The last couple of days, I was in Austin (Texas) for Hero Conf 2013, a search marketing conference organized by Hanapin Marketing, who run the PPC Hero blog. Hero Conf is focused exclusively on PPC, so it’s a very refreshing change from the usual search conferences where SEO takes center stage. On my end, it was a last minute decision to attend, and in hindsight I’m very glad that I went.
The location, the facilities, the food, and the cost were all top notch. You can tell that the Hanapin Marketing team put a lot of effort in making it a great experience. If your focus is PPC (and especially if you’re running your own campaigns instead of your clients’ or your employers’), it’s very easy to justify the ROI for attending this conference.
Here are just a few of the highlights for me from the presentations, not in any specific order of importance:
1. If you have enough volume, a smart geo-segmentation strategy can bring significant improvements in results. For example, two geographically adjacent locations could have very different demographics and psychographics (e.g.: Beverly Hills vs. West Hollywood). So you have to target the audiences separately.
2. Product List Ads are a must-have for e-commerce advertisers. Paid search is taking more and more of the Google SERPs, so don’t miss out on the opportunities. PLA optimization should be focused on images and prices. Use images that will help differentiate you from the competitors rather than just blending in. For product searches, price optimization is the most important. But as always, higher CTR doesn’t necessarily translate to higher ROAS, so make sure you are focused on the right KPI.
3. YouTube videos are great for remarketing. You don’t pay if the user skips after 5 seconds, but you still get those 5 seconds of exposure. The overall cost is low and has not risen (in Zagg’s case) over the last 3 years.
4. AdWords Scripts deserve a lot more attention than people have been giving them. Some suggestions for script ideas given during the presentation: QS tracking, enhanced campaign manager, opportunity alerts, anomaly detection, and structure checker. You can search for complete scripts online to help get started.
5. Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence” was highly recommended by at least two speakers. I’ve added it to my reading list.
6. Google has made several good updates in recent months (Tag Manager, bulk actions, some of the features in enhanced campaigns, like ad-level extensions and scheduled extensions, etc), and is coming out with some new ones soon – flexible bid strategies and Keyword Planner. The Enhanced Campaign blunder is still a major issue, though. But it seems like they may be listening.
7. Bing got lots of love from the conference attendees. That was not only because of the dynamic presentations by their evangelist John Gagnon, but because other speakers also recommended taking a closer look at Bing Ads if you’re not already doing so. The Oprah-style giveaway of 100 copies of MS Office and a custom Xbox didn’t hurt Bing’s case either.
One of the drawbacks of having a conference with only PPC topics is that at some time slots there was more than one session that interested me. But I hear the audio recordings will be available soon to attendees, so I’m hoping to catch up on the ones I missed.
But like most other conferences, it’s not only about the sessions. There were networking opportunities throughout each day, and sometimes the relationships you create and strengthen are far more important than anything presented by a speaker.
Even though the Hanapin team did a great job this year, they’re still looking for ways to make it even better. Hero Conf 2014 is definitely something to look forward to!