You're listening to the “REI Marketing Nerds” podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of AdWords Nerds, a high-tech digital agency, focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors like you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition, and live a freer, more awesome life. And, now, your host, Dan Barrett.
Dan: All right, hello everybody, and welcome to this week's episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. As always, this is Daniel Barrett here from AdWordsNerds.com. How are you? I hope you are having a wonderful day and a wonderful week, and a wonderful, wonderful month. [00:58.0]
This week we are talking about a particular recent change to Google Ads, and so if you run Google Ads, you're thinking about running Google Ads, I want you to tune in kind of focus to this. This is going to be a relatively quick hit, this episode, but I'm going to give you a very specific thing that you can do some action on right away. Probably going to save you a significant amount of money over the course of this year if you are doing any advertising already.
Then I'm going to just touch really quickly on the underlying kind of trend that this is a signpost of, whatever you want to say, and both of those things are really critical to understand if you want to get into online marketing for motivated sellers this year, which if you aren't, I suggest that you do.
Let's talk about the specific change first. Google recently announced that they are going to auto-apply their ad account suggestions. [02:02.4]
To kind of back up, if you have a Google Ads account, generally, they're going to give you some kind of weekly suggestion, some kind of thing you could do. They'll say, Oh, we think you should add these keywords. We think you should use this particular strategy or tactic or whatever. You should use call-only ads or, hey, we noticed that if you increase your budget by 20%, you'll get more clicks.
Generally, what I tell my coaching students who come to learn how to do this from me, if they're in the Search. Click. Convert. Bootcamp, or they're in REI Marketing Mastery, which is kind of yearlong program, what I'm almost always going to tell my students or clients is that you never want to take Google’s suggestions at face value, no, no matter how benign they seem, and that is because Google's incentives are not aligned with your incentives most of the time. [03:08.2]
Google's incentive when they give you suggestions is to get you to increase your spend, and if you look at the general pattern of suggestions that they make, almost all those suggestions are going to result in higher spend. Now, sometimes that will result in a higher deal flow, right, so you'll do more deals from that. Sometimes that is the case, but not always. In fact, I would go even further than that and say it's not just not always. It is not often does it result in more deals.
So, it is very often the case that people will come to us at AdWords Nerds or come in as new clients, having had accounts created by the Google team, having followed the suggested path that Google will lay out and just not getting anything like the results that they expect or want, or often any results at all. [04:07.7]
So, you’ve really got to take them not at face value. You've got to really look into them, really think them through, really analyze them in terms of what you think the result will be. This makes this new change of Google taking these suggestions and now automatically applying them, without asking you, without telling you, just doing it, it makes that change particularly bad for investors.
Now, look, I work only with investors. I don't know if these suggestions make a lot more sense in other industries. Maybe it's great if you run a pizza parlor or you're a dentist or whatever, but for investors, they are almost universally—I mean, universally is maybe pushing it, but—let's say, 70% of the time, they are a bad idea for investors and that essentially means that Google is now automatically applying bad suggestions to your ad account every single week. It's terrible. It is terrible. [05:13.5]
Now, here is the other thing that I find really, really mind-blowing and this is when I decided to do an episode on this for the show, because I was like, Oh, maybe this isn't a big enough change to talk about. You can go to your settings. If you go to your settings in Google Ads account, you can opt out of this, but here's the thing: they opt you back in every week. I think it might be every two weeks. They opt you back in. If you say, No, I want to opt out. I don't want to do these suggestions. I don't want you to auto apply these suggestions, Google then will opt you back in two weeks later, which is just mind-blowing. [05:57.0]
Can you imagine if somebody is aggressively texting you to sell you something and you opt out, but you have to re-opt out every two weeks? Can you imagine canceling your cable and then having to re-cancel it every two weeks because they just said, Oh, we're going to opt you back in to your cable plan? It doesn't make any sense, but that's what they're doing.
Here is the immediately actionable tip. If you are running Google Ads and you are a real estate investor, I'm telling you right now, log in to your account. Go to your settings. Log out of the auto-applied suggestions and then set a timer on your calendar to re-opt out every couple of weeks. I mean, it's ridiculous that you have to do this, but it is the way that it is. Literally, now we have a recurring task. Every single week, we opt out all of our clients of this stuff. I mean, it's literally ridiculous. That is the immediately actionable tip, and if you could do this, I can almost guarantee you, it's going to save you thousands upon thousands dollars this year, so you're welcome. [07:00.6]
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Now, here is the underlying trend that you need to be aware of and we're going to tell you this, so that you can kind of have this as a mental framework, so the things that happened to us as marketers and as investors this year and the things that happened to us will fit into this mental model, and you can validate this as it goes. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m right. [07:55.5]
But here's the thing I want you to keep in mind: Google's move mirrors what is happening in Facebook and what is happening in online marketing in general, which is they are moving away from a model where you have access to a lot of data and you are making decisions, and you are judging what is best for you and your business.
They are moving away from that model towards a black box model, where you feed data into the machine and an algorithm, machine learning, AI-driven, whatever you want to call it, is going to run in the background completely invisible to you and it's going to produce results that are, whether good or bad, largely going to be mysterious.
This is very much the way that Facebook works, right? If you run Facebook ads right now, you launch a campaign and maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but why? It's really hard to tell, and the fact of the matter is sometimes you'll launch an account and it'll totally fail. It'll die on the vine. You'll copy it, delete it, paste it back in and then run it again, the exact same campaign, just a copy of the different campaign started at a different time of day or whatever, and, bam, it works great. [9:18.6]
Why was that? I don't know. The algorithm picked it up one time and it didn't the other time. It's largely what's happening. How that algorithm works and exactly what the variables are and exactly what hurt you or helped you, most of that is invisible. You've got to kind of figure it out through constant tweaking and testing.
SEO is very much like this, search engine optimization. Google has kind of the basic principles that they tell you, but most of the search engine optimization tips that you see people give, they're just based on trial and error and seeing what is correlated with results. I did XYZ and my website ranked really well, so I'm going to guess that X, Y or Z, at least one of those, maybe all of them are connected to that result, but I don't really know. [10:12.1]
Increasingly, Google Ads is moving in that direction. They want you to move in a direction where, look, you tell us what you do. Give me your website. I'll figure out your keywords. I'll write your ads. I'll do your testing, the algorithm. We’ll figure it out.
Again, that can be great for certain industries, but the problem with that kind of approach for real estate investing is that all of those black box algorithmic systems require a certain amount of data to work. You cannot get a really significant prediction from a really small data set. [10:53.0]
When we are looking at an industry that's generally going to produce somewhere in the realm of 2,000 to 5,000 targeted impressions a day, which is what real estate investing is—if you're in a kind of the average-sized investing market, 2,000 to 5,000 impressions a month, that's pretty accurate, 2,000 to 5,000 a month—it is just a very difficult for these systems to be able to predict who is really a motivated seller and who isn’t.
Believe me, I have every incentive in the world to find an automated system that's going to make my job easier because, again, we're managing these accounts for investors literally every single day. I would love to have some kind of AI-based system that's going to help me figure out where the deals are and, look, we are building out our own data set and our own set of tools and all that. We’re investing in that space because I think it's important. But right now, what ends up happening is these algorithmic black box-based systems almost always in almost every single case underperform a single human manager, almost every single time. [12:08.8]
So, this trend towards this kind of algorithmic black box-based sort of targeting methodology, it just isn't good for investors. It just isn't good.
What are we going to do about it? I’ll tell you what I am doing about it. I'm not going to tell you that that's absolutely the right thing to do or absolutely going to work, but I’ll tell you what we are doing about it at AdWords Nerds.
What we are doing is we are forcing these systems at every single point to give us as much control as possible. We are opting out of this kind of automated stuff. We are using manual bidding strategies. We are tracking every single keyword and every single lead in a Google Sheet because we don't want to rely on Google's black box to do the thinking for us. [13:00.8]
For right now, that is still the way to go. It is still the most efficient path. That is still the way that generates the most deals at the lowest cost per deal acquisition, and so I encourage you to do the same. Just be aware of what's happening in these systems. Be aware that this trend is occurring right now and ask yourself where you can take back control, and I think everywhere that you can do that, the more that you can do that, the better off your online marketing for motivated sellers is going to be.
I hope that makes sense. I hope that was useful. Look, as always, I’m here every single week. I’d love it if you could come and check out more episodes. As always, you can get those at AdWordsNerds.com/Podcast.
I’ll see you next week. Cheers. [13:51.7]
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