Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, July 28, 2006

More on Google AdWords' New Landing Page Algo

I have to agree with Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide, in her article Is Google Shooting Itself in the Foot? She points to a DigitalPoint forum thread (disclosure: I haven't read that thread yet) where an advertisier with a CTR of 8% and a conversion rate of 23-24% has been slapped with a huge minimum CPC. As Jennifer says, "With that in mind, I'm personally finding it hard to believe that Google can justify the charge that he's delivering a poor 'user experience' to his visitors. A poor user experience coincides with lousy conversion rates, not with higher than average rates." Exactly what I've been saying all along.

Again, for the most part, we've come out of this whole experience relatively unscathed. With a few notable exceptions, as I mentioned in my last post. Some (not all, but some) of the exceptions were producing the bulk of clicks and conversions for their ad group. So, what Google has done in those cases is cut off all their revenue from us for that particular ad group. And not only was that ad group producing large volumes of clicks, it was producing large volumes of conversions for us. But $5 or $10 per click won't cut it, even with a good conversion rate.

I love the newspaper ad analogy quoted from the DP thread. Great, great, great points made there. Everyone needs to remember that newspapers, just like any other media, reserve the right to refuse or accept any advertisement. In my experience, though, unless an ad were an out-and-out scam, it was accepted for publication - whether the paper thought the store was "worthy" or not. Unless the advertiser was cheating the public (or the paper, by not paying their advertising bill), the ad ran. No one would argue that scam ads in newspapers provide a poor user experience - just like MFAs and other arbitrage ads on Google provide a poor user experience. But a legitimate advertiser, with a legitimate site selling a legitimate product, and converting one out of 4 site visitors, obvously isn't providing a poor user experience at all - no matter what Google may think of their site!

I also must refer to my post on letting Google have our conversion data. I have to believe that if Google could see for themselves how well these ads were working, they'd loosen the leash. Then again, maybe not.

As Jennifer says, "Google's zeal to force advertisers into delivering better 'content' to visitors may result in those same advertisers seeing enough of a drop in ROI that they're forced to leave the PPC system. Ultimately, that means less money for Google and more money for it's [sic] competitors." Yup.


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