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November 7, 2006

Search Marketing: Bid Management

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My next ad:Tech session touched on the subject of bid management for PPC, and included famed panelists Jon Ostler (First Rate), Martin Fleischmann (MostChoice) and David Berkowitch (360i).

Pay per click has become increasingly popular as site owners realize the potential to earn, controllable rankings. Of course, as the number of players in the game increase, so does the competition. As a result, it’s becoming critical to achieve the right balance between cost and positioning. This is where bid management tools come into play.
Jon Ostler started the session by identifying several types of PPC big management strategies.

Obviously, there is the basic settings, which allows you budget, use phrase matching, target positioning, day parting, etc. Most PPC campaigns will start here.

The next option highlighted was position bidding. This is when you decide that you want your ad to remain at a specific bid position. It’s particularly helpful for branding purposes, but could get very expense, very fast if you forget to specify a max bid. If you are going to use it for branding purposes, the panel recommended keeping your site in the top three listed. Position Bidding works best for terms with a high conversion rate.

Next on Jon’s list was return bidding. Return bidding adjusts bids based on cost per acquisition, cost per sale and ROI. The panel recommended using this option for phrases with lower conversion rates.

Another method mention by Jon was time-based bidding. Time-based bidding allows you to lower or raise bids based on the time of day or the day of week. A lot of advertisers find this very useful, especially when they want to sync their cross-media advertising.

For example, say you have a television commercial that runs during prime time on Monday nights. You may want your ad to only run during those times when users are more likely to be thinking about your brand. Or another option, maybe you want to have your ad appear when you know competitor ISN’T running theirs. Get the exposure for lower the cost!

Those were the main bid management strategies focused on by the panel, but that is no means an exhaustive list. Whichever bid management method (or methods!) you decide to go with, make sure you’re not flying blind. Understand what your model is about before you go with it.

Here are some factors to take into consideration before deciding:

  • Where do you want to be?
  • How many leads do you want to generate? What is the cost per lead?
  • What is your budget?
  • What management tools are your competitors using?
  • How will variables affect your campaign?
  • Pick your battles.

That last one struck me. It’s important to pick your battles on your Web. If a competitor jumps higher than you for one of your keywords, ask yourself if it’s worth the battle. If it is and that term is important to you, pressure them for the spot – outbid them, try and push them to go higher or penny them down. But if it’s not worth it and fighting will only generate ill will, let someone else go after them. The people you anger today, will anger you back tomorrow. Break the cycle.

JupiterMedia reports that paid search is one of the fastest growing categories online, and with good reason. Studies show that if you appear in both the organic and paid search results, you’ll do better on both listings. The double exposure makes you appear more credible and increase your expertness, so bid wisely.

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