During a time of extreme polarization across leadership, politics, and national anthem behaviors, few things bring people together as closely as fantasy football. That may sound preposterous, and maybe it is, but there’s truth to that statement.

Consider this: in 2016, FanDuel & Draftkings generated a combined entry fee total of $3.26 billion across all users—and that’s just daily fantasy football. That doesn’t even include the widespread “underground betting” that occurs during season-long leagues like ESPN & Yahoo Sports. Everyone’s playing, myself included. I’ve been in a league with the same group of guys since fifth grade. Fantasy football brings people together and gives us all something to talk about at the water cooler. If we didn’t have fantasy football, conversations might look like this brilliant commercial.

Now that we’ve established that everyone’s playing fantasy football and that it’s also good for the soul, here’s how all this football talk connects to digital marketing and why you should continue reading: Successful fantasy football management and successful AdWords PPC management require the exact same skills and tactics.

Here are five tips and tricks needed to master the art of fantasy football and AdWords management.

1. Practice

Paid Search Tip – Although Allen Iverson might disagree, practice is underrated. As a digital marketer, it’s our job to stay sharp and informed of all changes occurring in the industry. Given the frequency and number of updates that Google makes over the course of a year, this is no small undertaking.

Ever heard of Moore’s Law? It’s the theory that the speed and power of microchips – that is, computational processing power – would double roughly every year. The founder of this theory, Intel’s co-founder Gordon Moore, crafted Moore’s Law in 1965 and he’s been spot on for the better part of 50 years.

What’s the result of Moore’s Law? Technology is advancing faster than our ability as both individuals and businesses to adapt and apply these technologies. As digital marketers, our job is to reduce the gap between technological advancement and our ability to learn and apply new technology.

How do we keep up with the acceleration of technology? Educate ourselves. Read business books. Follow industry leaders on Twitter. Test. Although things like AI, machine learning, and native advertising may seem overwhelming, they really are not changing much. We need to embrace new technology but also understand that the underlying principles that have made businesses successful for decades remain the same.

Fantasy Football Tip – Practice drafting your team by utilizing free mock drafts. No matter the league size or format, rest assured that there are mock drafts available for you to make mistakes, experiment with new strategies, and ultimately help you find the proverbial diamond in the rough player that will catapult your team to victory.

2. Know Your Settings

Paid Search Tip – Piggybacking off point #1, knowing your settings is a subset of practice and staying informed. Knowing settings isn’t difficult; all it takes is effort.  Search Engine Land is an excellent source to stay on top of setting changes. For example, Google recently announced a new setting for ad rotations that will soon limit the number of options to simply “Optimize” and “Do Not Optimize.” The latter is the standard “rotate ads indefinitely” option. My favorite change due to this update is that advertisers will have the flexibility to set ad rotation at the ad group level, as opposed to the campaign level. More work, but more control.  Even more recently, Google is now applying a new rule called “Overdelivery” that states they can now spend up to twice the daily budget to “help you reach your advertising goals, like clicks and conversions.”

Fantasy Football Tip – Do receivers earn a point for each reception? How much are quarterbacks throwing touchdowns worth? Do you start two or three wide receivers? How about a flex position? Know the answer to these questions.

3. Study Your Competition

Paid Search Tip – One of my favorite AdWords reports is the Auction Insights report. Admittedly, this report has a glaring limitation in that it’s difficult to track changes over time. To help remedy this limitation, here is an awesome article from Brainlabs that provides a how-to script for advertisers looking to visualize and track these changes over time.

This limitation aside, if your business or client operates within even a moderately competitive industry, the Auction Insights report is a must. This report provides actionable competitive metrics like Position Above Rate, which is how often the other participant’s ad was shown in a higher position than yours when both of your ads were shown at the same time. Position Above rate is undoubtedly a valuable metric for advertisers that stress maintaining a certain position in the auction.

Fantasy Football Tip – During your draft, pay close attention to teams that are heavily targeting certain positions, especially teams that draft right after your selection. Before making a pick, look to see how likely it is for another team to grab one of the players left in the position group you’re targeting. For example, if you’re at pick 11 in a 12-team snake draft, and player 12 has yet to select a RB, if there is a RB that you want on your team you better draft him because it’s likely that player 12 will steal your guy if you choose to chance it and select a player from another position group.

4. Do the Opposite

Paid Search Tip – Remember in middle school when everyone wore the same clothing? Everyone had the Abercrombie polo and khaki shorts (and probably a pair of white Adidas or Nike Air Force Ones). Looking back, how dumb was that? The goal was obviously to impress the other sex, yet the unspoken rule was, “Let’s all dress alike.” Well, as advertisers, let’s not act like seventh graders. Instead, let’s do the opposite.

For example, say your business sells hockey equipment online and in a brick-and-mortar store. When conducting your competitor research (which, as we learned, should include the auction insights report), you notice all your competitors’ headlines utilize some version of dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) in Headline 1 and a weak value/benefit statement in Headline 2.

Your competitor’s ads probably look something like this:

Hockey Equipment Ad Competitor Example

It’s insane to think that copying the same strategy will result in improved results. Instead, let’s do the opposite and earn the click. One relatively new ad feature that AdWords provided us is the IF Function. The IF Function is useful because it allows advertisers to dynamically change the ad copy based on device. Here’s how we might apply the IF Function for our hockey equipment example:

Hockey Equipment Ad Counter Example

In this example, if a user is searching on a mobile device, Headline 2 will read, “Shop From Your Phone.” If a user is searching on a desktop, the ad will default to, “Shop Now.” Who knows, the test may not work, but I’m always an advocate for testing versus following the crowd.

Fantasy Football Tip – You never want to be on the tail end of run on a certain position during your draft. If it’s your turn to draft and three straight quarterbacks have been drafted, don’t be the fourth, do the opposite. Take a risk on an up and coming running back instead. In fact, in terms of draft strategy for quarterbacks, it’s generally best to wait until the later rounds (8-11)—unless, of course, their name is Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.

5. Create Automation

Paid Search Tip – Most of us AdWords managers have Type A personalities. We’re detail-oriented and don’t mind tedious tasks like daily campaign budgeting and ad scheduling. In fact, we often enjoy these tasks. But it’s these same tedious tasks that consume a great deal of our time if we allow them.

To help remedy this obstacle, my favorite AdWords automation that improves my efficiency are labels. Labels are to AdWords as Aaron Rodgers is to your fantasy team. They’re both crucial to success, and without them, your campaign and your team are unlikely to succeed. (Just ask my boss JP, who lost Aaron Rodgers for the season because of the mediocre Minnesota Vikings.)

If you’re managing hundreds of ads across multiple campaigns, labels are a must. They are simple to apply and there is no reason not to use them.  My favorite use case for labels is to apply them to sale ads and schedule them out in advance. While there are other ways to automate ad scheduling like by ad text and final URL, labels are the most accurate and efficient.

Fantasy Football Tip – Like most apps, fantasy football apps will ask your permission to send notifications. Do yourself a favor and approve these notifications. You’ll thank me after you’ve begrudgingly tagged along on a brunch double date that was conveniently scheduled right before the first kickoff and you were able to make last-second lineup changes in between talking about weather and traffic.

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