Meet the Search Ad Networks

Rebecca Lieb is moderating this afternoon’s Meet the Search Ad Networks session featuring Doug Stotland (Microsoft adCenter), Stewart Easterby (Yahoo), John Kannapell (AOL), James Speer ( and Brian Schmidt (Google). Now that representatives from all the engines present and I have a tummy full of falafel (thanks for lunch, Tamar! [Thank you, Tamar! –Susan]), I say let’s go!

Up first is Stewart Easterby. Everyone say hi to Stewart.

Stewart gives us a quick Yahoo update and says that Panama was the worst kept code name in the entire world. Heh.

He notes that the buzz around Panama started about a year ago and assures the audience that Yahoo is on pace to successfully move all of its advertisers over to the new platform. Early feedback is very positive, with users really enjoying the geo-targeting features, shares of clicks forecasting (can see potential bids and positions), and the signup process.

Stewart talks about some recent brand advocate research. A brand advocate is a customer who really loves a specific brand, but I’m sure you could probably figure that out yourself. Anyway, Yahoo conducted a survey and found that 87 percent of brand advocates search several times a week or more, 75 percent regularly use social media, and 2 in 3 social media users are brand advocates and highly engaged. I’m not sure what that has to do with paid search, but okay! Stats are delicious.

Stewart leaves his stat talk to remind us that Reggie Davis was recently appointed to VP of Marketplace Quality. He says that Yahoo is 100 percent dedicated to ensuring quality across all of their listings. And for the first time Yahoo is revealing how many clicks they remove on a regular basis before advertisers are charged. The discount rate is 12-15 percent and that’s across the entire Yahoo network.

Up next for Yahoo are quality-based pricing, domain blocking capabilities in 2007 and building on their new deal with Viacom which will help them deliver search and contextual advertising on Viacom’s 33 broadband sites. Cool.

Up next is Doug Stotland to give us our adCenter update.

Doug makes a very important and impressive announcement: Yesterday, Microsoft adCenter finished first in a head to head competition with Google and Yahoo…in a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em death match. (I can confirm the validity of this statement; I’m proud to say I was there.) Doug hopes this will give advertisers some confidence in Microsoft. I think I love him.

We’re also reminded that since the last SES, adCenter has been live for 11 months. They’ve launched in the US, UK, and Canada and done over 5 releases. The feedback has been consistent:

  • Clicks are very good clicks — The clicks people get from adCenter tend to convert higher in 4 of 5 categories, according to a recent study.
  • Not delivering enough clicks to advertisers – Microsoft is now running a Pilot Program to open up ads on the Microsoft Network.
  • Haven’t made it easy enough for advertisers to manage campaigns – If you want to play with new, not-yet-released adCenter features, you can visit http:/ and toy around. Features include full text search, the ability to manage campaigns Costco-style, campaign import, favorites, and improved navigation and UI.

James Speer is next to talk about Ask Sponsored Listings.

The IAC Advertising Solutions was recently created to integrate all of their media and advertising solutions. It offers a one-stop-shop for media and search advertising throughout all of IAC’s properties.

James moves on to ASL and says its best feature is the standardization of its traffic. All of Ask’s publisher partners are actively monitored to ensure CPCs, conversion rates, and CPAs.

To ensure ASL advertisers get even distribution through the day, Ask calculates pacing factors which can be adjusted at the request of an advertiser. New campaigns are conservatively defaulted to a pacing factor of 50 percent. The lower the budget to spend ratio, the higher the pacing factor. The objective is to slowly move pacing up/down depending on search levels.

In Q2, 2007 Ask is introducing referrer blocking to the ASL console so that advertisers can decide where their ads are displayed. How does it work, you ask?

  • Advertisers review their click logs to determine whit sites are driving down campaign CPA metrics
  • Important data points include: date, keyword, clicks, conversions, and referrer
  • Log into your ASL account and add the refers to be blocked

Brian Schmidt is up next and he’s here to talk about vision. Sweet.

Google believes they’re in the connection business. They connect consumers with what they’re looking for and connect advertisers with the customers they’re looking for. They do this through the three-tiered Google platform:

  • Search Solutions
  • Content Network
  • Web Utilities & Other Programs

Google is working to give advertisers more control over their ad campaigns by launching tools like Google Web site Optimizer, pay per action ads (PPA) and CPC Site-Targeting.

Other things Google is working on:

  • Google Audio Ads: bringing efficiency, relevancy and accountability to radio advertising. Audio ads will be at scale, targeted, efficient, inclusive and measurable

  • Google Print Ads: Web-enabled marketplace for buyers and sellers of newspaper ads covering the top DMAs.

Next up is John Kannapell from AOL who says AOL’s Advertising Network is thriving.

AOL Search keeps users engaged, brings them back and enables high quality ad opportunities. (No, don’t laugh; he said that with a straight face). Their goal is to be accurate, more complete and more convenient.

AOL Search Marketplace allows advertisers to really focus their message to AOL users and give them more control. It also helps to increase ROI. What this does for AOL is bring an end to end solution. Users get:

  • AOL-branded version of relevant components of the Google AdWords system
  • Sponsored Links specifically on select AOL properties to select advertisers
  • AOL’s new system offers advertisers the best of breed functionality, features and reporting that is used in Google’s AdWords system for text-based ads.

AOL Search Trademark Layer is the most prominent placement on the AOL search page. It appears above both the sponsored links and Web search results. There are four clickable elements.

Next came Q&A with was by far the most amusing part of the sessions thanks to some quirky mics and Brian’s (Google) inability to hear anyone in the audience. Heh, good times, good times.

The best question was posed by Rebecca Lieb, who dared the networks to answer one important question: Why should we spend with your network? The engines went round-robin to answer.

  • Microsoft adCenter: Two reasons: These are the highest quality converting clicks and there are things you can learn and do on adCenter in terms of understanding your audience that you can take to apply to all your campaigns.
  • Yahoo: The reach of the network, the quality of traffic, ease of use of our interface and the quality of support.
  • AOL: Sends consistent message. Building a comprehensive solution to build your brand.
  • Ask: We can deliver incremental conversions for the same CPAs. It’s an incremental buy. We have lower spend points established. Take the heavy lifting off your plate.
  • Google: Reach, innovation and options, support and usability.

One advertiser asked the engines’ representatives how they can incorporate search ads in video.

Brian of Google responded that there are existing opportunities to use or leverage Google’s video marketplace. Obviously, Google believes that online video is a growing market, but they’re not sure about the right way to do it right now. They’ve been careful to put the user first and have been cautious not to damage the brand of YouTube.

I can’t help but think Googler’s answer questions far better than any other search engine rep. Maybe because they admit that they don’t know everything and that they’re okay with that. Googler’s are awesome.

And that’s it. Consider yourself updated on all the search marketing networks.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (1)
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One Reply to “Meet the Search Ad Networks”

Woohoo! Googlers can admit when they are clueless. :)


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