Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, January 27, 2012

Search Plus Your World – Good or Bad for PPC?

A short while ago, Google rolled out with Search Plus Your World, where search results for those logged in to Google Plus incorporate social content from Google Plus connections. Some say this is Google's answer to Facebook and the social graph. And apparently Google Plus is here to stay, according to Larry Page.

Putting aside the fact that I find the whole SPYW thing to be a bit creepy and pointless, what effect is this going to have on PPC ads?

Little has been said so far about SPYW and PPC – the focus has been on organic listings. However, the fact remains that Google has been showing personalized search results for a long time; PPC ads can be served based on search history, and impressions decrease if someone performs a lot of repeated searches and doesn’t click on any ads.

Furthermore, organic results and PPC ads work hand in hand. It’s been well documented that having a PPC ad and an organic listing drives more traffic than having one or the other, but not both.

We also know that ads can be “+1’d” – another social signal affecting PPC, but exactly how is unclear.

What do you think about all this? Is SPYW going to ruin PPC for the rest of us? How much will things change? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Labels: ,

Friday, January 20, 2012

3 Unfulfilled PPC Wishes from 2007

Ah, January: the month when everyone makes resolutions and looks at their holiday wish lists to see what gifts people failed to give them. (C’mon, admit it: we all do this!) In the spirit of gifts not received, I got to thinking about my PPC gift list from 5 years ago, and the gifts I still haven’t gotten after all that time. Here are my top 3.

More traffic and search leadership from MSN/Bing.

Back in early 2007, in the early days of MSN’s PPC program, I found myself wishing that MSN (now Bing) would catch the big guys of search, but wondering if they ever could. In that post, I observed, with chagrin, the fact that “MSN falls down on volume and ease of use. Traffic and order volumes are about 10% of what we get from Google.” The post goes on to say that “I don't even know which I'd like MSN to address first: increasing volume, or fixing the UI.”

Sound familiar? While the latest release of the adCenter UI is a HUGE improvement, it still leaves a lot to be desired, especially given the fact that adCenter now includes Yahoo traffic. In fact, I think traffic from adCenter might even be lower in 2012 than it was in 2007. There certainly isn’t any increase in market share – which is pathetic given the fact that market share is now Bing and Yahoo combined. It’s sad, really.

Better Adwords query matching.

Match type issues have plagued PPC advertisers from the beginning. Novice PPC’ers make the mistaken assumption that match types actually work the way Google says they do. News flash: they didn’t work that way in 2007, and still don’t in 2012. One merely needs to run a search query report to see all the crazy query matches to exact and phrase match keywords to realize that match types are more of a suggestion for Google, as opposed to an instruction.

I do have to give Google credit for adding modified broad match to the arsenal, though. I’ve had good results with this, and I know others have as well.

More accurate PPC traffic estimates.

Back in 2007, I was an in-house PPC’er, which meant that part of my job was budgeting and forecasting. On a regular basis, I had to estimate how many orders we’d get from PPC, along with traffic, cost, and profit. This was a huge challenge back in 2007, and it’s still a challenge today.

In fact, it can be an even bigger challenge for search agencies. Not only do we need to forecast revenue for the agency, we need to provide forecasts and estimates for clients. And clients often take the estimates as gospel: “Great, we’re going to get 20,000 visits per month from PPC!” In reality, it’s a crap shoot: you might get your 20,000 visits; or you might only get 2,000; or you might get 200,000.

Estimating traffic outside the US, or for geotargeted campaigns, is even more of a joke. To see a nice analysis of just how big a joke it still is, check out this post from PPC Northern Ireland.

In the search world, 5 years is an eternity. Back in 2007, I was writing a lot about Yahoo Panama, click fraud, and garbitrage – all of which are non-factors in the 2012 PPC world. So it’s a bit of a surprise that some things haven’t changed.

Will 2012 bring the gifts of more Bing PPC traffic, better keyword matching, and accurate traffic estimates? Will I be writing this same article in 2017 (God help me)? I guess only time will tell, but I wouldn’t bid high on it.

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 – New Beginnings

Today marks the end of the first week in my new job at gyro, a top B2B agency with offices worldwide. I’m working exclusively on PPC, as part of the Search team based in Cincinnati, OH – working most of the time from home here in East Lansing, MI.

I had a great run at Fluency Media for the past 4 years, and am thankful for the opportunity to learn so much about integrated digital marketing from the team there.

As 2012 gets underway, I’m super excited about this new gig and the opportunities ahead. It’s going to be a great year, both professionally and personally.

Professionally, I’m looking forward to the 2012 SEM conference circuit, which for me begins with Hero Conf in Indianapolis in April. In its first year, this conference (put on by the great peeps at PPC Hero)is strictly focused on PPC and features a Who’s Who of industry expert speakers. It should be a great conference.

Following that, there will probably be SMX Advanced, SES Chicago, and possibly one or two other conferences, all with awesome learning & networking.

Personally, I’m beyond excited about the front row seats I snagged yesterday for the Van Halen concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills next month. This is a bucket list thing for me – I’ve been a VH fan since the beginning, but the best seats I’ve had so far have been 4th row. Needless to say, I’m wearing a VH shirt today in celebration. :)

I’m also training to walk my first half marathon in April, just 3 days before my 46th birthday. That’s another bucket list item and I’m excited about that as well.

What’s on tap for you in 2012?

Labels: ,