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8 Most Common PPC Questions Answered by 50 Industry Experts

Digital advertising moves fast and is unabashedly complicated. After talking to our clients and blog readers, we at AdHawk find ourselves receiving the same kinds of questions almost every day. From how to get started to measuring success in Adwords, we’ve heard it all.

So we reached out to 50+ industry experts along with our Co-Founders Dan Pratt and Todd Saunders to answer to your most common PPC questions.

  1. What is the hardest thing about starting on Google AdWords?
  2. How much should I spend on Google AdWords?
  3. How do you measure success on Google AdWords?
  4. When should I advertise on AdWords vs Facebook?
  5. Should I bid on my brand name?
  6. How do you adapt to changes in the PPC industry?
  7. What can I do in 5 minutes to optimize my ad campaigns?
  8. What are your biggest frustrations about the PPC industry?

1. What is the Hardest Thing About Starting on Google AdWords?

Based on what we hear from our clients, one of the hardest things about Google Adwords is knowing where to start. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to set up your AdWords account or how to structure your first campaign, sometimes all you need is that first push to get you up and running.

One of the first things our CEO, Todd Saunders, recommends doing before implementing any campaigns is setting up conversion tracking, which tracks what your customers do after they click your ad.

Proper conversion tracking measures the effectiveness of your ads and attributes success to your bottom line. It’s all too easy to get lost in the black box that is the Google AdWords interface, so knowing what you want out of your digital marketing efforts before diving in always helps.

Mark Tillison, Managing Director at Tillison Consulting, states that in addition to conversion tracking, it’s crucial to have “clear goals and objectives from the start. I’m too often amazed when clients come to us … having never discussed Conversion Costs or ROAS figures [as] eCommerce stores.”

Starting doesn’t always mean diving right in, but rather putting some time into strategic planning and goal-setting.

2. How Much Should I Spend on Google AdWords?

While we wish there’s a magic number floating around out there, AdWords just isn’t that simple.

Spending too little won’t give you enough data to draw meaningful conclusions, and if you throw a ton of money in too quickly, you risk draining your entire ad spend budget for very little in return.

Our COO Dan Pratt calls finding this balance “The Goldilocks Approach.” You might have to go through some trial and error, but you’ll eventually stumble upon the budget that’s juuuuuuust right.

Take a mathematical approach by calculating your cost per lead, or how much it will cost you to gain one customer. Your CPL can vary greatly depending on your industry, so it’s good to do your research beforehand.

Then take that number and add a couple of dollars to create some “buffer room,” in case your initial CPL estimation is off. You then multiply that number by the number of leads that you’re looking to obtain via your campaign. This final calculation will give you a pretty good sense of how much you should start spending in AdWords.

Ad Spend = (Cost Per Lead + Buffer Room) x (Target Number of Leads)

3. How Do You Measure Success on Google Adwords?

Short answer: It depends.

Long Answer:

Based on the type of business you’re in, the size and age of your company, and about a hundred other factors, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. We reached out to Greg Finn, a digital marketer and Partner at Cypress North, and asked him what he does to achieve success on Adwords.

His advice? “Before a campaign begins, define an attribution model. Parlay this with a proprietary tracking system and then just look at the data. Properly identifying all goals and KPIs before a campaign launches is a must.”

In fact, almost everyone we reached out to emphasized the importance of setting laser-focused KPI’s and taking a scientific approach to increase your chances of success.

source: giphy

Luke Alley, Director of PPC Advertising at Avalaunch Media makes it a point that you have to do some hand-holding, since lots of clients do not have clearly defined goals in the first place.

[Success] is less easily measured but happens through consistent communication and caring. We follow the formula R+R=R or Relationships + Results = Retention.

– Luke Alley | Avalaunch Media

That’s a formula we all can get behind.

4. When Should I Advertise on Google Versus Facebook?

Success on digital advertising, and its respective platforms, can only be found after intelligent testing. First, look at your specific industry and see where companies similar to yours have found the most success.

Then you’ll want to have that cost-per-lead number on hand again and see where you’ll be able to get a better bargain. If you have a limited budget and have eyes on expensive keywords, consider looking to Facebook, where you can use audience data to target your ads which generally tend to be less expensive.

Source: Facebook

🎉 Fun fact 🎉 Out of the 50 PPC Professionals we reached out to, only one chose Facebook over AdWords in his response. Here’s a couple reasons why Google reigns supreme for PPC Marketers:

“The biggest asset AdWords has is Search Ads. If someone is searching, they are telling you what they need by the keywords they use. A properly structured and segmented search campaign can be something that you can build on for years to come.” – @JamesSvoboda, CEO of Web Ranking

“People aren’t using Facebook to shop – not yet. It’s a secondary action taken while on a platform intended (and experienced) for a wholly different purpose. Until we’re shown data that says Facebook is legitimately challenging Google for that 80% share of users with intent, we’ll recommend to clients that Facebook get a slice of the budget, but a slice proportionately smaller than what Google gets.” – @SpencerWade, CEO of Lift Conversions.

“Google – purely because it is the most targeted form of marketing ever conceived. You can display an ad to someone who is searching for your exact product or service at the time that they are in need. Although Facebook offers incredibly targeted options, it will never be as specialised as Google.” – @AshleyEmery, Digital Marketing Strategist at Jacada Travel

The overall consensus is that not only can you reach more targeted people by advertising on Google, but drive qualified traffic from people with higher purchase intent.

While Facebook advertising has undeniable benefits, like interactive ad formats and increasing brand awareness, advertisers would still choose Google in a do-or-die situation.

5. Should I Bid On My Brand Name?

In most cases, yes. Companies bid on branded keywords so that their competitors don’t show up on their own brand names and have them steal your valuable conversions.


But why would competitors want to bid on your brand name in the first place? They are more likely to get customers at a lower cost-per-click by bidding on your name versus a more generic, but more competitive keyword with a higher search volume.

For example, it’s cheaper for Skippy to bid on the keyword “Jiff” than it is for them to bid on “peanut butter” so they might try to run a competitor campaign against them because they can safely assume that those people searching for Jiff would probably also be interested in the Skippy brand.

If you want to check if your competitors are bidding on your branded keywords, you can pull up your Auctions Insights Report in Google Adwords. If you find that companies are bidding on your brand, run branded ad campaigns to make sure you win over the customers who are already searching for you specifically.

Additionally, by running branded ads over the course of several months, you may begin to see the number of searches your brand receives goes up as a result.
Unless you’re running campaigns outside of your branded one, you can attribute that increase interest to your Adwords campaign.

6. What Can I Do in 5 Minutes to Improve My Ad Performance on Google Adwords?

Getting comfortable with Google Adwords takes time and patience. That being said, there are a few things you can do to start optimizing and bettering your ad performance right away. By tinkering with some of your manual bid adjustments, you can make sure you’re performing well across the demographics, locations, and devices that you wish to target.

It only takes 5 minutes to look at your Search Terms Report to find which keywords people are typing into Google that brings them to your site. Once you have an idea of what types of inquiries people most often use to find you, you can start optimizing your ad copy, websites, and content around them.

An even better reason to look at the report is to find which keywords are costing you money by driving irrelevant traffic to your site. You can then label these as “negative keywords” which are words searched into Google that you do not want triggering your ads. We’ve already put together an entire post to walk you through how to bulk add negative keywords to help you out!

*Shameless plug* You can always use the free AdHawk Assistant Mobile App to make fast optimizations every day in your Google Adwords and Facebook Ads accounts with just a couple clicks. We don’t know what’s quicker than that 😉

7. How Do You Adapt to Changes in the PPC Industry?

One of the challenges about working in the PPC industry is how quick things change. The truth is, it’s a learning experience and we believe you can never get get too comfortable. Just when you think you’ve mastered the art of a perfect text search ad, Google goes and changes things up (to name just one example.)

There’s no one perfect answer on how to best adapt to these changes. People usually find what works best for them based on how much they need to know and what resources they have. Here are a few tips we gathered to help you stay ahead of the curve:

🌟 “… the best thing to do is stay informed and test, test and test again. By staying informed you’ll be able to identify all new strategies and tactics coming down the pipeline – and there are a lot. If you then take an objective approach to looking at the data on each new change, you can have the math help steer your decisions. In PPC it is like the old adage – The only constant is change. So embrace it.” – @gregfinn

🌟 “Stay educated and informed via publications, events, trainings. Beyond requiring the entire team (not just the paid media team) be certified in Google Analytics & AdWords, as well as Bing, we also developed our own internal Anvil University training & certification.” – @KentJLewis, President of Anvil Media

🌟 “Before we make any drastic changes to our account based upon changes, features,etc we really evaluate if they will be useful to us. Next, we often run a short term test to determine if it’s a positive or negative impact on the accounts. If it’s neutral or negative, then we make note of it and might try it again in 3-6 months to see if any bugs or issues have been fixed. If it’s positive, then we look at how long the change will take to implement versus the overall uplift and decide where to slot it (if at all) on the overall development calendar.” – @BradGeddes, AdWords Seminar Leader and Founder of BG Theory

If you’re still looking for a place to get started, may we recommend the signing up for our weekly PPC newsletter? 😃

8. What Are Your Biggest Frustrations About the PPC Industry?

This question really sums up a big reason AdHawk was founded in the first place. Our Co-Founders were frustrated with how complicated digital advertising was and how much time it took to get the most out of your ad spend. Between the different platforms available for advertisers and the confusing ins-and-outs of each, advertising online can get real frustrating real quick – but don’t be discouraged! That’s why we’re here to help.

AdWords Seminar Leader and Founder of BG Theory, Brad Geddes, says his biggest pet peeve about the industry is the “overreaction to change — Often something will be a rumor, speculation, or just wrong and yet it can dominate the news cycles and waste a lot of time.” We agree. While it’s integral to stay up to date with future updates, Google often provides adequate buffer time before any radical changes are made.

In the same token, some PPC experts voiced their concerns about clients who come to them with preconceived notions about PPC: “A disproportionate number of clients come to me already cynical of PPC and digital marketers because they’ve been burned in the past, either by cheap rate freelancers who don’t do a good job or by agencies who use the same cookie-cutter mold for all their clients… As a result I have to spend extra time explaining what went wrong before & why they should trust an outsourced marketing expert again.”@NathanBrown, Specialized PPC Marketing Consultant  

There’s More to Uncover

Are you feeling better about advertising on Google AdWords and Facebook? Or are you still curious?

Now we want to hear from our AdHawk readers:

  • What’s a PPC question you have that you didn’t see in this post?
  • What’s the hardest thing about getting started on AdWords in your opinion?

If not, or if you have another question that we missed, feel free to visit us at or Tweet us @AdHawk – we respond to every tweet! See you in the comments!

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About the Author

Journeyman of the wild wild west of Digital Advertising. Also doubling as an unofficial Taco Bell ambassador. Tweet at me @JonJmPark