Search Ad Buyers Forum

Dec 11, 2006 - 3:14 pm 0 by
Filed Under SES Chicago 2006

Hello all...this is a late addition to the Chicago SES 2006 coverage we did last week. I apologize for not getting it up sooner, but I have been lagged like Barry. :)

This was gracefully submitted to me by my friend Stacy Williams from Prominent Placement (Search marketing firm in Atlanta). Thanks for the great recap!

Moderator: Dana Todd, Founding Partner, SiteLab International, Inc. Presenters: Phil Stelter, Director of Business Development, Range Online Media Isabel (Schoenberger) Sopoglian, VP of Search, Stacy Williams, Managing Partner, Prominent Placement, Inc. Josh Stylman, Managing Partner, Reprise Media

Dana Todd opened the session by saying that in addition to introducing the presenters with their real names, she would also use our "porn names." (Porn names are devised by taking the name of your childhood pet and combining it with the name of the street you grew up on.)

So Dana...I mean "Periwinkle Cuthbert"...talked about what's on her mind regarding buying search ads these days. She ran through news at Yahoo (Panama being rolled out, the Peanut Butter Manifesto, the newspaper partnership - which is a big deal). She's excited about Amazon and Clickriver's partnership, as well as AskCity. She asked MSN/Microsoft/Windows/Live to pick a name already.

Dana said that early results from SEMPO's big survey (not too late to participate - go to shows that there may actually be fewer people buying local PPC ads than last year. Her money's on mobile search. Gannett - a traditional newspaper company - is getting with the times by using crowdsourcing (utilizing citizens to do reporters' work) and "mojos" (mobile journalists - they don't have an office but work out of their cards and post news live). Apparently immediacy is more important than quality or accuracy - but Gannett is only doing this with their online news.

A recent MediaVox announcement of Google's "secret" ad network was mocked (it's only banner advertising, people!), and Dana noted that the quality score issue is hitting people hard in their wallets. (That was a theme throughout the session, and indeed, throughout the conference.)

Dana's still a fan of several "search engine underdogs," including AOL (Fullview is cool, and AOL still has significant market share in the content space), Miva (quality of their traffic is increasing) and LookSmart's vertical play.

Next up was Phil Stelter, that is, Maya Jackson, who noted it was hard to follow Dana as a transvestite. He noted that everyone agrees that CPCs are rising, but few advertisers have hit their upper limit thus far. The engines will continue to add more options, such as MSN's demographic targeting.

Why are costs increasing? Click fraud, targeting options (again, MSN), algorithm changes, distribution changes, competition with affiliates and more. Phil gave a case study of a financial services client whose CPCs were doubled when the company's affiliates entered the market.

Phil noted that with Panama, bid management tactics like bid jamming and gap surfing are gone. Bid management tools, as they're used today, are becoming irrelevant. What we need to focus on is creative testing and landing page optimization. Those must outperform in order to get ahead.

Advertisers must reconsider how they measure their return - use an integrated approach and analyze it across channels.

Isabel (Schoenberger) Sopoglian, also known as Benny Osterender, presented on "Mastering the New Bidscape." She began by covering four major changes on Google: * Landing Page Quality Score algo update * Position "Normalizer" algo update * Google toolbar update - suggested searches * Refined Search Option on results page (affects organic results)

The latter two suggestions from Google takes traffic away from the keywords they're targeting and sends it elsewhere.

Isabel showed several examples of core keywords before the algo updates (Sept. 9) and after. They got 5,000 fewer clicks on "Honda" with the same CPC, and lost clicks on other keywords where they increased their CPC. It's had a huge impact on them. Their great account history is no longer important due to the position normalizer. Isabel thinks Google created these changes to increase their revenue and have better control over ad position 1.

Yahoo's Panama and MSN now are less transparent and more complex. They require more human intervention and less automation.

Isabel offered Tips & Tricks, including: * For Google's landing page quality score, use dynamic landing pages to create relevant content. Reflect the content of the landing page in the ad creative, even more precisely than before. * For Google's toolbar, test the keywords Google suggests first in the drop-down and focus your strategy on those. * For the position normalizer, increase your CPC (and suffer from lower ROI), optimize your ad copy and expand your keyword portfolio.

Tier 2 search engines - had been using Miva's network at 5 cents a click. Miva approached them with a "premium" option that would be 25 cents a click. They were hesitant but tried it and found it had a great conversion rate. Isabel noted that expanding into additional networks comes with an increase in costs - human resources as well as additional automation, tracking and licensing.

Regarding click fraud, they've analyzed their own results and found that 5-23% of their own traffic is fraudulent. Industry average inflation of CPC due to click fraud is 17%.

Next, I presented. You can call me Stacy Williams or Funky Ridgeway, your choice. Dana suggested I title my presentation "Search Engine Relationships," but I had a hard time being that diplomatic. It's called "Search Engine Meddling." I come from a traditional advertising background, and I'm used to buying media and getting what I paid for (what a concept!). Examples of the PPC engines meddling with our campaigns fell into three categories.

Think all Google ads marked as "Active" are actually running? Think again! We've been running a campaign for the TBS cable network since June of 2004, bidding on "Sex and the City" keywords. We recently moved them from one AdGroup to another for a short-term promotion. They were listed as "Active" in our account, but after a week, our account manager noticed they had generated 0 impressions, which wasn't normal. Our rep confirmed that the word "sex" had tripped a filter somewhere.

For our client Bradley-Morris, we bid on 60 versions of their brand name, including misspellings. These also showed as "Active". Six weeks into the campaign our client "Googled" their own name and didn't see an ad. Turns out "a technical glitch with the approval process" hung up these keywords.

We're bidding on "second hand as/400" for a client who sells used mainframes, bidding $4.25 a click. The keyword is listed as "Active," but when you roll over the magnifying glass to use the new Ad Diagnostic Tool, it's not running because our "quality score and CPC are too low." There is no way to know which keywords are inactive unless you roll over the magnifying glass for every keyword in your campaign.

Think your match type settings are actually set and kept? Think again! A recent Yahoo campaign for TBS' new show "My Boys" included the keyword "My Boys pictures." Yahoo apparently decided to display this ad for the query "boy picture," which we only knew because Yahoo emailed us to tell us it was removed due to a low Click Index. I don't know what someone searching for "boy picture" was looking for, but I don't think it was us!

Similarly, we had a Yahoo campaign for TNT's medical drama "Saved." An overzealous staff member included some overly broad keywords such as "doctor" (on Standard Match - Yahoo's version of exact match). We got an email saying that due to its low Click Index, the Yahoo system changed the match type to Advanced Match (Yahoo's version of broad match). This means that someone searching for "eye doctor in Chicago" would see our ad. We immediately removed the keyword from our campaign. Glad Yahoo emailed us, but they had no right to change our match type.

Google serves up ads for "synonyms and related terms" if you use broad match, which many people are unaware of. We bid on "refurbished as/400" (an IBM server) and our ad appears for "rebuilt Calcutta 400" (a fishing reel). We bid on "used Sun" (as in Microsystems) and our ad appears for "used heat pump." We only know about this because we found a slew of unrelated keywords in our server logs - meaning we paid for these unqualified clicks.

Think the creative you wrote is actually running? Think again! On Google, we used keyword insertion so that the title of an ad running for the keyword "massage school" (geotargeted for Georgia) would read "Atlanta Massage School." While running a few spot checks, I saw that the actual title displayed was "Marietta Massage School." Marietta is a suburb of Atlanta - while we are using that title for the keyword "Marietta massage school," it should never have been displayed for someone not searching for "Marietta." Google told us their system found the alternate title "more relevant."

Yahoo's editors will rewrite your creative without telling you, although this may happen less frequently after Panama is rolled out and they rely less on editors. We ran a short promo campaign to drive clicks to funny spoof videos of "Lord of the Rings" on TBS' site (keyword = "Frodo").

Our copy: Lost Lord of the Rings Video Witness Sam and Frodo's secret love!

Yahoo's editor rewrote to: Frodo While you gear up for the premiere of the Lord of the Rings movies...

...which isn't compelling and isn't on strategy (the goal was to drive traffic to the videos, not drive viewers to watch the movie). The client discovered this one (how embarrassing!).

What can you do? * On Google, look for keywords marked as "active" that have 0 impressions * Be very careful with broad match in Google  Use negative keywords like crazy  Watch your web analytics for keywords actually used * Be very careful with keyword insertion in Google  Run searches and look at creative * Ask your Yahoo rep to "flag" your account with instructions not to change creative * Keep a closer eye on your campaigns than you think you have to

The session was wrapped up by Josh Stylman, otherwise known as Otis Oakville. Josh said that when most people think of search, they think of Google. When most people think of search advertising, they think of a text ad. But search isn't just search anymore - you can search on eBay, Amazon, ESPN and all kinds of sites not thought of as search engines. There's contextual advertising everywhere. There's also demographic targeting coming into play, behavioral targeting (where you search for a car one day and see an ad about that car on another site the next day), and RSS.

Search is more than Google, Yahoo and MSN. There are second-tier PPC engines (Ask, Miva, pulse360, Enhance and LookSmart). There are also vertical players (SiteStep,,, AdSonar, indeed, and Kayak).

New formats are emerging, including images, rich media and video ads. Search won't just be online - you'll be able to go to a search engine and buy print, radio, mobile, TV and more. Common themes we'll see will be that search across media will be: * Targeted * An Auction Market * Measurable

Finally, search is not an island - if you want to get your message out to key markets across the US, you'll be able to go to Google and buy print, radio, TV and online ads in one place.


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