Just when you thought you were finally getting more comfortable with website analytics and the metrics you report, here comes the massive explosion of mobile data!
At one level it is the normal impressions and clicks data, but on another level we are getting new data and metrics we normally don't use. We are going to have fun doing cool stuff, learning new things.
I have been spending some time with the Mobile Ads team at Google to try and understand what is innovative about mobile (oh my god so much!) and what implications are on measurement (loads!).
In this blog post I want to talk about just one specific ad unit, the Search / Display click-to-call ad, and how it is cool, useful, and immensely measureable in sexy ways.
Couple of quick caveats:
1. Click-to-Call ads are available in 223 countries, but Call Metrics (more on this below) is still in limited release, in the US only, so some of you might not have access to it. This will change over time.
2. Some of the screens and setup stuff might change as the product evolves, from what you see below. It should only get better.
3. My blog has a very finite width. so in many places I've cropped the reports to make them more clear for you. Please don't worry if when you use the tool you don't see exactly what you see below. On any tab in AdWords just click on the button called Columns and then click on Customize Columns. You can now add and remove metrics and prettify things!
Getting back to our narrative. . . here is how a Click-to-Call ad looks like on your mobile phone (or my Nexus S):
See the phone number? How cool is that! I can press a button and boom (!) reservation.
Actually, sidebar here, just look at how incredible that ad is. There is a little "Places Marker" telling me exactly how far the location is from me (2.2 miles). There is a phone number, and if I click on the name of the location (Palo Alto) I get this. . .
I can actually see exactly where the location is, I can see exactly where I am (the blue dot on the Googleplex) and I can decide if I want to rent from that location. Oh, and I can click on that map and it gives me driving directions to the location!
All this usefulness from an ad! I know!
Ending sidebar here, but this is why I think mobile advertising is so cool. No more crappy irrelevant distracting ads, rather, ads as useful info snacks served based on the signals available from your mobile device by advertisers who are clever enough to use all options in the advertising platform.
Okay back to our story.
From a measurement perspective we have four things we can analyze.
We can measure the number of clicks on the headline (Budget Car Rental) which leads the user to Budget's website (which does not have mobile friendly landing pages, boo!).
We can also measure the number of clicks on site links, if there are any in the ad.
We can measure the number of clicks on the phone number, which takes the user on their iPhone / BlackBerry / Android phone into the phone's dialer. Like so. . .
We can also measure the number of phone calls that were placed to Budget, using, in this case, the Google Call Metrics feature.
In order to collect the data, we have to follow a simple step during the ad creation process for our mobile Click-to-Call ad.
It is pretty easy to to create new mobile (search or display) ads in your AdWords account. It is easier still to create these ads for your existing campaigns.
Simply go into your account, choose the campaign, click on the Ad Extensions tab, then in the View menu click on the Phone Extensions (Okay okay that does not sound easy. Trust me it is not too bad). You'll get to this screen. . .
Here are the simple steps:
1. Type in the phone number where you want the call to go (your company/IVR number).
2. You can choose to only make the advertisement be a click to call ad, in which case the headline (in our case Budget Car Rental) won't be clickable.
3. Check on the Call Metrics radio button. Google will automatically create a Google Voice number that will be displayed on the ad. The awesome part is that we get the sweet, sweet nectar of call tracking data for our calls! : )
4. You also have an option to have the Google Voice number be a toll-free number or a specific area code. Choose as appropriate.
You can stop now, or go and tweak a few key things.
You can go into the normal AdWords options and choose where to run your ads. Google Search (and Search Partners, or not), the Display Network (across all pages or just relevant pages and managed audiences) etc. And of course your budget, position etc.
You can also choose the targeting options for your ads, some of which look like this:
All mobile devices, or just certain ones. All carriers or just some.
In my case I also choose for the mobile ads not to be shown in states where I don't have a business presence by availing myself of the options under the Settings tab:
Hit "Save" and you are on your way to a great mobile ad strategy (don't forget my booing of any advertiser that does not have mobile specific landing pages. Do this or watch your bounce rates soar like an Eagle!).
Ads are out, now it's time to let the beautiful Ms. Accountability do her thing. Measure!
There are three levels of data you can get about your mobile campaigns.
1. You Do Nothing: No tags of sites + No encoding URLs with campaigns parameters.
All you do is follow the steps above, allocate budget and you go on your merry way. You'll still get some data about the performance of your campaigns.
The best place to start is to go to the Campaigns tab in AdWords and in the drop down for Segment choose Click Type. This is what you'll see:
Here is a brief explanation of the main metrics you are looking at. . .
1. This column will list all the campaigns you are running at the moment.
2. The Clicks column shows you all the clicks on your ad (30). It breaks them down by clicks on the Headline (23) and on the Phone Call link (7). If you have Site Links in your ads, clicks on those links would be shown in a separate row (helping you understand their value – almost always super awesome btw) .
3. The Impressions column shows the number of times your ads in that campaign were shown.
Notice that the total impressions was 1,623 but for the row with Phone Calls the number is only 1,354. This means that your mobile ad was shown on platforms that did not have a capability to make calls, like the iPod Touch, iPad, Xoom and other such devices. In those cases AdWords will automatically not show the phone number.
4. Finally the number you really want to know: CPC. Cost Per Click. $10.88 for the headline click and $8.33 for Phone Call. Don't feel bad for this advertiser; every conversion for them has an economic value of over $3,000.
With this report, and not additional tagging etc., you still get enough information to understand if the Mobile Ads are performing well for you. Right within AdWords you can compare them to your other campaigns and understand key metrics like CTR (click-through rate) and CPC. That allows you to get some sense for performance.
But you can drill down a bit more. Here's the keyword report for a mobile ads campaign:
We are looking at the same metrics as we did above, but now we have granular detail related to Impressions, Clicks / Phone Calls, Avg. CPC. Having this detail by keyword is obviously a boon. We can dump the losers and feed the winners.
But if you are me, you are loving the analysis so far, but still wondering, where is the mobile part of mobile?
To get to that — sweet automatically provided call data — you need to go through one more step and turn on those metrics. Click on the button called Columns and then click on Customize Columns. You'll see:
Just choose the Call Metrics radio button and, for your mobile ads campaigns where in the very first step you choose to use Google Voice for tracking, you'll get these new metrics:
Calls, Missed Calls, Received Calls, Call Duration, Average Call duration. . .
How amazing is this!
We are used to analyzing clicks and bounces and conversions. Now we get to analyze something we never could easily (phone call data), and we can use metrics like Call Duration and Received Calls etc.
[You'll notice I am not showing Total Call Duration metric in the report. I have not yet figured out why this is not a useless metric. I am open to having my mind changed.]
In this specific case I am selling health insurance policies. I know from my call center data analytics that if people stay on the phone for more than 3 minutes then there is a very high chance of conversion. Using that as context, I can place preliminary judgment on how well or badly my mobile campaigns are doing.
When people search on mobile phones their proximity to transaction is really high, hence it is not unusual for the Average Call Duration to be positively inclined as above.
Additionally analyze the efficiency of your campaigns by using metrics like Clicks and Impressions and Cost Per Click and all that delicious stuff.
And remember you got all this without any additional tagging or IT gal/guy begging or other such additional torture!
If that is what you can accomplish by just buying some Mobile Ads and starting to experiment if they work for you. . . are you willing to do just a tiny amount of extra work to rock even harder?
I am glad you said yes! Here's what you can expect . . .
2. You Do Something: Tag the conversion page + Auto-tag campaigns URLs.
You've purchased Mobile Ads for smart phones (yes, yes I know there are non-smart phones but honestly all the valuable. . . okay discussion for another time), and you are ready to get deeper insights into the ROI of your campaigns.
Implement AdWords Conversion Tracking.
You get to choose how much data and of what type the tag collects. Please see the Setup Guide in the above link.
Once you have conversion tracking implemented (remember you just tag one page) then you'll be able to create this type of report in AdWords:
Here are some interesting things to look for. . .
1. Status is always nice to look at. : ) It is prudent to investigate what you might be leaving on the table if the limitation is budget.
2. The segment I've applied on this report is Device. Earlier we had used Click Type. You can see key metrics (Impressions, CTR, CPC) for your campaigns that are being served both on the Desktop and Mobile phones. Analyze this carefully.
3. With conversion tracking the sweetness you get is the last part. Conversions, Cost Per Conversion and Conversion Rate. Now you are more optimally placed to judge if your mobile campaigns are delivering not just traffic but also business outcomes.
4. You see zeros for the Mobile Devices, in this case, as there were either no conversions using the Mobile ad links or the conversions happened on the phone. Remember AdWords still would not know about that.
You should work with your call center IVR (Interactive Voice Response) team to ensure these mobile ads campaigns are being tracked separately and accurately.
You can obviously look at this report by using the Segment Click Type and see conversion data for Desktop clicks AND Mobile headline clicks that lead to your mobile site (with the assumption that you've implemented conversion tracking there).
Let me share a unique example of where this conversion data can be very useful.
In this report we are analyzing the actual ad copy and its performance.
In a mobile context, notice the ad is exactly the same except for the third line. In the first ad the line is "Call Now For A Free Quote!" and in the second ad the line is "All Covered! Apply Now."
You can see that my second call to action did not get any mobile phone calls, though it did pretty well getting headline clicks.
In this unique case it might give me a clue that for my mobile ads I should be using a more direct call to action and order people to click on the phone number!
A simple A/B test if you will, with success measured by clicks and conversions. When you run your campaigns, this might be a great way to try different ad copy to see which works best. [For the true Analysis Ninjas amongst you, there is always AdWords Campaign Experiments!]
Okay click data analysis of mobile ads? Check. Call data analysis? Check. Conversion data analysis to ensure we are not wasting money? Check.
Let's really get dirty, and really start having some fun. Some pain, lots and lots of gain!
3. You Do Everything: Tag the website pages + Auto-tag campaigns URLs.
For you to truly commit to holding your mobile advertising campaigns, and your website, accountable you'll have to tag your entire website and ensure that your campaign clicks are trackable.
You can do this with Omniture or WebTrends or CoreMetrics or Yahoo! Web Analytics.
If you advertise using Google AdWords and use Google Analytics this becomes a bit easier because it's the hugest pain in the rear to ensure clean and consistent tagging of your search campaigns. When you link GA account with your AdWords account, your campaigns are auto-tagged, and data accuracy et. al. improves enormously. You also get a few magical things like Search Funnels to truly understand upper funnel behavior.
Weigh the pros and cons and decide what works for you. What I want to emphasize is that you should want, passionately, to do this type of deeper analysis.
Here's my segment and the key data I looked at:
Let's walk through the highlights. . . .
1. The most important thing you'll do is use the on the fly segmentation capability to isolate your mobile campaigns. The Ninjas will instantly recognize that I am applying the segment to a custom report I've created. (Standard reports booo!)
2. I am okay with Clicks but I like Visits better. Yes, they are not the same thing.
3. The magnificent thing about going through the tagging effort is that you can now track behavioral metrics for your mobile ad visitors. How many had been on the site before? What is the bounce rate of your campaigns? How deep was the engagement?
4. The truly, really pretty, most magnificent thing is that you can move beyond the slavery of macro conversions! Not everyone who visits via a mobile campaign has to buy a pony. I can now easily measure micro conversions.
In my case, this translates to how many people truly "engaged" with the content and how many of them became "loyalists."
In your case, you could track the macro "the one thing I care about" conversion AND you could also track other goals people accomplish on your websites. Watch your videos, download the university application form, open a new account, comment on your site, send you referrals, etc.
I am sure you do. Who said mobile ads had to be faith based initiatives?
Oh most definitely do the boring part of your job, the part that our HiPPOs love the most. . . report on the mobile ads conversion rate in context of the site conversion rate (yea! look how well you are doing!) and. . .
Report what matters the most; revenue and economic value. Again the above graph looks great. Make sure the Management team knows how hard the Mobile Search Ads team has been doing so they can get credit for their performance.
Before I completely run out of excitement I do want to share one last final word of advice: Pull all the performance data together into one place.
With Mobile Click-to-Call ads conversion are happening online and offline. Go to your IVR team or your corporate data warehouse team or the best person, and get the data for the revenue and conversions for the phone calls.
Then crack open our much beloved Microsoft Excel (or your favorite replacement) and create this little starting point by merging together data from Google AdWords, Google Analytics and your Call Center system:
Here is one single cohesive view of your performance, regardless of whether the conversion happened onsite or offsite. We live in a non-line world; make sure your analysis reflects that.
As the note above indicates, Ninjas don't stop at "lame" metrics like ROI. They compute Gross Profit by accounting for Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). And the few, the brave, the awesomest will compute Net Profit!
I've had fun writing this post. I think that mobile presents a unique opportunity. After all what other ad medium is there in the world where you can literally "own the entire shelf" instantly. . .
. . . I just typed car and I wanted car insurance and all I see is Geico. How delightful is that for them! And not so for their competitors. : )
I also had fun because of how smart and sophisticated we can be about measurement and ensuring value for our customers and our business. Accountability is the new black!
Ok, its your turn now.
Have you tried Mobile Click to Call ads? Have you done any mobile advertising? How are you measuring success of your campaigns? Do you have a favorite metric for this medium? What do you wish you could measure on mobile that you can't?
Please share your feedback, tips, best practices, critique via comments.