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Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance

Posted on by Mike Poserina in Search Alliance

It was announced today that a conclusion may finally have been reached with the MSN vs. Yahoo buyout. But instead of a buyout or merger, it appears there is going to be a partnership. This new joint relationship is aptly named “Search Alliance.”

Could this mean that we will have to manage one less search engine without losing inventory?

Will this bring additional competition to Bing advertisers who have competitors only in Yahoo! and vise-versa?

…These questions are more will soon be answered.

Here are the highlights:

  • Search inventory will be combined into a new unified search marketplace
  • Microsoft will manage the technology platforms that deliver the algorithmic and paid search results.
  • Yahoo!’s team will exclusively support high volume advertisers, SEO and SEM agencies, and resellers.
  • Microsoft’s team will support self-service advertisers
  • Each company will maintain its own separate display advertising & affiliate search partners.
  • Transition is scheduled for the Pre 2010 Holiday Season or early 2011.

Clients first come to an agency for many reasons: no resources to manage it, completely new to PPC, an in-house account manager left the company, and so on.  More often than not, the #1 reason for coming to an agency is due to being burned, hurt & scared by Google.

And which aspect of Google do we hear most often caused thousands in wasted AdSpend?  Held in distain by most all who’ve opted-in, the Content Network is the most misused & misunderstood service that Google provides.

At Engine Ready, we test everything regardless of how a client’s account may have performed in the past.  With that being said, we always test the Content Network.  As far as Google is concerned, these two separate marketing initiatives are just that.. Separate.  The only thing they can share in common is running simultaneously off of the same keywords in the same adgroup, campaign, account and even sometimes the same bid (the main reason most people get into trouble.)

By not setting up separate bids for the Content Network, you are opening up yourself for a world monetary pain.  In most cases, the Content Network bids should never exceed your Search Network bids.  By starting a Content Network bid low, at let’s say $0.10, you should be able to avoid Google erroneously spending $100’s of dollars/day.  Each day you can bump up this CPC by 10 cents until you start getting traffic.  If you do not specify this separate bid, Google will use your Keyword CPC which may have been set between $0.50 & $8.00 (or more!)  The Content Network gets thousands upon thousands of impressions a day and can deplete your budget before you even have a chance to get searched once on  This is why the Content Network fails for so many people.

As an agency we deal with a lot of clients who are well aware of performance metrics in PPC but may not understand the little idiosyncrasies of each search engine.  After conversion data, the most recognized metric which clients gauge our performance on is Click-Through-Rate.  CTR is the number of clicks divided by the number of ad impressions.  This metric is most notably tied directly to our skills at writing compelling and effective ad creative.

As an agency we are constantly defending our CTR performance to clients because Google aggregates both Content & Search Network activity.

In one case, we increased CTR from 1.79% to 3.13% in one month.  This is a vast improvement over the client’s previous performance.  But when reporting on the entire month (including Content), the CTR actually looks like it decreased from 1.79% to 0.13%.  Even after explaining the reason, the client still felt that we were hurting the account.

A common question one might ask is: Does Content Network traffic affect Google’s Quality Score? And the answerer is No.  A common misunderstanding about CTR is that the impressions & clicks from the Google Content Network gets factored into the Ad or Keyword Search Network Quality score.  This is completely not true.

One way we as an agency have adapted to this is by providing separate Content & Search reports.  After all, as similar as it may seem, it’s two completely different ballgames.