Google Display Network & Extended Keyword Match


  • Keyword Targeting on the Display network does not behave the same way as on  the Search network. Because of “Extended Keyword Match” your ads WILL display on pages that DO NOT contain your keywords. In particular for low volume keywords. Even when using phrase or exact match.
  • Pausing / Un-Pausing an AdWords Campaign triggers a Reset or Recalibration which may cause the campaign to behave differently than it did before the pause.

Targeting our Brand Name:
Are we Getting what we Paid for?

We recently noticed something strange with one of our AdWords Display campaigns. The Ad Group was exclusively using Keyword targeting on a phrase matched keyword: Our Brand name. Although it was a low volume Ad Group, the goal was to display our ads on any pages with a mention of our Brand.

Is Pausing and Unpausing Campaigns Safe?

Pausing a Campaign or Ad Group feels pretty safe — after all you are not actually changing anything, just taking a little break. This was our attitude when we decided to pause our campaign for a few hours one day. However, when we unpaused a few hours later the campaign volume suddenly shot up 100x (as did our costs). Nothing had changed with how the campaign was setup. The only factor at play was the pausing and then unpausing of the campaign.

Impressions and Ad Spend over the last 2 weeks of September. The large hump started when we paused and then un-paused our campaigns.

Extended Keyword Match?
But we’re “Phrase” Matching!

When we took a closer look at what was going on we quickly realized that our ads were showing on sites that clearly DID NOT have our Brand name mentioned. We first double checked that we had the setting “Let AdWords automatically find new customers” turned off, and it was. We then dug deeper and discovered that almost 100% of our ad impressions were triggered due to “Extended Keyword Match”.

Extended keyword match is when the placement was relevant to the keywords you chose and other factors, including pages a person seeing your ad has recently browsed.

You can see what percentage of your impressions are coming from this “Extended Keyword Match” by going to: Display > Placements > Segment > Targeting Mode

Almost 100% of our impressions were due to “Extended Keyword Match”

We did NOT generate any conversions from these extended keyword matches. The goal of this Campaign was to display an ad on pages that mentioned our Brand. Instead we were having ads displayed due to “other factors including pages a person seeing your ad has recently browsed” — this clearly was not aligned with our goals.

Happily, Google was in agreement and quickly issued a full credit for the extra amount spent (which may hint that this is a bug or unexplored edge case of some sort).  On a side note, the AdWords inbound customer service was wonderful, friendly, and exceptional — one of the best customer service experiences I’ve had in a long time.


  • Be careful when pausing / unpausing campaigns. This causes some sort of “reset” of statistics in the AdWords backend and causes the campaign start re-calibrating itself. Monitor the campaign for a few days after the unpause to ensure if is behaving as expected.
  • Avoid exclusively using keyword match types in display campaigns. In particular for keywords with very low search volume. Having a campaign targeting your Brand name does not appear to be a viable option as of this writing.
  • Monitor what percentage of impressions are coming from Extended Keyword Match. Consider excluding those placements that are delivering a relatively high volume of “Extended Keyword Match” impressions.

More Reading…

A Story About Education…

The story of our education system begins roughly 300 years ago with The British Empire. At this time The Empire has colonies scattered across the globe: India, Africa, Americas, Australia, etc…

The Empire has the great challenge of ruling over all these colonies without computers or telephones. The best technology they have to manage this are hand-written notes on pieces of paper being delivered by ship.

The Bureaucratic Administrative Machine

The Empire builds a global distributed human powered computer to solve this problem: The Bureaucratic Administrative Machine.  They need many people to keep this machine running. They create another machine to produce those people: The School.

The School produces people that meet 4 basic requirements:

  1. They must have good handwriting (to write down the data);
  2. They must be able to read (to understand the data)
  3. They must be able to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in their heads (to create and analyze the data)
  4. They must be identical and easily interchangeable (to be able to ship people between colonies and have them be instantly functional)

The “School Machine”
from 300 Years Ago is Still Running…

The “School” system they built 300 years ago was so robust that it is still with us today. Still continually producing identical people for an empire that no longer exists.

Schools as we know them are NOT broken (as they are doing exactly what they were engineered to do) but they ARE obsolete. Today we no longer need identical people with beautiful handwriting that can multiply and divide in their heads.

So What’s Next?

What should be done to change our education system to be more aligned with current times? How should it be changed to prepare our children for the present AND the future?

I highly recommend you listen to Suguta Mitra’s TED talk about “Building a school in the cloud” for some of his ideas on the future of education.


How to Make Your Children Smarter: Entity VS Incremental Learning

Children tend to view their intelligence in one of two ways:

Entity Learners: “I am smart at this”

“Entity” learners believe in a fixed level of intelligence: I.e.: “I am good at math; I am bad at english”.

They believe they have a fixed level of ability and there is very little they can do to change their results.  Since success or failure implies “smart” or “not-smart”, they will tend to avoid risk of failure.

Incremental Learners:
“I tried hard at this”

“Incremental” learners believe their level of intelligence is flexible and influenced by hard work. “I got it because I worked very hard at it” or “I should have tried harder”.

The learning is more important than the results. Step by step they can move from novice to master. When faced with failure, they increase their efforts or change their tactics.

Winning and Losing

Winning is still important. It is still very important. But learning is more important than winning or losing.

It would be easy to read about the studies on entity vs incremental theories of intelligence and come to the conclusion that a child should never win or lose. I don’t believe this is the case. If that child discovers any ambition to pursue excellence in a given field later in life, he or she may lack the toughness to handle inevitable obstacles. While a fixation on results is certainly unhealthy, short term goals can be useful development tools if they are balanced within a nurturing long-term philosophy. Too much sheltering from results can be stunting.
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

Assume your child is playing high-school level soccer. Which is better? Winning against a kindergarden team or losing a close match against a university team? I would argue that playing against the stronger team (win or lose) will have much better long term benefits than winning against the kindergarden team. If you never lose then you are not challenging yourself enough.

If your child experiences a crushing defeat, don’t patronize them by saying that “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose”. Your child is feeling strong emotions that clearly matter to him. Your words will not resonate with his reality.  Instead acknowledge those feelings and focus on the learning: “I know you put a lot of effort into this and you wanted to win very badly. Not winning hurts a lot sometimes, but it can also help you get better.  Let’s learn from this — let’s train harder and get better for the next match. The best way to get better is to face strong opponents, and when you face strong opponents you will lose sometimes. But you will get better. And the better you get, the more you will win.”

I have seen many people in diverse fields take some version of the (incremental learning) philosophy and transform it into an excuse for never putting themselves on the line or pretending not to care about results. They claim to be egoless, to care only about learning, but really this is an excuse to avoid confronting themselves.
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning

What Parents or Teachers can do

The language used by parents or teachers play a big role in a child’s view of their intelligence.

Language such as “You are really good at math, but bad at English” will tend to reinforce that intelligence is a fixed and unchangeable. Children will learn that they are good at math and bad at English. They will link their success and failure  to a predefined fixed level of ability. There is nothing they can do about it, so they will not try to get better.

Focus on the learning. Re-enforce that they can change their results with effort: “You are really doing good in math: Keep up the good work! You are struggling in english: Let’s study a little harder!”.

It is never too late

It is clear that parents and teachers have an enormous responsibility in forming theories of intelligence of their students and children — and it is never too late. It is critical to realize that we can always evolve in our approaches to learning. Studies have shown that in just minutes, kids can be conditioned into having a healthy learning theory for a given situation.
– Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning


Shopify Cancelled Orders and Google Analytics

By default, when you cancel an order in Shopify, that transaction remains as positive revenue in your Google Analytics.

To “cancel” the transaction in Google Analytics you have to send a negated version of the transaction. To do this in Shopify you have to create a Webhook on Order Cancelled that hits a script (located on the same root domain as your store) that will call server side Google Analytics e-commerce code to negate the transaction.

Webhook Endpoint Dependencies


Place the following code into a file that will act as your Order Cancelled Webhook endpoint (ie:

Make sure you:

  • Update the script to use your GA Account Id and Root Domain.
  • Change the path of autoload.php to point at your php-ga library

Begin Code

use UnitedPrototype\GoogleAnalytics;
require_once '../includes/autoload.php'; // Update to point at your php-ga install

$GA_AccountId = 'UA-********-1'; // Update with your GA account
$GA_domain = ''; // Update with your root domain
$webhookContent = '';
// Read the webhook content
$webhook = fopen('php://input' , 'rb');
while (!feof($webhook)) {
  $webhookContent .= fread($webhook, 4096);

if (!empty($webhookContent)) {
  // Convert the webhook content into an array
  $shopifyOrder = json_decode($webhookContent, true);

  $tracker = new GoogleAnalytics\Tracker($GA_AccountId, $GA_domain);

  $visitor = new GoogleAnalytics\Visitor();

  $session = new GoogleAnalytics\Session();

  $page = new GoogleAnalytics\Page($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']);
  $page->setTitle('Order Cancelled');

  $tracker->trackPageview($page, $session, $visitor);

  $transaction = new GoogleAnalytics\Transaction();

  foreach ( $shopifyOrder['line_items'] as $product ) {
    $item = new GoogleAnalytics\Item();

  $tracker->trackTransaction($transaction, $session, $visitor);

Setup the Webhook in Shopify

In your Admin dashboard go to:

  • Settings > Notifications > Webhooks (at the bottom)
  • Create a Webhook
  • Event: Order Cancellation // Format: JSON // URL: The full url of your php file


  • Google Analytics: Got to the Real Time > Content report
  • Shopify: Click “Send test notification” link beside your webhook.
  • Google Analytics: You should see a page request popup with your script name
  • Google Analytics: Wait a few hours and then (for transactions to register) and then go to Conversions > Ecommerce > Product Performance and you should see a sledge-hammer and wire-cutter products (the Shopify sample data) along with negative quantities and value.

Further Reading & Resources

Balance Your Life by Planning your Week

This weekly planning strategy is based on Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “THE 7 HABITS” is a Registered Trademark of Franklin Covey Co. This post is in no way associated with nor endorsed by Franklin Covey Co.

How I Plan My Week

1. Review your Personal Mission Statement (create one if you don’t have one)

A personal mission statement gives you guidance in life.  If you don’t already have one, make one. Review your mission statement weekly and adjust as necessary.

My Personal Mission Statement:

To find happiness, fulfillment, and value in living I will strive to:

Be happy and have fun; be a role model; always be part of the solution and not the problem; apologize sincerely when necessary; make a positive difference in the lives of others; be honest, sincere, empathic, and loving.

Challenge myself, try new things, and leave my comfort zone regularly; keep an open mind; continually grow and improve; strive for excellence; to always remember why I am doing what I am doing and to never get stuck in a rut.

Relax and enjoy the moment — remember to breathe and let go; have more “perfect days”. Memento Mori.

2. Identify & Review your Roles

Achieving “balance in life” isn’t about getting a 50/50 balance between “work” and “life”.  You play many more than just 2 roles in life. You should devote time to all the roles you play: Individual, Father, Husband, Friend, Employee, Homeowner, Artist, World Traveler, Adventurer, etc…

Identify 4-8 Roles that you play in your life

My Roles:

  • Individual
  • Father / Husband
  • Family Member
  • Friend
  • Employee / Entrepreneur
  • Homeowner

Review these roles weekly to make sure they are still aligned with what is important to you.

3. Identify and Review your longterm Goals

For each of your roles, define some long term goals. Think long term. What can you do for each of those roles that would make a significant difference in your life? Review these goals weekly to make sure they are still aligned with what is important to you. Ideally, most of the things you do an a day-to-day or weekly basis should get you closer to one of your goals.

Some of my Goals :

  • Individual: Climb Mt. Kilamanjaro; Visit the ruins of Palenque.
  • Father / Husband: 10 year wedding anniversary trip
  • Family: Help my father lose 50lbs; Yearly trip to Poland
  • Homeowner: Build a pool; Build dry stone wall

4. Identify Weekly tasks

For each of your ROLES (indentified in #2 above) identify some tasks that get you closer to one of your GOALS for that role. Identify at least 1 task per role, but avoid trying to do too much — I usually cap it at 3 tasks per role maximum.


  • Individual: (1) Research VISA requirements for travel to Kenya; (2) Research recommended training regiment for Mt. Kilamanjaro climb; (3) Research estimated costs for trip;
  • Father / Husband: (1) Buy flowers for wife; (2) Spend 1-on-1 time with daughter; (3) Start budget/savings plan for 10 year anniversary trip;
  • Family: (1) Visit my father weekly (and call daily) to make sure he is following his Slow Carb Diet.
  • Homeowner: (1) Look at municipal setback regulations for stone wall/barrier; (2) Fall cleanup / maintenance

5. Personal Renewal

In addition to the tasks/roles above you should also devote some time to “personal renewal”: Physical, Mental , Social, and Spiritual. Identify 1-3 tasks for each one of these areas each week.


  • Physical: Gym x2; Run x3; Nutrition
  • Mental: Learn a new Language; Read a book
  • Spritual: Go for a solo Hike; Play Guitar; Meditate; Review mission statement, roles, & goals.
  • Social:  Attend Networking Event; Go out for lunch with co-workers

5. Schedule your activities

Schedule Time for Q2
Using a calendar, task list, or other time management tool, schedule all of your activities and try to do them all.


Life BalancerLife Balancer App

Fans of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” should download my Free iOS app to help with their weekly planning.

Life Balancer v1.1 [Free / iOS]

DISCLAIMER “THE 7 HABITS” is a Registered Trademark of Franklin Covey Co. The Life Balancer app is in no way associated with nor endorsed by Franklin Covey Co.

Related Posts

Reactive vs Proactive Language


Most of us use “reactive” language in our day to day lives: “I CAN’T do that because I HAVE to do this“.

The problem with using reactive language is that it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy: Re-enforcing the belief that we are pre-determined.

That’s me. That’s just the way I am I am determined. There is nothing I can do about it
I can’t do that. I just don’t  have the time Something external (limited time) is controlling me
If only my boss were more patient Someone else’s behaviour is limiting my effectiveness
I have to do it Circumstances or other people are forcing me to do what I do. I am not free to choose my own actions.

Change your Language and you will change your situation

Outside of being bound by the laws of physics, there are very few things in life that you HAVE or NEED to do. So stop using those words.

You are Brainwashing Yourself

Using reactive language absolves you of responsibility and makes you powerless: “I am not responsible. I am not able to choose my response. There is nothing I can do about it”.


This is a very subtle change in behaviour but it will make a huge changes in your life.


REACTIVE: “I wish I could take 6 months off and travel the world but I can’t because I have to work and I don’t have enough vacation.”

PROACTIVE #1:“Although I would love to take 6 months off and travel, my financial security and my career are currently more important to me. I choose not to go on this trip so that I can focus instead on my career.”

PROACTIVE #2: “The experience of travelling is much more important to me than my job or my financial security. So I will convince my boss to give me a 6 month sabbatical (or just quit?) and I will go on this iconic journey.”

Re-evaluate your Paradigm

Saying that “I DON’T WANT TO go on a wonderful 6 month trip because I WANT TO work” is difficult and counterintuitive.  By changing your language you will re-evaluate your reality:

  • Do I really want to keep working instead of travelling?
  • How important is seeing the world to me?
  • How important is my job or career?
  • Is this job really what I want to do?
  • What is truly important to me?

There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions. But asking these questions empowers you to change.

It is always your fault

Until you can honestly say that “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” you cannot say “I choose otherwise”.

Never blame others for failures.  Always blame yourself. The moment you blame another person or some external circumstance, you become powerless to change the results:

THEIR FAULT: “The project failed because we didn’t get enough support from the marketing department. They need to do a better job next time.”

YOUR FAULT: “The project failed because I did not mobilize the marketing department effectively. Next time I will change my strategy and make a more effective presentation explaining the importance of their role in the success of this project.”

The moment you think that the problem is “out there” then that thought is the problem.

Life BalancerLife Balancer App

Fans of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” should download my Free iOS app to help with their weekly planning.

Life Balancer v1.1 [Free / iOS]

DISCLAIMER “THE 7 HABITS” is a Registered Trademark of Franklin Covey Co. The Life Balancer app is in no way associated with nor endorsed by Franklin Covey Co.

Related Posts


Most of the concepts from this post are inspired by Stephen Covey and his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This weekly planning strategy is based on Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “THE 7 HABITS” is a Registered Trademark of Franklin Covey Co. This post is in no way associated with nor endorsed by Franklin Covey Co.

Stewardship Delegation

The ability to effectively delegate is a valuable skill: Delegation enables you to devote more of your time to higher level important activities.

“Stewardship” delegation is focused on results instead of methods (on the WHAT and not the HOW) and allows the individual to own the work and communicate progress and results at agreed upon intervals.

The Five key elements of Stewardship Delegation

NOTE: Stewardship Delegation often requires training and development of the people that you are delegating to so they are competent enough to rise to the level of trust required to delegate.

1. Desired Results

Clearly specify the results that are expected and their timeline. Focus on RESULTS and not the methods.

TIP: Have the person write you short proposal describing the final results he will delivering and when they will be delivered (or just get them to repeat in their own words what you are expecting)

2. Guidelines and Pitfalls

Identify any guidelines and major restriction within which the person should opperate. These should be as few as possible, but DO identify any paths to failure.

3. Available Resources

Identify all resources available to help in achieving the results: List any human, financial, technical, and organizational resources.

4. Accountability

Setup the performance standards that will be used in evaluating the results and the specific times when reporting / evaluation will take place. The individual is responsible for the evaluation and for ensuring it takes place.

5. Consequences of Success or Failure

Specify what will happen – both good and bad — as a result of the evaluation. (Financial rewards, psychic rewards, different job assignments, etc…)

DISCLAIMER “THE 7 HABITS” is a Registered Trademark of Franklin Covey Co. This post is in no way associated with nor endorsed by Franklin Covey Co.