Don’t you hate one-size-fits-all clothing? I mean seriously. Think about the vast range in size that exists among humans, and one-size-fits-all becomes completely absurd.

Then, some genius devised the idea of “one-size-fits-most,” which is only slightly better than its all-inclusive counterpart. What’s wrong with sizes, people? Customization? One-size-unique-to-you-and-only-you, perhaps?

The same gripe can be applied to the idea of best practices in just about anything. There’s always an exception to every rule, and PPC is no different. We need best practices as a framework for newbies and to give even seasoned advertisers a starting point. But ultimately, everyone devises their own vault of tips, tricks and processes that work for their brands and their ads.

Never assume that every trick works for every advertiser across the board, that every tool will be useful for your campaigns, or that every bit of advice applies in all cases. It’s just not true. PPC, particularly, is a brand-specific process that must be carefully shaped and molded to your working style and the needs of your specific audience.

So with that soap-box declaration in mind, I’m still waving my back-to-school shopping torch this week. I encourage you to claim your well-deserved slice of the back-to-school shopping pie if you can make it work for you. If you’re too far in left field to make it relevant, then you can sit back and watch everyone else scramble to get their ad campaigns running before it’s too late, because they didn’t listen to me weeks ago. Tsk, tsk.

Whether you’re getting in on the back-to-school frenzy or not, today’s roundup is chock-full of PPC news, tips and hacks. From Google’s move to Search Network with Display Select to advanced shipping options and awesome keyword hacks, there’s something here for everyone. One-size-fits-all, if you will.

 

Swinging by Google-ville…

In case you forgot, all AdWords advertisers will be upgraded to the new “Search Network with Display Select” campaign type on September 16, 2014. What is it? Well, it pushes your ads out across the Google Display Network in addition to showing them in Google Search, with automated bidding. Basically, it helps you expand your reach to your target audience but the process is pretty streamlined. Read Google’s update on the AdWords Blog for all the details.

There’s a new shipping configuration tool in the Google Merchant Center, designed to alleviate shopper frustration when they get to checkout only to discover that the providing shipping costs aren’t in line with what was displayed with the product. A few features make this an easy-to-use, valuable tool:

  • Advanced shipping rules. An expanded list of shipping methods, including “customizable methods based on a hierarchical set of rules.”
  • Multiple shipping methods. Display the lowest possible shipping options to shoppers by differentiating between methods, such as ground and express, for the same country.
  • Location-based customization. Use countries, states or cities to configure shipping rates based on destination.
  • Simplified exclusion options. Make it clear when certain products cannot be shipped to certain regions.
  • Reusable shared library. You don’t have to reconfigure all these settings for every product, thanks to a reusable shared library that lets you quickly plug in repeated, customized shipping options you’ve already configured.

Finally, there’s now a new shipping attribute that lets you easily assign labels to different types of products, such as “perishable” or “bulky,” to quickly assign special shipping rates or label promotional items. Can’t wait to use it? Get the whole scoop here.

Happy Birthday to Google Web Designer, a tool for designers to quickly build interactive and animated HTML5 content that’s compatible across devices. To celebrate its first birthday, Google is launching some improved features:

  • Now, you can make any element interactive with revamped Events and Components.
  • Collaborate on works-in-progress more easily with enhanced integration with Google Drive, DoubleClick Studio, DoubleClick Campaign Manager and AdWords. This is the first time AdWords will support HTML5 uploads – a pretty significant milestone, if you ask me. Not only that, but you can now upload your completed units more quickly and seamlessly.
  • More granular control thanks to an updated timeline, making it easier to build animated content.

Thirsty for more? Google is offering upcoming webinars for Creative Agencies and Media Agencies. They’re taking place next week, so get your name on the list now – get links to both webinar signups at the Agency Blog.

 

Hey Bing, what’s happening?

If you thought I was jumping the gun a couple weeks ago when I started talking about back-to-school advertising, and you ignored my sound advice to get rolling on building your campaigns, well, I told you so. Bing is in full-force back-to-school mode, and advertisers who didn’t take my advice and plan ahead are now scrambling to get a piece of the coveted back-to-school shopping pie.

Lecture over. Now, if you fall into that camp, it’s time to kick things into high gear, and Bing is setting out to help you do just that. Check out Bing’s roundup of back-to-school advertising tips and tools.

If you’re still on the fence about whether your products are applicable to back-to-school shopping, these stats from the Bing Ads Blog might convince you finding a relevant tie-in is worth it:

  • The 2013 back-to-school shopping season resulted in $72.5 billion in consumer spending.
  • 73% of people begin shopping three weeks – or longer – before school actually starts. In other words, NOW.
  • The average shopper spends $350 on back-to-school supplies.

If you’re hungry for more statistics on back-to-school shopping or are in desperate need of a guide to get you started, Bing has you covered.  The Bing Ads Back-to-School eBook offers research on back-to-school shopping trends, how to connect with back-to-school shoppers, tips on writing ad copy that converts and more.

 

And now for the rest of the web…

If you use ad group segmentation by match type and/or embedded negatives to fine-tune your campaigns, the odds are good you’ve encountered that pesky problem with low search volume keywords that basically throw a monkey wrench into your plans. Or do they? Eric, Senior Account Exec at Hanapin Marketing, reveals his strategy for getting around low search volume keywords using Excel-powered VLOOKUPS. Read more about this stroke of pure genius at PPCHero.

Everyone talks about best practices. Best practices in content marketing, best practices in SEO, best practices in PPC, best practices everywhere. But are best practices always best? If you’re lucky enough to have encountered a problem in which the typical “best practices” evoke a WTF reaction, then you’ll want to read Michelle Morehouse’s three instances in which best practices should be tossed out the window at the Clix Marketing blog. Read it here.

If you’ve ever done keyword research, then you’re painfully aware that it can be a monumental task. The worst part about keyword research is that while there are some solid strategies, there’s not really a hands-down, this-is-the-way-it-must-be-done strategy that everyone across the industry agrees on. Basically, it’s not a straightforward, scientifically-proven process and you must rely on – gasp! – your creativity to a pretty significant degree, and hitting a wall is easy to do. WordStream feels your pain, so they’ve outline three tactics for keyword research that can help get the process flowing again. Get ‘em here.

Now, here’s a tip from yours truly: If you’re still perched on the fence trying to figure out whether back-to-school is relevant enough to your business, put those keyword research tactics to use from WordStream. Not only will they help you discover new keywords, but those same tricks can help you discover relevance you never knew existed. Whether it’s back-to-school, the holiday shopping season, or something else entirely, it’s never too soon to start planning ahead for major campaigns.

Who’s ready to get the weekend started? Make it fabulous!