The Flawed Concept of PPC Account History

November 9, 2009

If you’ve ever used any of the advertising platforms of Google, Facebook or MSN AdCenter, you’re probably also familiar with the concept of account history. Basically this is one of the key components in determining your costs and consequently campaign performance.

The idea is to encourage advertisers to produce quality campaigns whilst penalizing the clue-less many who just pour in keywords and rough targeting options (and therefore treating search or Facebook self-serve just like any other media buying). In theory it’s a quite nice thought to award PPC skills and understanding the platform, but the problem is that, in my humble opinion, the implementation is seriously flawed.

Here’s my main evidence for this Monday rant:

  1. The nature of search and algorithmic and quality based advertising channels is that you need to trial and error before you find the sweet spots of targeting. Without this flexibility you risk getting slapped with a poor quality score/index/whatever and hence will possibly lose out of quality traffic that’s valuable to users, search engines and advertisers.
  2. We’re moving towards a real-time world. As the market and people’s interests sway in real-time, campaigns will have to be increasingly micro-managed. This new data does however not necessarily have anything to do with the previous account history. So with the online world moving towards real-time, why should today’s activity be based on that of the account performance several weeks or months ago..?
  3. Not even the platforms believe in the account history algorithm. My self and many industry colleagues have all been told by Google, MSN and Facebook advertising that the best way to avoid the down-wards spiral of poor account history is to simply copy the old campaign into a new account as it’s nigh on irreversible unless paying through the nose due to the nature of the algorithm. I think this is a very strong signal that neither of the search engines or Facebook have much faith in the account history algorithm.

As I see it, there’s two way’s to sort the above issues:

  1. Use a much shorter look-back window for account history or reset it periodically
  2. Scrap it altogether and focus on real-time

What’s your thoughts on adwords, msn, facebook account history? Loving it or hating it?

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{ 1 comment }

michael November 10, 2009 at 1:22 am

For understanding number of impressions for keyterms, I prefer to look back at 2-3 months of history on Google. For setting bids, I look at 2-3 weeks. THe site I manage has volatile competitors and the searchscape ripples during bid quakes.

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