In The Trenches is a weekly spotlight of tips, tricks, and news about the tools search engine marketing professionals use to give them a leg up on the competition. Today: News from the search engines, today’s in-depth look, “Google Tools, Part 3″ and this week’s free tips/resources.
News from the search engines
Google AdWords: Opening our content network to third parties. I saw that headline on Monday morning in Google’s blog and my jaw dropped. Here’s what they said: “Today, we’re announcing that Google is accepting third-party advertising tags on the Google content network in North America. This will empower advertisers to work with approved third parties to serve and track display ads, including rich media ads, across the Google content network through AdWords, giving them more options, flexibility and control over their campaigns.”
OMG. Wow! This is really great news. Content is definitely considered more of a display tool than a search tool anyway. We’re always splitting the two when we report and optimize because of that. Plus, by migrating the content campaigns to our ad server, we can compare apples to apples with our other display marketing efforts to better understand ROI and effectiveness. As well, we have tons of tools with the ad server such as Reach, Frequency, Storyboarding, Language Rules, etc that we will be able to use that provide more optimization opportunities. Bravo, Google! Thankfully, our ad server, Mediaplex, is one of the initial approved vendors!
Another piece of news, landing page load time is now available inside the tool. In early March, Google announced that they’d soon incorporate an additional factor into Quality Score, namely landing page load time—where load time is defined as the amount of time it takes for a user to see the landing page after clicking an ad. Just click the little magnifying glass icon next to your keyword and you can see all of this info.
Yahoo Search Marketing: Finally, some updates! Here are the three recent additions you’ll see to the platform:
Account display enhancements
- Status for offline objects (campaign, ad group, keyword, etc.) displays in red. Objects that are online are displayed in blue or black letters.
- The “Top Campaigns” and “Watched Campaigns” tables on the Dashboard page now include a “Status” column.
- Minor updates to the “Campaigns” page, including adding a “Status” column.
- Minor updates to the Ads table on an Ad Group page.
- The ability to export (using the “Download” buttons) at the account-level Ad Group and Keyword pages, under the Campaigns tab.
From the Yahoo Search Marketing Blog: “Our goal is to improve search users’ experience, while also improving the value of traffic to you. Last year, we launched several initiatives that have directly impacted the way we price the leads we provide you, including a new ranking model, based on both the ad’s quality—or relevance—and the bid amount and pricing discounts, which can discount your cost-per-click on clicks on our partners’ sites based on our assessment of the quality of traffic delivered by those sites.
“Now, we’ve changed the way we set the minimum bid required to participate in a Sponsored Search keyword market. Previously, the minimum bid for any keyword in our system was $0.10. With this update, your minimum bid required to participate in a keyword market can be higher or lower than $0.10. The amount set as your minimum bid on a keyword can vary depending on multiple factors, such as the relevance of your keywords (as measured by the quality of the ads associated with them in an ad group), and the number of bidders and their bid amounts in the particular keyword market. Currently, Content Match minimum bids remain at $0.10.”
Click filter report
The Click Filter Report is a new report that provides information about the number of clicks on your ads that the Click Protection System has identified as invalid and, as a result, Yahoo did not charge you for. It’s part of the overall effort to provide greater transparency regarding click activity and filtering.
The Click Filter Report is available in your account interface under the “Reports” tab: Just select “Click Filter” in the “Traffic Quality Reports” section of the Reports Navigator on the left side of your screen. You can run the report for your entire account or for individual campaigns. You can also customize the columns in your report to show data such as impressions, invalid clicks, invalid click rate and average cost-per-click. Have multiple accounts? No worries—the Click Filter Report can display data from all of your accounts simultaneously.
Microsoft adCenter: Hey, I actually learned something I didn’t know this week. On the adCenter Community site, I found a post by Carolyn Miller who pointed out something that’s been staring me in the face in adCenter for years now probably. Here’s her take: “For those of you who may not have noticed this, I wanted to mention a sometimes-overlooked feature of adCenter: the horizontal navigation links (also known as “bread crumb” navigation), right underneath the Microsoft adCenter logo on the top left-hand side of the UI. Click the green arrow next to the ad group or campaign in the horizontal navigation list, and additional navigation links will appear in a drop-down list. These links allow you to navigate within the hierarchy and can save you clicks while you’re moving between campaigns and ad groups—you can click right to the ad group or campaign you want to review or edit without going back to the home page.”
In depth: Google Tools, part 3
I started this topic two weeks ago and it will take a me one or two more weeks to finally finish up this deeper look into the Google Tools menu. Basically, the Tools menu to me is one of the great distinguishers of AdWords which makes it the most robust out of all of the search engine platforms.
Tool #4 – Site and Category Exclusion lets you refine your Google Network targeting by preventing individual websites or categories of webpages from showing your ads. I covered this tool recently in this column which you can read here.
Tool #5 – IP Exclusion. This lets you refine your targeting by preventing specific Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from seeing your ads.
This tool is very straightforward. If you don’t want your ads to show to users with a specific IP address, then you can exclude them by inputting them into the tool. You can exclude up to 20 IP addresses, or ranges of addresses, per campaign.
Why would an advertiser might want to block an IP address? Blocking the IP addresses from known competitors could result in less click fraud and blocking internal IP addresses will stop accidental clicks from employees and agencies. High risk IP addresses can also be blocked, along with scraper sites.
Tool #6 – Traffic Estimator. Thinking about trying a new keyword? Enter it here and see an estimate of how well it might perform.
So, what’s the one question SEM pros get asked the most by our account managers? “How much should/could we spend for this account?” right? Well, until Google “opens the books” for us and we get some true transparency into search volume/costs, the Traffic Estimator is one of the only spots where we could even start to answer the question. Basically, you put in your keywords, bid, and targeting parameters and the tool returns an estimate of how many clicks/day and costs associated. Sounds great, right?
Well, I have a definite love/hate relationship with the Traffic Estimator. While researching the tool for this column, I was directed to a forum post where a user states: “The estimator is for entertainment purposes only (seriously, don’t waste your time with it)”. I’m not going to fully argue with that assessment of the tool, but I will say it does have its merits and I do find myself using it for directional purposes on occasion. I have seen the actuals once a campaign starts to being both much more and much less. I was actually burned a few times with this tool early in my career, so my tip for the SEM community is to take these results with a grain of salt. It’s good to see what kind of predicted volume Google thinks you could get from those keywords, but the only way to truly know is to test, test and test again.
Tool #7 – Ad Creation Marketplace. This tool helps you find a specialist to help you create multi-media ads.
I honestly can say that, not only have I never used the Marketplace, but the first time I ever even clicked the tool was while researching this column. Here’s the Google line: “Get in touch with professionals who can handle the entire ad creation process. Choose from a list of qualified ad creation specialists — you specify the budget and project details, and the specialist will tailor the message to your needs. Final creative will be available in your account so you can activate your campaign once it is delivered. The Ad Creation Marketplace is a free service, and you aren’t under any obligation to work with specialists you contact for project bids.”
Hmmm. There’s a 9 min demo there so I took a chance and watched the video. Looks to be a simple process of filling out a form for an audio or video ad, and, based on your needs, you will see a list of specialists with whom you can engage with and get some outsourced work for you. This seems to be a nice service, especially since Google provides some measure of security by only working with Google specialists, providing samples of their work, and using their payment options. After checking this tool out, I’m actually inclined to start using it for some of our video ads and see what kind of developers are out there.
Free web resource of the week: Microsoft’s Engagement Mapping Tool
Something big that concerns us all these days is the discussion about phasing out “the last ad clicked” as the standard for conversion measurement. I’m a BIG evangelist of this approach to online metrics and we’ve been using Mediaplex’s Mojo tool for our ad serving and SEM tool in order to see the Path to Conversion…i.e. all of the “touch points” a user was exposed to before reaching a conversion. So, for example, I can investigate a user conversion and see all of the display ads they saw/clicked or search ads they clicked before converting. This really helps understand how users engage our media and is truly invaluable in making future media buying decisions. Microsoft/Atlas’s Engagement Mapping Tool is attempting to further this discussion.
I attended one of the Engagement Mapping road shows last week here in Chicago and listened as Microsoft’s VP Analytics & Atlas Institute, Young Bean-Song, rolled out this tool and the data driven mindset in which they’re approaching the industry. I urge everyone who is still using the “last ad clicked” as their prime conversion metric to check out this page and some of the resources it has to offer.
Well, that’s all for this week. Next week will be the conclusion of the Google Tools dive and I’ll have some other good free tidbits for you.
Josh Dreller is the Director of Media Technology for Fuor Digital, an agency concentrated in the research, planning, buying and stewardship of digital media marketing campaigns. Josh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The In The Trenches column appears Fridays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.