler would be everlistening to this part, one of the reasons why we split things out in matchtypes is because we're actually, when we are utilizing DSA or broad, as I thinkit's meant to be, and this is what Google say, coverage. Hey, I forget theirnumbers. They throw out numbers like, a third of all search queries are newevery day or whatever it might be. I mean that is an astonishing number andyes, you're absolutely right. If those are people converting with those searchqueries, I'd like to show for them. The flip side is I can't be endlesslythrowing budget at these broad match terms who are also expected to cover thosethird of all new queries that we don't know. And neither does Google by theway, frankly, because they're new per their own admission.

Kirk Williams (38:42):

So that's basically testing where you have your phrase orexact where for what it's worth, at least you have this base level of, this ishow these terms perform for us. And that's why we pull them apart and havedifferent ads and, and treat them differently, in some ways to actually honor,in my opinion, to honor what Google's trying to do with broad match, which islet's let it go search into the far beyond like captain Kirk and Star Trek inthe enterprise and seek out things that we wouldn't have known, here's yourlimited budget to do that but leave the stuff that we know works alone with ourown budget and that sort of thing over here as opposed to giving a broad matchkeyword, here's a basic, even with smart bidding, here's the objective, right?

Kirk Williams (39:38):

If you give a broad match keyword a three ROAS target,again, if that's including everything from your brand to all of those newqueries that Google doesn't even know what they're going to be a ROAS at. Itjust doesn't make sense to me, as opposed to having our two segments of ourcampaign, our upper funnel, our lower funnel maybe with different targets. Solike, here's our brand and we want you to aim at this ROAS and here is ourbottom funnel that we know is going to work and here's this ROAS and by theway, here's the extra stuff, that's the upper funnel or that's the exploratory,you can have a little bit more leash with that, but also we're keeping incontrol of the budget, there it is, you should keep those separated out. I justthink that's really important. And that to me would be one of the biggestproblems with only having broad match, even with smart.

Amy Bishop (40:31):

Yeah, I totally agree. And this with DSA is for also, sowe have so solutions for that and we purposely keep them separate.

Kirk Williams (40:40):

Yep. Yep. Cool. Cool. I mean, did you have anything elsethat you wanted to, I mean, I guess we could talk ... Yeah, I shared with youan article and video. I don't know if you had any thoughts on that, some of thechanging nature of search. Any last thoughts that actually you had on thekeyword?

Amy Bishop (41:02):

Yeah. I mean, I definitely, I do think unfortunately thatthe keyword is weakening. And we generally do have a lot of other signals to analyze.I'm rambling here. But I do think that behaviors are changing and that'sdefinitely part of it and I think that the way that the search engines arefeeding us data is changing. So that's part of it as well. Overall,unfortunately I do think that keywords will be de-emphasized more and more andprobably thought of more as themes, almost like they are in smart campaigns, tobe honest.

Amy Bishop (41:44):

But I think that the best thing that we can do asadvertisers is to continue to focus on the data that we do have and to continueto be the strategist, because as things become more and more automated, youcan't automate strategy. There still has to be somebody that is pulling thedifferent levers to say, "This is what we're going to do here and this iswhat we're going to do over here." So while I don't necessarily have agood tip for how to specifically get around losing that keyword data, I stillam really optimistic about the future of our industry and the people that workin it.

Chris Reeves (42:21):

This has been a bonus episode of the PPC PonderingsPodcast. Keep checking back for more interviews and our next full episode. Ifyou like, what you hear, please consider sharing this with your network,leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts, Until next time, may the auctions beever in your favor.


Kirk Williams
Owner & Chief Pondering Officer

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search & Social PPC micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. His personal motto (perhaps unhealthily so), is "let's overthink this some more."  He even wrote a book recently on philosophical PPC musings that you can check out here: Ponderings of a PPC Professional.

He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero 5 years in a row (2016-2020), has written articles for many industry publications (including Shopify, Moz, PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and Microsoft), and is a frequent guest on digital marketing podcasts and webinars.

Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, six children, books, Trek Bikes, Taylor guitar, and little sleep.

Kirk is an avid "discusser of marketing things" on Twitter, as well as an avid conference speaker, having traveled around the world to talk about Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads).  Kirk has booked speaking engagements in London, Dublin, Sydney, Milan, NYC, Dallas, OKC, Milwaukee, and more and has been recognized through reviews as one of the Top 10 conference presentations on more than one occasion.

You can connect with Kirk on Twitter, and Linkedin, or follow his marketing song parodies on TikTok.

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