Case Study: Better Together – YSM Staff

Yahoo! helps LendingTree test the benefits of combining paid and organic search

Who: LendingTree, LLC, an online lending exchange that connects consumers with multiple lenders who compete for their business.

Objective: Yahoo! and LendingTree wanted to quantify how using sponsored search ads and paid inclusion listings together increases traffic.

Products Used: Sponsored Search and Search Submit Pro

Results: During the study, combining the two products drove a 61% lift in online visitation.

The Challenge

LendingTree assumed that adding Search Submit Pro, which lets businesses create natural search listings, to its Sponsored Search campaigns would drive extra traffic, but it was just that: an assumption. But now they wanted to better quantify the assumed benefit of a combined Sponsored Search and Search Submit Pro campaign. Yahoo! commissioned comScore, a research firm that analyzes consumer Internet behavior, to conduct a study that would find out how much Search Submit Pro helps increase traffic, consumer engagement and conversions.

“We had an assumption of the benefits of using Search Submit Pro and Sponsored Search on the same page but we didn’t have a way to value the impact,” says Robert Pettee, Director of Search Marketing at the Online Lending Exchange.


In the span of three months, Search Submit Pro listings were turned on or off every Thursday, while Sponsored Search ads were always active on the first page of results during the campaign period. Test panelists were placed in two groups: one group was exposed to LendingTree Sponsored Search ads only; the other group was exposed to a combination of LendingTree Sponsored Search and Search Submit Pro listings.


They found that the two products were greater than the sum of their parts—in other words, combining Sponsored Search and Search Submit Pro on the same page can potentially build more traffic than using each product separately.

  • Yahoo! Search Submit Pro advertising drove a 61% net lift in online visitation among exposed searches.
  • Exposure to Search Submit Pro listings drove a 135% lift in natural listings clicks and a 21% net lift in sponsored ad clicks.

Branching Out

LendingTree is now looking at landing page options that can take greater advantage of the increased traffic garnered by Search Submit Pro participation.

“We now have a better understanding of the whole picture and are now less apt to change our paid search budget,” says Pettee.

— Roger Park, Manager, Marketing Communications

The Top 5 Reasons to Use Firefox

Ok, so this is a blatant attempt to jump on the “top X reasons” wagon, but something occured to me today as I was compiling some information for my colleagues – most people don’t use Firefox. They just don’t know why it’s useful. So let’s remedy that.

1. It’s not a Microsoft Product.
I’m not a Microsoft basher. I remember when I had to install the printer over and over and over again for every single program I ever put in my computer and I hated it. The consolidated operating system is the best thing to happen to personal comptuers. But let’s face it – because Microsoft is the big dog, it’s the target. The only reason Macs are considered “more secure” is because so few (and the wrong type of) people use them it’s not worth a rogue programmer’s time to write a Mac virus. The same is sort of true for Firefox but in a different way. It’s not universally adopted by big corporations so why pick on it? Plus, it’s open source – this means ANYONE can fix it if it breaks. There are literally thousands of people out there who have contributed to creating and upgrading Firefox – when a vulnerability shows up, there are dozens of fixes submitted within 24 hours. You can’t get that sort of fervent attention from a huge, red-tape constricted company like Microsoft.

2. It’s Open Source
There are lots of reasons to use open source products but the main one is: it’s FREE, hello.

3. It’s Innovative
You know that nifty thing you can do with the latest IE where you have TABS in the window for all the open sessions of IE. Guess what – Firefox had that first.

4. It’s NOT Part Of The Operating System
You can install, remove, upgrade or otherwise fool around with Firefox and you don’t have to worry about accidentally changing anything else on your Windows box. The program is not integrated into any other functions on your computer unless you come up with a way to do that yourself.

5. The Library of FREE Extensions and Add-ons
This is why I started this article – about once every three months I send out a company-wide email containing a list of the most useful Firefox add-ons that I’ve run across. Some of these little gadgets are just gadgets, like IP address readers, or weather updates in the status bar. Some of them, however, are invaluable in my day to day work with search engine marketing.

For the curious – here are the links to my faves:

Oh, I forgot the part where you just use Firefox to go find find these add-ons (at and generally just click on the big green “Add to Firefox” button, wait three seconds for the “install” button to become live, click that, and restart the browser – no traditional downloading required.

There ya go, reason number 6. Enjoy!

Top 5 Tips for Winning in Retail Over and Beyond the Festive Period

Yes it’s that time already!

Following on from a post about the credit crunch, it’s time to think about the run up to the holiday season. Although this post is written from a UK perspective, most of the tips are applicable to most markets around the world.

The online UK retail landscape this year has seen steady growth with IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) reporting 15.2% year-on-year market growth to July 2008. Despite there being challenges associated with a slowing economy and the credit crunch, UK shoppers spent over £26.5 billion online in the first six months of 2008, up 38% on the £19.2 billion recorded for the first half of 2007. Online sales accounted for around 17% of the total UK retail market during the first half of the year. (Source: The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index – June 08).

So, challenges aside, early indicators look good for a merry online Christmas, with analysts predicting strong sales as savvy shoppers hit the web instead of the high street and out-of-town shopping centres for Christmas bargains.

1) Be like Red Robin: The Early Bird Catches the Worm

So when do people in the UK start to prepare for the festive season? According to Hitwise, a leading competitive search intelligence company, and Microsoft adCenter’s historical data the first tentative searches for Christmas-related keywords started as early as August! However, the first major rush coincides with when people get paid at the end of October.

The second and final push for the season coincides with when people get paid at the end of November. Searches reach critical mass in the first two weeks of December. Impressions begin to slow and click rates escalate as the postal deadlines for packages and parcels loom between the 17 – 19 December.



2) Christmas Wish Lists: Supply and Demand

Christmas is a time for caring and sharing, and peace to all men on Earth. However, try telling that to the tearful six-year-old on Christmas morning who’s just realised that Santa wasn’t able to bring them the latest High School Musical toy they asked for.

Gather insights into what customers will be demanding this festive season and what you should be stocking. If you sell toys, keep an eye on the Toy Retailers Association website for the release of the 2008 Dream Toys on 15 October which is a comprehensive list of what’s hot and not for kids of all ages this Christmas.

Finally, encourage customers to pre-order and buy early to avoid disappointment through your ad copy.

3) Stand and Deliver: Money or Your Brand Reputation

Delivery is everything to Internet customers, and it’s even more important to get it right during the festive time of year. Undelivered gifts can spoil Christmas day, which could impact brand equity and even lose customers.

Ensure delivery is a priority in your Christmas copy. Be transparent about delivery costs and delivery deadlines. If you use a third party courier service mention these because they can usually deliver beyond the Royal Mail postal deadlines. If your website offers free delivery on shopping baskets over a certain spend then use this unique selling point to entice buyers.

4) Security Matters: Santa Claus is Coming to Town (And So Are The Credit Card Hackers!)

Christmas is also the time when people are likely to take to shopping online for the first time. However with recurring stories in the media that Internet fraud and identity theft are on the increase, how do you get a nervous first-time Internet customer to shop with you? If your website is accredited by ISIS (Internet Shopping Is Safe) or you use a secure, encrypted payment system such as PayPal or World Pay, mention this in your copy to reassure buyers that you take their security and custom seriously. For more advice on e-commerce security messaging visit:



5) Snowballing not Snowball Fights: Forget Christmas Past and look to the New Year Sales

Christmas past: before the web was a mere twinkle in the eye of Tim Berners-Lee, shopping was a 9 – 5 affair and Sunday opening hours a veritable sin. Christmas was the highlight of the shopping year. Small and medium size retailers went into hibernation between the Christmas and New Year lull as the high street giants did a roaring trade.

Christmas present: 24/7 shopping with no real geographic, calendar or time constraints. If you’re a customer, there are always a number of shops open and willing to do business. Christmas is still the highlight of the year, but so are the post-Christmas sales!

So why do a number of retailers still hark back to the methods of Christmas Past by shutting up shop and turning off their PPC ad campaigns? In Jan 2008, IMRG and Hitwise reported that the largest shopping days online were actually post-Christmas dates with 26 December (Boxing Day) and New Year’s Day setting new online traffic records.

See the example below of what happened when an adCenter account was turned off between Christmas and New Year last year versus one of their competitors who remained active for the same period. (Source: Microsoft adCenter Jan 08)





So how do you make your accounts snowball and avoid the fights?

  • Optimise your accounts well in advance of Christmas and New Year. This is so that a strong history of data can be accumulated to give campaigns a competitive and robust footing in the auction environment in preparation for the peak shopping days.
  • Swop seasonal and Christmas copy for new sales copy when the postal dates have expired around the 2nd week of December.
  • Most importantly: Refrain from turning off whole PPC campaigns. Downtime equals loss of position and profits as rivals fill their boots at your expense by poaching customers and position.


Season’s greetings and may your cash registers ring like Christmas bells!

The Importance of Fully Integrated Analytics and Google Conversion Code


The longer I manage PPC accounts the more I fully realize the importance of Google Analytics. It is of the utmost importance in truly finding the ROI and ROAS that one is looking. This is true regardless if the site is E-Commerce or Lead-Gen. Many of my clients have the base Google Analytics Code installed for the site. While this is helpful in viewing traffic patterns and entry/exit points, having the Analytics fully integrated allows us to ACTUALLY find real ROAS for each of our clients. Let me use the following example to explain what I mean.

Client X came aboard as an e-commerce site selling Vet Supplies all over the world.  They had no Conversion Code, no Analytics, and no other real way to track conversions. When they came on we convinced our client to install Google Conversion Code, as they were not tracking individual conversion types thru the Adwords Account, simply sales overall. This is a but much more common fallacy than many people realize. Once the conversion code was place it became clear that the client was spending a quite a bit of money without seeing the result that he was looking for. In fact his ROAS was definitely in the negative.

Correct use of conversion code not only counted total conversions, but also separated conversion types and recorded transaction numbers. The “Transaction Count” in Google Analytics actually is a measure of how many specific conversion types occur over a month. The nice thing about “Transaction Count” versus “Conversion Count” is TC will actually measure multiple conversions for a single user. Case in point, Client X had a “E-commerce” variable as well as an “Email Sign Up.” The “Transaction Count” will consider each of these values separately, if both are applied. Google would normally only measure these 2 actions as 1 conversion. In fully integrating the Google Conversion Code to it’s highest potential we can also give each “Conversion Type” a numerical dollar value, which we did in this scenario. For our client we knew that every 15 “Email Conversions” tended to equal 1 sale. Thus we assigned a dollar amount value to each conversion. We also assigned a dollar amount value to a normal sale.

Google Adwords will also now allow you to assign several different conversion variables as well as several conversion variable dollar amounts. This is all essential information in determining the return on your ad dollar. That being said, Google Analytics lets us to go a step further. Getting the Analytics Code fully implemented will allow us to put a numerical dollar value for each sale online. In essence, if we are selling dental products we will know how much revenue we make if we sell a Mechanical Tooth Brush as well as a Tooth Pick. For Client X this information was of utmost importance, since he was selling items that ranged from $1.25 to well over $800.00.

Getting Google Analytics Integrated fully will also allow us to see information about bounce rates, not only of your regular pages but also on the Cart. We are able see how many people do not want to pay for the “Shipping Fee” as well as how many people are not able to pay with specific payment types. For Client X we were able to see that his “shipping fee” page was the cause of88% of his exits from his cart. Once we found this out we actually lowered the shipping cost and found an almost immediate up-swing in conversions.

There really are many other reasons to implement Google Adwords Conversion Code as well as the Analytics Code fully on your website if you are using PPC. Many of these will be highlighted in the future via very specific blogs concerning each issue in depth. That being said, the predominant reason to implement both is because it is the best way available to really track and increase the return on your investment without using 3rd party subscription-based platforms or tools. Analytics paired with Adwords Conversion Code are more robust together than a lot of software out there. The difference is that it is free! It is not possible to figure the exact increase in return that Client X found by getting all of the code in place, simply because they were not tracking sales effectively before the code was implemented. A rather conservative estimate was that he increased overall ROAS by 60%! Knowing this, do you think that you can afford not to get the code in place? We would venture to say no.

Below are some helpful links for people to teach them how to get the code in place, as well as how to define e-commerce variables. Many people think it’s a lot more complicated than it really is.
This link will help you learn how to implement code to track e-commerce transactions.
While this link will teach you how to install code on your cart so you can see traffic patterns

Organizing Ad Groups for Success – ysm Staff

Arrange your keywords and ads properly to help you achieve better results

This is advice taken from Yahoo!’s Smart Start guide, which is packed with helpful content to assist you in making your campaigns as effective as possible. Whether you’re an expert search marketer or just starting out, the tips from Yahoo!’s “Sharon Goodsense” offer practical search marketing insights. Download Smart Start.

You probably know by now that your account is made up of campaigns, which are made up of ad groups, which contain your keywords and ads. It’s kinda like those Russian nesting dolls. You can also think of ad groups as containers for your ads and keywords. The ads in a particular ad group can be displayed to prospective customers searching for or viewing content related to the keywords and/or ads in that same ad group.

While you can have up to 1,000 keywords and 20 ads in a single ad group, we suggest you start out with no more than 20 keywords—paired with two or more ads—and adjust from there.

The way you group your keywords and ads is critical
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes as they search the web. You know what it’s like if you type in a search term and see ads that don’t really match your search. It’s frustrating!

Mismatching ads and keywords can be as bad as leaving the house in plaid shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. It’s just not good for your image, or in this case, your ad’s appeal. If you want your ad to get clicked, you’ve got to pair similar keywords together with relevant ads.

If your ad doesn’t get many clicks, your quality index can be affected. High-quality ads are generally more relevant to searchers and therefore get clicked on more often. And the low-quality ads? Well, they are usually not as appealing or relevant to searchers, making them less likely to receive clicks.

Improve your ad quality by grouping related keywords
If you group your keywords the right way (by themes, such as product or service type, or special offers) and achieve high quality, you could receive a better rank in search results and/or a lower bid.

Putting only related ad groups makes it easier to:

  • Write ads that are more specific to your keywords, which can increase the number of clicks you receive.
  • Test different landing pages, to see which of your web pages leads to the most conversions or sales.
  • Eventually improve your ads’ quality, which could improve their rankings in search results.

Before you create any new campaigns, you should look over your existing campaign and make sure that the ad groups are structured in a way that will benefit your ads’ quality. You might need to move some keywords around, or create smaller ad groups with specific ads.

Good luck matching. You can save the plaid shorts and Hawaiian shirt for your next vacation—or costume party.

— The Smart Start Team

Are You Bidding on the Right Keywords? – Yahoo Search Marketing

Building a successful campaign requires picking effective keywords—and the proper match type to go with them

Keywords are the foundation of your search marketing account, as they help lead customers to your website. Think of them as the main building blocks you’ll use to construct your Sponsored Search marketing account.

As you work with your keywords, you’ll also need to consider match types. The two different match types—Standard and Advanced—help you control the way in which your keywords are matched to the terms that web users enter into search boxes.

The Keys to Choosing Keywords
1. Look for keywords on your own web site
Think like a customer, and pick the words that your customers might be searching on to find you.

2. Use one of our keyword suggestion tools.
Click the “Add Keywords” link in your account. This feature provides three easy options for generating keyword ideas.

3. Use keywords that attract customers at each stage of the buying cycle.
Customers pass through three phases as they consider buying something: Research, Shopping and Purchase. Generally, the closer someone is to purchasing, the more specific your keywords should be. For example, customers may search for “guitar” during Research, “Fender guitar” while Shopping, and “American Standard Fender Telecaster guitar” when they’re ready to Purchase.

4. Pick a mix of broad and specific keywords.
Generic keywords like “guitar” can quickly deplete your budget and may not lead to sales as often, but can attract prospective customers who are in the Research phase. Selecting more specific keywords may deliver fewer clicks, but can be more likely to result in sales.

Making Sense of Match Types
The Advanced match type is the default setting, and allows your ad to appear in response to a broader range of searches, even when the keyword you are bidding on is not an exact, word-for-word match with the search query. In this way, it can display your ad for related searches using keywords that you may not have considered. While it saves you from having to think of every possible keyword, it also can deliver a high volume of traffic and result in less relevant clicks.

Example of the Advanced match type: The keyword “Fender guitar” could be matched to related search terms such as “Fender Telecaster guitar,” “Fender Stratocaster guitar” and “electric Fender guitar.”

Tip: Be sure to use Excluded Words to specify search terms that you don’t want to be matched to through the Advanced match type.

The Standard match type restricts your ad to be displayed only for searches that are exact matches to your keywords, as well as for common variations and misspellings. Consider using this match type when you want to receive very relevant clicks.

Example of the Standard match type: “Fender guitar” could match to “Fender guitars” and “Fender’s guitars.”

Still hungry for more information? Find out more about choosing keywords and match types in our Help Center.

— The Team

5 Tips For Improving Landing Page Relevancy – MSN AdCenter Advice

Are you frustrated by ads and keywords getting disapproved by editorial ? Do you want to make sure your campaign is firing on all cylinders as soon as it goes live? Would you like to convert more site visitors into sales? When there’s a clear connection between the information contained in your ads and keywords and the information found on your landing page , your campaigns are more likely to pass through editorial with a clean bill of health and increase conversions . The landing page is one of…(read more)