PPC and digital marketing nightmares you won’t soon forget

Happy Halloween mad PPC scientists and marketing experts!

From campaigns that hit you like sharks in a tornado to ads that resurrect, this year digital marketing can be a scary place to work.

These digital PPC and Halloween stories can scare you enough that you need to take a week off. (And who doesn’t want it?)

Get ready!

Legendary PPC disasters

The phrase “This ad has been rejected” (Amatullah Saifee) can instill fear in even the heart of the strongest digital marketer. We’ve all been there. And we all struggled.

But PPC nightmares can be much worse. If you are unlucky …

I know what you did last campaign

Do you know what kind of scariest horror movie is? The one you don’t know you are in. Bwahaha!

Emmanuel Perez found himself in such a nightmare …

“I took over the account of a colleague who I quickly discovered was buying advertisements without fully understanding how the system works.

They were Google ads for dealerships. I found a generic term for cars, nothing else.

CPCs doubled when he took over, and CPA more than tripled after taking office.

There was another campaign targeting ads from local US dealerships. Another colleague had “+” modifiers in exact parentheses and was unsure why no ad had been shown for almost two months.


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Seems like someone hasn’t spent enough time learning what PPC is and how it works. Terrible.

Especially if it comes out of your wallet.


We are happy that Emmanuel was able to fix the problem.

Hello PPC Pro. Do you want to play a game?

Hello PPC pro. Or as you are sometimes called, paid media expert. You have to make a choice. Listen carefully:

You are on a chair in front of a computer screen. A script runs on an account linked to your unlimited credit card. Give it a try and you might just make some easy money while looking like a genius to the customer.

Or, it could be the worst decision of your short career.

Do you want to play a game?

Some new to PPC have done it. Frederick Vallaeys, co-founder and CEO of Optimyzr, tells this horrible story:

“Previously, Google provided sample code to demonstrate how to modify bids using ad scripts. The code looked for all the converting keywords and increased their bids by five percent.

Of course, many advertisers like to run scripts automatically every hour. Therefore, if left unchecked, this script will increase bids by almost 50% in 8 hours. That would triple them by the end of the day.

Imagine the horror of the script novice who simply tested the code without adding any backups first! “


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Many new PPC professionals ignore these dangers and jump at the chance to win easily without hesitation.

But not you. Not now.

Game over.

The Children of Corn: A PPC Nightmare

Jonathan Kagan, vice president of research at 9Rooftops, knows how much of a nightmare PPC can be. Its scariest story, however, is more like PPC Newbies of the Corn, where danger is far too close to home.

“We once had a former employee who knew he was going to be laid off. As a last ditch effort, he created hidden bidding rules that increased bids and budgets by 1000% every day.

And that wasn’t the only horror story Kagan was able to share.

“We audited a YouTube account and found that the agency that ran the account before us was showing bikini ads for protein shakes only on children’s videos. And one time Google ran a YouTube campaign for us and accidentally confused the negative keyword list with the target list.

The moral of these stories? Watch your campaigns and your staff like children in a cornfield!

A natural disaster: the PPC style

Sometimes the dangers of PPC sweep over you like a mysterious haze with giant bugs lurking inside – you have hours staring at it, laden with a sense of impending doom.

Other times it’s more like Sharknado. It’s scary, fast, dangerous, but also a little weird. And not the right kind of weirdo.

Amy Bishop (Owner, Cultivative, LLC) had a Sharknado PPC experience once.

“Oooh, I saw some scary things. A few months ago, I saw a PPC campaign with an ad group targeting over a thousand thematically relevant broad match keywords, but indicating absolutely no purchase or purchase intent. trial.

Most of the keywords were single term keywords. (I am anonymizing the industry here in order to protect the organization since this is a niche industry, but for the sake of this example let’s say this is accounting software from business.)

The equivalent of the account terms would be things like “bank”, “payroll” and “business expenses”. They had spent so much money with no conversions to show for it. Sad, but not surprising.


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PPC Campaigns… It’s a Child’s Play

Sometimes the sweetest, most innocent things hide a much deeper evil. This campaign started out looking like the ideal situation. Sadly, like a Chucky doll fresh out of the box the night before Halloween, things went wrong very quickly for our Marketing Director Heather Campbell:

“This is not a story for the faint of heart. This terrible story involves a campaign structure (or lack thereof) for a niche B2B widget maker.

Sit down. Close your eyes. Imagine the best campaign structure you’ve ever put in place: location targeting. Time scheduling. Ad extensions. Several ad groups. Negative keywords. All the good things you’re supposed to do …

It’s nice. Almost angelic!

When I got access to this new account and peeked behind the open door, I gasped in dismay. My blood froze. I shook my head to clean the cobwebs …

There’s no way I just saw this.

There was only one campaign: no ad groups. No targeting. No day separation. No keyword to exclude.

And worst of all, they ran on the broad “widget” keyword instead of long tail keywords to better define and qualify incoming leads! Not to mention the wasted ad spend on bad and irrelevant traffic and leads.


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(Author’s note: She always winced when you mention widgets. As of this writing, we need to make sure her emotional support beast is nearby before having these kind of touchy conversations.)

Urban marketing legends

From Bloody Mary to Slender Man, urban legends have been around forever, whispering themselves from generation to generation with a raised eyebrow.

For those of us in marketing, however, there are much darker, scarier, and more common legends that we should be wary of.

The number 11

6 + 5 = 11… 4 + 7 = 11…

Is the number 11 a blessing or a curse? What does all this mean? It turns out that it means different things to different people.

Matt Snodgrass, Community Manager at MarketingProfs, tells the story of a fantastic idea that turned into a PR nightmare – an idea that still haunts him today:

“Many years ago, in 2011, some in the marketers thought that promoting the 11/11/11 campaign would be amazing. Because when’s the next time we see * that * date, right?

Sadly, what these smart marketers didn’t understand at the time was the global audience.

Although Armistice Day is not so widely celebrated in the US market, it is an important event for colleagues in Europe.

They didn’t realize it until our email inboxes started filling up with angry emails from the international community.


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Unfortunately, this marketing team was not the only one to make such a mistake. If you are thinking of doing holiday marketing, make sure you are familiar with these 14 Holiday Marketing Mistakes.

Trade Show: The Conjuring

You move in and install your signage. Things are going well.

At the end of the show, you get rid of all the extra MarCom gear and pack your bags, dreaming of a good long bubble bath and Michael Bublé.

This is when things go horribly wrong.

Suddenly you have to resurrect things that you thought were gone for good.

Or, at least, that’s what happened to our project manager Christina Robichaux.

“Back when I was an event planner for a leading technical company, we were responsible for all MarCom hardware for the entire event.

While we were cleaning the customer told us we no longer need the signage so we need to recycle it.

About an hour later, the same customer came running, frantically searching for part of the signage. She needed it for an event at the CEO’s house that evening.

After a few questionable dives in dumpsters, we found the sign. He was sandwiched between other road signs and somehow was unscathed from his time in the dumpster. The CEO never made a difference.


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Ouch. Nothing like a little moonlight in signage necromancy to bring the boss’s party to life?

(Author’s note: We’re really happy that she’s on our side. And that she loves us.)

The marketer’s sixth sense

Now, dear friends, we need to prepare for this latest marketing horror story. Hug your loved ones, grab a blanket to hide, and get ready for the scariest story of all.

This one still haunts marketer Adam Riemer. He says, “I almost spoke to people in person once at an event. Oh ! It was terrifying. Leave the security of my computer for real interactions. No thanks!”

Yes, after more than a year out of the real world of the workforce and the conference scene for many of us, this is truly a terrifying thought.

We hope you are not too traumatized! Bwahaha …

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Featured Image: Shutterstock / Romolo Tavani

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