How To Be Successful With Adwords

Published on May 9, 2016

In the business world, every company is looking for that edge or that advantage over their competition. In the sports world it's no different. Everyone is always trying to learn from others and soak up any useful chunk of knowledge that they can, and in the marketing world it is no different. One man that we can learn from was a sports icon who transformed his sport and became a true legend in the NBA, Kobe Bryant.

How did he do it? What made him so different than the other numerous all-stars playing in the NBA? Now before we get into a war over who is the best NBA player and before people start freaking out about why they don't like Kobe Bryant, let's just preface this article by saying: Like him or not, Laker fan or not Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game and he always adapted and became better, that's what everyone's goal should be no matter their industry or line of work. I'll also start off by saying I don't particularly like Kobe Bryant, but what I do like is the steps he took to become great. That's what this article is truly about, how we can become great in an area of marketing that can pay huge dividends for our clients or our own company.

Search Engine Land broke down some of Kobe Bryant's most significant lessons that we can learn from. Then they took those lessons and applied them to a single area of the marketing industry that is very valuable and critical to most online marketing campaigns.

Let's check those lessons out and see what we can learn!


Watching game film is the best way to spot what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. The same way of thinking can be applied to Google AdWords; and thanks to YouTube, the number of optimization tutorials available to review is endless. 

They told a story about how they had recently brought on a new digital marketing intern. His game was good, but it was clear he needed a little polish to ramp things up a bit. So they went ahead and put their Kobe Film Theory to the test.

They told him to walk through each of 65 online advertising tutorial videos they had recorded, and then had him create and launch a test campaign. The results were pretty shocking. Not only did his knowledge of AdWords improve, but with that knowledge came the confidence to experiment with new strategies that led to new areas of success.


Shaq, a long-time teammate of Kobe, said he would come into the practice court to find Kobe running through their offensive plays and drills without a ball (grunts, squeaky shoes and everything).

The Ad Preview & Diagnosis tool and the AdWords Sandbox tool allow you to simulate the real thing without the ad spend. Get in there, do your homework, and practice!


Theory and studying alone isn’t going to translate into 18 All-Star games or 10:1 Return on Ad Spend. You have to stay agile, adapt to changes and get creative. Kobe faced more than 2,000 new opponents during his career, so he had to come up with some pretty spectacular methods to beat them all.

Similarly, the PPC landscape is constantly changing due to trends in the industry, new campaign types and competition. Do you know what happens when you’re afraid to take shots to stay ahead? Hmm, I think there’s actually a famous saying about that. Let me think for a second… oh yeah!


There are going to be good days and bad days with your ad performance. Each level of return offers an opportunity to learn.

The Good Days

Look at what’s working, and double down on it. Greatness doesn’t come from sitting back and appreciating your work. It comes from finding what you did well and determining how you can reproduce and build on that success.

When I worked on the AdWords team at Google, I would use this simple routine to double down on the areas of the campaigns that were working well. It can take a big chunk of time out of your week, but I promise it’s worth the effort.

Goal: Build on Success

Routine: The Double-Down Workout

  • Go through each of the demographic reports and take note of the highest and lowest CPA or CPC (depending on your goal) for the following:
    1. Gender
    2. Age
    3. Income level
  • Go through the devices report to identify any major differences in your key metrics between mobile and desktop.
  • Head to the locations report. Pull out the top and bottom five locations.
  • Increase your bids (in the 10- to 20-percent range) for the top performers.

The best advertisers in the world will do this kind of optimization every single day, so it’s important to know what you’re up against. If you can only get to it a couple of times a week, that’s okay — just make sure you stick to the routine.

The Bad Days

Kobe was once asked whether a player who misses his first nine shots should stop shooting or sit the bench. Kobe said he would rather miss his first 24 shots than miss his first nine. Now, maybe my math is wrong, but 24>9.

The key here is that going 0/9 means you gave up, you got psyched out, you didn’t stick to what’s worked for you in the past. Sometimes you’ll have bad hours, days, weeks in AdWords. That leads us to our final Kobe lesson.


All these Kobe-isms — the film study, morning workouts, incessant shooting and simulations — have one key thing in common: they were all habits. They were all a major part of his routine.

What you need to be an all-star campaign optimizer is a killer optimization routine. I just walked through our routine on how to double down on your AdWords success, and I wanted to show you one last routine before I wrap things up.

This one is called “Trim the Fat,” and it will push you to cut the parts of your campaign that just aren’t working.

Goal: Spend Less

Routine: The Trim the Fat Workout

  • Trim the fat on your search ads by using the Search Terms report to add all the poorly performing keywords and irrelevant traffic as negative keywords.
  • Adjust your bids based on the time of day or day of the week that’s converting terribly with Ad Schedule Bid Adjustments.
  • Adjust your bids on poorly performing locations that are converting terribly with Location Bid Adjustments.
  • Adjust your bids on mobile if it’s performing poorly with Mobile Bid Adjustments.
  • It’s important to remember that you want to decrease your bids for the poorly performing segments. You can do this by bidding down from zero percent to -100 percent. To simply remove an ad from being served to a certain demographic, device, or location, adjust the bid to -100 percent.
  • Take a look at your conversion rate on AdWords versus your overall website conversion rate.
  • Your ad may not be the issue. If you see a high click-through rate (CTR) but an extremely low conversion rate from ads, you need to tailor your landing page to more closely represent your ad’s offer.

As I mentioned after the previous routine, the best advertisers in the world are doing something like this every single day to maximize their performance on AdWords. If you can only get to it a couple of times a week, that’s okay, just make sure you stick to the routine.

No matter who you are or what industry you are in, you want be successful and you want to be effective. By following these Adwords lessons you can meet those goals and be more effective in your PPC Marketing Campaigns. Everyone wants to win and Kobe did that....and then some!