Yahoo Step Ups Bidding Capabilities

Yahoo Paid Ads has recently rolled out new Advanced bidding options that are second to none in the Paid Search Market.  With the new  Bidding options, you are now able to target your bids based on:

  • Demographics (Age, Sex)
  • City and State Targeting
  • Time of Day Targeting

The roll-out of the new bidding options will allow you to set your campaigns to target bids more aggressively for all of the variables mentioned.  This rivals bidding options on Google and Bing because of the ability to take the Demographic, Geo and/or Time of Day information and bid more aggressively by what works and back off bids on what doesn’t.

An example of this would be if your are client X and you sell online books.  Based on the demographic and regional data collected, you find that women in their 30-40s  and in major Metropolitan areas has the highest conversion rates.  You can set your campaign settings to increase bids for those visitors by x% in effort to increase exposure to your target market.  On the flip side, if you find that there is a high cost involved with people under the age of 18 you can lower your bids on this demographic.

Overall, while there are many needed improvements on Yahoo’s Search Marketing platform, the ability to control bidding at this level adds a whole new level of strategy.  When it comes to bid optimization efforts, Yahoo now has the advantage!

Google Content Network as Cost-Effective as Search Network IF You Give it Enough Time

We’ve often heard stories of businesses who tried the content network only to be met with financial losses and no way to know if sales resulted.  Google’s Content Network can still be a big bad place, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow these strategic recommendations:

Effectively target and create your ads with your audience in mind. Your audience should consist of those customers who may actually turn into customers*.   Effectively targeting your ads also includes ensuring your creative is appealing to your target market and that your offer is in-line with what your target demographic expects.

Target your content ads both contextually and by placement. Contextually targeting your ads is a great option if you want your content ads to appear alongside certain keywords or content.

If you are selling ‘I Love New York City’ merchandise, you may want your ads to appear alongside any story that discusses the closing of the famed Tavern on the Green Restaurant located in Central Park.  You would want to be careful, although, that your ads do not show up alongside any articles for Frank The Entertainer…In a Basement Affair, the show starring the guy who first gained fame from VH1’s I Love New York TV Show!

Don’t include all of your products under one umbrella. A common mistake is including too many products or keywords in one ad group.  The best optimized content campaigns are categorical and not keyword based; only add a handful of keywords into each ad group.  For starters you can use like keywords from your already well optimized search campaign.

Always be tracking. Make sure you are giving yourself enough time to see conversions come in.  Timeframe can be dependent upon your product’s buying cycle and how many clicks your ads receive.  Now that you have conversion data, make sure you are moving forward in optimizing your account only for conversions with an ideal ROI. To optimize your ads you can use tactics such as increasing bids on high-converting sites and lowering bids and/or excluding poorly performing sites.

Remember, you can’t always be tracking. There are instances where you won’t see a jump in sales just because you began a content network campaign.  Realize that the content network can also work to get customers familiar with your brand.  You won’t always be able to make an attribution from the content network ad to the conversion that comes out the other side.

The steps above are high-level, but you should work on setting up a great structure and optimize your Content Network account just as much as your search account. According to Google research, “[i]n a study of 25,000 global accounts, over half had an average Content Network CPA equal to or better than their Search Network CPA.”

*If you don’t have a good handle on who your target demographic is, a great place to start is your Yahoo account.  Yahoo has tools that will allow you to pinpoint your demographic IF you enable this feature in your Yahoo account.

Google Analytics: Now even more powerful

Google says they’re rolling out a new feature that allows users of their Google Analytics to annotate their visitor graphs. It has not been rolled out to everyone and we have not gotten to try it out here at Leverage quite yet but it looks very useful for both our SEO and our PPC efforts. Our SEO team will be able to note such things as when content was updated to better relate to certain keywords, when good outside exposure was reached, etc. This of course allows us to very quickly view important dates without checking and comparing external notes. Hopefully these notes are also tied in with GA reporting features to make viewing these data points even easier.

Online sales up 15.5% for the 2009 Shopping Season

Online sales up 15.5% for the 2009 Shopping Season
According to data released by Spending Pulse yesterday, internet sales were up 15.5% during the November 1-December 24 season.  Free shipping and an overall increased level of comfort with shipping online helped to spur this increase in sales. It is also important to keep in mind that there was an extra day this Holiday Season this year versus last year.  Even after adjusting for this difference in days online growth could be up anywhere between 1% and 4%.
What makes this increase in sales all the more exciting is that many people were given gift cards and will likely trade these in for product in the upcoming weeks.

According to data released by Spending Pulse yesterday, internet sales were up 15.5% during the November 1-December 24 season. Free shipping and an overall increased level of comfort with shipping online helped to spur this increase in sales. It is also important to keep in mind that there was an extra day this years Holiday Season versus the Holiday Shopping Season last year. Even after adjusting for this difference – online growth could be up anywhere between 1% and 4%.

At the conclusion of the 2008 Holiday shopping season retail sales were down 5.5%-8% so it is definitely encouraging to see the 2009 Holiday season end with a positive up tick.  What makes this increase in sales for the 2009 Holiday Season all the more exciting is that many people were given gift cards and will likely trade these in for product in the upcoming weeks.  Make sure your pay per click account and site are pushing after Christmas sales and that you still make your site appealing for those looking to make those final ‘Holiday’ purchases.

What Type of Targeting do you use?

Yahoo was recently in our office and we had the day to speak with their team about many new features and advanced strategeies of their current offerings.
Almost a year ago Yahoo started offering demographic targeting.  http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/press/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=367244
Part of the appeal is that advertisers can target age and gender in addition to time of day or  day of the week.
In a recent article http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007422
it was reported that only 37% of publishers use demographic targeting and unbelievably just over half of all online publishers offered geographic targeting.
There are many different types of targeting available and different types of targeting work for different advertisers.  If your target market has a large enough audience – I would suggest you try time-targeting or geogrpahic targeting first and as appropriate move onto other types of targeting that may be offered by your search engine of choice.

Yahoo was recently in our office and we had the day to speak with their team about many new features and advanced strategeies of their current offerings.

Almost a year ago Yahoo started offering demographic targeting.

Part of the appeal is that advertisers can target age and gender in addition to time of day or day of the week.

In a recent article Emarketer  reported that only 37% of publishers offered demographic targeting and unbelievably just over half of all online publishers offered geographic targeting.  Kudos to Yahoo for helping to set the standard.

There are many different types of targeting available and different types of targeting work for different advertisers.  If your target market has a large enough audience – I would suggest you try time-targeting (also referred to as day-parting) or geogrpahic targeting first and as appropriate move onto other types of targeting that may be offered by your search engine of choice.

What does it take to have a successful search engine optimization campaign?

Starting the second Friday in January (the 8th) will be a series of Friday postings on the considerations one should go through to achieve success with search engine optimization. Whether you’re new to running a website, know enough to be dangerous, or are a seasoned veteran, I’m aiming to provide you with useful information that will help you achieve success with search engine optimization.

Here’s the brief game plan:

Jan 8th Determining goals and when to expect to achieve them

Jan 15th Determining and recording baselines

Jan 22nd The numbers game: choosing keywords for success

Jan 29th PPC & SEO better pair than peanut butter and jelly?

Feb 5th What the competitive landscape tells us

Feb 12th How to get the most out of your content

Feb 19th Outside looking in: what other sites say about you

Feb 26th Reviewing progress and measuring success

Mar 5th Addressing conversion issues | Website optimization

Mar 12th Am I done with SEO? The next steps

This series is roughly in order of priority from start to finish (hint: it is never finished!) but of course no two campaigns are exactly the same and the steps will differ depending on a lot of factors. No worries, many of these factors will be discussed throughout.

Feel free to bookmark this page and come back in the New Year as links to the new posts will be added on a weekly basis.

New Google Adwords Phishing Email- All Beware!

Their is a new Google Adwords Phishing email that is going round with the following link address:

http://www.google-dp.com

Here is what the basis of the email is:

Hello,

Your Google Adwords Account has stopped running this morning.

Some of the ads have stopped running today (Thursday, 17 December

2009, 06:30:00). We had encountered a number of problems with some of

our servers that crashed this morning and at this time we cannot check to see what

customer accounts are now running 100%.

Click <http://www.google-dp.com/accounts/signin.html>  here to confirm

that your account is up and running 100% at this time.

Please verify <http://www.google-dp.com/accounts/signin.html>  the

status of  your ads and notify us if you see any problems.

Please note: if you do not verify <http://www.google-dp.com/accounts/signin.html>  the status of your

account and notify us if your ads do not appear online, we cannot help you.

If you ever receive an email that is requesting any personal information from Google, always be cautious.  There are plug-ins and alerts all over the internet that will inform you of the latest attempts.  Here is a great link to a tool that will alert you of Phishing links:

http://www.google.com/tools/firefox/safebrowsing/

While its great to be alerted of all changes in your account, always be sure of the messenger!!

Social Media Lessons from ‘Waiting’

This weekend I had occasion to revisit one of my favorite movies ‘Waiting’.  While ‘Waiting’ in my opinion is a great commentary on why you should eat at home more often – Mashable just posted a great article focused on three social media lessons taken from the Restaurant world. The lessons are as follows:

Play to your strengths. Companies like Chipotle and Pizza hut have introduced iPhone apps that let you order food on them. This enhances the core strength of fast food: it’s convenient. Should Ruth’s Chris put out this sort of app? No. but Ruth’s Chris, Pizza Hut, and Chipotle all understand their strengths, and they’re using social media to play to them.

Solve old problems. Food trucks are great. Just great. But often it’s hard to know where they’re going to post up next. A couple of food trucks have found a way around this: the Tweet their locations every day. It’s a simple, elegant way to solve a problem.

Answer the big question. Madden’s Casual Gourmet frequently rotates it’s menu, so they use an email list to keep regulars updated on what’s coming up. It builds loyalty and anticipation, and it’s complete free.

– John Veron


Test for Success – Measure, Hypothesize, and Test Again

Omniture recently sent out a rather interesting promotion for their products.  They made a game out of showing a series of two ads side by side and asking the user which ad they thought performed best in head-to-head competition.  The object of the game is of course to correctly guess which ads performed the best and then you are told whether you were correct or not.  You are also provided with just a bit of detail about the results and why the ad you chose was the winner or the loser.  Now, we are not given any real data to see by how much one ad performed better than the other or how long the test was run, etc., but we are given some idea as to why one ad worked better than another.

Which banner performed best

The game is an interesting exercise that helps to reinforce how even relatively small changes in your ads can impact performance.  And the information you think will perform best doesn’t always.  Using the above screenshot of the game as an example, it would be great to see how much difference was made by using the image of the product in action compared to the clock in the other ad.  The copy is also a bit different.  Perhaps the image change made a huge difference!  Experimenting and testing even relatively small changes can indeed make a difference in performance.  And if you see this game and think, “this doesn’t apply to me – I don’t run banner ads!”, then you sire, aren’t stepping out of the box.

How does this apply to me?

There are a lot of ways that this kind of thinking can impact you and your business in big ways.  Think about what images you are using on your site.  Do you have generic images (perhaps from a stock photo site) that don’t truly show the products or services that you offer?  Think about testing a new image that actually displays something highly relevant to what you offer.  What would happen if you gave your newsletter signup form a more prominent placing on the homepage?  Would improving visibility garner you more contact information?  And what if you split your content into more easily digestible bullet points instead of blocks of text?  These are all very easy things to test.

The opportunities for testing definitely do not stop there.  If you’re running paid search ads, you’re probably testing some of this already:  ad copy 1 vs ad copy 2, various calls-to-action, and even the page URLs that you are displaying.

And you better believe the fun doesn’t stop there.  What impact will color have?  Does a red button gain more attention than a green button?  The opportunities for testing are endless.

Woah, take it easy there!

Tests can provide extremely valuable data and results but you do have to give them enough time to run and hopefully provide you with actionable data.  So before you go test happy and create numerous versions of ad copy, images, layouts, calls-to-actions, etc., consider what it is that you want to get out of this testing.  Gather up a big ol’ bucket of patience, and go about it methodically to get the most clear results.

Happy testing!

Group Blocking: Tactical Negative Keywords for very Similar Ad Groups


Professionals in any new industry are often confronted with a lack of words to describe their day-to-day actions. They basically don’t have a standardized industry vocabulary to say efficiently what they’d like to say. Often they derail a conversation to explain an idea. In short, the terms haven’t been adopted or created yet.

For instance, take the term “bounce.” Ten years ago the “bounce” was mostly used to describe something a ball did. Or perhaps the term was used by a hipster searching for a bigger, better party. In our industry the term “bounce” is now used to describe…x, y, z. And that’s my point. I don’t have to define the term “bounce” to members of our community because most of us already know the meaning of the term. “Bounce” has become such a popular term with the paid search community that the single term now takes the place a small paragraph, or a 5 minute conversation. If only we had an industry vernacular committee that put all our tribal knowledge into concise standardized terms for us.

Today we’d like to offer a suggested term to the Paid Search Vernacular Committee, or PSVC, to define a series of actions that we feel deserve a single term. While we use this method as a standard practice, we know our tactic is not an industry standard practice. We’ve seen a lot of success with the tactic which is why we offer it up for discussion here. Our term is “group blocking.”

“Group blocking” involves the practice of using negative keywords—usually phrase and exact—to steer traffic to the correct ad group. Some of you are saying, “Oh yeah, I do that.” Others are saying, “Whaaaa?” So I’ll be more specific. Let’s say you have a campaign with many ad groups that are somewhat related to each other. The keywords in each ad group are close to the keywords in the other ad groups, but they are different. And, you’d like your potential visitors to trigger the correct ad. You’ve tried other options but ultimately the only way you can insure that your potential visitors trigger ad copy that is highly related to their search is to break out new ad groups. This is where “group blocking” comes into play.

Here’s an example: let’s say your ad groups are “Brand O television,” “Brand O HDTV,” “Brand O Plasma Screens,” and “Brand O LCD’s.” Now you can imagine the keywords in each ad group are going to be highly related, but in the end potential visitors need to see the correct ad.

In this scenario we would “group block” each ad group with negative keywords. For the “Brand O HDTV” ad group we’d put the main keywords in the other ad groups as negatives for the “Brand O HDTV” ad group. The list of negatives would include LCD, LCDs, television, and plasma—but not HDTV. Now “group block” the other ad groups in the same manner. This helps steer traffic to the correct ad group.

As a seasoned paid search marketer you may already be engaged in this practice and you may have a term you use to define the idea. But since I don’t know it, I would suggest that you haven’t really marketed it very well. And unless you’ve already filled out a RFC2501-B Form correctly and filed it with the PSVC then I would suggest we all start saving some words and just start “group blocking.”

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