How do I make paid search work for my business? In this episode, we go straight to the source as Taylor sits down with Ben Kruger, Senior Ecommerce Growth Consultant at Google, to discuss how to scale your online store profitably using Google Ads.
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[00:00:00] Taylor: All right. We have taken the rumble out of the Twitter threads, and we've brought it live to the pod here on the E-Commerce Playbook podcast. Today I'm excited to be joined by Ben Krueger, your Google rep's favorite Google rep, and somebody who I have developed a friendship with over the last, 6 to 12 months working alongside him and the team over at Google.
This is what I wanna say about Ben as we get started here. Cause we're gonna get into some back and forth. We're gonna have some differences of opinion I'm sure. But, in a world where the characterization of reps is that sometimes they tend to not be as helpful as we would like as a, industry, I can honestly say that my genuine belief about Ben is that he deeply desires for all of the partners that he interacts with and the community as a whole to benefit and to succeed in the use of Google as an ad product.
And I've enjoyed following his writing. I think he is trying to be progressive and move forward, the product for people in a way that is genuine and I have a deep appreciation for. So Ben, happy to have you here. Thanks for coming on the pod.
[00:01:01] Ben: Likewise. Thank you for having me. Those are very kind. I do truly care, and hopefully I can help convince people of that all of us in the entire community cares about the businesses that we support. So thank you for the opportunity Taylor.
[00:01:14] Taylor: Yeah. So I want to set up a little bit of context here before we get into some of the specific topics around what has initially prompted our interaction was you came out and started, I would say a lot more than many of the, e-commerce strategists that I see on the Google side being very public.
You're writing, you have a great newsletter. If anybody, hasn't subscribed, I would go check that out for sure. You're on Twitter very actively. What sort of prompted you to take, this very sort of public engagement stance around Google and its products and e-commerce in general?
[00:01:44] Ben: So I'd say, I fell in love with writing. A lot of people talk about the Amazon method to communication, right? They write these six pagers and Jeff Bezos, like famously banned PowerPoint slides.
So we have a training here how to write like an Amazonian. I fell into that. I noticed that, I have a half hour call with one of my customers and I'm going through slides for 25 minutes and then we have five minutes to talk about the content. So I started writing and sending it ahead of time, and then we'd have the full 30 minutes or the hour to actually talk about the things that we wanted to talk about and hear both sides.
[00:02:20] Taylor: Yeah.
[00:02:20] Ben: So I found that was a really good means of communication and we, at Google are overloaded with resources, as you can imagine, from all the various teams. And we're just taking in a bunch of content and have no means to filter them out and get them out. So I just took to writing. I started a lot of it internally and then realized, everyone could benefit from it.
And, I just went for it. I think some people, perhaps why others haven't done it, there's like a lot of process and you need to get a lot of things approved. I just did it and it's been a year and a half and I still haven't got slap, I've gotten like one tiny slap on the wrist. But I think that's pretty good.
And yeah, like you said, like I really care and I'm very curious. I have like a good experience with the full marketing funnel, but right now I've been at Google for four years and I only know Google Ads for better or for worse. And I hear from you, I hear from a lot of advertisers about complaints and concerns and I don't understand them. I don't run a business. It's not my dollars.
And a lot of things seem like a no-brainer to me, but there's a lot of other things that I don't know about and I don't take into consideration when I make recommendations. So I like to put things out there here's what I know.
And the community is very quick to tell me why that's wrong or what I haven't thought about. And it's an awesome way of learning. Maybe a little provocative at sometimes, but, it's really helped me like think about the bigger picture and that's helped me help our team, help our customers, et cetera.
[00:03:48] Taylor: I resonate with this so much because I use writing and social for much of the same thing, which is that I think that there is a courage to submitting your ideas to scrutiny, right? When you publicly take a position, you write a newsletter, you post a Twitter thread, you are inviting everyone to consider your idea and tell you where they think you're wrong.
That's like the entire point of the format and the medium that exists in. And It really means that you could be missing something and someone could very clearly make you realize that you were wrong in a very public way. And that there's risk to that. But if you can overcome that, and you can lean into what it affords you.
It's like being the person who asks the question in the classroom, like the person that's willing to ask the question, everyone's thinking at risk of looking stupid generally has gonna have the greatest learning curve.
And I think that writing and publishing your thoughts is the same thing. And so every time someone, goes back at your argument and get better at defending your own position, you get clearer on the position, or you learn a different angle of the picture, and so it becomes clearer for you in total. And so I say that debate is my love language.
I will often take a position on an issue that I don't even believe for the sake of trying to understand, arguing from that point of view, just to see that what does it feel like to be on this side of the issue? Cuz I think it can be really helpful.
[00:05:12] Ben: Just a quick tidbit. So the past month I feel like I've gone really hard on Twitter and gotten a ton of feedback. And what I've noticed is when I'm meeting with product teams or I'm meeting with teams internally, I'm now playing the voice of the customer.
[00:05:25] Taylor: That's right. That's right.
[00:05:26] Ben: And it's early, but I'm seeing things change, right? Like I'm sure we're gonna talk about Pax. That's a very hot topic, but like I've learned a lot about what everyone is struggling with and our product teams don't necessarily know that cause there's a huge disconnect.
So now when I'm in those meetings, I'm speaking up for everybody else based off on that feedback that I'm getting back. So it's actually a really great cycle. It's early and that I see a lot of potential.
[00:05:49] Taylor: I would encourage you to share that as one of your next Twitter threads because I think sometimes, that's the part that people don't realize, and I know you personally to know that would happen, cuz I think that is exactly right, is that in hearing the counter-argument, you begin to understand the broader perspective.
And again to me, so many of these things don't sit on a spectrum of right and wrong, like we want to assert this objectivity about whether a product is good or bad. There's actually just people's experience of the product, and for them their experience is either good or bad. It's confusing or not confusing, clear or unclear.
And that doesn't make them good or bad. It just is their experience. And so the question is for how many people can we create the most delightful experience? And so in trying to understand that, that feedback becomes really valuable to do something with, even though to your, one of the points you made in your thread the other day is that technically the product might be doing exactly what it's supposed to do.
[00:06:41] Ben: Sure.
[00:06:42] Taylor: But someone's experience of it might be, confusing or mis misleading in some way. So that's really cool to hear. I think that's an awesome way for you to represent the community with your work.
[00:06:49] Ben: Appreciate that. I will definitely let everyone else know that I'm doing that I have the right intentions in mind.
[00:06:55] Taylor: It's funny, and this is why I was excited to have you on the podcast. One of the things that get a lot, and Andrew Ferris will mess with me a lot about this, where he'll go meet people and he'll be like, yeah they always ask is Taylor nice? And I think I've gotten this a lot where it's you're a lot nicer in person than I felt like you were online.
That's my experience of you too, is just I had a context for you pre Twitter or anything else where I'm like, I know Ben, It's helpful to get to know people that way. Let's get into a few of the things that came up, in particular on Twitter this week and then some stuff that you and I have been talking about, on a broader scale. But let's start with PMax cause I think this is, I'd say, top of mind for me.
And it started because this week we have a customer that right now, we're engaged really deeply around trying to drive and make decisions about reaching a profitability target for the month around their contribution margin. And we're trying to really isolate the areas of greatest impact and what levers we have to pull on.
And so we started having this conversation about their PMax campaigns and trying to understand, how much incremental volume was here and how impactful it would be if we levered it up in the short term.
And so we started looking into product a little bit, and I think it was discouraging to find that the composition of the campaigns was still overdelivering to existing customers more than we wanted or had the setting in place and that the distribution in going through the reporting process that you shared with me to go look at the, sort of the click IDs and try and understand the placements, which is hard.
Was about 65, I think I shared with you, 65, 70% on shopping. There could be some search still in there, but then, the rest of it across the various ad products, without knowing exactly where. And so it felt oh man, I don't know. And then there was a lot of branded search contained in there.
And it would be good to go into all the ways that you can arrange that and set the product up, differently, but from your perspective how would you recommend that people use PMax in, let's assume, let's give a customer premise, e-commerce, sub 50 million in revenue, trying to use the product to drive incremental profitability. Like, how would you think about the role of Pmax in that specific premise?
[00:09:01] Ben: I think PMax is great for doing things that very performance focused advertisers may not necessarily do on their own.
[00:09:10] Taylor: Okay.
[00:09:11] Ben: With, I think a lot of the community today is very like short term, very performance focus for good reason. A lot of one day click mentality and when you do that, you're pigeonholing yourself to a very small subset of traffic that's looking for your products in a very competitive market, right?
So you're just like constantly bidding on the very bottom of funnel because it's directly measurable. You can prove incrementality from it pretty easily, and you can control it. So what I really like about PMax is that it's helping advertisers generate some long term with the short term.
And a lot of customers that I work with are very hesitant to move into harder to measure channels for that because it's harder to measure. And I think they're doing their business a disservice by only focusing on short term. So that's how I think about, like, why I'm excited about it, because it's using the best of AI and machine learning and all the data that we have to target customers with to mix these things together, to drive short-term and long-term success for the business. How I think you should do it ...
[00:10:19] Taylor: Okay. Can we stop right there? Because I actually did think that this is where there's probably a root fundamental disagreement.
[00:10:25] Ben: Sure.
[00:10:25] Taylor: That I actually believe that the fundamental problem of our industry at this moment in 2020 3rd of February is In the data that I've looked at, 60 to 70% of paid media dollars spent are net never profitable. It's this idea that we are this like short terministic, hyper efficient focus, media industry is not the case.
I actually think we're incredibly wasteful that we don't hold ourselves to high standards, that we don't hold dollars to really disciplined standards of spend. I think the problem's, the exact opposite. Is that most people don't actually hold their media dollars accountable to generating profit at all, and they have no visibility into whether that's happening clearly, especially on a first order new customer basis.
So what they're doing is they're actually deteriorating cash all the time with their media dollars in ways that's being hidden by their retention or their organic traffic. But their paid media funnels are actually just purely deteriorative to the business in the short term. It's actually what I see much more often.
[00:11:27] Ben: Is that because they're not optimizing to the right thing? Like maybe they're chasing the revenue and not thinking about all the costs of fulfillment and things like that?
[00:11:33] Taylor: Yes. It's also depend, it's a lack of financial sophistication. It's confusion about attribution. It's poor optimization and measurement. It's the confusion between revenue and profit. Like there's all sorts of things that go into the issue. It's not singular.
And it's not the same in all places. But a lot of it is that most businesses, define at their very core, their wellbeing off of top line revenue growth. And almost nobody wants to see their top line revenue go down, but their top line is propped up by this actually negative, contributing media spend. And so to cut it, would have a cost to the top line that nobody liked.
And probably isn't in their budget and probably isn't what the board approved and isn't what they're expected to deliver. And year over year comps are like a parasite. They're a disease on the industry in a way that no one is allowed to deteriorate their year over year progression.
And so because of that, they're in this cycle of having to continue to drive for some sort of top line expectation that doesn't actually hold accountability to being accretive to their bottom line at all.
[00:12:37] Ben: Do you think this new turn that I'm seeing in the very broad market of revenue growth is no longer being rewarded profit like you need to demonstrate profitability, is it enough to really change that?
[00:12:49] Taylor: I don't think people have taken medicine yet. I, I think we're still in the process of taking the medicine and some people won't and they'll die. I think that's a narrative that's very different to operationalize.
To actually operationalize that idea usually means laying people off, cutting costs, doing really hard things. And I think people are getting there in some places, but I still think we have further to go.
If you just think about it as purely from a financial perspective, the hurdle rate, a financial term, just saying the obligation for return on an invested dollar in order to warrant that investment. When the cost of capital is zero, your hurdle rate is functionally zero, like the money just has to make a penny over a very long window of time, and it's worth it.
[00:13:27] Ben: Sure.
[00:13:27] Taylor: But now, as the cost of capital goes up to 7, 8, 9, 10, 12%. The expectation of return to make that investment worth it. And I think this is the part where I would challenge all advertisers to force themselves into the present moment, which is to say there is a higher obligation to the return in a shorter period of time now than ever before.
And so create products that meet people in that and to deploy strategies that meet people in the reality of their capitalization and the reality of their capsid situation is where I think the opportunity might be being missed.
[00:13:59] Ben: I 100% agree with you. So taking train of thought, wouldn't search marketing...
[00:14:05] Taylor: Yes.
[00:14:05] Ben: Where people are literally looking to buy your product, be where you should spend the most of your ideas. I need to be careful saying it, but this is where like my bias comes into play. But a lot of the customers I work with have what we call, an impression share metric.
What percent of eligible auctions are you serving ads in?
[00:14:24] Taylor: Yeah.
[00:14:25] Ben: A lot of them are like 20, 30%.
[00:14:27] Taylor: Yep.
[00:14:27] Ben: And so saying there's 5X more volume that you could be tapping into, right? Of course it's more expensive to acquire that volume, but why are you spending in these other less inefficient channels and forcing Google to clean up the mess from everything else?
[00:14:40] Taylor: That's right.
[00:14:41] Ben: When people aren't looking for your products and they're gonna have higher AOBs and higher LTVs, we know that.
[00:14:46] Taylor: and let's say we were design the sequence of every media dollar a brand could spend in order from most profitable to least profitable.
And I would absolutely begin with search before I touched anything because it's preexisting demand. I just have to go grab my portion of it. I think about, the cost of education as like a little dollar amount for every purchase. How much education do I have to do? And someone who, is in market for the product already, the education barriers a lot smaller. It's cheaper to acquire.
Now, the problem tends to be though that I like to draw this XY access of volume and competion. And every brand exists in one of these four quadrants where the ideal quadrant is high volume, low competition. There's very few things that exist like that today.
Most commodity products, shirts, t-shirts, or shoes, whatever are high volume, high competition. And then, there's like new category products. When we started silicone wedding rings, it was low volume, low competition.
[00:15:42] Ben: Sure.
[00:15:42] Taylor: And so in each of those, represent some amount of like volume that is available to you at your target efficency. You're absolutely right that you should maximize every available dollar of profit that exists in your sort of whatever quadrant you sit in for your business, at your margin in those categories. And before you go create any new demand, you should absolutely start by siphoning the existing demand that's available to you at the price you're willing to pay for it.
I agree with that wholeheartedly, and I think people are leaving alot of stones unturned in that area and are running off to paid social too soon.
[00:16:18] Ben: A hundred percent. I got destroyed yesterday for this thread attempt. But what I was trying to say was a lot of brands are creating these hooks like Facebook, TikTok, et cetera, requires hooks. You have this problem, here's how I can solve it.
And you're doing that education piece. You're probably doing you tell me 10 creatives a week, you're hiring people to create this content. Sourcing all this UGC.
[00:16:40] Taylor: Yep.
[00:16:41] Ben: You're creating all these hooks and testing one and trying to find the hook that works. The hook is done for you. So someone saying, how can I solve this problem? I have dry skin, I need better running shoes. The hook's done for you. What you need to instead do is build the landing page and build the ad copy and build the reason for them to buy your product to solve their problem.
[00:16:59] Taylor: That's right.
[00:17:00] Ben: So yes, the demand is there. They want to buy today. Max that out is my first thought. But then you going back to PMax and this is totally my viewpoint, a lot of marketers are moving to these other social platforms and we need to compete, we need to help brands generate demand or at least reach, audiences that aren't directly looking for their product.
I personally think that it's necessary, like I'm sure the majority of customers who are gonna buy from your brand don't know about you today or don't even know that they need you today. So you do need to be fishing and like warming people up. For whatever reason, people have the stigma against YouTube that it can't work.
[00:17:38] Taylor: You gotta dig deeper than that though, man. Why do they have that stigma? it's not made up. People aren't crazy. They don't just make shit up. Pardon my language there. But this is where I think you've gotta dig and go what is the actual reason for it? Why do people feel that way?
[00:17:50] Ben: Because it's very difficult to measure.
[00:17:52] Taylor: Okay.
[00:17:52] Ben: And no one clicks on the ads.
[00:17:54] Taylor: Okay. You don't say for some reason you just gave a very clear reason.
[00:17:57] Ben: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:17:58] Taylor: You know why? And I think that's a problem you've gotta solve. If you want people to do the thing, that's the problem. And I think you and I have talked about it, and let's talk about YouTube now and we'll come back to feedbacks a little more. So you have this methodology that you talk about that I think is really smart, which is this idea of the cost to generate a branded search query.
So the idea for you and YouTube is brand awareness. Brand awareness can be measured, I love this as a measure in like the volume of people searching for your thing, right? And so you as Google have this visibility. You have the ability to see, did they watch a YouTube video and then generate a search query, right?
Like you could give people that metric in a very clear reported way that would show the cost of generating the search query and then the value of that query to the brand, right? And you could get a ROAS on the value of that search query versus the cost of that search query, in a way that you could put in a dashboard and show them. Why don't they do your idea? Like that would help.
[00:18:56] Ben: So we have a search lift study that you can do to do exactly that. However, it gives you the like relative lift in search volume, so it's very hard to quantify. So it'll tell you like there was a 1300% lift in brand searches for people that saw your ad. Okay, I can't do anything with that. That's what...
[00:19:15] Taylor: You guys have this data. So what feels like obfuscation or like it actually wouldn't pencil and that's why you don't show it, it's exactly this is that if you have the ability to tell me someone watched a YouTube video and then they search, like that data exists inside of your garden of data, right? Why not show that to people? Why not show me that information?
[00:19:35] Ben: There's a good answer. I don't know the real answer. I would think that it has to do with privacy and I think we need to have a certain amount of volume to share details on, cuz you can't show individual user behavior, so you need a big enough sample size to show that connection, and that's not gonna work for all advertisers. There's just not enough volume.
So what I've been doing is geo testing. Where we just run YouTube in some markets and don't run it in other similar markets. And we look at Google Analytics to see the actual changes to your business
So completely remove attribution. And we can pull brand search volume as well in those geos. Yes, I believe this brand search like methodology could help across the board with the entire funnel .
There's this concept of share search, which is you take the total search volume for your category and divided by searches for your brand. So how many people that are looking for shoes are looking for your brand?
[00:20:33] Taylor: Interesting.
[00:20:33] Ben: They're directly correlated to sales. When your sheriff search goes up, your revenue and your market share goes up. That's great that should be, how can increase my sheriff search across the board with what all these mechanisms that I have on social, on YouTube, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:20:51] Taylor: So to me, those are the kinds of things that somehow in an automated way, bringing to the forefront of visibility and education for people is the critical. I think this is the obligation of Google. This is not the obligation of me as your advertising partner. It is your product and your intents.
And so I think what everyone gets frustrated when you're like, why don't people like YouTube? It's very simple actually, because it never appears to make money. Now, you may say to me, if you go do all these really complicated things, a geographic study, it'll show you that it makes money, but that's not good enough.
Because most people don't have the time, money, resource, and ability to go create that. And so even when it happens to try and get to validation is really difficult. But what you're describing in terms of giving people, here's your current share of search and like visibility to this trend line over time and educate around how these metrics do relate to sales. Like that, I think is the hard part of making the product better.
And what it feels like from my perspective is rather than that, which is hard because as someone who tries to educate in this space, I'll tell you education is freaking difficult. It's really hard to create shared understanding of ideas. It's a hard thing to do.
An easier thing to do is let's put it all in a black box and we'll actually take control away from the advertiser and we'll just do the thing that we think is best for them, in a way that like limits their capacity to intervene . And so it's like that's a simpler solution than actually educating people relative to the potential impact.
[00:22:18] Ben: So I think on this black box thing, and this is totally my view, do not quote me on this. Do not take this outta context. But I think with Performance Max, GA4, Advantage Shopping, + from Meta.
[00:22:31] Taylor: Yep.
[00:22:31] Ben: There's this movement towards a lot of models. So there's a loss in tracking. There's increase in expectations for privacy and regulation. A lot of the world is heading towards modeling conversions. If we can't directly track it, we're gonna model it based off of all the strong data signals that we have. To me, there has to be a reason all of these platforms are moving that way, and I think rather than try to fight it, try to figure it out. And I know that's like salesy of me
[00:22:59] Taylor: No, I agree. And my perspective is that you guys are raising the floor with these products. So when I think about the advertisers, like everybody in the world who advertises the thing about that we don't understand about ourselves sometimes on Twitter is that we're like the 1% of 1%. Like the people that spend all day on Twitter, talking about Google ads, it's like a tiny population of the overall advertiser pool, right?
So sometimes our view of the product is equally worked into this sort of power user frame that is disassociated from how most people are using it. And so when I think about tools like Performance Max and Advantage +, they're built to make the product more broadly effective for as many people as possible. And I think they're actually really powerful at that.
So they raise the floor of the overall product in a way that's really important. Now within that though, I think whether it's Advantage + or Pmax, I think there are situations though where for more sophisticated users, the business strategy dictates a different utilization of the product that the machine learning tool may or may not know for itself.
As of right now, there's ways, but very simply to optimize for marginal outcomes or variable LTVs by product or, short term liquidation of inventory. There's all these moments that would dictate a business strategy deteriorate from just give the machine all the options and let it do what it does best.
You have to intervene. And I think, yes, some of those manual controls are things that are important and the visibility is important.
[00:24:22] Ben: Completely agree. I think the name of the game shifts to improving the data that you're giving the system.
[00:24:29] Taylor: Yeah.
[00:24:30] Ben: So we talked about like revenue being the wrong metric. Why are you passing revenue into the system? Pass your margin in. Don't tell Google you gave me a hundred dollars in revenue. Say you only gave me $16 in profit and let it optimize to finding you the most profit. Or if people in New York City are more valuable, tell the system that.
Like we have a non-technical way to do that. We have value rules that say, if someone's in this DMA increase their value by 20%. And you start giving it all these inputs like you need to drive it. And what I think this Divergence is like a lot of people use Google ads for both targeting and reporting. I think it needs to become more for targeting.
Give the system as many signals as you can and do your reporting in the back. Just drive the system towards what you want. Rely on it less for reporting. And the source of truth. Just tell it, get me more of these people. Get me more of these people. Sell more of these skews. You know do more, do more, do more of what's working for me.
[00:25:25] Taylor: Yeah. So think that's totally fair and I think it's a great way to frame up utilizing machine learning products is that our obligation as the humans in this process is to feed the right information to the system.
Let's talk about how this would work, cuz I think this idea of passing back a marginal outcome is actually pretty interesting. So in your product feed, can you set up the margin as an attribute and then pass back? What are you specifically suggesting that I do here?
[00:25:49] Ben: Yes. So that, always gets confused. So it's not in the product feed. You can pass your cost of goods sold into the product feed, to use for reporting. But not
[00:25:58] Taylor: target's optimization. Yeah.
[00:26:00] Ben: So you have your conversion pixel. and your pixel says take the transaction amount and pass that back to Google. Yep. If the data's available to you on the front end, you can change that transaction amount to be the value that you care.
So it could be, take the revenue and subtract the cogs, and pass that value into Google. It's not available there for everybody, but
[00:26:21] Taylor: the COGS data isn't on the page that the pixel's pulling that data from. So you would have to do just like a marginal percentage multiplication because the pixel doesn't have a COGS data input.
[00:26:32] Ben: Yeah, you could do an offline conversion import. It's like server sidetracking or like Facebook has like cap or whatever. Yep. That you could grab data and augment it and here are the skews they bought. Here are the margins I make. And pass that in.
And then that gives you ultimate flexibility. So like I said, if you know something about your customers, people in Miami on this device, blah, blah, blah, are more valuable to me? Sure. In 120 days. Add additional values in based on that. Give them a kicker, right? And say you're a subscription product and you really wanna optimize towards third box completions.
Yes. You have 90 days to update the values. So continuously tell the system these are the actual values, and then you can use Roaz bi. To optimize towards 90 day outcomes What I'm ultimately trying to beat is this like rule of averages that everybody uses.
I think it's great.
[00:27:19] Taylor: Yeah.
[00:27:20] Ben: Everyone's using average target ROAS and they're always round numbers, so that means they're completely made up. 400% is completely made up. And that's the ultimate lever for profitability. Find the right row as target on the right SKU and your golden. Cause there's plenty of volume for it.
And same with your customers. Stop paying the same amount for every customer. Pay more for higher value customers and pay less for shitty customers. And get more onto the one-to-one level on a SKU or a customer level.
[00:27:48] Taylor: Yeah or just stop paying for the shitty customers rather than pay more for the good ones. Now, we just sat here and talked together and I've never seen, or interacted with a Google demo showing me how to do the thing that you just described. It doesn't exist on AdWord interface, that it's not in the help section.
And so I think this is where I go, hey, you're telling me that the key to using your product well is to feed good informtion and understanding e-commerce and have a method to do that, but nowhere in the material is that a thing that's like directing me to do such that it becomes a normalized part of the practice.
Because the thing that I think it would actually do, Ben, it would actually constrain delivery, not increase it. And this is where fundamentally we end up at odds between the seller of the inventory and the buyer of it.
Is that I only want the inventory in the event that it generates for me a marginally outcome. You want me to buy the, all the inventory all the time. And again, I don't mean you, Ben...
[00:28:44] Ben: I know, I know.
[00:28:44] Taylor: I mean the broader you and I think that's why my perception is that kind of thing doesn't exist is because, it's the same reason they took cost caps off of ASC in my Advantage Plus, and that I'm going after Google for it is because, what cost caps do is constrain delivery. They reduce ad spend generally. They don't increase it to start, at least in the short run. It creates constraint.
And I think that's where it's like hey, how do we get your message out broader? How do we get Google to participate in the distribution of this message in a way that I think that is a really fair and valid idea that would be really useful to people.
[00:29:17] Ben: I completely agree. I am aggressively trying to make that happen internally. I think we have a ton of smart people here who understand the Google Ads product and how it works and how to maximize it, but don't necessarily have a good enough understanding of retail and e-commerce and the businesses that they support.
And that's led to I think, a lot of negative perceptions about Google reps. look, I know there's a lot of people and there's a lot of various experiences are...
[00:29:42] Taylor: There's a lot of people it's been really helpful too.
[00:29:42] Ben: I wish customers, maybe it's too lofty of an ask, but would take the time to tell the rep what they are trying to do. And engage. A lot of people either, just ignore because they're being asked to do tedious things that don't really matter to their business, but it's gotta be a partnership.
Like I think the fact that we invest in helping support our advertisers is a great thing. I think a lot of people think of it as a but I think it's a privilege. Just like machine learning, if you could tell your Google rep what you really want to do and you'll spend more and you'll help them get promo, like it's a two-way.
[00:30:15] Taylor: But that's thing, it may not spend more. What if the right thing for their business is to spend less. Especially in this moment, that's the part where, I wanna meet the reps. And I think the incentive structure on your side plays a part of it.
I don't know for sure how you're incentivized, but I think it probably has to do with the sales structure around volume of spend, or utilization of certain products. That's how they do it at Facebook.
You I think this. The recommendation is to stop doing. Stop the spend. It's not profitable for you. This isn't going to generate money even the long term, like we started this thing, the Pmax, about the long-term value capture. The question is am I gonna be alive to realize this latent value capture that you want from me.
We have this joke at CTC will say, its like everyone dies waiting for their LTV to show up. Like...
[00:30:53] Ben: Amazing.
[00:30:54] Taylor: You have to have this tension between what is your present cash needs as a business? What product serves that outcome? And how do we then, when there's opportunity to build? Cause there are brands that are in different phases where some of them are thing like we're in a market taking position, we're healthy, we want to go aggressive, we wanna potentially even suffocate competitors on the surf, whatever it might be.
But that like business strategy as the underlying tension. And I agree that's on business partners to start to bring that and bring transparency to it. But I think that would be, framework for walking through that set of questions as part of the interaction, I think would be really useful between brands and reps in a way that would be really productive.
[00:31:32] Ben: I think it's extremely well said. Yeah, we don't know what we don't know and like we don't know anything. I'm gonna recommend what works for other people.
[00:31:39] Taylor: That's right. That's fair.
[00:31:40] Ben: Yeah. I think it's a really healthy. Thing for us to explore and hopefully everyone leads into that a little bit further.
[00:31:46] Taylor: For anybody listening to, I would love if you and Ben, maybe you're up for this too, Ben, are your dms open on Twitter?
[00:31:53] Ben: Of course.
[00:31:54] Taylor: Okay.
[00:31:54] Ben: I got a lot of hate email.
[00:31:56] Taylor: Ben and I's dms are both open. Start a group DM with the two of us, and if you're interested in trying to look at how you could feed back the marginal data or one of the things that we just discussed, would you get on a Zoom with me and somebody and look through it and we'll see if we can help online.
[00:32:12] Ben: Hundred percent online. I also think we could all just start a Shopify app or a SaaS that does this .
[00:32:18] Taylor: That's another contextual solution. You know what I did do, Ben, is I took, it was one of your other reps, I think on LinkedIn that was talking about the, revenue missed due to impression share metric.
[00:32:27] Ben: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:32:28] Taylor: We put it into status. So now all of our Google dashboards we have it for, revenue missed due to impression share and revenue missed due to bid. We have both columns in there.
[00:32:36] Ben: That's amazing.
[00:32:37] Taylor: So for those of you that, dunno what I'm talking about, Ben, do you know who it was? I wanna shut out your teammate or whoever it was.
[00:32:42] Ben: I can look while you're explaining.
[00:32:43] Taylor: Okay. Somebody was, putting on LinkedIn a way to display in your, ads manager dashboard, a metric for revenue loss due to, budget. So basically, if I understand it, Ben, I think it, let me see if I can get the formula right, it's impression share times total missed impressions. So like it takes your impressions versus the impression share to get a total missed impressions.
[00:33:06] Ben: Yep.
[00:33:06] Taylor: Your click through rate and the conversion rate on those clicks. And your average order value to spit out basically of the missing impressions that you get, how much revenue would that represent for your specific brand based on your search metrics?
Cause there's always this question that we get asked a lot of how much room is there? How much more volume could I get, if I were to be really aggressive? And this sort of quantifies that idea.
[00:33:26] Ben: Absolutely. Just the shout out like, Again, my Google sales hat is on, but you don't wanna lose impression share due to budget. That's saying that you could have more sales at the same efficiency rate, had you just, given more money to the system? I think Taylor, you talk about there's a guy on the street, you give him a dollar, he gives you four.
[00:33:42] Taylor: Yes.
[00:33:42] Ben: Like why would you ever stop? It's that like you're stopping.
[00:33:45] Taylor: Exactly. So this is a good caveat cuz I initially commented on this then I said, doesn't that mean that in order for me to capture it, I would have to bid more aggressively? But that's not the case on revenue yes, from budget. Now revenue is from bid, means that if I bid more aggressively, I would get more revenue.
But the one that is purely revenue missed from budget just simply says, at my current bid price, like at the efficiency I'm currently getting, there's more volume available. So you absolutely never want that to have even a dollar in it.
[00:34:13] Ben: Exactly.
[00:34:14] Taylor: You wanna maximize exactly that every single time.
[00:34:16] Ben: Yes. And you can do that. My favorite search strategy is with using a shared budget. And a portfolio bid strategy. So today everyone has 10 campaigns with an isolated budget and an isolated ROAS target. Instead, and this just goes to maximizing the machine learning, say, I'm willing to spend this much across everything and I need this efficiency target across everything.
And let the machine figure it out and put budget where it can get maximized, your target. So just consolidate and theme your things together and just tell the system what you want and less and less control.
[00:34:49] Taylor: That's it. So here you go. Look, we won't share this, Corey, but you can see right here the two columns.
[00:34:54] Ben: That's badass.
[00:34:55] Taylor: Revenue lost to budget, revenue lost to rank, that's the other one.
[00:34:58] Ben: We gotta get that into Google Ads.
[00:34:59] Taylor: Yeah, exactly. Because for us especially as partners, this is the primary question we're being asked all the time. Right? Which is like, okay, even to back to the point of the beginning, which is like Google's outperforming Facebook, it has higher efficiency or whatever it might be. Cool, but it's volume constrained so can I actually go get a bunch more? This answers that question. So super helpful way to conceptualize how much more opportunity there exists for you.
[00:35:23] Ben: Absolutely. I have a topic I wanna talk about with you.
[00:35:26] Taylor: Do it, bring it.
[00:35:27] Ben: You put out a Tweet, that I really aligned with. But it was saying that as employees of a business, you should be trying to share your work and get more visibility.
[00:35:38] Taylor: Oh yeah.
[00:35:38] Ben: On the awesome things that you're doing.
[00:35:39] Taylor: Yes.
[00:35:39] Ben: And secure that coming from a CEO like I cherished. I think it's so important and employees at a company, it's probably very difficult to do in a remote environ. So to hear that from you was very refreshing. I think this goes back to like why I love writing because it gives me a way to do that internally. But I think it's incredible advice.
[00:36:00] Taylor: I mean, Ben, I think you're an example of exactly the benefits of this. Your career, and this is what we talked about when we met together in New York, is your career is gonna accelerate so much from your willingness to go out and do what you're doing.
Cuz one, even if it does get a slap on the wrist, what that does is it created visibility to somebody about you. And you know what they're gonna do? They probably looked through all your stuff and went, oh, there's one little small thing, but they read all of your stuff and all of a sudden your name now is known in the thing.
Whereas before it was, you're one of 50,000 people and especially in a remote world, this is not because I don't love my people. This isn't because I assume bad things about them in the absence of a story, like I just make one up and you don't want me to do that because it's probably incomplete.
Instead, what you wanna do is you want to develop the narrative for me, you want me to hear, see, and feel you. At all times as much as possible. It's the same thing we say to our team about our relationship with our clients is that oftentimes we forget that as far as they know, we're doing nothing every day.
If we don't reach out to them, if we don't show them our work, if we don't give them reason. Tony Chap who runs our, paid team, he's great about this. He calls it snacks. He says, all day, you have to give your client snacks. Little bits of information, let them know you're there.
I think the most immediate important relationship is with your direct supervisor like you want all the time, your supervisor, to know that I heard the things that you care about and I'm actively working towards accomplishing them. And I'm engaged in that and it matters to me.
And it invites feedback for am I moving in the right direction? Am I on course? Am I doing the things that you want me to be doing, and are they going well? And so often it's like a client will send an employee an email being like, you did an amazing job. Thank you so much. And if that email just sits in your inbox.
[00:37:48] Ben: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:37:48] Taylor: I never know it happened you can be like, oh, am I supposed to do? Just forward the email around. Yes. Like literally It would delight my soul to know that a customer is really happy and that you did something awesome. I would never get that email and be like, why is sending an email that they did an awesome drop?
Because you know what emails I normally get from customers? When they're upset, like I always say that as a CEO, like oftentimes you experience your business like watching the news. You only hear and see the most extreme events. And so all of the middle never makes it to you.
And so the only way I hear things is something's gone terribly wrong or it's really an outlier awesome. I want the middle. Gimme a more substantive experience of the business and of you such that it's not this emotional sort of back and forth.
And so I think that it's hard sometime for people, for me too, like for all of us to understand the experience we're having inside of a company, like a company is no one thing. It's a different experience for everybody involved. And so I think the more that you can share the experience you're having, both good, bad, and different. Like the more the picture becomes clearer for everybody in a way that we can get to better outcome, I think.
[00:38:53] Ben: Yeah. I really love that. I wanted to make sure for you to talk about that cause it's, I think it's so important one, I think for those that may be hesitant to, just self selflessly promote. I think one lens to always use is to say here's something awesome I did. Here's how you can do it too. That's and actually give the steps of how to do it.
I think Google has a very good culture of that. So that I want to share. And then there's also this other concept of, we call it stealing with pride. This is a tremendous company. Everyone's done the same thing over and over again. We just rip what someone else has done and put your spin on it, to fit your customer's need.
Or maybe it's 10 years old and you wanna revamp it. There's no shame in, recreating something that someone has already done like 80% of the work on. And I think it's made us like so much more effective just to shed the like and not embarrassment, I'm just like, all right, I added this on it. I hope you like it.
[00:39:44] Taylor: That's such a great thing. Like one of the things that I watched our people do really well is, we do quarterly business reviews, right? So here's my QBR deck from client X, Y, and Z. They really loved it. Take it and use it if it's helpful, right?
Yeah, so that's the exact point. One, you're letting them know you have a great meeting, so you're making it clear that the customer's really happy and you're giving an asset now to the organization to try and replicate that.
When I see my people do that, it's oh, I love more than that. Because, especially as an agency, the promise that we're making is that like we're deploying institutional knowledge through each end node of the system. That's why you hire an agency is for their institutional knowledge, not for the individual knowledge. And so to actually fulfill that promise, we have to distribute that knowledge. It has to be shared.
[00:40:26] Ben: Yeah.
[00:40:26] Taylor: I have a war against Google spreadsheets in general. Because they are isolated, siloed experiences that nobody else is having. They multiply so quickly when they exist. And so aggregating that knowledge becomes very difficult, to do.
[00:40:41] Ben: Yeah.
[00:40:41] Taylor: And to institutionalize. So I think the more that you can share your information, share the knowledge, do it in a way that highlights you well, the more that you're gonna be seen as an app and resource for the organization.
[00:40:50] Ben: Absolutely. Absolutely love that. I have one last, take...
[00:40:53] Taylor: Let's do it.
[00:40:54] Ben: I wanna throw in. So I don't understand why advertisers pump out so much creative for every channel, but Google.
[00:41:02] Taylor: So this idea that saying, so there's this famous, sort of case study about masterclass, SEO. Have you ever seen or heard this?
[00:41:11] Ben: I feel like I saw something, but go on.
[00:41:13] Taylor: So they famously deployed this SEO strategy, which was basically what you're describing, which is Imagine they're selling a, Gordon Ramsey cooking class. You would think like the surrounding set of terms that could exist for that is actually fairly small.
There's people looking for a cooking class, there's Gordon Ramsey, which I mean, it's a large number of stuff, but what they did is anybody looking for anything related to cooking? Okay, how much pepper should be in X, Y, Z dish?
They built this incredible long tail of keywords that answered cooking related questions on a landing page and then directed back to the cooking class. And so what they saw was everybody looking for anything related to any cooking query is a potential demand for somebody who's cooking.
And so what you're getting at, I think it's a great call out and people do this from an SEO perspective. I didn't think about this for CTC. We work really hard at thinking about SEO for like e-commerce trends and duh da duh. But the idea that there would be a funnel strategy for a, like to do design a add to a lander, to a search query that's not directly categorically related , but adjacent, and become the answer to that query such that my brand and the value of my brand and product is now front and center. Let me think about why. I think it's probably expensive.
[00:42:30] Ben: Cause yes, it's expensive.
[00:42:32] Taylor: Time consuming. Yes. And so the immediacy of return. That's the dopamine of Facebook. It's tomorrow you're running ads and generating revenue the barta entry is still low. Whereas even I saw the thread that you got into it with somebody and they were like, you gave it the example of best sunscreen for children.
[00:42:51] Ben: Yes.
[00:42:51] Taylor: And he threw back at you like the volume's too low. I can't even run, an individual, exact max, search for this. PMax is gonna gobble it up and I can't even do the thing you're suggesting.
And so I think for a lot of this stuff, it does exist in this very long tail of not huge volume that you would have to stack a bunch of things together to reach meaningful impact.
[00:43:11] Ben: Yeah.
[00:43:11] Taylor: But it could probably be really impactful if you were to put the time and effort into it. I agree.
[00:43:15] Ben: Yeah. You can get emote because of how hard it is to do. And like I don't know if the fatigue is real, ad fatigue is real or not but, you're putting up 20 videos a week, just like harness some of that energy to something that's gonna live on for years.
[00:43:29] Taylor: It's funny because we worked with a brand that, or still have one of our longest standing clients of customer called Born Primitive. And when they came to us, when they started like very early days of the brand, the entire foundation of their business, like literally what got them off the map was that, they had a really high search ranking for CrossFit Sports Bra as CrossFit exploded.
And that organic search listing carried their brand for years. In a way that it gave them a foundation of profitable revenue every month for a very long time on a query that initially was of no value. Like it just at first was so small and so inconsequential, but it became like a pillar of this revenue formation.
And I think that's where something like that strategy has the potential to really really really pay off in a very big way on a compounding basis versus the video that you run gets turned off a week later and it's done.
[00:44:22] Ben: Exactly.
[00:44:22] Taylor: It's like it disappears into the ether forever.
[00:44:25] Ben: Exactly.
[00:44:25] Taylor: Do you have an is there an example of queries that you brought and you're like, somebody's deploying this. Like who's doing this?
[00:44:31] Ben: Yeah. There are some folks that, think of non-brand search as demand gen, right? So a women's apparel subscription company that I work with, and they'll sometimes just do a hundred percent impression share on black dress.
And to your point, it's like the cooking thing. Like anyone who's looking for a black dress could eventually be potential customer for this company. It's extremely competitive and expensive keyword, high volume, high competition point earlier, but you're building up remarketing lists. You're building up brand awareness by being that top spot.
It's just the short term versus long-term play. And I think that accomplishes a little bit of both, it's easy for me to say. But if you could break even on that, short term and then gain the long term out of it, building up your email list of everyone who didn't convert that came to your site, et cetera, et cetera, there's plenty there.
If I were running a business, I wouldn't be doing what everyone else is doing. I'd be going the opposite way. Go ahead.
[00:45:21] Taylor: The obstacle is the way here too. Like call out that the fact that it's hard is actually a positive signal, not a negative one, is I think a really important thing for us to remember too. So advertise that you want the barrier to entry.
It's funny, I'm out, the reason I'm out here in Austin is cause am meeting with one of our customers in an industry where their entire businesses search like, and it's because they're in one of those rare high volume, low competition because there's a meaningful barrier to entry to actually selling the product.
And so there's just a few players in the space and there's a bunch of volume for it. And there's a really interesting sort of concept here around how we could think about every imaginable, somewhat related query that they could become famous for, that they could participate in offering value to the customer.
If it's apparel, there's so many nuanced things that people are looking for. I have a long torso. What's the best dress for a long torso? That's not an immediately obvious product search shopping query, that's not gonna show up from your product feed, but if you answer that question for the customer and you show them a product that like, here's a landing page of dresses that these kinds of people like, that's going to be immensely valuable to that person. And there's probably very little competition on that premise,
[00:46:29] Ben: So Pmax is doing that. You just don't have the right landing pages and the right content and place right.
[00:46:34] Taylor: Yeah, that's fair. And I think you're trying to get people into the places they should be, but the problem is that without the landing page, their value capture on it probably isn't good enough to make it worth it.
[00:46:45] Ben: Yeah. So...
[00:46:47] Taylor: Interesting,
[00:46:47] Ben: Zach, on Twitter. I think it's a great time to start a children's sunscreen company, and I was looking for it, and you can create the demand for it.
[00:46:55] Taylor: There you go. There you go. Awesome, Ben, I appreciate you coming in, man, and being honest and letting us keep going back and forth on it. Where can people follow you? Where can they sign up for your newsletter?
[00:47:05] Ben: ben-kruger.com. If you end up on the other Ben Krueger site, tell 'em I hate. I don't wanna get rid of that Dash, LinkedIn and Twitter. I don't know. I don't have good handles, but you can find me. Ben Krueger.
[00:47:16] Taylor: Yeah. Easy Krueger with a K. We'll find them on there. Awesome man. Appreciate you coming by. I'm gonna see if I can't, deploy a couple of these ideas and come back and share them with you all. I already put the one into I'm listening Ben. I'm reading. I'm following along don't worry.
[00:47:29] Ben: Two ways, man. Were teaching each other. It's great.
[00:47:31] Taylor: Cool. I appreciate you man. Thanks for coming by.
[00:47:33] Ben: Of course.