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5 min read

Search Leeds: PPC hacks to help you optimise like a boss by Arianne Donoghue

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Arianne kicks off her talk with an apology for the title, but wanted to cut through the vast amount of SEO talks, it’s worked as the title attracted my attention.

Arianne currently works at Ice Lolly, a UK leading holiday price comparison platform. From a quick browse of Arianne’s LinkedIn profile, it’s clear she knows what she’s talking about having being involved in AdWords for the last ten years, and holding some great roles during this time.

Arianne splits the talk into two halves. To start with we’re looking at things we can do now to improve AdWords performance.

Improving your AdWords performance today


We should always be testing – this sounds familiar as it’s Liam’s mantra (one of our PPC Managers).

The focus here is how can we test properly. There’s not an easy straightforward way to pick your winners with various dimensions at play; time/duration, impressions, conversions. This is where statistical significance kicks in (uhoh). Arianne confesses that she hates stats, but says it’s too important to not work to learn it.

Firstly, we need to pick a confidence level. Arianne advises 95% – she says we’ll struggle to get 100%, but 95% should be accurate enough to decide a winner.

She runs through several examples, asking the audience if we think the data is enough to make a decision, before showing us the statistical confidence level. This is followed up by some tips around testing best practice:

  • Rotate Ad evenly
  • Only change one thing
  • Test systematically & iterate
  • For Ads, create a testing matrix
  • For Ads, test between 2-4 variations
  • Check the significance before moving on

Arianne provides a handy link to a A/B testing significance calculator (spreadsheet in Excel), produced by VWO. There is also a few more handy links worth checking out at the back of the slide deck.

Google Analytics, Email and Facebook

Outside of AdWords, there’s tons of platforms that offer data that can help improve performance, a few touched on here are Analytics, email and Facebook.

Ensure your Google Analytics and AdWords are linked. This offers so much more data, including custom dimensions. Within GA you can start to build lists; segmenting customers which you’re then able to target through RSLAs and display campaigns. Arianne says if you’re an eCommerce business, you should take a look at Smart Lists.

Email data can be used to build lists for remarketing and can also build out similar Audiences using Google’s Customer Match. Again, you’re able to segment to show different creative, or bid differently for your highest value, most loyal or lapsed customers. However, remember to not over segment, there is requirements for minimum audience sizes, and you may be missing out on potential customers.

Within Facebook, you can use Audience Insights for your (and competitors) page to provide valuable insight into audience demographics and device use (amongst others). You can use this insight to further inform AdWords campaigns through bid modifiers.


Arianne moves on to discuss automation as some jobs in PPC can be mundane. She discusses tools that can assist including automated rules and scripts as well as third party platforms such as Kenshoo, Marin and Acquisio.

At Impression, we’re pretty hot on scripts and write bespoke scripts to provide detailed data to our PPC team, helping them to make earlier and more informed decisions.

Arianne provides an example of using a script to pull Quality Score data at a keyword level. Whilst this data is available in the UI, it’s only available on a case by case basis. Writing a script allows you to pull data across an account. This can then be used to understand where improvements can be made; click-through-rate, Ad relevance and landing page relevance. You can then work through the account on a priority basis, e.g. highest spending keywords or keywords with a higher number of impressions.

Looking to the future

At this point in Arianne’s talk, she looks at the future, and upcoming changes and new features. Arianne runs through a few of the upcoming changes as mentioned in Google’s Performance Summit. Arianne focused on what she called two of the biggest shake ups since she’d started working in AdWords.

Expanded text Ads

Google is looking to expand it’s text Ads text limit by 2x! This is huge. As we know this is coming we should be creating new Ads now, ready to roll out when the time comes. We should now be testing call to actions (CTAs) and value propositions, ready to use in our new found real estate.

Device bid adjustments

Another handy upcoming feature will be the ability to bid different across devices; desktop, tablet and mobile. However, Arianne said if you’re using bid management software, it’s essential to check that your software will support this before rolling it out across your account.

Arianne finished on a quote from Charles Darwin – this relates to the significant amount of change that we’ve seen in AdWords over the last 10 years. We need to be adaptable. Grow your skills, there’s lots you can learn to help you specialise or diversity, a few examples of these are:

  • Javascript (will allow you to write Google Scripts)
  • Advanced Excel
  • Stats training
  • Agile/Scrum project management
  • Google Analytics / Tag Manager
  • Attribution Modelling

There’s a host of resources and links at the back of the slide deck that can help you learn some of the above (for free!).

You can find the full slides for this talk here.