Google Adwords Express : an experiment in effectiveness

A few weeks back I kicked off an Adwords Express account for Rocking Rose. This was an experiment, specifically a Google Adwords Express experiment.

I had been hearing some chatter about Google Account Managers , and opinion was split between "their job is to get your money" and "They add value to your campaign and can really help you" amongst my marketing guru friends.

So I wanted to see for myself what the experience was like.

I opened the account, and initial thoughts were along the lines of it being a highly simplified and guided experience. As long as you know

  • Exactly What you're selling
  • Exactly what action you want people to take after viewing your ad ( ie sign up for a workshop)
  • Exactly Who you're going to target
  • Your Keyword research is done and ready to go

If you have no idea what you're advertising for, or if the content on your website is iffy and not already SEO optimised, then you'll struggle to put together a coherent and compelling advert.

Here's how it went down with me.

I put together a first draft of the ad following the guidelines and prompts of Google. My first problem in this process is that of all the million possible "Product or Service" options - I could not add in anything that remotely matched my service offering. I bumbled my way through several options, and eventually settled on the closest 'least-worst' option. Not a great start.

I think and write in full sentences, albeit succinct ones when the urge to be specific strikes me. So, the next step was really difficult, given the limited characters available for the sub title and details - but I managed.

I picked the audience, tinkered with the budget and then saved a draft ad to come back to later on.

Google Ad words team makes contact

Within 48 hours of saving the first draft , I had a very keen Adwords "account manager" on the trail. Several hounding and aggressive phone calls later we finally connected.

Right off the bat, I was not impressed. He had done cursory perfunctory research on my company and website - and was talking to me about IT Support, and IT Services, and I repeated myself several times using the words 'Technology, coaching and Coaching in the Technology space" . I eventually had to be supremely blunt with him and say outright "I do not do IT Support Services, I teach people" about 4 times before he eventually "got it".

Following on from that disastrous conversation he seemed completely unfazed by any of my "objections". I found him quite pushy and incredibly offensive in his behaviour. I know from experience that this is exactly how outbound sales call centre agents end up, when they are in a perversely incentivised environment. So for the sake of the experiment, I pushed on. But let it be noted Google , your outbound call centre is offending people .... just saying ....

The next big curveball

I got busy in my business right at that point, and had back to back client and prospect face to face meetings for a good couple of weeks lined up. I was also still very undecided on whether I would be advertising for my services in general (still not liking this idea entirely) - or something specific, such as a particular workshop coming up in the future.

My "account manager" hounded me through this time, once leaving 6 missed calls within the space of an hour on my mobile phone. At that point I sent a very strongly worded email telling him his 'persistence' was not appreciated, he could tell his manager that the 'special deal only available now' bullsh*t was exactly that, that I knew exactly how 'fake pressure' sales tactics worked and I did not appreciate them being used on me. I told him to go away for 14 days , and call me back with a better attitude.

14 days later - he called.

And we proceeded to place an Ad.

What I wanted to Advertise

I wanted to advertise for an upcoming series of workshops - primarily focussing on my most popular one - the Half day Mailchimp workshop. I have keywords and service details ready. It was not to be.

The Ad that go placed - with the 'expert guidance' of my account manager

Product or Service : Computer Training School ( I kid you not, this is what the 'expert' insisted we use.)

Related Search Terms :computer training school, it courses, computer learning, and computer training courses.

I gritted my teeth through that and only breathed a sigh of relief when he said he would manually add in the mailchimp related search terms for me from his end once the ad was live.

Additional Search Phrases : A whole bunch related to learning how to use computers , IT training courses , online training courses ,colleges for IT and computer schools - and then my account manager added in those specific search phrases related to workshops, training and learning mailchimp

Screen shot of google adwords search phrases which dd not match the actual service being offeredCustomising the Search Phrases

Right off the bat, before the ad was even live I removed everything to do with online courses - and a fairly large whack of the IT ones. I knew that people searching on those terms were almost 100% not going to be looking for help on how to use mailchimp. I also removed the phrases with 'College' , or 'IT school'. My account manager told me those were the most searched terms ( and hey presto conveniently enough also the most expensive in terms of bidding).

That may be true, but again - people looking to learn IT at a college are not going to be interested in a course learning how to use Mailchimp. Seems so obvious to me, I'm amazed a Google Ad's Account Manager didn't get it.

How is the Ad tracking now ?

I have since disabled a further 20 odd search terms. All of them related to learning IT or IT colleges or schools. These terms are in fact driving a fair whack of traffic through my website to the registration page for the various workshops that I run. there is a catch - not one single sign up. Can't say I was expecting anything different. When your search terms don't match your offering - well ... then ... (can you see me rolling my eyes over here ? )

To be fair - my sign-up page is pretty sparse and utilitarian. I did suggest to my "account manager" that perhaps given the goal of the ad, I should put up a new and separate landing page - with pretty pictures and much better content explaining the course material - he suggested it would not be necessary. I strongly suspect his motivation was more related to getting the ad live as soon as possible, rather than any achievement of my goals in relation to the ad spend. Yes, I know, I sound horrendously cynical.

The analytics saga

About 48 hours in, when I checked my Adwords express dashboard I was prompted to connect to Google Analytics - and I clicked, mistakenly thinking it would link ( through my google account duh!) to my existing Analytics account . It didn't. It created a brand new account , with a brand new tracking code which I am instructed needs to be added to the specific page I want tracked. So that's popped itself onto my to do list in the URGENT quadrant as well.

What the roadmap looks like from here

After installing this code - I'm going to run the ad for a week from 'live date'.  Then I'll turn it off, pull out all the analytics and take a deep dive into the data. You can expect another blog, maybe 2 once I'm done with my verdict on the usefulness of a Google Ad "Account Manager".

The verdict

Thus far, my experience with the Google "Account Managers" is not a good one, I'm $82 in to my ad spend for the month, with zero results. And for things that I would expect an "expert" on Adwords to be able to handle.

Watch this space for further updates once I pull the ad down and do my ROI analysis and experiment write up.

Something cool on the Netflix iPad app search

Whoo baby

I love me some Netflix ... Just wish that FOXTEL didn't have such a stranglehold on content here down under
Anyhow - I just discovered something very cool in the iPad app. Quite by accident really , and I thought you might find it useful too , no matter which restricted region of Netflix you happen to be watching.
Go to the search , and type in an actors name ...
Say , Nathan Fillion for example, from Firefly, Serenity and more recently Castle .
So this is the result in the search :
 Screen grab from netflix iPad app with Nathan Fillion in the search
And if you tap on his name , then you get this :
 Titles related to Nathan Fillion in the Netflix Library
Yes - that is all the shows headlining Nathan Fillion on the Aussie Netflix catalogue.
I've tried it with a bunch of other actors , as far as I can tell, this doesn't work on the Samsung App on my Samsung TV . It also only works for main cast , where the actor is headlining - for example searching Mark Sheppard only shows up Supernatural , where he plays Crowley, but Markie is also a cast member of Firefly, which does not show up in his list of titles.
But it is a very cool way to search for a show or movie where you know someone specific is in it, but the name eludes you ... It also confirms my suspicions that Castle is not in the Aussie Netflix store, sadly another show that foxtel feels obliged to fleece the Aussie public to watch.
And now I'm off to  watch a vintage Sci Fi Classic ... 🔭

Facebook spam - the reporting and blocking tools

So while we wait for the hung parliament to be announced, here's a random HOW TO for Facebook.

Seriously , I cannot believe we voted for lying union thugs in equal measure to lying smarmy snake-oil salesmen . Bleugh! Almost as bad as spammy fake profiles on Facebook. 

We all see them , the spammers with fake profiles , commenting into popular discussions and feeds, inserting backlinks to pages that (at best) sell fake followers, or worse, well, let's just say I've seen some doozys popping up in my feed lately .

So, generally what happens is people start commenting to the admin of the group to do something about the fake profile or person ... And that's ok, but if you are not directly naming the admin , then time is wasted because trust me. In a group of 10k , it's going to take them a while to find the random comment addressed to the The Admin.
Here's how you can a mange your own feed, and help keep your feed, and Facebook in general as clear as possible of spammers
These instructions are for the Facebook iPad app - but similar steps apply across most devices and the browser interface. And yes - I do use this very very often for blocking trolls and fake profiles as well as spam.
First up - here's the offending comment - I checked out 'Shane' - totally suss when you profile photo is a stock shot ... #justsaying.
Screenshot of Fake Spammy Profile comment on facebook
Tap the comment and you'll get a short menu -- with some options
Screen Grab of Menu once you tap on a comment in facebook to report the comment or the profile
Pick the Report option , now it gets interesting, because Facebook wants to know why you're blocking this person , so I picked spam, because frankly that's what it is.
 Picking the SPAM option on facebook reporting tools
You'll then be presented with some actions you can take further -- now this is where people get all angry with Facebook , and I just don't understand why ...just pick the block option. Simple.
You will be asked to confirm the block, by tapping the button that pops up.
 screen grab showing the option to Tap to Block a fake profile after reporting a spam comment
And then the spammer is blocked - you won't see them, or any of their comments or posts, and they won't be able to contact you or see you.
Why does this matter in Groups with Admins , surely the admin can kick them out ?
Yes, they can, in groups larger than 1 few thousand members though, it's a far stronger, and more swift result if members of the group block en masse , as it lets Facebook know that this is a profile they need to take a look at. As in a real person who is moderating the whole of Facebook goes to assess if 'Shane' is real, and if the profile should be cancelled entirely.
Happy Sunday ....

You can also read my previous posts about Facebook features

Facebook Hack : turning off notifications

If you're anything like me , your Facebook feed is cluttered , and you comment on posts left right and centre. 
Which is fine , and dandy , except when you're just over something that happened like 5 days ago, and you still keep getting notified every time a new person comments , or like the post, and well, that wasn't really what you wanted, was it ?
You just wanted to add in a thought maybe a hahahaha, perhaps a like to show support, and now, well, you don't really need to know about every additional reaction to the post .
Here's how you can clean up your notifications :
On the post tap/ the small arrow at the top right to get the menu where you can save posts : the last option on the list ( and you may need to select the More' option to see it ) is Turn off notifications for this post'
`Screen Grab from iPad for the post privacy options in facebook
You're welcome :-)


New reaction snuck into Facebook overnight

Check it out ... Facebook snuck in a new reaction overnight

Screenshot from iPad of the Facebook reactions buttons with focus on the Gratitude button ( purple flowers )
Love this addition - especially since it blasts little purple flowers all up the screen on my iPad when picked ...
Let's hope it's not a temporary thing just for Mothers Day ...because I think it's fantastic.
And of course it doesn't hurt that it happens to be my favourite colour ... Purple !


Facebook's Save feature : on the iPad app.

Yes, we all know in a perfect world, when you're checking Facebook, you would be able to savour every movement, and reply with great thought and care. You'd have the time to go to each interesting article or link and take your time reading and digesting.

That doesn't happen though, particularly if you are super busy growing your entrepreneurial empire.
Facebook has a save feature, as in save and digest later. Kinda like wrapping up that muffin from morning tea to have at your desk later.
Here's how it works in the iPad app :
First up,  tap the little arrow on the right of the post you're interested in, and then tap the Save option on the menu that pops up .
 screenshot of Facebook save option from an iPad app screen
This is the same menu you  would use to block or report a post , or hide a post
To find your saved posts and content later, tap the More menu on the bottom menu bar and swipe down until you see Saved :
 Screenshot of the Menu showing where the saved items in facebook can be accessed on an iPad
Tap on the Saved to view and select what you want to read, watch or reshare, Facebook shows you how many saved items are not viewed yet ( in my case it's 3 out of a total 4)
Tapping the item opens the link , video or other shared content. The ellipse to the right gives 4 more optional actions :Archive, share as a new post, send as a message, or view the Facebook post.
I love, love, love this feature, it's made it so much easier for me to digest the incredible content that  flies by in my Facebook feed later on when I nave more time and some quiet space around me.
Happy content management ladies and gents !

Uber me baby, Uber me


Nemesis of taxi Drivers everywhere.

The Ultimate Disruptor in transport.

*except for Self driving electric vehicles of course. ;-)

We recently began using Uber in earnest. Mostly for business related trips, up to the airport, the train station or to see a client where I don't have my car for the day. For those times when it's just not useful to drive and park your car at the airport for a gajillion dollars.

I loathe taxi's. Mostly I have had some really sh^&*y experiences, here in Melbourne, in Singapore and in the good old US of A. I cannot say that I remember anything that is pleasant, even in the most uneventful of taxi rides. And it's not the drivers necessarily that are the problem (although I have met some real special ones along the way).

I hate the fact that I have to have local currency on me, just in case the taxi can't process credit cards. Or, as happened to me in Singapore, they didn't take Visa cards, and my Master Card (from South Africa) is a Debit Card, which is blocked for international use anyway ( because the Saffer Government is hell-bent on not joining the global economy, and thinks that my money is their  money... but that's another post)

Oh yes, back to my story about loathing taxi's and my Singapore experience.

In Singapore, the taxi stops, I ask them if they take credit cards, they say yes. I double check, "It's a VISA card ? "

Yes, yes says the driver impatiently. I climb in.

Upon arrival at Fuji Building, and lo and behold, the card won't process. His machine doesn't take VISA cards. And now I am stuck, because well you know, in between the international long-haul flight, landing, showering and coming down to the meeting, I haven't actually had any time to draw actual cash at an actual ATM.

*note to self - make a habit of drawing cash at the airport before exiting*

So, there I was stuck on the side of the road with an irate driver in Singapore, and rapidly approaching the point of being late for my meeting. I was saved, but again, that's a story for another post.

That has never happened to me with Uber. Never. This app payment story is priceless.I don't need cash or special open for banking cards. And the driver knows he's going to get paid, because Uber handles all of that already. No risk to me, and no risk to them.

Also - as a side benefit, I have met the most interesting people using UberX to go to and from my various networking events and meetings.

Here are some highlights ;

- The Civil Engineer  who works flexible hours for his main employer, and drives for Uber for a couple of hours in the evening.
- The Brickie who drives for UberX on rainy days and any other day when inclement weather won't allow him to ply his trade.
- The semi-retired Writer, who also has a room he rents out with AirBnB, and does 2 toastmasters meetings a week to boot. Talk about embracing the digital age!
- The IT Student,  who quite frankly drives better than any taxi driver I have come across and told me all about his plans to uplift his coountry once he goes back and starts his offshore IT development business in Pakistan. Ambitious youth, aah I remember it so fondly !

So I say, Uber me baby, Uber me.

At least until something freaky happens, and then I'm out.

Then I'll be saying : Bring on those self-driving cars.

UML2.2: Microsoft Visio's shortcomings

This is a very short entry as I am in the middle of frantically trying to finish up a first draft version of a functional spec , for various stakeholders to take a first stab at a review .

I thought I would quickly post something regarding the rather fortunate discovery that I made today with regards to a lovely person by the name of Pavel Hruby ---- his website is here.

This bastion of decency and fundamental niceness has put together stencils for what appears to be all versions of Visio, for UML2.2.

Yes that's right - all the RIGHT shapes and icons and stereotypes, in Visio.

I am beside myself with joy, as now I no longer have to sit creating 'pseudo'shapes and objects , events and classes with all the wrong base classes to get the shapes and diagrams the right way round.

The link to the stencils themselves is : and I have saved it into my links on the left.

If I believed in A higher Power ( which I don't) I would say God Bless Pavel Hruby. But I'll settle for making a donation to his cause , and spreading the word through my blog.

For once I get to do a diagram right without struggling my ass off to phenagle the shapes around the correct UML2.2 notation.