Paid Search Tools

With all the changes coming to the Search Engine systems and their tools, I’m starting a list of Tools that PPC people and other paid search managers find useful, since we can’t rely on the engines anymore.

Yesterday I talked about the Yahoo Keyword Selector changes and Paul commented that we can still see bid prices with this tool
While it still has the bid prices, its not as helpful as the original keyword tool for research purposes and I’m sure its only a matter of time before its nixed as well.

Owner of thePPC Keyword Tool happens to be one of the 2 people that comments on this blog so I thought I could give him a plug. I checked out his tool and it is pretty useful for configuring variations of keywords. A friend of mine, pointed me to an alternative tool that does the same thing here.

AdLabs – MSN gave us adLabs with a plethora of cool tools that seem to be ever advancing, and with more data they will be really helpful. I like the Search Funnel and the Forecasting Search Volume Seasonality but there are other useful tools as well.

If you have any others to add to this list, please let us know by leaving them in the comments and I will update this list as we get more.

More GoodByes: Yahoo Removes Prices from Estimator Tool

One of the best features in all of Yahoo Search Marketing was the keyword selector tool. It allowed us to get variations of words and phrases and would also provide us with data on these words. We were able to see monthly search volume, estimated CPC and the best part, the top bid for the #1 position. Well, that is no more. Yahoo’s recent change to a less transparent pricing strategy has taken this little gem away from us. While we are still given the search volume, they no longer give us the bid prices up front. If you use the tool like it is meant to be, eventually you will get to the end and will be given a estimated range for the words. Nice, but not nearly as handy as the bid price for words. First we lose our bulk sheet link in adwords, now this! These guys are just trying to make our job harder aren’t they?

Say Goodbye to Your Bulk Sheet Link

While I’m sure the average Joe PPC guy wont notice, those of use who have been managing a lot of large accounts for a while will really feel the impact of losing the Bulk Sheet Link.

Google’s bulk sheet download link, allowed you to download the entire campaign into an Excel spreadsheet, which then allowed us to make large scale changes quickly and easily. They are removing this link and pushing people towards the Adwords Editor. I am a big fan of the Adwords Editor, I wish it would allow us to publish a bulk sheet of changes rather then having to use the AE interface for it.

Bye Bulk Sheet Link, I’ll miss you!

ATTN GOOGLE: It's time to Start Putting Up or Shut Up

Google makes me tired. Maybe its just me but it seems like they do an awful lot of rule making and not enough rule enforcing. Sure lots of little guys have been nixed from Adsense without a specific reason (ie, my wife’s Food Blog), but it seems like if you generate enough traffic and clicks on ads, you are exempt from Google’s persecution.

Case in point, Google’s most recent post from the Adsense blog talks about how aligning images next to Adsense ads is a violation of Google’s TOS for Adsense. They make the point to say that it can be deceptive and takes away from the user and advertiser experience.

We ask that publishers not line up images and ads in a way that suggests a relationship between the images and the ads. If your visitors believe that the images and the ads are directly associated, or that the advertiser is offering the exact item found in the neighboring image, they may click the ad expecting to find something that isn’t actually being offered. That’s not a good experience for users or advertisers.

Now that is 100% fine with me, but I wish they would actually enforce these rules collectively rather then selectively. All it takes is a quick search to find at least one example of an advertiser breaking this rule. My search for “Nike Air Force Ones” brings me the number 2 result with such a header:

I think that is pretty much exactly what Google says they do not want. Do these people still have an active Adwords account? Have they at least been contacted and asked to change their implementation? I’d be pretty confident in saying they have not.

Google Adsense blog goes on to say:

Publishers should also be careful to avoid similar implementations that people could find misleading. For instance, if your site contains a directory of Flash games, you should not format the ads to mimic the game descriptions.

Hmmm, sounds a lot like this

Going a little deeper into the Adsense program policies (found here)

  • No Google ad may be placed on any non-content-based pages
  • No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant.

  • Sounds to me that pages like this, this, and this aren’t acceptable Adsense pages, but rumors on the street is that Google makes a pretty penny from and you can tell why by looking at their SERP page. I’m on a 1200×1000 resolution screen and all I see is ads, thats pretty misleading to me.

    Oh, there is more. Google violating its own TOS?

    No Google ad or Google search box may be displayed on any domain parking websites, pop-ups, pop-unders, or in any email.

    Now, I can let the ads showing up in Gmail slide because that is a stretch on my part, but how about that little domain parking service portion. We aren’t allowed to park domains and put Adsense on them according to the TOS, but why in the world would Google have bought a domain parking software company (way back in 2004) and start offering Adsense for Parked Domains?

    At the very least, Google needs to make some program policy changes, but if they wanted to stay true to their creed of “do no evil” than they really should make some system-wide changes. Allowing Adwords Advertisers who use Google’s content network to opt-out of having their ads displayed on parked domains would be a wonderful feature,. Besides the obvious contradictory statements from TOS and programs, I doubt many advertisers will find quality traffic coming from a parked domain.

    In my humble opinion it is time for Google to clean up its act and stop chasing dollars. They started all this mess, now its time to fix it.

    New MSN adCenter Budget Feature

    Ever have an account rep or PPC consultant tell you that you aren’t spending enough money? I know it can be one of the most frustrating things to hear especially from a representative from Google, Yahoo, or MSN, because the first thought that will cross your mind is “they just want more of my money.” Although it is hard to believe sometimes, these reps don’t get paid on commission, unless you consider stock prices commission. To help ease the pain these representatives should at least learn not to make this the first solution they offer.

    Well, Adcenter has added a feature to help ease the reaction pain from the usual “increase your budget response.” It’s a little talked about feature that was implemented during the last update on the 9th. If you go to your ‘billing reports’ tab in adCenter you will see a feature that tells you exactly what percentage of searches your ads are showing, and what you will need (based on current account factors) to be seen 100% of the time.

    Bravo adCenter, Bravo!

    Interview with Yahoo Search Marketing's John Slade of the Panama Team

    TopRankBlog has a good interview with the Senior Director of Yahoo Search Marketing, regarding the changes involved in the new platform dubbed Panama.

    He covers topics such as the differences between Panama and Adwords, new campaign features, and the revamped signup process.

    here is a little excerpt:

    TRB: What can you do now to run a campaign that you couldn?t before?

    Slade: With the new platform, advertisers will have access to many new capabilities for managing their campaigns.

    • * Geo-Targeting ? Enables advertisers to display their ads broadly or to narrow their distribution down to specific metropolitan areas, allowing them to better target their customers, customize their ads and control their costs.
    • * Ad Testing ? Allows advertisers to easily test multiple versions of their ads to determine the message that works best for their customers. They can also choose to let our systems automatically optimize serving to the ad that performs best on click-through rate.
    • * Goal-Based Campaign Optimization ? If an advertiser has business metrics they?re trying to hit, such as a CPA, ROI or ROAS goal, our systems can automatically adjust their ad rotation and bids to help them meet those goals.
    • * Campaign Budgeting and Scheduling ? Allows advertisers to create, budget and schedule individual advertising campaigns for greater control over their advertising strategy and spending. Advertisers also have the option to place an account and/ or campaign daily spending limit to increase budget control.

    read more here

    Is Click Fraud Really Less Than 2%?

    On Monday Andy Beal had a good piece about his talks with a Googler on the topic of click fraud and how they say the actual click fraud that an advertiser sees is %1 or lower.

    Now in theory this is great but is it really an accurate statement? I don’t think so and here is why. I am not 100% sure that Google’s invalid click detector works flawlessly. It can’t. And won’t until Google’s sophisticated computer systems can read people’s mind. This less than %1 is the amount of clicks that pass through Google’s system inadvertently and get charge to advertisers but what about the click fraud that their system doesn’t pick-up on? That is the number that everyone wants and the same number I still believe is 10-20%. If I click on an ad with no intent on buying something from the site or performing their preferred action, how does Google know? How does Google know about the guy who runs some mesothelioma sites and war-drives for a few hours each weekend clicking on his $10-20 ads a few hundred times? Sure this is small scale but to think it doesn’t happen at the enterprise level is silly. There are a lot of unethical businesses and business people out there that will do anything to make a buck and put a hurting on their competitors.

    So while Google says that click fraud is less than 2% that are misrepresenting what click fraud is to John Q. Customer.

    *update* – they have made a statement correction and says now that it is the number of “invalid clicks” rather than pure “click fraud”.

    Yahoo Opens up Panama

    People new to Yahoo Search Marketing have the ability to check out Yahoo’s knew search marketing platform, codenamed Panama. Rueters is reporting that newcomers to YSM will be in the new Panama system as Yahoo is inviting customers to Panama in stages before its official launch in the first quarter of 2007.

    Personally, I’m not in any hurry to switch to Panama. Yahoo, like MSN, does not drive enough traffic at the moment to justify the time needed to learn these new systems in the depth required to fully utilize them. And frankly, I like Yahoo’s current bid strategy, although I maybe the only one, but compared to the Google nonsense its a dream!