Robert Sieracki is the Director of Paid Search and COO at Rocket Clicks, a firm that specializes in managing large PPC campaigns. Because of this, Rob and his team have evaluated and improved the inner workings of dozens of high-ad-spend AdWords accounts. Recently, Rob took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about PPC…

1. Tell us a little bit about your experience writing PPC ads.

I’m a former database / SQL guy who has a writing degree, studied psychology as well, and has a natural interest in usability. Combine all those elements and it means writing PPC ads is the part of work that’s authentic fun for me. I started it 5+ years ago while working on websites of large credit unions and regional banks. I’ve been with Rocket Clicks in our uncommonly lovely city of Milwaukee since 2008 serving as Director of Paid Search and COO.

2. What’s one tip, trick, or technique you’ve found that seems to almost always help increase CTR?

Set the campaign ad delivery setting to “rotate”. You reach statistical significance sooner if you’re actively testing. Less than half of the campaigns I evaluate are set that way, especially now that there is the “focus on conversions” option, which is the best option for the lazy advertiser.

3. What new approaches to ad writing have you or your team tried that have worked well for you?

A big part of it is figuring out when to play it safe and when to swing for the bleachers. Sometimes a punctuation change or word substitution will improve an ad’s performance with near certainty, and I don’t mind applying a change like that over many ad groups at once. Especially if a new client has a lot of loser ad tests going on. The scenario: Ad A is a winner and ad B is a big loser and you replace ad B with a clearly better, but conservative test version of ad A and you look like the Green Lantern or whatever superhero is getting the girl that movie season.

When I’m going to test a whole new message or tone or attention getting factor, I’ll likely do it on one high traffic, attentively watched ad group. Then spread it over more groups once I see how it plays.

When search queries probably have a big quotient of non-buyers or they represent people at the beginning of their research (like “gerbil”) as opposed to search queries that represent product purchases (like “gerbil cage model XYZ”) you can often boost CTR particularly well by saying something jarring, shocking, or unusual. That works better for the general search queries in my testing. That can do wonders to CTR, and impression share, and quality score – but watch for it to see if it still converts and choose your landing pages carefully with the casually interested in mind. Profit matters more than CTR. Is taken? There’s a hot tip for careful readers. That’s a nerdier but more accurate ad testing goal.

4. Where do you think PPC is headed over the next few years?

Away from the conversation behind the search query and toward behavioral targeting, though the exact direction it takes will be affected by legislation at some point I’m sure. Beacons and flash cookies and whatever’s next will stir a reaction. Follow the Wall Street Journal‘s “What They Know” series to keep abreast.

Toward mobile devices, which has its own dimensions, of course. Time of day use is skewed, unique ad formats come into play, different calls-to-action work, conversion rate optimization works differently, etc.

5. Can you talk more about what you mean when you say “behavioral targeting”? With Google’s advertising platform, what might that look like?

Sure. With behavioral targeting, ad platforms use information from a person’s browsing & search history to profile your interests and determine what ads to show you.

In AdWords, the retargeting feature and session-based broad match are behavioral targeting.

There’s a big market where browsing data meets advertising, and these days the data gets leveraged or sold so fast it becomes essentially real time media buying based on a user’s behavior. That’s going to grow. Google paid about $80 million for Invite Media a while back, so they’re already a player in the ad exchange and data space, just not under the name AdWords.

6. Thank you, Rob. Where can our readers go to learn more about you?

Well, until I write my book that details the cross-pollination of authentic entrepreneurship and the early punk and post-punk ethos, I’d say my LinkedIn profile or my obligatory Twitter feed with an overtly witty handle, @robertclicks. I’m only sorta joking about the book. Minutemen fans running lively businesses, represent!

Learn more about Rocket Clicks by following our weekly industry update. I swear you’ll learn something, and you might laugh slyly as well. Jacob who organizes the team’s analysis is a witty fellow.