Searching Beyond the Paid

Monday, January 14, 2008

Who's Paying Attention to PPC Ads?

I'm irritated. It's 7:30 p.m., and I've been at my computer for the past 11 hours (not non-stop, but it feels that way). While reading one of the many online newsletters that comes to my inbox, I ran across this headline at WebProNews: "Nearly 90% Don't Pay Attention to PPC Ads."

OK, you've got my attention.

Intrigued, I clicked over to the Ad Age report cited in the post. Great stuff, by the way - tons of stats on the state of the search industry, lots of interesting info. But I couldn't for the life of me find the 90% stat in all 27 pages of the report.

So I went back to the original WPN post, and upon a third re-read, I figured it out. Click through rate on PPC ads reported in the Ad Age study was 11.5%, meaning that 88.5% of people DON'T click on an ad. 88.5% is almost 90% - thus, the headline.

So, I'm partly irritated at myself for not reading more carefully in the first place - I should have seen that the first time! But, it's still an overly-sensational link-bait-y headline. Since when does clicking on an ad equate to paying attention to it?? Just because you didn't click doesn't mean you didn't see and take interest in the ad! And furthermore, an 11.5% CTR is pretty impressive, if you ask me. What's the average email open rate these days? What percent of direct mail actually gets opened? What percent of TV ads actually get noticed by the average viewer???

I could go on, but you get the point. PPC advertising works, folks. If I'm able to get almost 12% of searchers to actually click on MY ad after looking at all the other ads, plus the SERPs, plus the Google Universal stuff that's on the page.... well, I think that's pretty darn commendable.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

And The Most Improved PPC Engine of 2007 Is...

Yahoo. Yes, Yahoo. A year ago, I'd never have guessed I'd be picking Yahoo as the most improved, but indeed, they've done it. Looking at where Yahoo was a year ago with the old Direct Traffic Center vs. where they are today with Panama and all the improvements, it's been an unbelievable road upward.

Yahoo's Panama interface rolled out in January 2007, much to the joy of SEMs. The old Direct Traffic Center was clunky, slow, and difficult to use. Panama incorporated many features that had come to be seen as standard: campaigns, ad groups, multiple ad creatives, and other basic PPC features, all in a tidy, Ajax-powered system.

At this time, though, Yahoo was still the lone holdout of the major PPC engines to use the straight auction model for ranking ads. But that was about to change, too. In early February, Yahoo's new ad ranking model rolled out, which used Quality Index in addition to bids to rank ads.

These two changes alone would have been enough to get my vote for Most Improved, but Yahoo took things even further. They streamlined and improved their Bulk Upload process. What was once a difficult feature to use became probably THE feature I most depend on now for managing Yahoo accounts. Yahoo also introduced their "Import Campaigns from Third Parties" feature - another critical tool in my campaign management arsenal.

Then, in October, the moment we all had been waiting for finally happened: Yahoo launched Domain Blocking. This was probably the single biggest feature missing from the Panama platform, and the one in which Google continued to kick Yahoo's posterior. Not any more. Finally!

There were more features, even, that I haven't mentioned. They're summarized on the YSM Blog in their Year In Review post.

For me, the bottom line is this: Google is still king of the PPC hill, but Yahoo made by far the biggest strides in 2007. I can't wait to see what 2008 will bring!

PS, you can cast your vote on the most improved engine of '07 by commenting here, or by voting at the Search Engine Watch thread.