Building the Anti-Fragile SEM Strategy #SESLON

Building the Anti-Fragile SEM Strategy #SESLON

21st February 2013


Speaker: Andrew Goodman

Andrew Goodman is the founder of Page Zero Media, a PPC agency based in Toronto, Canada. Andrew is also a ClickZ columnist and has spoken at SMX West and SMX East in the past.

Andrew frequently referenced Nassim Nicholas’s book, which is called Anti-Fragile as a source for inspiration for his session.

From 2000 – 2009, SES was very much an SEO conference and Andrew had to push to get PPC covered as part of the conference.

There are some businesses that wouldn’t exist without huge amounts of organic search traffic, companies like TripAdvisor and The Huffington Post. The majority of TripAdvisor’s early traction was generated trough search engine rankings. A content business like the Huffington Post is the same, Google provides a very large proportion of their traffic., one of Andrew’s clients, benefit heavily from PPC traffic and it represents around 40% of their traffic (based on an indicative sample).

Another one of Andrew’s clients, The Paper Mill Company, approached Page Zero Media to discuss the different channels and they projected growth. They forecasted that SEO would remain at a similar level, however SEO revenue combined with reputation and social media will generate considerably more.

Andrew provided details of a host of queries that his clients were optimizing for where there was only one organic listing above the fold. The results pages he used as examples featured sites like TripAdvisor and Wikipedia in the organic listings, leaving very little opportunity for his clients in SEO.

Andrew talked a lot about acclimatizing to environments and gave real-life examples, which he then related back to PPC and SEO.

Anti-fragility requires information (or data), time (history), trial and error (evolution > natural selection), culture and environment, diversification and redundancy and non-contagion.

Risks in your account: Approach

• Risk of stagnation / dependency (they don’t want to change something that’s doing well – not enough new ideas)
• The “tight leash problem” (a statistical bias to shrinking scope)
• Managing “the existing account”

It’s important to push yourself to diversify within your account – There may be low hanging fruit that you’ve not discovered within display advertising for example.

Looking at high funnel words or category works could be beneficial – you also need to move past last-click attribution.

Don’t let demand harvest forms of display, such as remarketing, lull you into complacency about demand creation. Bing could also represent an opportunity, it’s obviously smaller than Google but there may be an opportunity to generate quality leads / traffic.

You should also be looking to get more from what you have – looking at changing different areas of your campaigns could generate lots of new volume, changing ad copy for example.

At Page Zero Media they run a contest on who can generate the most return from specific changes to ad copy. The results are based on total conversion rate and the winner gets $100. This encourages people to test new things and try to get more clicks. The ad group they were using for the competition was increasing in revenue quickly and more keywords were being added to give it more volume.

Black box CPA bidding – on an account that Andrew is managing he used conversion optimizer and it helped to get more clicks. But then when he looked, the campaign was just cannibalizing some of the generic terms.

Ad rotation and ad testing – The idea of rotating ads was going to be removed from Google and replaced with optimizing after 90 days. If you like clicks, ad rotation is great, however if you like conversions it’s not so great.

Yet another way AdWords can hijack your bids – There’s an option to set bids to help maximize clicks within target budget, this will help you spend all of the budget allocated. One of Andrew’s clients was running with this option and it was very inefficient as they were over-spending on clicks.

Match type mayhem – If you don’t change the exact phrase match setting, it will bring back variance in exact match bids.

The idea of broad match is a timesaver and it can achieve great things. However, broad match is connected with Google (unless you put plus signs infront of the keyword).

Google’s reps will come to you with great ideas, some of which are good some are bad. Andrew’s previous Google rep recommended that they turn on Spanish, however he found that it didn’t really work. He saw patterns with reps recommending different languages but it never really worked.

If you want to try a new feature or setting, you must be able to measure it’s performance.

Andrew recommends Acquisio for reporting and bid management.

One of the best features of the automate button is that you can pick match types.

A number of people in the audience have run an enhanced campaign. Andrew considers enhanced campaigns to be a huge change for paid search.


Written By
Paul Rogers currently works as the Organic Performance Manager for Buyagift PLC. Before joining Buyagift in June 2013, Paul spent three years working for GPMD (a London-based ecommerce agency) as Head of Digital Marketing.
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