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The Middle Child

Posted on by Mike Poserina in Google AdWords

I recently returned from Bellevue (Seattle) ,Washington after being invited for the second time by Microsoft to participate in the 2009 Search Summit (formerly known as AdChamps). This is an invite-only summit in which the programmers, designers, and executives engage the advertisers in an attempt to align their goals with each other.

The big news this year was obviously, Microsoft’s rebirth and rebranding. All the employees there were fantastically excited and oddly enough, so were the advertisers there. If you read my blog from last year’s event: Microsoft Ad Champs – you will see that Microsoft done the near impossible, caused excitement from the Search Engine Marketing community.

In ’08 the climate was much nastier. There was pure anger in the eyes and knuckles of many advertisers, including myself. We felt abused by all of the technical problems, poor customer support, and overall horrible user experience. And all the time, a small army of adCenter employees scurried to document every comment, suggestion, feedback and criticism. For nearly a year, it appeared that nothing had been done, then slowly releases started to appear which specifically addressed some of the more major issues brought up during that meeting. 15 months later, I have almost every tool I need to manage my account with the same efficiency as I do a Google account* Less: Negative Keyword Character Limit & CPA/Conversion Rates displayed in the UI.

I’m not saying that is going to dethrone Google, but I am saying that Microsoft has positioned themselves in an excellent position compared to where they were 15 months ago. Let’s take a look why:

Advertising: Let’s face it, the commercials are pretty clever and funny.

Branding: BING is a pretty catchy, fun and easy to remember name. Compare that to Not sure what they were going for with that one.

Competition: More and more people are getting out of the “Googolie-eyed Dating Phase” with Google and are looking to see other engines. The question is, does Microsoft have it going on upstairs to make a serious impression or will it be simply dismissed as ditzy eye candy?

Quality: Many have said, including myself, MSN provides some of the cheapest and most qualified leads or highest ROAS. We all just get very little of it.

Traffic: It has been increasing. My AdCenter spending has surpassed that of Yahoo in many of my accounts.

Tools: AdCenter has provided us with two tools. Excel-Ad-in and the Editor.
While the Excel Ad-in provides some nifty features, it nowhere near compares to the operational efficiency you can enjoy when using an editor. Like the AdWords editor, you can build & optimize an account completely offline. In less than 10 minutes, you can import and upload an existing Google account structure into AdCenter. This now leaves me with one less reason I would migrate from Google to Yahoo before doing so with MSN.

Content Transparency: AdCenter has added a new report to their interface which allows you to run a CPA based report highlighting all websites which AdCenter has shown your content ads on. Once you isolate a poor performing domain, you can then exclude it to further tighten up your campaigns. Anyone who has had experience with Yahoo knows how what quality a black box system produces.

Yahoo: Whom I believe is a lame duck. There have been no updates, only layoffs. Bing is the newest buzz word in the online community. Once luster diminishes from this shinny new search engine, I believe Microsoft bring it right back into the lime-light by making a final (and successful) bid to overtake Overture.. err.. Panama.. err.. Yahoo Sponsored.. err. Search Marketing Solutions.. oh whatever, that last one standing which has neither an identity nor direction.

As we all know, we have 3 match types for Google AdWords:  Broad – Phrase Exact. What some people don’t know is how to leverage Phrase match to target Product IDs (SKU) more effectively.

Let’s use our fictional Snow-Cone maker product SKU#: S200

To bid on this keyword alone, one might use Exact match. This would allow the ad to be shown only when a searcher uses the phrase: S200.  The only problem with this approach is that there are bound to be many lost impressions from searchers looking for variations on that search. i.e.  S200 reviews

To maximize the visibility of this SKU#, one might just bid on the single Broad Match Keyword: S200.  By using Broad Match, you would expect to be shown when the word S200 in the search phrase.  What you may not account for is the Google Brain and where and when it might decide to show your ad.

Broad Match – This is the default option. If your ad group contained the keyword tennis shoes, your ad would be eligible to appear when a users search query contained tennis and shoes, in any order, and possibly along with other terms. Your ads could also show for singular/plural forms, synonyms, and other relevant variations. For example, you ad might show on tennis shoe or tennis sneakers. Run a Search Query Performance Report to see what keyword variations trigger your ad.

Let’s say a Google searches for: S2000 Reviews By bidding on S200, Google could potentially show your ad if they deem it relevant.  The S2000 is a Honda sports car, not a Snow-Cone maker.

How do you prevent your ads from showing on keywords you are not bidding on?  How do you maximize visibility without compromising the quality of your impressions?  The Middle Child, Phrase Match.

By using phrase match on a single word, you prevent the Google Brain from taking liberties with which ads they show.  By using Phrase match your ad will show for: s200 quotes, s200 reviews, s200 comparison but not: s2000 quotes, s2000 reviews, s2000 comparison.

Try it on your SKU keywords and watch Conversion Rate and Click Through Rate start to improve.

If you want to find a way to know what is your PPC you can use Engine Ready’s free software suite, Conversion Critic, but you may want to take a moment to utilize some handy online marketing tools. Conversion Critic can be used to evaluate your landing pages, check for broken destination URLs in your pay per click campaigns, and to forecast the performance of your PPC marketing efforts.

The calculator is perfect for computing expectations for a new campaign. Many marketers and business owners want to calculate the risk associated with a new campaign. Accurately forecasting return on ad spend is a challenge shared by all marketers, which the PPC Calculator attempts to relieve.

The free tool will also illustrate how slight changes in the conversion rate or cost per click can significantly impact your bottom line.  In the example below we can see that a 0.5% increase in conversion rate (everything else being equal) equates to thousands of more dollars in revenue.


Slide the button, or manually input your ad spend.

Forecast snapshot of performance.