Mike Ruins Shopping Feeds

Fine Point Grey Mike Fleming, Senior Client Manager

Mike Ruins Shopping Feeds

(23-minute podcast)

Mike Fleming, author of the “Mike Ruins Digital Marketing” blog series joins Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing at Point It to talk through implementing shopping feeds in paid search and display advertising campaigns, using them as loss leaders, transitioning from smart homes to smart families, user experience design, the impact of biases on PPC performance, and ad tech.

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Featured Experts:

Mike Fleming, Senior Client Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Guests and Experts


Mike Fleming, Senior Client Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Mike Fleming is a Senior Client Manager for Point It, and has been managing PPC accounts of all kinds for over 6 years; with a strong emphasis in Analytics and Conversion Optimization. He’s a respected digital marketing blogger and speaker whose articles can be found on industry blogs like SEMRush.com and SearchEngineGuide.com. He also contributed to a published book called The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. Mike enjoys playing, writing and recording music, playing basketball and investing. He resides in Canton, Ohio with a girl who threw a snowball at him one day…then married him.


Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.



Maureen Jann: Welcome to Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Each week we feature industry experts and their guests, to talk through what’s happening in digital marketing. I’m Maureen Jann the director of marketing here at Point It, a digital marketing agency in Seattle, Washington and I’ll be your hostess. This is my first experience this whole few episodes that we’ve done over the last few weeks, with producing a podcast and so far I’m really enjoying it, it’s been a lot of fun. If you our listeners have any feedback, or you’d like to suggest anything to us we’re happy to hear it. Just write marketing@pointit.com.


Since we are in the Point It studios, aka the conference room, you can hear a little background noise today because it’s a really busy time, tonight’s our holiday party and we have a lot of visitors in, and so it’s busy and exciting but it’s also a little noisy. But we’ll just say that it adds the authentic experience. Today I’ll be talking through a few headlines I ran across this morning in the news and I’ll be introducing you to Mike Fleming, our senior account manager here at Point It. He’s sitting across from me and today we’re going to talk about shopping campaigns. Welcome Mike, thanks for coming.


Mike Fleming: Hey thanks for having me, it’s good to be in Seattle.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, awesome. So we usually start with headlines so we’ll just run through the headlines that we found and you can chime in at any point.


Mike Fleming: Okay.


Maureen Jann: Cool. So my network is talking about smart families, which I thought was a really interesting concept, paid search performance, and the state of digital marketing. The first article that I found was on the American Marketing Association website, and it was all about taking a step back from the Internet of Things and I thought it was so interesting. I struggle with adopting the Internet of Things personally because I don’t see the point a lot of the times. What they talked about is how, instead of the “what”, which is shiny and new and people who love buying gadgets like that, to the “why”, which I thought was fascinating.


So they talked about, the global smart home market is growing like crazy because people love this topic. They love widgets and gadgets that talk to the internet and that’s a lot of fun for people. And it’s supposed to triple by 2022, so the growth is off the charts. But what this article talked about was how families can use the home technology like this, The Internet of Things have a home technology, to stay connected after people disperse from the nest, and doing that through making the user experience a little simpler. Which seems counterintuitive cause you think of Google and Alexa and they seem very intuitive, but on the other hand I don’t think that they make enough cases for why you need it, why it’s a need to have not a nice to have.


And so what I really liked about this is it’s like when you have college kids that go off and away or maybe you live far away from your family, like my family lives in California so we don’t get a lot of chance to talk face to face. It’s hard for us to connect without scheduling stuff, and what I loved about this was they talked about making, using the Internet of Things and that home market, make that be the way you can connect with your family easier. And I don’t know if you have any experience, like if you struggle with connecting with your family, you live in Ohio, maybe it would even be a good work connection, you know?


Mike Fleming: Yeah, we don’t have any family where we live, my wife and I, so that is an interesting concept. At the same time I kind of wonder, since we’re, it seems like our culture is getting more about experiences than things.


Maureen Jann: Right.


Mike Fleming: And so I do wonder how that’s gonna play out and how popular it will be because space has a purpose right, we use space to come closer together, we use space to stay farther apart. (laughing) I’m sure many of us just having gotten done with Thanksgiving can appreciate space many times right.


Maureen Jann: Both together and apart.


Mike Fleming: Yeah exactly, exactly. So yeah the question will be I think, do I want someone having constant access to me.


Maureen Jann: That is a good question.


Mike Fleming: And we kind of have, we kind of have that already, right. I know when I’m hanging out with my wife it’s like, she gets a text, it’s like she feels like she has to text someone back right now. We can be in the middle of dinner, we could be watching TV, it doesn’t matter right. So I kind of wonder if our culture is gonna just keep going that way where we’re eliminating space, or if there’s gonna kinda be this wall we hit where we’re like, you know what.


Maureen Jann: Too much.


Mike Fleming: And we react backwards.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Mike Fleming: So that will be interesting to see.


Maureen Jann: It will be.


Mike Fleming: And how technology plays out with that I think.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. Internet of Things and that whole personal assistant thing, I always say this and I’m sure people are tired of listening to me say it, it’s creepy to me.


Mike Fleming: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: It’s a little creepy. It’s a little too much.


Mike Fleming: Right.


Maureen Jann: I don’t need that much internet, but I am not a native generation. I grew up with ROM and tapes, and that’s a real thing still for me but I guess I’m dating myself, but I don’t know, it’s just interesting.


Mike Fleming: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: So the next article I saw that was, I thought would be right up your alley is, I was reading on Search Engine Land, the article, “How do our biases impact PPC performance”, and it was from a PPC practitioner perspective.


Mike Fleming: Okay.


Maureen Jann: And it was, the bottom line was talking about managing your experience and those habits gained from experience, verses adaptation to better practices. So the idea of Bing, for a long time Bing was seen as not worth our time, but then we’ve seen that really turn around in the last few years and it’s making sure that we’re adapting with switches like that. And then there was another example about switching to separate match types as another option and whether to or not to do that.


Mike Fleming: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: And the last one was ad copy formatting, getting out of a rut and making sure you adapt and reevaluating what you’re doing and why you’re doing it to make sure you’re staying ahead of the curve. So when you think about, and I know that you do a ton of work like this, how do you balance the habit and the experience, versus adapting to bring in new strategies and tactics?


Mike Fleming: I would say constant study, and constant connection with the PPC community. Our industry changes so quickly, and as, in the last 15 years, we’ve seen adoption slowly but surely increase. So there’s more competitors, there’s more people learning what quote unquote best practices are.


Maureen Jann: Right.


Mike Fleming: And so the constant study of making yourself better, and I think it’s the same, it’s the same concept of just in your personal life too. To set yourself apart you have to be unique and so, not just writing, blah head copy with keyword in the title, shop now as your call of action, that kind of thing, but getting much more creative about how you approach the audience and how you’re gonna set yourself apart, and how you’re gonna grab attention and how you’re gonna create an experience.


Maureen Jann: Sure.


Mike Fleming: Like we talked about. So I just think it’s really important as a practitioner to just constantly be studying and to budget time to that discipline. And to interacting with people and asking questions. I know in my experience honestly, the more you study the less time you, the less net time you spend because I can study something for two hours, learn it, and it takes me five minutes to implement.


Maureen Jann: Sure.


Mike Fleming: But if I never knew it, how long would it take me to get the same results I would have gotten if I didn’t know that.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Mike Fleming: That thing, whatever it was. So, yeah that’s my piece of advice for setting us apart in kind of getting to that point where the accounts you manage, the advertisers you help, are being set apart from the competition.


Maureen Jann: No I think that’s good advice, that’s good advice. It can be really tricky in any industry, in any function, by balancing the difference between innovation and best practices that are changing versus utilizing your experience without getting in a rut, it’s tricky for any of us, so I can appreciate that.


Mike Fleming: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: So speaking of ever changing industries, I recently ran across this article on Business Insider which is probably the worst headline I’ve ever read, “This investment bank presentation breaks down the complicated digital ad industry in 2016.” And I was like, wow what a great topic and a bad headline. (laughing) But what was great about it, it was a bunch of slides that is done by LUMA which is an investment organization, and they break down the LUMAscape. Have you heard of the LUMAscape?


Mike Fleming: I have not.


Maureen Jann: Oh it’s something we use in programmatic quite a bit to show all of the ad tech and all of the martech, right.


Mike Fleming: Oh, interesting.


Maureen Jann: It’s very detailed and it just grows and grows and grows and it’s just out of hand. But what we’re seeing which is interesting, and this is the same group who did that LUMAscape, they have an updated version of it and they’re really talking about what’s happening in ad tech and they talk a lot about that with programmatic, because programmatic is changing so quickly and it’s a young industry. So the trade desk is a new player and it’s the 10,000 pound gorilla right now. It’s currently trading well above it’s peers, and ad tech would be in the red without them, which is an interesting concept. So you just have this big heavy hitter.


And the other thing that I thought was really interesting was the trends section of this one was the rise in AI as a top, artificial intelligence is a huge trend that’s going on in ad tech and martech. So it’s, right now it’s in a disillusion phase, which is like an innovation scale, so disillusion is one part on that scale, to amazement when people become, you start to see them practice and it starts to be widely adopted, and it feels like magic, so there’s that amazement section. So I don’t know where you, machine learning is all the rage according to Google and IBM. We’ve been talking about this for a while, haven’t we?


Mike Fleming: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it’s not new.


Mike Fleming: It’s not new.


Maureen Jann: No. But it’s sexy again.


Mike Fleming: Yeah right.


Maureen Jann: Pew pew. (laughing) But the one thing I thought that was super duper interesting about this was that ad tech and martech is starting to out of acquisitions, starting to overlap to help, which is really good for us right because that means that as our customers, if we learn about that those mergers and acquisitions it’ll make that transition from their marketing stack to the advertising space, that transition and that connection a lot easier.


Mike Fleming: Oh that’s cool.


Maureen Jann: It’s good news for our clients.


Mike Fleming: Yeah absolutely.


Maureen Jann: Yeah. Well before we go any further, I can talk about that for like an hour cause I nerd out on that.


Mike Fleming: I can tell, you’re exited.


Maureen Jann: Yeah it’s really cool.


Mike Fleming: It’s awesome.


Maureen Jann: And I’ve learned a lot from Evan and these guys in our programmatic departments so I get all excited when I find something and I go, I know this, I totally get this! So I get all jazzed up. But before I go down that rabbit hole let’s talk about shopping campaigns. So Mike Fleming is our Senior Client Manager here at Point It and he’s the author of the blog series, “Mike Ruins Digital Marketing” which is my favorite series, it makes me laugh and that graphic is hilarious. So it’s this picture of a balloon with somebody popping it, it’s so funny.


So you’ve written everything about flat web design and conversion rates and everything in between. So you’re visiting from Seattle and we mentioned that from Kenton, Ohio, we’re so glad you could be with us. Tell us about your blog series.


Mike Fleming: Yeah so Mike Ruins Digital Marketing, I actually stole the idea from a TV show.


Maureen Jann: Oh really?


Mike Fleming: Yeah it’s called Adam Ruins Everything, and basically the TV show goes through status quo topics that you take for granted every day, like driving a car or weddings and things like that, and it reveals information that makes you think differently about that topic. It makes you maybe reconsider how you think about it.


Maureen Jann: Oh all right.


Mike Fleming: And what you would do. So I thought man, this show applies to digital marketing because digital marketing at times can be so counterintuitive. Sometimes the thing that’s most widely accepted isn’t necessarily the best, right. The best way of doing stuff. And so I thought, man wouldn’t it be cool to take topics that maybe the majority of people think a certain way about them and, but there’s more advanced ways of thinking about them or a different angle and kind of ruin the status quo way of thinking and present another way.


Maureen Jann: I like the description ruining the status quo, that makes me really happy. And I think it sort of applies to the earlier part of our conversation where we were talking about people getting in the habit, in a rut. And then [inaudible 00:13:47], come out, you’re the source of truth. It’s cool.


Mike Fleming: Right yeah and even with that article earlier about Internet of Things, it’s like, you start doing something because it’s cool but did you ever consider that it might not be best. That kind of thing.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Mike Fleming: I really like to make people think.


Maureen Jann: I think that’s great. That’s a lot of fun. So tell me about the blog article you wrote recently around bidding on products and shopping campaigns.


Mike Fleming: Yeah so, back when Google came out with shopping campaigns, the common belief was you could not use key words like you can in search campaigns.


Maureen Jann: Right.


Mike Fleming: Which was true. No one, they said hey, this is how you run shopping campaigns and basically a feed delivers your product and Google looks at the title, the description of your product and it matches it with queries that people search for.


Maureen Jann: Sure.


Mike Fleming: So basically the problem with this and the uproar that became of it was that it takes away control from the advertiser. And PPC is all about control. The different digital marketing disciplines have their strengths. SEO is free clicks right.


Maureen Jann: Right.


Mike Fleming: You don’t have to pay for the clicks. With PPC you have to pay for them but you have ultimate control about the type of traffic that’s coming to your website, but the shopping campaigns when they first came out, seemingly did not have the ability to control what queries were matching to your products. So you might get something, let’s say you are selling a travel vest, right. You might have your product, your travel vest product match to any number of queries, any type of queries that Google’s machine deems is relevant, right. It could be, red jacket, not a travel vest, it’s a red jacket, that’s what they’re looking for.


Maureen Jann: Interesting.


Mike Fleming: Yeah, because Google’s matching algorithm is fairly wide, it sees a vest and a jacket as pretty similar things so they may be interested in your product. But as you can see that’s all about reach and not about control. And so the PPC community figured out a way to avoid this. So that’s really what the article is about.


Maureen Jann: Okay. Great, well I was going to have you walk through the steps but I’m thinking that might a little bit of overkill, instead we’ll just share the blog article with everybody.


Mike Fleming: Okay.


Maureen Jann: I saw the term lifetime value and I would love to have you walk me through how the lifetime value strategy plays out here, cause it’s a bigger, it’s a longer tail project, right.


Mike Fleming: Yeah one of the articles that I call out in the blog post we’re talking about is one that takes a look at search of behavior when it comes to shopping campaigns. And a couple things that stick out is that searchers don’t necessarily buy the product that they click on.


Maureen Jann: Oh okay.


Mike Fleming: Even if it really matches what they’re looking for. So in our travel vest example, if they search for travel vest and a travel vest comes up, they might click on it but they’re not necessarily gonna buy that travel vest in that ad. They might look for a more expensive one.


Maureen Jann: Right.


Mike Fleming: A different color, you know, whatever. So it was actually found that only 34% of people that click through our product bought that product that they clicked on.


Maureen Jann: Oh interesting.


Mike Fleming: Okay so there’s ramifications to that, right. The second thing is, the finding in the article saw that Google actually penalizes higher priced products when they compare to each other. So, if the travel vests are very similar, the lower priced products are most likely going to get the ad space because typically lower priced products get more clicks, people are more interested in looking at them, etc. Whereas your high end stuff is only gonna apply to a certain amount of people.


Maureen Jann: Sure.


Mike Fleming: And so the ramifications of that obviously are well, shouldn’t we advertise our lower priced products and rely on our website …


Maureen Jann: To upsell them.


Mike Fleming: To upsell them.


Maureen Jann: Sure.


Mike Fleming: As well as, let’s say they buy something on the website, we’re gonna get their email address, and then we can remarket to them.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Mike Fleming: Through email and through Google display and all these other channels, Facebook if we want and stuff like that. So, the concept really is of lifetime value is, AdWords isn’t so much about getting the maximum profitability on the first click that you get, or the first conversion that you get from a customer, it’s about winning a customer and maximizing the value you’re gonna get over the lifetime of that relationship.


Maureen Jann: Right.


Mike Fleming: And so, thinking about how that affects, how your shopping strategy, what products you’re gonna sell, or show on what terms and what those prices are and honestly what you may even price your products. Because you may be thinking, well this is the margin I want on this product, right. But if there’s other products out there with competitors that are lower priced, you may consider breaking even or losing a little bit if you are really good at driving lifetime value.


Maureen Jann: Okay. Huh, look at that, I learned something today. So last thing I’ll probably ask you, well I have two things, I have lots of things, we could go on. Tell me, I know that you had sourced some of these steps from another article, what was the source of the article?


Mike Fleming: The name of the article itself?


Maureen Jann: You had mentioned that you didn’t feel the need to redo what other people had already done really well.


Mike Fleming: Yeah, yeah.


Maureen Jann: Do you have, can you just give us a hint of who that was, and why you chose that article?


Mike Fleming: Oh yeah I think, his name is Andreas Reiffen, and the article is on search engine land. And it was neat because he took a wide range of shopping campaigns across many clients and was able to extract that data, what did they buy. They did tests of, what if we have higher priced products versus lower priced products. What’s the effect on click through rate, what’s the effect on our CPC’s, what’s the effect on overall profitability.


And so that article really was just kind of a last step in the whole bidding on keywords strategy that you find in the article. After you’re able to match up a keyword like travel vest, that exact travel vest phrase that people are searching on that’s popular, with the exact product that you want to show when that is searched for, and then bidding on that appropriately so you can maximize the traffic that you get from that. Then you have to consider how are we driving lifetime value after that.


Maureen Jann: Okay, I love that. Do you have any final bits of advice before we close up shop here?


Mike Fleming: Yeah sure, well it goes back to what I said previously a little bit, about just being involved in PPC community and following it because really the article, this article is nothing original. It’s basically me going, wow, the PPC community figured out a way to have more control. And piecing together certain articles from various people that are thought leaders and coming up with an overall outlook of a strategy that PPC community came up with to really improve results you get from shopping campaigns. And so, make sure you’re following, you’re studying, and you will definitely maximize what you can do if you do that.


Maureen Jann: Fantastic. Well thank you for sharing your insights today, we really appreciate having you here, it’s a treat because we don’t get you in the office very often, so that’s delightful. I can’t wait for our next conversation about Mike ruining something else.


Mike Fleming: Alright.


Maureen Jann: And thank you guys for joining us, I’m Maureen Jann at Point It digital marketing for Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Follow us on Twitter to be notified of the latest podcasts and download them from our website as well as get the show notes on our website. You can go to resources, Fine Point podcasts, and all of the information will be there. We’re here at Point It studios in Seattle aka the alternative conference room, and next week we hope to be talking about shopping feeds. Looking forward to having you join us then and for now, stay on point.



Additional Resources


[Blog] Mike Ruins Digital Marketing Blog

Shopping Feed Management 101


AMA: Shifting from Smart Homes to Smart Families

Search Engine Land: How do our biases impact PPC performance?

Business Insider: Breakdown of digital ad industry in 2016



SearchCap by Search Engine Land: provides a summary of the latest news and best strategy articles curated from around the web in search.

PPC Chat: This is a Twitter chat using the #ppcchat hashtag where PPC practitioners discuss various topics and issues in the world of PPC.  While the chat is “always on,” there is a weekly structured, hour-long chat on various topics.

Industry Influencers: Here’s a list of top PPC influencers to follow.  Follow their blogs and Twitter accounts.

Books: Here’s a few books that are foundational to becoming a well-rounded digital marketer.

Blogs: Here are a couple PPC blog lists that I wholeheartedly agree with and whose lists I mostly follow…



LENGTH: 23 Minutes