Updates from July, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • NorCalSEM 8:16 am on July 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , bid managment, , display, , , interface, microsoft adcenter, , , , search, , yahoo bing alliance   

    i bing. you bing? 

    Let’s face it, in search, Google is King.  And they have been for a while.  But finally, after Yahoo and Bing struck a deal to work together last year, a Queen has been crowned in search engine land.  Microsoft AdCenter is now a viable play for every serious search marketer and a great way to increase a brand’s share of voice across the web.  But it wasn’t always so.  For years search marketers paid less attention to advertising on (now)Bing and Yahoo than they did on Google’s AdWords.  Usually, marketers who could meet their traffic needs with Google alone would skip Yahoo and Bing.  Clunky UI’s, inept editing tools and small market shares just made the time spent outside of Google AdWords not worth the effort for some. If this is you, it might be time to give things a closer look.  You might just find that Bing is better than ever.

    i bing. you bing?

    Here are some of the reasons why:

    • Larger Market Share

    AdCenter now reaches nearly 30% of all web searchers.  With numbers like that it’s important for marketers to have a strong presence for their brands on Bing and Yahoo.  And remember marketers, not everybody is using Chrome and Firefox like you are.  Yahoo and Bing especially, benefit from being default search engines in web browsers, tool bars, and mobile devices all bundled on the latest laptops through Office and Windows.

    • Greater Control

    The alliance between Bing and Yahoo gives marketers a chance to manage both networks now through one UI, Microsoft AdCenter.  This helps marketers by reducing resources previously used across three separate networks.  With AdCenter, the functionality has been updated to make working in the UI easier than ever before.  Microsoft does offer an offline editing tool, AdCenter Desktop, but larger campaign managers may find this tool’s power, or lack thereof, a bit frustrating.  I’d love to see this upgraded to the quality of Google’s AdWords Editor.  I think this is the Achilles heel at the moment for this network.

    • Quality

    Like Google, AdCenter has implemented a quality score rating.  Where Google uses a scale of 1-10, AdCenter uses a 1-3 rating system.  The basic premise is the same, provide the user with a quality experience, including ad copy and landing page relevancy, load times, and various other factors.  It’s now more important than ever to start campaigns off right and watch them closely while new keywords and ads establish themselves in the network.

    • Mobile

    Device usage is huge and, according to most blogs out there, web searches on mobile devices should be eclipsing web searches on computers any day now.  It’s important to maximize the growing market share AdCenter offers on mobile devices. Bing offers the ability to target smartphones, as well as feature phones.  Tablets and other devices are part of the regular search option for now.  Smart marketers should segment their campaigns for even greater control and flexibility.  Here’s an example from an online retailer advertising on AdCenter’s mobile networks:


    • Display

    While both networks have aligned on search, which runs through AdCenter, Yahoo and Bing still compete for business in display.  Yahoo display is more robust than Bing, but both offer you a chance to target the entire network or select specific categories or domains.  Good marketers understand the value display can add to the overall marketing mix.  Display ads help increase brand awareness and drive users to search for your brand.  If users don’t click on your display you don’t pay.  If you look at it as really cheap impressions, it’s essentially free marketing.  Why wouldn’t you do it?

    • Good Service

    I think for the most part, the service is pretty good at YaBing, especially the Yahoo rep I’ve worked with for the last several years.  Because of the clunky UI and unpopular editing tools, I rely on the network reps to handle large tasks for me.  Save your own resources for things that are more important to your brand, like your overall strategy and subsequent micro-strategies.  Push those large uploads and bulk edit tasks to your reps, that’s what they’re there for.

    If you’re not extending and maximizing your brand’s digital footprint, then what are you doing?  If you’re not using AdCenter, now is a great time to start doing so.  Take advantage of the increased market share and traffic quality that AdCenter offers now, segment your campaigns by devices for greater clarity and control, and branch out beyond just search into mobile and display.  Your reps will be happy for the business and your brand will thank you for the exposure.


  • NorCalSEM 10:02 pm on July 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , microhoo, , , Search Engines, , yahoo   

    Yahoo reaches out. 

    logoIn order to help the interested better understand the new Yahoo! and Microsoft deal I am passing along an official letter from Yahoo themselves.

    The following is a letter I received from my Yahoo rep this morning:


    With the announcement this morning of a deal between Yahoo! and Microsoft, I wanted to reach out so you would have the latest news on the deal and how it will affect your accounts short-term.

    Essentially, we pretty much know same as you do from the recent press releases and articles online. You can read a little more about the deal at the URL below.


    There was also a webcast this morning that you are welcome to listen to. To access the archive of this webcast, please use the URL below.


    As you can imagine, a deal like this will take some time to take effect. Not only are there the questions of migrating systems, but the government still has to approve it. For right now, it is business as usual around here. As more details become available over the next few days, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.


  • NorCalSEM 5:07 pm on June 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , live search, , microsoft live, microsoft search, msn, msn live   

    Bada Boom Bada Bing! 

    …And just like that Microsoft is back in the search game!  Maybe.  Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine due out Wednesday, launched on Saturday.  Does anything not “drop” early these days?!  While Google Killer it is not, Microsoft says it is not intended to be.  I do think it offers a solid user experience though.  This should make current users happy, but the question is then how many new users will be happy about Bing?  Microsoft is planning to put a significant amount of money behind marketing Bing.  The goal will not be to compete with Google, but to offer something unique to differentiate themselves in the search market.  (a good strategy, and really all anyone can do at this point).

    With that said, it will be interesting to see how they market Bing to consumers. They are calling it a decision engine instead of a search engine, and Ballmer thinks that ditching the MSN Live and Live Search brand names in favor of Bing will create a better connection with consumers.  Time will always tell. If anything it should help to bolster a stale product, and give it a fresher look and some much needed media hype.  With the new breed (facebook, twitter, etc.) stealing the spotlight, some media hype couldn’t hurt.  At the very least, Bing should help to cement MSN firmly in its current third place ranking in the Big Three.

    Bing search results page.

    Bing search results page.

    I’ve tried a bunch of searches already this morning and I like how it builds a search history for you in the left side nav under the related searches area (which is also a nice feature to help you refine your search).  Also, as you scroll over the search results, an (ajax-like) window allows you to preview the page before you click on the result link.

    Currently the home page works to merchandise a particular search theme, or discovery topic.  One thing I didn’t see while searching on Bing were the Sponsored Links.  Which makes me wonder how Microsoft plans to monetize the search traffic on Bing.  I’m sure this is all part of the courtship and the ads will return soon enough.  Launching and marketing a new product like Bing seems ambitious given the fact that Microsoft will need to get behind Microsoft 7 any day now.  But the subject of how much money Microsoft has for marketing is another topic altogether.

  • NorCalSEM 12:40 am on January 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , click fraud settlement, content networks, miva, , ,   

    MIVA sets fire to 2nd Tier 

    miva_logo-thumbUnless you just haven’t been paying attention,  you already know that there’s a fire burning in the 2nd Tier.  These are the search firms that are outside the Big Three (Google, Yahoo, and MSN – who also syndicate search results) like Looksmart, Marchex, MIVA, Kontera, eZanga, etc.   Yes, I’m talking about the knee-deep web, land of bots, spiders and Indian sweat shops.  Second tier engines are more vertical, niche, and include things like local search sites.  If you’re a publisher looking to optimize your page views, then chances are you’ve probably tried the 2nd Tier by now.  Purchasing ad space on more than just Google makes good sense if:

    1. You need volume.
    2. You need low cost traffic.
    3. You have a CPM model in place.

    Good deals can be secured on these low cost, high volume traffic providers but only for the proper business model. I’ve used this traffic to monetize a CPM model, and it works great.  But at the end of the day, you are expecting that traffic to be legit, and so are your advertisers.   But at $.01, .02, or even .03 per click, you know you are taking the good with the bad and if you don’t, well…you’re just naive.  So for some it can be a necessary evil, with the power for good.  And to some, it can be a lifeline to riches – dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

    Here is an excepert from a former MIVA employee…

    “I used to work for Miva. The problem lies in the sub affiliates. if they have an affiliate that is supplying lets say 200 good clicks a day; they likely have a sub affiliate supplying another 150-200 bot- clicks. When you remove the sub affiliate from the net work.. it takes the primary affiliate that was supplying some decent clicks along with it.

    “Once you do get a campaign to convert; it has been optimized down to the point where there is simply put, no traffic, i.e. not scalable. aside from the management team being a joke; most of the players they are generating traffic with are disreputable and the type of guys you would like to kick the shit out of at the pub. I was there 7 months before resigning.”


    How do you think they fulfill large traffic volumes?  Well, if you are willing to pay $.03 and someone else can create the traffic for $.01, everyone gets paid.  To do this nefarious publishers and affiliates create bots that simulate real clicks, even performing actions once they land on your site so they appear to your analytics as human in nature.  As you can imagine if you are a spammer sending bots out and they are clicking on Google AdSense, which is a popular revenue stream for many, then money is exchanging hands at an alarming rate.  In other cases, there are reports of actual sweat shops where people are getting paid pennines to generate traffic by clicking on ads.  And also, your competitor can be clicking on your ads in order to spend your money.But some do their jobs very well, causing “spikey” activity, like abnormal high CTR on things like Google AdSense or banner ads.    On the surface everything looks copacetic, but an analysis of variance reveals the source.  A best practice is to channelize your traffic, so you can isolate sketchy activity.

    All of this is called click fraud, and we all know that your at risk of getting burned when you leave the Big Three.  And the content networks just can’t say no to money (who can these days?).  So they fill the requests, and then get busted.  Like MIVA – which ignites the whole tier.  MIVA’s $4MM click fraud settlement has sounded the alarms – We’ve got a full blown mess up here! (And this isn’t the first for them.) Now the engines will tell you that they are working to curb this type of activity, but the fact of the matter is they aren’t really.  Any smart player knows that these types of content networks are in the business to provide traffic, any which way.   If you spend significant money, you may not get the cold shoulder when you ask for a refund, but don’t count on it.  And since the people who profit the most from the fire are the internet lawyers, every engine that doesn’t start with the letter G better start forming a bucket brigade right now, because fires spread really fast.

    • Mike 5:23 pm on March 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

      Don’t pay for your electricity any longer…
      Instead, the power company will pay YOU!

      • norcalsem 4:10 pm on November 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for stopping by. New content coming soon. Come back now, y’hear?!

  • NorCalSEM 5:13 pm on June 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Marchex, marchex adhere, marchex enhance, pageviews, panama, qualified traffic, search engine land   

    Marchex. A new suit and lookin to party! 

    marchex logo

    Looks like Marchex is doing some big things these days. I noticed this story about them over at Search Engine Land last week. Can’t wait for their launch party on Tuesday. Free booze, free food and networking potential.  My girl, Kyla will not be making the trip down from Seattle for the party, but I’ll catch up with her during the next shindig at Moscone Center.

    They have a new name, a new look, and a new traffic partner mix…so fresh and so clean! I like the new blue color of the UI instead of the old orange Enhance look. There are a few new features here as well, but it’s pretty much the same. And your old accounts are still there. Gone is Enhance and in is Marchex’s AdHere. They boast a premium line of content sites in their network. One things for sure, they are definitely planting themselves firmly in the second-tier of search engines/traffic sources. I work with Marchex’s Enhance…err…AdHere advertising platform a lot, and I’m usually pretty satisfied with the traffic that I get from them.

    Their UI is easy enough and surprisingly self explanatory.  And while Google it is not, it’s still pretty easy to navigate, start campaigns, change bids, and all that other good stuff.   You know…the basic stuff that SHOULD be easy to do (insert derogatory comment about MSN adcenter or Yahoo Panama here) Plus, your ads are launched right away, and there’s no annoying review process (insert another derogatory comment about Panama). It does take a little time to get your terms popping on the network, so be patient at first.  My advice, is – was – and always will be, if you are spending significant dough then get yourself an account manager to help you optimize.  Track the referring sites that send traffic to your domain and then adjust accordingly based on your conversion metrics.

    For the most part, their traffic usually does what I need it to do, which is pageviews per visit. There’s not much need in going granular here, although you can, and I have. But I usually get the results I need by running the same amount of keywords that I would run in a couple of different groups, and running them in the just one group. The key here is to write a good ad that will convert nicely regardless of the slight differences in your keyword bucket.  Your not running multiple ads in an adgroup with Marchex, so this is easier to justify.   Belive me, I’m a big, big fan of granular, but like I said, this isn’t Google.  Plus I just find that you get more traffic, faster, this way.   Also, it saves you time on PPC management; build out time is shorter, ads go up fairly quick, large keyword groups allow more high level mass cpc bid changes, etc.

    I’m currently using Enhance/Marchex to drive traffic to a large publisher site where the only conversion is a pageview (PV), with mostly a CPM ad model.  We do a decent amount of CPC as well, with AdSense, and the traffic works good with that as well.  Naturally in the CPM rev model you want as many pageviews as you can get per visit (PVPV).

    For the most part these guys will send traffic that turns at least a couple pages with a reasonable bounce rate for a second-tier traffic source, which tells me that these ads are getting at least some amount of  exposure with a fairly qualified audience. Their traffic partners are many and they list Yahoo as one of them.  Well Yahoo certainly has a lot of traffic (relatively, of course), but to be honest I get better results from Marchex than when I buy direct from Yahoo.  (insert derogatory comment about Yahoo’s ability to keep up in search)

    Have you used Marchex yet? Check em’ out.  If you have, see you at the party!

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