So the announcement was finally made this morning that Microsoft Bing will now power Yahoo search for 10 years! You can read the details here and read Danny’s notes on the conference call and Q&A here.
This is good news for advertisers!
Let’s face it. We all start our search campaigns at Google AdWords. They own by far the majority of all searches. We fine tune them, our competitors start bidding like idiots and it drives our prices up. We’re forced to do the things we should do like A/B test ads, landing pages, etc.
We do all this because we want to be the best we can be on Google to get the best price.
Do we advertise on Yahoo and Microsoft? It depends on if we have the time, energy, and desire. Each had a small piece of the pie. So even if we did eventually move to Yahoo and/or Microsoft, it was always later.
For myself personally, I would simply copy what worked in Google. It wasn’t worth much else. Microsoft and Yahoo were just too small to care much about.
Now there will be one tool (MS AdCenter) to get on both. I know I’ll be jumping in a lot quicker now. MS has always had good ROI for several of our clients and Yahoo wasn’t bad either.
If I can now advertise all in one tool (for both Bing and Yahoo search), I’m more likely to do so and to improve it.
Great news for us as advertisers. Hooray!
What about users?
The news might not be quite as good here. If you search at Yahoo or search at Bing, will you get the exact same results? Probably.
If you can’t find what you want at Google or Yahoo/Bing, where do you go next? Nowhere really. Maybe Ask? Twitter?
However, the truth is that when you search on Google now and don’t find what do you want, what do you do? Honestly?
You go back to the search box and type in different (or longer) phrases. Market research shows that very few people switch engines.
So I guess it’s not that big of a deal after all.
The bottom line? It’s great news for us. I’m sure it’s great news for Microsoft. (We’ll see over time if it’s great news for Yahoo.)
For my clients and students, I’ll be in touch regarding what this will mean specifically for you as more details come out.
Overall, it ended up being a pretty high-level discussion about PPC. The other panelists do some pretty serious PPC with some pretty high dollars, so the data in particular was quite interesting.
I mostly kept my comments on a strategic level. They provided more numbers and data to back up their comments. Below are some simple comments from the various panelists and perhaps some commentary from me.
Note to my readers: If the below notes seem a little too complicated, please think about taking our Google AdWords class sometime.
NOTE TO THE PANELISTS AND CLTIMA: If any of the below is inaccurate or off in any way, please comment and I’ll try to fix it. I tried to take good notes and be on the panel at the same time, so I may have gotten a few things wrong. Just let me know.
In a downturn, buyers tend to switch off spend. What are you seeing?
Jeff Campbell who works with Lowes: Dollars are moving to paid search still. But often clients are wanting to learn from the PPC and then try to “get it for free” by doing organic and social.
Mike from Yahoo: CPC is still going down. Advertisers are spending less.
ME: It depends on the industry. Some industries feel it. Many that do e-commerce are saying “what recession?” Many never saw a drop.
Other comments on PPC in general?
Jeff: Overall conversion rate for all PPC on average is about 2%. Many advertisers are saying that’s not good enough. Why do we get nothing from the other 98%? Optimize landing pages! Get more people to take action on your site.
Note from me: True. To learn more about this type of stuff, check out these books.
Rob from LendingTree: Use every targeting available when doing PPC and even other advertising. Jump on any new opportunities.
Jeff: Search vs Content is like Push vs. Pull They are very different. Handle them differently.
Me: Very important! Always create separate campaigns on Google and Yahoo for Search Marketing and Content Marketing.
What is the best PPC tools out there?
Rob and Jeff: Microsoft Excel!
Me: I was big into bid management tools for Overture (remember that?). Since then the value is not strong enough for me to bother.
Rob: There are reporting tools and bid management tools. (I forgot if he had any specific recommendations. Rob? Leave a comment below if I am mis-quoting you.)
Jeff: Google and Yahoo may actually penalize you if you are making over 2 changes to your bids every single day.
(Side note: That surprised me. I’d like to hear if anyone else has heard of that. Jeff, have you personally experienced that?)
Should advertisers focus on branded or generic terms?
Me: Both. But be sure to track and test them.
Jeff: For several major brands he has worked with, brand keywords are worth the money 100% of the time. He has tracked two weeks on and two weeks off. It’s always worth the money you spend.
Mike: Agreed. Branded terms are well worth it. The people that type your brand into search engines already know you. They are likely your loyal customers. Those are always best. In contrast, generic terms are better for getting into a conversation that you may not have otherwise. It builds awareness.
How has PPC performance (CTR, ROI, etc) fared during the recession?
Mike: Yahoo overall has had a 9% Q2 earnings growth.
Rob: The mortgage industry has seen a 10–15% shift up/down in ROI
Jeff: Higher CTR, longer keyword phrases, conversion rates are flat. Marketers are doing more A/B testing of copy. Many are bidding on more phrases, as many of 100s of millions.
Rob: Definitely test different copy. In the mortgage industry, the same phrase could be typed in on a weekday mid-day vs a weekend evening. Yet, it is probably two very different consumers. Try different ads for different time periods.
Me: What recession? Again, it depends on the industry. Real Estate, Construction, Banking, etc will probably have seen bigger differences during the recession. Yet, we have seen e-commerce sales rising through the recession, even though vendors are saying sales are down. People are clearly shopping more on the web and less offline.
Jeff: Use coupon offers on your PPC ads. It’s working very well now. Also, try tracking e-commerce conversions as just getting to the shopping cart, not checking out. The checkout process can have problems. Track (and test) changes to the actual checkout process separately.
Jeff: Test sending branded phrases straight to the home page. It seems as if customized landing pages should work better. But testing has shown that just sending to your home page may work better.
Thoughts on Using Video?
Jeff: Yahoo has new RAIS program, but it is not available to all. It really works well. Some are seeing a 50% CTR!!
Me: From a strategic direction, video works well for small business because it helps consumers not just to know you exist, but to like and trust you. People need to know, like, and trust you in order to pull out their credit card.
My final thoughts…
As I mentioned earlier, this was not a discussion for those just starting out in Internet marketing. It was a fairly high-level discussion about PPC for some pretty significant spenders.
I really appreciated the experience and wisdom of the other panelists.
The networking was nice before and after. I met some VERY interesting people. Several people asked about my classes and SEMCLT.
Thank you again to all involved for inviting me. Thanks also for the free one-year membership to Charlotte IMA that was offered to all panelists.
Thanks to all who attended and were a part of the evening. Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The people that are behind Charlotte IMA are now having one of their first meetings and they invited me to be on the panel for a discussion. It will be held Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 6:00 PM in Charlotte, NC.
The official title is “PPC: Upside in a Down Market” and I’m pretty excited about presenting alongside a very impressive panel, namely…
Corey Creed, President, Hippo Internet Marketing
Jeff Campbell, Co-Founder & VP, Resolution Media
Michael McMeekin, Account Lead, Yahoo
Robert Pettee, Sr. Director of Marketing, LendingTree
(I’m not sure why I’m listed first on that list. I’m sure I should be last.)
If you think you can make it, please be sure to come out and hear the discussion. I know I’m looking forward to it very much.
You can see the official Charlotte IMA site here and see the event details here. In fact, if you do plan to attend, let me know. I have a $10 off coupon that I am sending out to all my subscribers later today.
I’ll be happy to pass it along to anyone that asks.
Every now and then I hear something that just doesn’t make sense to me and I feel impelled to try to fix it. I know I can’t, but perhaps if a few of my readers feel the same way, we can at least inform our friends. We may not change the world, but perhaps we can try to clear up a misconception.
I heard two very informed individuals both say that “Twitter is a fire hose”. There is so much information in there that you could never keep up with it.
From a purely technical standpoint, there is some truth to it. But the comment paints a very scary picture that most normal people would avoid.
Let’s think about this for a minute. How many television channels do you get? How many websites are there? How many radio stations are there? How many phone numbers are there? How many email addresses are there?
All of those are media. Each one is a medium. The definition of media? Glad you asked…
In communication, media (singular medium) are the storage and transmission tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media, but may refer to a single medium used to communicate any data for any purpose.
If your television, radio, or telephone bothers you, shut it off. If you don’t like something you see or hear on any of these, change the channel. You can do these same things on Twitter. Shut it off or un-follow.
I counted almost 50 people there in person and Darin told me we had an average of 20 or so watching live online. In fact, over the course of the first hour, we had 80 people come in and out of the live stream.
Here’s how it went…
I took the first ten minutes or so to try to explain the basics of link building. My slide presentation is shown below.
Then, we had some open debate/discussion for about 30–40 minutes about things to know about link building. Keith Schilling, David Kyle, Jon Payne, and Robert Enriquez were all sitting at the front forming sort of a panel. But others in the audience jumped in as well.
At that point, we were going to split up and let people meet each other in order to build links, but it didn’t really happen. People just started talking and networking and Keith and I saw no reason to interrupt.
I tried to get a few pictures before I left while everyone was just chatting among themselves…
Last month the organizers got together and tried to plan out the next several months worth of meetings. We try to do 4 free meetups every year in order to let everyone in on what we are doing. We were due to do one specifically on Link Building.
One of the organizers had the idea of organizing a “link swap meet” of sorts. His idea was that there are several website owners and marketers in the room. Why not find a way for them to meet each other and determine if there is a legitimate way for them to naturally link to each other?
We all sort of laughed at the idea and even compared it to “speed dating”.
Yet, the idea of meeting the other members and finding out if there were good, natural ways for us to legitimately link to each other was a great idea.
So we’re doing it.
Here’s what I’m thinking. We’ll start with some basic explanation of linking. Then, move on to open discussion about link building so everyone gets a chance to express opinions and debate stuff.
Then we’ll move on to a “structured link swap meet”. I’m thinking of using cards to make this work. Here’s my idea…
1. INDEX CARDS – Hand one out to everyone attending. Ask them all to write on one side the names of sites they would like others to link to. On the other side, they should list how they could link to others.
2. PLAYING CARDS – Give everyone one. Then, ask all spades to meet in one part of the room, hearts another, diamond another, etc. Within each group, each person will have the opportunity to explain what they wrote on their card to the others.
After 10 or 15 minutes, ask everyone to switch. Each Ace would meet in one area, Jacks, Queens, and Kings each in another. That way everyone gets to meet a completely different group of people.
After 15 more minutes, just break. People can then talk to whoever they want.
3. BUSINESS CARDS – If anyone finds someone else that might be a good match for link building, they should swap business cards and work out the details after the meeting.
What do you think? Will that work? Please comment below.
PS: I’m really running late on getting the word out about this event. So please spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, etc. I would really appreciate it. It’s a free event, so let anyone know.
POSTSCRIPT: Sorry guys, but I had to go through and delete some of the back and forth comments we had going on below. It was a bit excessive. I’m trying to keep some of the good ideas, though. Please continue to post any ideas you may have in the comments below.