HeroConf 2016 Philadelphia – A Personal Recap

Last week, I got to attend HeroConf in Philadelphia. If you’re not familiar with the conference it is the largest conference in the world that only focuses on paid search. It was a great chance to catch up with my PPC friends from around the world, moderate a whole day of breakouts, and get to attend a few sessions myself. My goal with this post is to not recap every event that went on at the conference. I’m saying this because while listening to the speakers, one theme really stood out to me this whole conference…doing what’s best for the user. I’m also not going to summarize every single breakout session I saw. I’m going to show how certain presenters didn’t just show attendees new tactics, but how the presenters demonstrated how to use certain PPC tactics to make the experience better for our users.

International PPC

Maddie Cary led the first presentation I saw (and moderated) during the conference and was one of my favorites. She really emphasized that one size does not fit all in international accounts. You can’t approach your international campaigns like your USA campaigns and just change the language. Your keywords might not have the same intent when translated. Your landing pages might not appeal to the same users in different countries. And my favorite example, do you know how each country prefers to pay?

international ppc payment slide

She went into other examples like how shipping expectations, device preferences and conversion times differ by country. Last, Maddie talked about how certain countries celebrate different holidays. Black Friday won’t work everywhere. Also, there are international holidays such as Singles’ Day (China) or Click Frenzy (Australia & New Zealand) that you may not know about. Focusing on the user experience will greatly help your international campaigns if you’re already targeting the right keywords.

Attribution Modeling

Duane Brown presented on attribution models for modern consumers. Attribution is an important part when analyzing an account because it helps PPC advertisers understand the impact of paid search on overall marketing goals. Many times your PPC campaigns help increase awareness and boost other channel’s performance in addition to direct ROI. To better understand this Duane went through the various attribution models which include first click, last click, position based, etc. to show that there are many ways campaign performance can be reviewed.

attribution slide

Duane then showed the crowd how to set up different multi-channel funnel groupings in Google Analytics to create custom ways to look at attribution data. This lead to one of the most memorable quotes for me at the entire conference. (Duane if you’re reading this I apologize for the paraphrasing. Going off of memory here.) “A dollar in spend today does not mean a dollar in return tomorrow.” As marketers we have to be willing to invest in the future. Not everyone is in buy mode all the time. We need to nurture certain users with our PPC campaigns along the path in the buying funnel to provide the best user experience. Attribution can then help advertisers find out the worth of these campaigns to show the value in providing such nurturing experiences.


Joe Kerschbaum gave his presentation (which I also moderated) on remarketing to users who’ve never been to your website before. He went over methods such as targeting users who’ve downloaded your app, using similar audiences to reach new people who are comparable to your current audience targets, and targeting users who’ve watched your YouTube videos. The other method Joe mentioned was targeting users on your email lists.

customer match checklist slide

Think how customer matching can help your PPC. If we can create separate audiences for different aspects of your business, we can create different campaigns or ad groups to target each email list. This allows PPC advertisers to create a better experience for each of these customer audiences to allow our ads and landing pages to have a different voice. Marketing at it’s finest in one of the most underutilized paid search tactics that AdWords offers.

Video Ads

Jeff Katra presented the last session I saw during the conference. “His session was on Social Advertising to Drive Revenue,” and he provided many examples of why social is important. Negative messages on social media resonate 5x more than positive. This is why it’s important for brands to embrace social strategies that create good experiences for users. The example that stuck out to most with me was the growing number of users who never turn their sound on when watching videos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It’s now becoming more important to include text overlays in all social videos to increase engagement and view rates. Ever see a Tasty video on Facebook…

A user doesn’t have to turn on the sound at all to want to watch the whole video. It’s great content that makes it as easy for the user as possible. Immediately I could think of all the video campaigns I’m running right now and wonder how much performance could increase with just this minor change.


There were many more presentations that had great examples, but I think you get the point. HeroConf 2016 was a refreshing reminder that PPC specialists are more than “implementers.” We are marketers, and it is partially our responsibility to make sure our clients’ users have the best experience possible. PPC is more than just keywords. We help create experiences that will hopefully lead to lifelong customers. Thank you HeroConf for another great year. Thank you to the speakers for providing another year of actionable content. And thank you to all my PPC friends who not only provided a good time, but shared their knowledge and experiences. I hope to see you next year in Los Angeles!