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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It's Unsold on Purpose

Seth puts forward a search marketing targeting idea I surely would have supported four years ago: selling to people who are likely to be interested in your offer, by targeting keywords that may be "just off" or "related in some way" to that offer. In this case, he notes the similar tastes in vehicles exhibited by New York townhouse owners, so why not buy ads on keywords related to the little gray Toyotas, if you're selling townhouse developments?

By and large, Google's thought of that, and they're going to make it tougher on you to do this. Based on their concept of relevance, which is now built into quality score (and extends beyond mere CTR), they'll probably force you into a significantly higher minimum bid on that Toyota-related phrase, and that might well ruin your economics here. Either that, or you'll get very low response rates, and anemic volume.

Still - I like the thinking. Housing developments are a bit different from many potential advertisers. Mark S. here at Page Zero is working on a couple such campaigns now and we'd like to work on more of them because the economics are sound, if you do it right. They're often localized in focus and highly profitable, so if you target well, maybe you could absorb and make productive use of the $6 "toyota" clicks on relatively low volume. The thing about Google's tougher regime today is: it's not going to kick you out for trying wacky keyword theories. It just makes you pay more.

That's why you're seeing unsold inventory, Seth. Most advertisers are stubborn, and refuse to pay those kinds of premiums. Google is primarily trying to please search engine users, who don't like irrelevant offers. But they will let you flout that policy if your pockets are deep enough. The white space and general thuggery Google has unleashed on the irrelevant advertiser have, paradoxically, increased Google's profits. Go figure. :)

BTW, today I sent out a detailed description (for paying Page Zero Advisor subscribers) of the "tight loop concept" and how it seems to be an important part of the thinking at both Google and Yahoo in terms of the ad ranking algorithm (in Yahoo's case, to be implemented in 2007).

In this issue of the Advisor I also discuss the "torso" - keywords lying in the productive area between the head and the long, lonely tail. The "torso" is a cool new word floating around Silicon Valley (thanks to the insiders who reminded me that I could sound really original using that term "up here in Canada" ;) but apparently I'm bigger in Germany anyway so I'll refrain from pretending to coin it, eh). A search reveals that Chris Anderson and some VC's were percolating on that term in early 2005; also note the torso slide posted here on Traffick.com about a year ago. The concept of SEM bread and butter being in that non-tail, non-head zone has probably been around for a good decade, actually, started back when it was just SEO.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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