what CTR manipulation is?, how it can affect your PPC campaign, and how you can avoid pitfalls when implementing these strategies in your own campaign. In this post, we will explain continue reading.
Creating a successful PPC campaign is no small feat. Advertisers saturate the market, and bidding can get cutthroat, even for SMEs.
As a result, you might feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up with your competitors and coming up with new strategies to stay ahead of the game.
Even if your PPC campaign is doing well, you should always be looking for ways to optimize it further.
You can improve your click-through rate (CTR) to have a direct impact on which ads are served more frequently.
What is CTR Manipulation?
CTR manipulation refers to the practice of increasing your click-through rate artificially by either increasing the number of click-throughs or the click-through rate.
For example, let’s say you have a certain keyword term that gets 40 impressions per day and only gets 3 CTR.
To boost your CTR, you could employ a few strategies. Including increasing the number of impressions, paying more for the keyword, or using a different ad that is more likely to get people to click.
This is a little different from what is referred to as “click inflation”. which refers to the practice of artificially inflating the number of clicks on your ads.
How Can CTR Manipulation Affect Your PPC Campaign?
If you’re not performing any CTR manipulation, then the first ad that shows on your account will be the one with the highest CTR.
If, however, you’re artificially increasing your CTR through click inflation or increasing the number of impressions, then these more frequently-served ads will steal clicks from the other ads on your account. In turn, these ads will likely have lower CTRs (and cost-per-clicks) in the long run.
Not only could your PPC campaign be negatively affected, but your quality score may take a hit as well.
Google’s Quality Score is a metric that measures the effectiveness of your ads and overall campaign. The higher your quality score, the lower your cost-per-click.
A Brief History of Ad Fraud and CTR Manipulation
The practice of ad fraud dates back to the early days of Google’s AdWords platform. Advertisers were able to artificially inflate their click-through rates by paying people to click on their ads which is illegal on google policy, artificially inflating their CTR.
Advertisers would pay per click and increase their return on investment by using these fraudulent clicks, while publishers were charged for but did not receive the impressions they were owed.
In 2018, Google closed down the Ad Exchange, which was the main platform for ad buying and selling. This move was in large part to combat the growing problem of ad fraud, which was estimated to cost advertisers $16.4 billion a year.
Why is CTR Important for PPC Campaigns?
CTR has always been important for PPC campaigns, but it’s even more so now that Google has increased its weight of it as a ranking signal.
As of October 2018, 64% of Google search results are from organic (non-paid) listings. This means that a little more than two-thirds of your PPC customers will find your business by clicking on an unpaid result.
Because of this, it’s even more important that you focus on optimizing your CTR to make your ads more likely to appear in the first spot.
That said, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the other two major ranking factors relevance and intent to buy.
In fact, you should be focused on improving all three of these factors to increase the chances of your campaign’s success.
Strategies to Increase CTR (Manipulation and Non-manipulation)
Improve Your Ad Copy: Your headline and ad copy are the most important factors in your CTR. The better they are, the more clicks you’ll get.
Optimize Your Landing Page: This is another major factor in your CTR. If your landing page doesn’t provide value, then people will not click on it, let alone buy anything.
Use Relevant Keywords: If your ads are relevant to the keywords you’re targeting, you’re more likely to get clicks.
Bid on More Common Keywords: If your ads are only targeting a small number of keywords, you’re going to see a much lower CTR.
Adjust Your Bidding Strategy: You may want to change how much you’re bidding on certain keywords or ad groups. If you see that the current bid is too high, you may want to decrease your bid amount.
Limiting Ad Display
One big way advertisers manipulate CTR is by limiting which ads are displayed to users. You can do this manually or by using an algorithm. This refers to manually setting the maximum CTR you’re willing to accept.
For example, an advertiser might only accept an ad with a CTR of at least 2%. Simplified algorithms, on the other hand, base the decision on a number of factors, including your position in the ads’ auction.
If you’re in a position further down the page, the bidding price for your ad will be lower than those higher up on the page. Therefore, the maximum CTR for your ad will be lower than for those higher up on the page.
Displaying Ads to Increase CTR
On the other hand, you can also use CTR manipulation to increase your CTR. Here, you’ll want to make sure to choose ads with high click-through rates and then display them more frequently.
Most PPC management platforms allow you to schedule the display of ads, where you can select which ads to display and when.
This can lead to higher CTRs across the board, but make sure you aren’t displaying too many ads at the same time.
That way, you aren’t constantly switching ads and your potential customers won’t get bored. You can also use ad extensions to build on your ads’ main message.
Ad extensions are additional images or descriptions that appear below your ad. You can use these to expand on your ads’ main message, making them more appealing to click on.
Displaying Only ads with High CTR
Another way advertisers can manipulate click-through rates is by displaying only those ads with high CTRs. This strategy is most effective when used to target a specific audience.
This can be done by using custom audiences, which are groups of users you’ve already interacted with.
For example, if your PPC campaign targets sports enthusiasts, you can create a custom audience of sports fans who have already clicked on your ads once but have not completed the purchase.
You can then create a segment of sports fans whose click-through rates are high and who have added one of your products to their carts but have yet to complete the purchase.
You can then only display ads to this segment, increasing your CTR by only displaying ads to potential customers who are more likely to click on them.
Using Existing Ad Content to Manipulate CTR
Another way to manipulate CTR is to repurpose existing ad copy. This doesn’t directly affect which ads are displayed, but it can affect your overall CTR.
By repurposing an ad, you are giving it more opportunities to be seen. You can do this by extending the ad’s run, or by running it on new websites or ad groups.
You can also extend the run of an ad that’s already performing well. By extending the run of ads that are already bringing in high CTRs, you can further increase your overall CTR.
This can come in handy when you’re in a tight situation with your competitors. Advertising during the holidays can be particularly competitive since more advertisers are vying for the same audience.
If your CTR is higher than your competitors, you’re more likely to get your ads displayed more frequently.
It’s crucial that you are aware of the potential pitfalls of CTR manipulation if you want your PPC campaign to be successful. While it’s a strategy that can help you increase your CTR initially, it can also have lasting effects on your campaign performance.
Keeping these strategies in mind will help ensure that you maintain a high ethical standard in your PPC campaign.
Overall, you should be vigilant about CTR manipulation and avoid falling into any of these traps.
If you notice a sudden spike in CTR, it’s a good idea to take a look at which ads you’re displaying to see if there’s any reason for the spike.
If you notice that certain ads are displaying more frequently than others, you might want to consider removing them.
That way, you aren’t wasting ad spend by displaying ads that don’t get clicks. By being wary of CTR manipulation and taking steps to avoid it, you can ensure your PPC campaign remains ethical.
By doing so, you can also better ensure your ads are reaching your potential customers and keeping them engaged with your brand.
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