Archive for the ‘SEM’ Category

Internet is the great equalizer of brands

April 14, 2009

There have been a lot of conversations concerning brands and the internet and dealing with search. Can search be used to build traditional “consumer” brands? Has search killed brands? How do the consumers interact with brands? Has search removed the competitive advantage of distribution?

At the end of the day, the internet has equalized the playing field. Brands can no longer rely on a warm fuzzy feeling, or a distribution deal better than the competitors, or a weak USP but being the only solution found. The consumer now uses the internet more and more and researches more and more. The current economic climate has created a large spike in search traffic for terms like “coupon code”, “promo code” and “discount”. There have always been those individuals that used the internet to find the best deals, but it is now mainstream. I don’t think it’s going to change either. Consumers now know they can get a better deal if they only search for one. Whether it’s x% off or free shipping, they are demanding a deal.

Brands can only control realistically 2 clicks on any given search (1 PPC and 1 Organic: I know it’s possible for indented links, but the majority only get 1 listing), so the rest of the links go somewhere else. They may go to blogs, resellers, channel partners wherever, it’s not the branded site. We can all thank Google for making it easy to find stuff from a personal reason, but brand managers can curse Google till the day they die for making it so hard to “control” the brand.

As consumers continue to use the internet for research and finding deals, it has ultimately leveled the playing field for brands to compete. Some will win on price, others will win on actually solving a real problem. The consumer will ultimately choose, marketers just need to realize the power of the web and the level field which we will playing on for awhile.

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Google serving ads based on behavior

March 11, 2009

Google announced that they will begin serving ads based on users surfing behavior today. Finally, the deal with DoubleClick is driving something from Google that will place them in the ad serving space besides AdManager for publishers. Google considers their search ads through AdWords untouchable, and is using the AdSense program for their beta programs.  They also recently announced a beta program for expandable ads through AdSense.

Is this a sign that Google wants to make a bigger play against Yahoo! and their display advertising capabilities which is really their last strong leg? If Google can capture the display market that Yahoo! has built up, I can’t see Yahoo! surving very long and then Google gets the bost of both tactics, which equals $$$. It also will likely raise monopoly concrens.

If this works and survives the privacy complaints, it might be a huge success for bettering search results. If Google can tell what I am interested in generally, they will be able to take that data and add it to algorithms for search results as well as PPC ads.  Overall, this would lead to a better search experience which Google knows is the path to riches.

Twitter ads search to some home pages

February 19, 2009

Twitter announced they are beta testing a new search feature. Rather than having to use a third party application or go to search.twitter.com to search for trends or content, you will be able to search directly from a profile. This is a brilliant move for Twitter as it supports the notion they can become a “search engine”. The content is not static web content, but rather real time content and conversations.

Wikipedia was the most updated content during the shootings at Virginia Tech, now Twitter is the source for the most up-to-date news content on the web. Rather than seeing what is “indexed the best” and not necessarily the most recent, Twitter allows you to search what is happening right now as Tweets often have a half-life of a fruit fly. 

Making the search functionality easier to access is another arrow in Twitter’s quiver for changing the search landscape. Even though there are several different thoughts about Twitter and different uses, it continues to grow and make a legitimate threat to certain types of search queries once owned by the traditional search engines. Google needs to keep Twitter under a tight watch.

Status of search for 2009

December 23, 2008

A recent number from ComScore might be alarming to some in the search world not associated with Google. YouTube received more search queries in November than Yahoo! and Microsoft properties. Google owned 63.5% of the search queries in November while Yahoo! only had 20.4% of the volume. The fact that YouTube is getting more search volume than the second and third place search engine shows that YouTube might have finally grown up and cracked into the big time.

It’s no coincidence that YouTube now allows search ads on the pages as well since there is more traffic there than the other two major engines. It’s also no coincidence that YouTube is not just skateboarders and stupid human tricks. They have learned a lot in their short tenure and are learning to monetize their huge traffic base. Search is no longer just for the engines. Search has expanded into video, auctions, shopping, and so many other functions since people are accustomed to search absed results. It’s the beauty of the internet. 

YouTube receiving more queries than Yahoo! and Microsoft is big swing heading into 2009 and the “consolidation talks of ’08’ are behind us (at least for now). Will anyone be able to make a viable run at Google or will they continue their dominance in the search space. It is my guess that if someone can make a run at Google and their dominant market share, it will come from a small player not on the big map today. Remember, Google started small too and just made it easier for the consumer. If someone else can take a similar concept and improve the process, people will switch. It likely won’t be in 2009, but it could happen.

Anyways, it’s been an interesting year in 2008 with all the swirling talks of Microhoo and Googoo mergers and in the end nothing. So enjoy the holidays and look forward to 2009.

Search executions for success

November 30, 2008

As search costs continue to rise and consumers are cutting back spending, you can’t afford to be part of the research process and not be included in the purchase consideration. Every keyword and phrase must be looked at and evaluated for conversion opportunities. Generic keywords that are traffic drivers which lead to later conversions must be monitored closely to see how when the conversions happen. Ad copy must also be clear and concise. If you are price driven, make sure it is clear in the listing. This is not the time for cute and crafty ad copy that gets clicks but not conversions. Don’t try and raise interest and fail to fulfill if they click. Rememeber, ad copy can screen the visitors you don’t really want.

Consumers continue to increase their use of the internet for research and purchasing and search is the still the best way to get in front of them. Campaigns need to be reviewed and updated to make sure that they are in the best form to take advantage of the current season and economic climate. Is the use of dynamic keywords still correct? Does content search still make sense? Search partners? What % of budget is on branded terms, can they be paused?

As the search climate continue to change, advertisers must continuously watch their execution and make sure they are making the correct changes to get optimal performance.

Google looking for new ways to increase revenue

September 16, 2008

Google is making more changes to help grow their online advertising revenue. One recent change that has been made is to remove the “inactive for search” which will allow all ads to be open to the possibility of being served.  This will likely lead to more “qualified” ads being served on the long tail of search queries. After all, Google sees about 20-25% of their daily search queries for the first time everyday. 

Replacing the “inactive for search” will be an estimate for first page. This will likely increase the costs of keywords as advertisers can now see the benchmark that they need to hit to be served on the first page. This will most likely impact the competitive industries the most. Advertisers that are consistently just off the first page, can now see what terms convert best as well what the bidding range is for first page placement.

I think advertisers will like the new change being made and Google is hoping to see an increase in their revenue. Even if only generates a 1% increase, that results in $100 million increase.

Live Search adds another ad in results

September 14, 2008

Microsoft announced that they are going to add a fourth result in the ad results increasing the total from 8 to 9. They claim this benefits the advertisers as they want more clicks, but really it’s for Microsoft. The more clicks they can generate, the more revenue. The vast majority of people I have talked to about Live Search agree that they don’t see the conversions that Google and Yahoo! can generate.

They almost have the attitude that they just have Live Search ads because they have to as it will generate a sale or lead here or there. Microsoft knows it’s search product is not where it should be and therefore does not see the revenue that Google and Yahoo! enjoys. So why not add a fourth placement above the organic results and hope that more clicks are generated.

Google is coolest 10 year old in world

September 8, 2008

Google is now in double digits. Google had it’s 10th anniversary recently and what a journey they have been on. The term “Google” and  is now a verb, you can buy radio and TV through their AdWords platform, free web tools include Google Analytics and Site Optimizer. The list could go on and on which is awfully impressive for a 10 year old company. The big question is, where will it go?

There is talk that they will be more aggressive in the TV advertising space since it still holds the largest ad $$. Will it use the acquisition of DoubleClick and offer a free ad serving solution to capture more details and data about the display advertising space? The answer resides in Mountain View CA.

Google just launched their own web browser and so far so good. Most comments are positive and people are happy with Chrome. One set back that Google might face is Android, their mobile operating system. Several analysts are predicting that the launch of the platform will not have nearly the buzz or success of the iPhone. 

So as Google heads to the tweens and teens, it will be interesting to see where the web giant heads. Overall, it has been an impressive 10 years and I look forward to seeing what comes in the next decade from Mountain View.

Yahoo! to phase out Match Driver

August 18, 2008

Some know this and others don’t, but Yahoo! is slowly phasing out their Match Driver program which was their answer to making search easier for marketers. However, there was one big hurdle they could not overcome and it was the big G. Google campaigns could not seamlessly plug into Yahoo! since Google allows misspellings and plural.single variations where as Yahoo! would see them as the same term and show one ad.

This was troublesome for several people that I know, as they would have a very string ROI on on permutation and Yahoo! would not allow them to have a separate word in Panama. Success might have been had on “digital cameras” for a site that had a stellar review platform and allowed customers to compare before purchasing, and the word “digital camera” did not see the same success as the user using the singular form was not in the same state of mind as those that used the plural. Google allows marketers to see this and capitalize, Yahoo! fails to allow the optimization process to occur.

This may also be part of the Google/Yahoo! deal where Google is looking to serve more and more ads on the Yahoo! platform since the Microsoft deal did not work out. At the end of the day, Yahoo! needs to go back to board and figure out what exactly they want to do, and getting out of the search space may be the best answer as all the hard work to launch Panama appears to be going down the tank.

Online relevance is still not fool proof

August 12, 2008

When looking for a solution to some recent back pain, I decided to try out local.com since it’s all about the “local results”. I entered a basic search query of back pain and received several local chiropractors and a couple sponsored ads. There was one that definitely stood out however, an ad for the Subaru Outback.

Subaru Outback and back pain

Subaru Outback and back pain

It’s obvious the word “back” triggered this ad, but it shows a larger dillema in the loclaized search space. There are not enough small companies moving budgets to localized search, so the engines have to open up the relevancy to fill the ad space and issues like this arise. Now to most people, it probably is not a big deal, but tSunao some they may not trust the results since an Outback has nothing to do with my pain. Therefore, this result could drive the user away from local.com to a larger engine, think the big G here.

ULtimately, the dollars are moving to the localized arena, but there is still not a sure fire place to spend the dollars for a great return. Until companies realize that it may be in their best interest to actually show fewer ads , we are going to have these “relevancy” issues that will hamper the growth of localized online marketing.