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Friday, March 02, 2007

Yahoo Search Marketing Minimum Bids - UK vs. US

Yahoo has recently clarified that they'll be sticking with the $0.10 min bid in the U.S. and discontinuing grandfathered bids.

Which should make it surprising that they're dropping the minimum in the UK to 5p - except that 5p works out to roughly 10c. So it's about the same in both places.

Either way, most of the time these minimums don't matter. If your market is in any way competitive you'll soon be paying significantly more than this to stay visible, even if you're "lowballing."

It's interesting to notice that Peter Hershberg doesn't feel the need to couch this story as "under Panama". Peter's company does a lot of paid search. He understands that whether you call the platform Panama, Kumquat, Sasquatch, or Guantanamo, a minimum bid is a policy having nothing to do with the interface per se.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Monday, February 19, 2007

Quality Score Transparency: Cool

Excuse my giddiness, but it's definitely addictive to look at your keyword quality scores. You could have guessed them before by the assigned minimum bids, but these are fun to look at anyway:



Yet confounding, too - no doubt seeing this stuff will cause some advertisers to overthink and to try to divine the impossible. The one with 5.1% CTR today is called "great" but there is one with over 10% CTR that is being assessed as merely OK. Presumably, that's based on some predictive stuff around the generic nature of one of the keywords (the OK one is too general maybe). And presumably it would only be a few hundred more clicks over a week or so at a high CTR and it might kick into "great" territory. We'll see. I guess that would be my advice in the "avoid overthinking" department: realize that an established CTR history will give you a more stable quality score than the stuff you see on new keywords.

I also think it's cool (laugh if you like) that Google makes it slightly difficult to display this, so it doesn't confuse newbies. You have to drill down a fair bit to find the place to turn on QS info.

At the campaign summary level, if you click on "customize columns," the only non-default column you can add here is "CPM." (I find this cool too. You don't need to do the math - you can measure the eCPM on your campaign by enabling it in the interface. On this ad group - a brand new campaign - we're getting a rock-bottom $0.85 CPM. So far, so good!)

Anyway, once you drill down past the ad group level to the "keywords" tab you can "customize columns" and enable the extra quality score information in the interface.

Speaking of new stuff... at the bottom of your keyword list in the available options is a button for "pause" and "unpause". Shut up! I'm pretty sure Google slipped this in without telling us. Some time ago they added a feature that allowed you to pause an ad (handy for testing and sharing info internally), but this pause a keyword was something I'd been hoping for. Heck, who knows what you'll use it for, but power users always come up with something.

UPDATE: OK, so via the Inside AdWords blog I see the "pause keyword" feature was added on Thursday. I spent Friday on an airplane... So by now it's still only five days old. And my spidey sense tells me that my colleagues here in the office are already pausing keywords! LOL, gotta love 'em. The "pause ad" feature was added some time ago, as I recall.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Thursday, February 15, 2007

What's a Low-Quality Ad, Anyway?

In one of the paid search sessions yesterday here at SES London, one audience member gave his account of the "death spiral" that seems to afflict certain keywords in his AdWords account. "I wake up and Google's asking for 2.50 for a keyword, so I raise the bid. The next day, they've put it up to 5.00. (etc.)."

Obviously this is a signal that the relationship between this keyword, ad, and landing page is seen as "very low quality."

So I asked roughly what industry he was in - turns out it's related to debt relief. The keyword in question? "Lottery tickets." Yup, I thought to myself - in the new Quality Based Bidding regime, that's seen as just too far off the mark in terms of relevancy to the service being offered to the consumer.

This might have fallen flat at any stage of AdWords history, though, by virtue of the low CTR it would likely attract. A "popular culture" type word (people looking up lottery listings is a very common navigational function) will be so high volume that the proportion of users who are thinking "transactionally" and willing to check out an offer is so low that it will lead to a CTR that is below any threshold of reasonability as far as today's PPC auctions go.

You admire the lateral thinking here: people desperate to dig themselves out of debt might be more inclined to buy and look up info on lottery tickets. If so, then an advertiser should probably try to get placement on relevant websites through direct media buys and various banner and text ad targeting tactics (one being Google's Site Targeting option).

But you'll have much more trouble doing this type of "loose targeting" if you're using AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing, unless of course you have a strong, established CTR and user experience history.

So is an ad for debt relief next to search engine results for lottery tickets really "low quality"? Yes, moderately so, because in the user's eyes, search is special. They want even the ads to be tightly targeted, or let there be no ads at all.

Google is no doubt going to continue to modify the Quality Score algorithm to fine-tune the balance between advertisers' needs and the user experience. Stay tuned.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




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