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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do NOT Click Here

Ads are NOT the new online tip jar, despite Seth Godin's assertion:
If every time you read a blog post or bit of online content you enjoyed you clicked on an ad to say thanks, the economics of the web would change immediately. You don't have to buy anything (though it's fine if you do). You just have to honor the writer by giving them a click.
Forget about the writer for a minute. Think about the advertiser. Since Seth Godin founded Squidoo, a site which is advertiser-funded via Google AdSense, his blog post was particularly troubling. Aside from inadvertently condoning click fraud, the idea doesn't even make sense since many ads are CPM- and not CPC-based. Just reading the content generates an impression which will help authors who use CPM ads. For advertisers, this is yet another reason to keep search ads completely separate from contextual ads.

To be fair to Seth Godin, he wrote a follow-up post, attempting to explain he wasn't suggesting click fraud. However, that explanation shows a lack of understanding of who is paying for clicks. He writes:
The irony is not lost on me. The people who so desperately interrupt everyone all the time are now squealing because I'm recommending that more people pay attention to their offers.
The problem with this logic is that the advertisers buying clicks are not necessarily the same ones buying traditional advertising. In fact, I suspect many of the companies paying for clicks are small businesses who buy search (and contextual) ads via Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing instead of advertising which will, in Seth's words, "interrupt everyone all the time." The kind of click behavior he suggests will, indeed, change the economics of the web for these small businesses. So, getting to the title of this post, do NOT click here.

FYI, this post is my entry in the Killer Titles - Group Writing Project. If you are visiting from ProBlogger, take a break from reading the other entries and play a game of Squidoo TagMan. Think twice, though, about clicking on the ads on Seth Godin's Squidoo. ;-)

squidoo game

P.S. As a search engine marketer who came from an engineering background and a career in software development, I have a great deal to learn about advertising and marketing. That's why I read blogs like Seth Godin's. Despite my strong reaction to this particular topic, I find most of his posts very educational.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

AdWords Quality Score Overhaul: First Page Bids

AdWords Quality Score is set for an overhaul that will introduce first page bids and remove minimum bids. This is a drastic move by Google. According to Inside AdWords:
As a result of migrating to per-query Quality Score, we are no longer showing minimum bids in your account. Instead, we're replacing minimum bids with a new, more meaningful metric: first page bids. First page bids are an estimate of the bid it would take for your ad to reach the first page of search results on Google web search. They're based on the exact match version of the keyword, the ad's Quality Score, and current advertiser competition on that keyword. Based on your feedback, we learned that knowing your minimum bid wasn't always helpful in getting the ad placement you wanted, so we hope that first page bids will give you better guidance on how to achieve your advertising goals.
  1. Quality Score was too restrictive. Google was leaving too much money on the table.
  2. Google wants you to bid higher. Google doesn't want any minimum bids.
Think about #2 for a minute. Google could keep the minimum bid feature and simply add a new feature to show the first page bid. Instead, transparency into minimum bids will be eliminated entirely. No keywords will be marked inactive for search and no minimum bids will be visible via the AdWords interface. You won't see all of these values anymore:

adwords quality score

Regarding point #1 about Google leaving money on the table, consider what Sergey Brin said during the Google Q2 2008 Earnings Call:
But clearly that’s not the ideal strategy indefinitely, because we don’t want to end up with no ads. And in fact from a quality point of view, we now find our ads are a significant addition quality-wise to our page. They are just a very important source of information. We’ve been actually re-examining some of that. There was some evidence internally that perhaps we were a little overly aggressive in decreasing coverage in this past quarter.
I do think the introduction of first page bid estimates is a useful feature for advertisers. However, I think it will also spur advertisers to dramatically increase bids. Short term, it will also create confusion - and angst. Long term, I wonder if this means Google will decide to show the bid necessary to achieve top of the page placement. That's been a hidden bid for a long time. Don't look for a "first page, top placement bid estimate" anytime soon, though. ;-)

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Friday, August 01, 2008

AdWords Tracking Tip: Use Keyword Insertion in Destination URL

The (Ad)Word of the Day is Keyword Insertion:
Keyword insertion is an advanced feature used to dynamically update your ad text with your chosen keywords. You insert a special modification tag into your ad text to enable this feature for your ads.
The {keyword} tag can also be used in the destination URL to see which actual keyword searches are being triggered by broad matches. For more details, see this answer I gave in an AdWords Help group. Here's an excerpt:
destination URL tracking: ?kw=purple%20flowers
referring search URL:

IOW, it's necessary to examine *both* the destination URL and the referring URL in order to understand how broad matches are working. BTW, this example is based on the following AdWords help page:

I should also point out that if the search query performance report had complete data, there'd be less of a need to track via other means.
For more commentary on that AdWords help page and the way broad match is implemented in the AdWords system, read Purple Flowers Are Not Pink Despite What Google Might Think. Also, those AdWords Help groups are a great resource. Look for my answers (and questions):

AdWords Help

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