Searching Beyond the Paid

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Uploading PPC Campaigns Quickly

If you're like most PPC marketers, you start a new campaign by setting it up in Google, most likely using Adwords Editor. Editor is probably the single most useful Adwords tool Google has released yet, and it's one of the first things I teach new PPC hires at our agency. But I digress.

Even though Google has by far the largest market share in the search world, you're missing 20%-30% of searchers by putting all your eggs in that basket. To take your PPC campaigns to the next level, you need to expand to Yahoo and MSN. But how? MSN has adCenter Desktop, but it's still in beta and not everyone has access to it. (Plus, it's not the most user-friendly tool out there, but again, I digress.) Yahoo doesn't even have a desktop editor. What to do?

Lucky for you (and for them), both Yahoo and MSN have made bulk uploads much easier than they used to be. The days of creating a massive spreadsheet, copying, pasting, and hoping, are over.

Yahoo makes a decent effort to make up for their lack of a desktop editor with their "Convert Third Party Campaigns" function. You'll find this in the "Import" menu of the YSM interface. Here's how to use it:
1. Export your Adwords campaign from Adwords Editor using the Export function. Save the file as is.
2. If your Adwords campaign has any negative keywords, open the CSV file and delete those rows - you'll need to manually add those negatives to Yahoo later.
3. If your campaign status is anything other than Active, Paused, or Deleted (such as Pending), change it to either Active or Paused. Yahoo doesn't understand Pending and your conversion will fail.
4. Go to the "Convert Third Party Campaigns" page in YSM and follow the steps to convert your file.
5. Once the file is converted, download the conversion file, make any edits (such as updating tracking URLs) and save the file as a Unicode Text with a .csv extension.
6. Then go to the Import Campaigns tab and follow the steps.
7. Pray you didn't get any errors.

If you do get errors, it's not easy to figure out what to do. If the only error is "this keyword was not added because it is a duplicate of another keyword," you're fine - Yahoo's match driver means fewer keyword variations are allowed in Yahoo than in Google. If you got other errors, you can either try to fix your upload file and re-upload, or just go into the interface and fix them manually.

It's even easier to bulk upload to MSN. You can do it via the online interface - simply follow the instructions outlined in the adCenter Blog. The sticking point of this is when you use keyword-level destination URLs - these are not carried over into your import, because MSN decided to use that horrid "param1" function. You'll have to add those manually later, or use this workaround: In your export file from Adwords, change the ad copy destination URLs from whatever they are to "{param1}" (without the quotes). This will bring in all your keyword-level destination URLs - but not your ads. So you'll still have to do some manual work, but usually campaigns have far fewer ads than keywords!

Uploading via adCenter Desktop is even easier. You can import your file from Adwords without even converting it. Just make sure to edit your ad copy destination URLs as described above if you're using keyword-level URLs. Entering ad copy in Desktop is much easier than in the online interface.

If anyone knows a better way to import campaigns with keyword-level URLs in MSN, please post it in the comments! Also post your questions, tips, and tricks - when we share our knowledge, we all improve.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

DM News Essential Guide to Search Marketing 2009

DM News, the powerhouse publication of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), has released their 2009 Essential Guide to Search Marketing, a 32-page publication covering a myriad of SEM topics. You can read the guide online here - although be forewarned, the screen reader is kind of odd. Still, there are lots of great articles by some of the biggest movers and shakers in search: Wister Wolcott, Joshua Stylman, David Berkowitz - and me! I am honored to be included in such prestigiuos company.

Give the Guide a look - it's definitely worth a read.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Why All The Hype Over Trademarks in PPC?

Last week, there was a flurry of news covering Amazon being sued over using trademarked terms in their PPC ads. In a nutshell, a company called Video Professor was unhappy that Amazon was bidding on their name, but the landing page had competing products featured on it.

At first pass, I thought "fair enough." But then I read the details and discovered that the landing page on did indeed include Video Professor products. While it is a best practice to send PPC searches for "video professor" to a landing page on showing only Video Professor products rather than a broader category page with multiple product lines, the fact that other competing products also appear on the search page does not make this a trademark infringement.

I am continually surprised and perturbed by these type of complaints and lawsuits. If this were an ad in traditional media, no one would bat an eye. For whatever reason, search is under the microscope for frivolous trademark complaints. Further, I believe that Google’s trademark policy only exacerbates the issue. By allowing companies to file trademark complaints, Google encourages lawsuits such as this, and hurts the advertisers who are legitimate sellers of the trademarked product.

I wrote about this 2 years ago, so I won't rehash the whole argument here. My take on the Amazon suit is that, especially in tough economic times, companies are lawsuit-happy and perceive successful online organizations such as Amazon and Google to have deep pockets. In reality, all they're doing is making things difficult for all PPC advertisers.

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