Everything but Google: Alternative Search Advertising Options

Aug 18, 2008 • 7:07 pm | comments (0) by twitter | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2008 San Jose
 

Is Google your main search engine? Do you realize that there are many other tools that will help you find specific information — sometimes better than Google? Most people are unaware that there are more than just the "big three" of Google, Yahoo, and MSN. The list includes Bit Torrent search engines, image search engines, artificial intelligence systems, clustering engines, recommendation search engines, metasearch, and many more hidden gems of search. Most of these niche search engines have very fun, interesting features, and you'll discover all sorts of relevant information you might have otherwise missed using the more general, big box-type search engines.

Moderator:

• Andrew Goodman, Principal, Page Zero Media Speakers: • Sage Lewis, Search Engine Watch Expert & President, SageRock.com • Jay Sears, EVP, Strategic Products & Business Development, ContextWeb, Inc. / ADSDAQ Exchange • Jonathan Ewert, Vice President and General Manager, LookSmart • Dustin Kwan, Senior Product Manager, Ask Sponsored Listings • Mary Berk, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft

Andrew Goodman, SEW Expert: remember back in 1995 when there were 9 or 10 competitive search engines…we’ve sort of gotten away from that. It seems like today there is a lot of energy in the space, it’s a complex picture that needs simplifying. So we have some experts here to talk about the subject.

Sage Lewis: Good afternoon. I happen to be one of the proud experts at SEW, you can see my bi-weekly column there. Today this session is brought to you by my family vacation! I was at my in-laws in Upstate NY, and here is the media we had on our vacation! Movies, laptops, stereos! The point is, there is more media to buy than ever! But – there is not more media budget. And – more options mean more risk. I am coming to you as a buyer of media here so I am going to share with you some of my experiences in buying media on search engines, I will show you some of the things we have done and find success in.

1. Paying bloggers to post: there are many places you can do this, Pay Per Post, and also experimenting with a company called Review Me, but Social Spark is another one. We’ve had good and bad experiences. The good experience is we used them to create buzz for a contest – and we won this. The bad experience is when we used this for a B2B site, to get users to fill out a survey, and it was unsuccessful, too targeted. If you have a large audience you are trying to reach, using these networks can be very effective, but not if your market is more targeted. 2. Ask.com is good cheap traffic where we get a lot of conversions. Ask has been very successful for us. 3. Superpages.com is great for a local or regional campaign, can be very successful, we have seen a lot of conversions. The traffic is qualified. 4. Facebook can allow us to target based on demographics. You can buy ads to promote a variety of things on Facebook. The process allows you to demographically target – and Facebook has over 24 million members. I highly recommend this. 5. We like Quigo because you can target very specific newspapers and magazine. Quigo is PPC – and you can target very specific places, great if you are doing regional campaigns. This might be something that you would find interesting.

Here is a campaign from one client (slide). It shows a variety of advertising networks. I have highlighted when one medium beat our overall average. I wanted to show you specifically that the bottom line of this is cost per conversion, which the average was $50.90, and the CPC average was $0.90. And Yahoo and MSN, in this particular case, was above our average! But, Superpages and LookSmart were below and converted quite well.

Tip #1 - Buy alternative advertising through referrals. If you are in a marketing network group, ask around, see what you might find. Tip #2 - Be absolutely clear about your goals and time frame – know what you are going to get out of this. Tip #3 - Allocate 10%-25% of your online budget to testing. And know that it’s testing, and it’s not going to convert, but if you don’t test, you might miss out.

Jay Sears, EVP of Context Web: I talk about 3 things today: 1) Why search is not advertising. 2) Why some very large companies have spent over $10 billion over the past 15 months for display. 3) Trends we are watching and you should watch.

Search is not advertising. It’s demand fulfillment. It’s order taking. Content is more about demand generation. There is only so much search. About 5% of the time you spend online is searching. The other 95% is looking at content. There is 50 times the amount of inventory and opportunity with content-based ads. Because content advertising has been lumped in with search (largely because of Google), it is largely misunderstood.

Targeting content vs. search. This is applicable to Google content network. When you are targeting content you want to go wide, it’s implicit interest, you want to generate that demand. Versus search, where someone has told the search box that they are interested in something.

Think about categories. Keywords can appear out of context. Go wide and gear your ad towards the right category. People make the mistake in using very specific keyword to target content. If there is a page about baseball, about the Red Sox vs Yankees, don’t run an ad about the Red Sox because you will piss off half the people. But if your ad is about memorabilia or tickets, you will get a different response.

The next battle ground is display advertising. Google’s organic growth rate, though still growing by leaps and bounds, is slowing down. So they have to innovative on the display side, so they bought You Tube and Double Click. Another issue people are trying to solve for marketers, that unlike the search market which is highly concentrated to Google, display is highly fragmented. You have a million publishers that carry advertising. Social applications and other sources allow us to avoid homepages and go straight to deep pages. So how can we re-aggregate those opportunities to reach customers?

You have branded sites now building mini ad networks, and ad networks themselves now specializing. Dream up any topic – and you will find an ad network especially for that industry.

The growth on a lot of the portal destination sites are down over the past few years, so this is why they are creating these platforms.

There are 120,000 blogs creating every day. So how many calls would you have to make a minute to reach all those guys! So you can see why these platforms are all getting created.

So some of the things we are doing about it – Marketers want scale and control, making the long-tail addressable (Google has the only effective strategy making the long tail addressable, they have over a million publishers on their network), content is a high value common denominator, solutions for big and small sellers.

We catered our business to the large agencies, and recently created a self-publishing product for smaller companies.

I just want to leave you with some trends: -the display/content advertising is the next battleground. -innovations in self service publishing will happen more and more. -other portals are figuring out ways to make the content/display market friendly for all of us.

And if you are a buyer, you might start to become a seller, and vice versa, and eventually we are all going to become media traders!

Jonathan Ewert, LookSmart: I sure hope search is advertising Jay!

Thank you for having me, this is an exciting time in search advertising. We have a lot of unknowns, and alternatives are certainly needed in the marketplace.

All markets follow a cycle and change over time. Years ago there was nothing called internet search and obviously no search networks. Infoseek was out of inventory, so we needed to start a network to get more inventory from other publishers; in those days it was all display ads and not text ads. Today there are a series of new and established search engines, and a whole host of networks.

What’s happening? Fewer search engine choices will drive higher prices, which creates the need for search advertising networks. Search networks may or may not have a search advertising network. When these networks interoperate with each other, it’s more cost effective and will offer the potential of a great return.

At this point Google is a natural monopoly. Are they too smart for their own good?

Search advertising networks are text-based with traffic that exists in other places than in search engines. It’s a big business and growing pretty quickly. It’s going the reverse of search engines which essentially has only 3 biggies. There are more places, and more budgets, in search advertising. Online overtook TV spending in the UK last week and it’s on track to happen in the U.S. As we talk to advertisers, here are some of the things they ask us:

1. Make sure it’s easy for us to buy and optimize through an API. I spend a lot of time optimizing my own buys, don’t make me do that with your network. 2. Answer the phone – be responsive with actual human beings. 3. Offer plenty of targeting options beyond local. 4. Offer a lot of reach at a low price.

Be careful, if you bid to low you might not get access to premium networks, if you bid too high, your economics are upset.

LookSmart leverages and licenses its AdCenter platform to advertisers and publishers as an essential complement to major search engines.

Dustin Kwan, Ask Sponsored Listings (ASL): Some topics I will cover: Why advertise beyond the Big 3? How can you improve your performance in targeting with Ask?

Ask is the fourth largest search engine. Why advertise out of the Big 3? Really with Ask, you can extend your reach to those not on Google, Yahoo and MSN. A percentage who use Ask don’t use the others! You can get a pretty big performance boost if you can combine another, without harming your ROI. You will see much lower CPCs and CPA’s on ASL. We spend a lot of time on the performance of the network.

We have very specific tools that are available for you to help improve your campaign performance to help expand your keywords and clicks and improve the granularity of your performance. The top 3 underutilized tours include dynamic insertion codes, keyword prospecting reports, run of category targeting.

Dynamic Insertion Codes are similar to DKI, but you can add additional information, like Ad ID and feed source, and other metrics to help optimize your ad. You can add codes for more granular tracking. All campaigns can benefit from these codes. You want to optimize your traffic sources based on feed insertions, and use the codes in conjunction with Analytics tracking.

Keyword Prospecting Reports will give you a list of keywords that are currently undersold or have low bids compared to past click and CPA performance. With this you can find high-volume keywords with low competition and low prices. You can also test out some new keywords at lower bid rates.

One size does not fit all with search networks. You may find words that didn’t work on Yahoo or Google, but might work with us.

The last tool is Run of Category Targeting. We have 38 categories that are targetable. It will expand your reach. Compete with exact and broad match ads. You do not want to use it for highly targeted campaigns. The great thing is that it has a 5 cent minimum bid, and actually does get around reserve prices!

So with the Ask network, you will increase your reach and we do have low-priced, quality clicks. And make sure you use useful tools wisely to add to your campaign performance.

Mary Berk, Microsoft: Why are we up here? So while we are one of the Big 3, we are clearly on the smaller size. You can think of us as the biggest of the small guys.

So quick overview, I will share with you how we think about our platform. The more we can encourage you to experiment with our engine, the better it is for us, but it is also better for you.

We are really looking at optimizing the needs of our users, our advertisers, and our publishers. The goal is to find the optimal mix of meeting all of their needs.

We work first to show high-quality ads to our users. When our user is engaged, we have further reach. The further our reach goes, the more our advertisers and publishers are engaged. It’s a constant balancing game.

Google is a class act. Most of us up here think we have something to offer by way of diversity. So why does Google get all the attention? If advertisers want a one-stop shop, they will go to the place that has the most users. And they don’t want to spend time optimizing their campaign for a search engine that doesn’t reach that much traffic. But – traffic isn’t everything, quality counts.

Microsoft AdCenter/Live Search: -Led overall conversion rates among search engines -Drove 17% of purchase and 15% of dollars based on 9% of the traffic, showing efficiency in driving conversions and dollars -Special strength areas include mass merchants and many others.

If you are really trying to get the biggest return on investment try different things. As you experiment you will overall improve your campaigns. So look to other engines to discover varying cost per acquisitions, different traffic and audience types (and quality levels), different publisher types.

So checkout Microsoft, we have different publishing and advertising products. Anyone who runs a search campaign can easily transfer that to content-based networks. We have some state of the art free tools (that could even be applicable to Google campaigns). We have an Excel plugin for keywords which is great. We have AdCenter Analytics – we will tell you about your audience if you install our code. We also have AdCenter Desktop to allow you to manage your campaigns while offline, and then you can upload them when you get online. Thank you!

Post contributed by Sheara Wilensky of PromediaCorp.

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