Anyone who has read my posts in this column knows how much I like shiny, new objects. This doesn’t just apply to the search marketing space—I love kitchen gadgets, desktop apps, Firefox extensions, etc. Basically, if someone comes along and solves a problem with a tool, and I have the same problem, then I’m willing to give it a shot. However, it also means I’m doing a handful of demos a week, and having even more conversations!
Sometimes I find an interesting tool that I like to share. In SpeedPPC’s case, I want to be upfront and say that I’ve never tried their tool before, but it seems like an interesting enough concept to share with you all. Basically, this company’s SEM philosophy is to focus on Quality Score as the one of the main success points outside keywords and bids. Their software is specifically focused to help you build search accounts with QS best practices: very tight ad groups while ensuring the keywords are incorporated into the ad text, destination URL, and landing page.
The way the system works is that you load up your core terms into the tool and then, as you would normally to create long tail lists, combine those core terms with various keyword modifier lists. You can upload your own lists, but the system includes over four hundred built-in lists including state and city lists for 183 countries, names of perfumes, car model names, etc. Once that’s done, SpeedPPC builds out many, many tiny ad groups each with a handful of focused keywords. Creating ad text for all of those groups is handled via a dynamic keyword insertion-looking tool.
There’s also a landing page solution included with templates that utilize the tokens built into the destination URLs so that the keywords appear on the page to increase the relevancy even more. Yes, in a world where Quality Score is the single-most important factor to SEM, SpeedPPC would certainly be the Holy Grail tool. If anything, it’s an intriguing way to look at SEM and the testimonials section on their site has a long list of seemingly satisfied customers.
SpeedPPC founder Jay Stockwell and his team of Aussies are headquartered in sunny Queensland, Australia (I’m told their office overlooks one of Aussies best surf breaks!) and after a few emails back and forth, I discovered how passionate these guys are about Quality Score and search engine marketing and thought a Q&A session might shed some more light on the evolution of their tool.
Q. What is your company’s background in search marketing?
Jay: The company has been involved in lead generation and affiliate marketing for almost a decade. Search marketing has been the backbone of the business. As affiliates tend to only get a small slice of the profits and it’s all performance based, if you don’t perform, you don’t get paid. When using paid search, you have to be that much sharper to make the numbers stack up, otherwise you could be making huge losses instead of profits.
Q. What was the lure of Quality Score for your team?
Jay: I guess Quality Score is not so much a lure, but something we simply have to deal with. QS is the X factor in whether or not a campaign is successful or not. Many people don’t realize that you can pay half as much as your competitors if your Quality Score is theoretically twice as good. It doesn’t quite work out exactly like that, but that general principle holds true because ad rank is roughly calculated by how much you’re willing to pay (your bid price) multiplied by your quality score.
So Quality Score actually determines how much you’ll pay for your clicks and paying too much is usually what makes PPC unprofitable. So, at the end of the day, achieving better QS than anyone else allows you to be far more competitive. It’s also worth noting that ad position one gets eight times the clicks as ad position five. So you can get eight times the volume for potentially the same price as a competitor if your QS is significantly better.
Q. How did the idea for Speed PPC develop?
Jay: It started as an in-house project to try and push the envelope on Quality Score. We understood that QS is tethered to relevancy so we knew that as we made our ad groups smaller, and the keywords related more closely to the ads, and the ads related more closely to the landing page we saw significant improvements in the campaign performance. We started hiring offshore staff to try achieving this high level of relevancy, but the management and quality control issues of this became a bit of a nightmare. Doing it ourselves was taking too long and the manpower cost wasn’t stacking up.
So we started hacking with some code ourselves. The pieces of the puzzle came together so well that we put an interface on the front of it so other staff could use it. This was version one. When we showed some other marketers what we were doing they were blown away so we decided to create it into a commercial product. Four months later we released it in mid 2007.
Q. What are some of the issues that you think your tool attempts to resolve?
Jay: I guess there are a number of issues that we often talk about when it comes to some of the issues that SpeedPPC solves. In general terms, these are time, cost and conversion rates. The time needed to create these perfect campaigns is prohibitive if you are going to do it manually. With this tool, it’s not any more difficult to do ten keywords as it is ten thousand. With improved quality score, your costs are lowered, which is often the tipping point from turning a losing campaign into a winner, and a winning campaign into a juggernaut. Lastly, with the improved relevancy between keyword, ad and landing pages, conversion rates tend to go up as the user is given exactly what is in their head. When you get improved conversion rates, you can then afford to pay more per click, which then pushes up your ad position, which in turn gives you more volume and of course more profits. It really is like a virtuous circle.
Q. Could focusing too much on Quality Score actually become a disadvantage?
Jay: I can’t really see how. Quality Score is really just the by-product of best practice and giving users exactly what they want. That’s why it was invented. This isn’t working a loophole, but just taking best practice up a notch.
Q. Does Speed PPC work better or worse on specific engines?
Jay: Yes for sure. It works best with engines that employ quality score. So the big three… Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft Ad Center/MSN. Beyond this, it’s still producing great results with more than a dozen second tier engines, even though the Quality Score x factor isn’t in play quite as much.
Q. How does the landing page solution work? What’s the “server side” solution listed on your website?
Jay: Well, we offer a few different landing page solutions. We provide templates for simple keyword insertion, and a WordPress template makes this implementation much easier as well. We also include a more advanced landing page builder that produces amazing results which is basically software that installs on your server and was initially built for affiliate marketers. You simply upload an affiliate datafeed into the system and, using a template, it creates a perfectly customized bridge page that pulls all the details from the datafeed and displays it on the fly. So, it gives you a landing page for every product an affiliate sells on their websites.
In minutes, you can build a campaign that matches ads when people search for particular model names with perfectly matching text ads dropping users on the exact product page they are looking for. You don’t need to manually build landing pages nor do you need to write the content. Affiliate merchants have already done this. The server side landing page builder lets you access this information so that your site can display hundreds and even thousands of unique matching landing pages that run in parallel with your PPC ads. Of course, as it’s very flexible, people are using it in many interesting ways that we had not imagined. For example, a real estate agent is uploading a CSV file of available houses within certain suburbs, and it shows just the houses that relate to the users initial query.
Q. Can you share a few case studies with the readers with actual results?
Jay: There are many different case studies and stories that come back to us all the time. Here are 3 with some specific details that we’ve been given permission to publish. Of course, there are many others that don’t share exact details, just that they love the system. We also have a case study on the main video on our home page showing a 56.5% improvement.
Q. What are some of the potential disadvantages or current pain points you’ve heard from your customers?
Jay: Probably, the only real problem is that given the raw size of the massive campaigns that SpeedPPC can create, we’ve had a few instances where our users are exceeding Adwords account limitations. Some people get a bit over excited about how far they can take this, and they create unnecessarily big campaigns. No AdWords account allows infinite keywords, and most of the time there is no need to have extreme long tail keywords in your account. Broad and phrase match will handle many of these. It’s just a matter of finding a good middle ground. Of course, as you spend more, you get higher account limits.
Q. What’s coming next for Speed PPC?
Jay: Well, we’ve just released our version 4, which was a complete rewrite and added loads of new features. Shortly, we’ll be rolling out 4.5 which has a few new features, the most significant is adding support for lots of new emerging networks who require a slightly different way of working. Once Facebook opens up their API a bit more, we plan on supporting their ad platform as well. We also have more expert training material being developed right now to add to our already extensive members area PPC advanced training library.
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