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Friday, June 13, 2003

Confirmed: Google to Phase Out CPM-Based "Premium Sponsorships"

Currently, Google offers two forms of advertising: Adwords, which is billed on a cost-per-click basis, and Premium Sponsorship, which is quoted on a CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) basis and is aimed at high-volume, high-budget corporate advertisers.

Today, Google VP of Advertising Sales Tim Armstrong made it official: no new Premium Sponsorships will be accepted and existing sponsors will not be able to renew at the end of their terms. This means that the program should be history by year end.

Official reasons for the decision? The number one reason, and we have no reason to doubt it, is the focus on relevancy. Premium ads may not have been quite as relevant as Adwords. With all advertisers competing on a level playing field (with more relevant ads being rewarded with higher positions, assuming equal bids), one might expect more relevant results to show up on the page.

Return on investment was also typically lower with Premium Sponsorships, Armstrong admits. The typical refuge of sellers of advertising is to claim that most of the benefit of high-cost ads lies in "branding." It's nice to see Google steering clear of this sort of rhetoric. Even larger companies are being encouraged to start thinking in terms of generating measurable actions with their campaigns. Insofar as Google is trying to articulate the unique benefit of search engine advertising, they set themselves apart from the platitudes of interruption marketers.

There are probably other reasons for the change, though. One is Google's culture. The methods of CPM-oriented ad salesmen, and the messages they convey to potential advertising clients, may be markedly different from the usual product-focused, technology-focused culture in the company. The return to "just Adwords" is a reconfirmation of Google's engineering culture which "iteratively" releases product upgrades and tests cool features with the complicity of users and customers. Obviously, sales staff will continue to maintain strong relationships with high-budget advertisers, but instead of catering entirely to those advertisers' preconceived notion of what advertising should do, now the onus will be on Google to advocate the benefits of cost-per-click advertising - or what Armstrong today referred to as "ROI advertising."

According to Armstrong, large ad agencies were not, at first, "attuned" to cost-per-click advertising, so they clamored for CPM-based programs which would mesh better with their billing systems, sales methods, and established practices. "Google's CPM program has been training wheels to get large advertisers on board with 'ROI advertising,'"argues Armstrong. "These same customers are now applauding the move to cost-per-click."

Amongst the set of forthcoming features that are going to be aimed at saving time for high-budget advertisers - many of whom may be launching new Adwords campaigns in the coming months - is a better "bulk keyword" functionality which will make it easier for larger advertisers to manipulate their accounts without the slow response times associated with the current online interface.

Imagine: Google telling people in suits how to think. Maybe they really do have too much power! :)

Posted by Andrew
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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

New Traffick Article:
The Seven-or-So Habits of Highly Profitable Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Campaigns


Even businesses without huge amounts of capital can achieve fall-over-in-disbelief success with PPC campaigns, as Andrew's recent experience with AdWords can attest.

Posted by Cory
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All Yahoo, All the Time

News.com is rife with interesting tidbits about the world's best portal, Yahoo:

* Yahoo has introduced an outgoing e-mail spam "challenge-response" system for users sending e-mail (as reported by Traffick before any other publication or blog, to my knowledge). But it doesn't happen upon sending every message because, as News.com, reports:

"In order to keep spammers guessing, Yahoo's system computes what the company calls a "user profile." This profile details the frequency with which the user normally sends messages and the length of time the user has held the account. The system issues a spam challenge when the user approaches an individually determined rate limit."
Ah, so that's why Andrew and I only saw it a few times. Still, as a Yahoo account holder since 1998, I don't know why I would trigger their challenge system. Maybe they were testing the system?

* Yahoo also has announced a partnership with WebEx -- a company that provides online collaboration software that works very well, as I can attest -- into its Yahoo Messenger Enterprise Edition . So now, corporate IM users can launch online meetings while using Yahoo Messenger. Pretty neat.

* Yahoo Personals will expand to Europe soon, as announced today: "The expansion will reach the United Kingdom, France and Germany, adding to offerings in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan," News.com reports. It's no wonder Yahoo is doing this, as online personals is shaping up to be one of the few online business success stories, along with auctions and paid search ads.

Posted by Cory
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Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Ad Man Asks: WWWBD (What Would Wilfred Brimley Do?)

Phil Ross, a marketer of promotional products, weighs in with a much-needed critique of crass and misleading forms of advertising.

Posted by Andrew
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Monday, June 09, 2003

Moreover Set to Roll Out New Blog Database

I was thinking of making this juicy tidbit into an article, but then I realized: it's timely, it's topical, and it's not long enough to be an article (and besides, I'm too lazy to call anyone for an interview right now). And plus, it's actually about weblogs. That seals it. I must blog. Beware of infinite regress.

After being critical of Moreover's recent drift towards mediocrity (indexing too many short articles bordering on weblog entries), Traffick has learned that Moreover Technologies plans to roll out a new weblog database. So far, the company has aggregated 17,000 weblogs, resulting in (thus far) about 1,000 daily articles (or "entries," or "blog entries") being indexed.

As with the existing article "metabase," Moreover's blog database will be extensively categorized with a combination of editorial guidance and XML-enabled feeds. It promises to be one of the freshest and most usable blog search tools available, and should give competitors a run for their money. Expect a few wrinkles, though, that imply that Moreover may be forging productive ties with competitors. We're told that weblogs may be tagged and rated according to PageRank (just a rumor at this stage) as well as something called "Moreover rank" based on editorial decisions about source quality.

Eagerly anticipating the rollout? I am, since I'm better at just going in and playing around with new toys than I am at describing them. It should be out in July.

Posted by Andrew
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Sunday, June 08, 2003

Yahoo Mail is Even Experimenting with the Little Critters

Recently, sending an email from my Yahoo Mail account, I was asked to type in one of those "submission codes" - visually represented as large letters on a grid pattern. The idea is to help them weed out spammers, they say. I don't know much about how spammers use Yahoo Mail accounts, but one presumes some have found ways to open accounts and send mail at lightning speed.

Anyway, I only saw the submission code once. Perhaps one time is enough to satisfy Yahoo Mail that my account is real. (Of course, since I paid $50 for the bigger inbox, how could it not be?)

We're going to be dealing with more and more of these gateways in our daily online activities. Insofar as they prevent people from using bots to do things that harm the rest of us, I say, great. Perhaps a short 3-point IQ test would be in order for certain message boards (Yahoo Finance comes to mind).

Posted by Andrew
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Whois? You Mean Who-was!

You'd have to be living under a rock these days to have never encountered a site that utilizes "submission codes." This the technology increasingly utilized by companies with high-traffic data access points to prevent automated scripts from continuously querying the database to extract data, often for nefarious purposes.

Network Solutions' "WHOIS" tool, which allows you to retrieve information about a domain name's owner, is the latest to adopt this method. While this is a great way to prevent the bad guys from getting the goods, it's an irritant to honest users. The problem, of course, is that it's almost impossible to tell the two apart.

One of the first examples of submission codes I can remember is the "submit URL" feature on AltaVista (of course, it would take up to 6 months to actually index your site, but that's another story). Then, the most extensive rollout of submission code was initiated by Overture to prevent scripts from automatically logging in to Overture's pay-per-click search ad accounts and adjusting bids based on certain criteria.

I'm sure WHOIS won't be the last tool to get this treatment. It would be nice, however, if there was a viable alternative to this annoying extra step that would allow trustworthy users to skip the step. As Internet security becomes more of a concern for everyone, I'm hoping a better solution can be found.

Posted by Cory
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Speaking Engagement

I am speaking at SMX Milan

Need Solid Advice?        

Google AdWords book


Andrew's book, Winning Results With Google AdWords, (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed.), is still helping tens of thousands of advertisers cut through the noise and set a solid course for campaign ROI.

And for a glowing review of the pioneering 1st ed. of the book, check out this review, by none other than Google's Matt Cutts.


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