Paid Search Roundtable

According to the agenda we’re here to learn about the latest from the major providers. Moderated by Jeffery Rohrs from Exact Target. The ambassadors this time around are Stewart Easterby (Yahoo Search Marketing), Doug Stotland (Microsoft AdCenter), Frederick Vallaeys (Google Adwords), and Paul Vallez (

It’s freezing in here and sadly, Danny didn’t take my suggestion of hair metal for the pre-session music so we’re listening to swing. I’m putting on my sweater; no one tell Bruce that I’m out of uniform.

Stewart (Yahoo) is up first. He’s covering three subjects today: Panama, commitment to traffic quality, new API program.

Again mentions that Panama was the ‘worst kept codename’ ever. New with the introduction of Panama: Geotargeting, share of clicks forecasting, Easy Sign-up process. Feedback has been overall positive.

Commitment to traffic quality: Launched the first PPC search engine 9 years ago in 1998. To keep quality high, on average, 12-15% of clicks discarded and not billed for. They’re not necessarily fraudulent but they’re invalid.

Quality based pricing: reduce price for clicks that aren’t worth as much (very very near future). Also rolling out soon: Domain blocking.

API program:

  • No fees
  • Open and Transparent program
  • Commercial grade technical and marketing support
  • Massively scalable production platform

He takes a shot at Google: The API is not in beta, it’s permanent. Access to the basic API is free. Advanced and Elite: $2000 and up

(He mentions that he went to original Starbucks yesterday. He’s my new favorite person ever.)

Doug Stotland (Microsoft) wants you to know that the guy on the slides was not chosen at random; he’s representative of the relationship with the advertisers. In essence, they want to marry you. (Not me, just you) He’s a Very Attractive guy (not really) yet a little bit scrawny (true), he’s not high-maintenance but he’s a little high-maintenance. (Doug says that you can’t tell by looking at him but you can; he’s dressed like a total hipster holding a cup of coffee). (Stewart: He’s the McDreamy of Paid Search. Doug: Yes, but they’ll be more faithful.)

Very Attractive = Good clicks: Their clicks convert.
Scrawny: They don’t give enough clicks yet, they’re working on it.
High maintenance: They’re making adCenter easier to use because it’s not super easy right now.

Their challenge is to build up clicks without losing click quality. Compete studies list them as tops in 4 out of 5 of areas, better conversions (except financial so it isn’t on the slide.) What is? B2B, retail, travel and something I missed.

They want to focus on advertising that is value added–beyond the ad; to something useful on the landing page. Longer dwell times, high human relevancy scores

New Click Quality reports:

  • New columns for your account/campaign performance reports
  • Standard vs low quality (non-billed) clicks (not so much fraud)

More content: Bulking up through content ads on Microsoft Network. All clicks are on MSN publishers. Will eventually roll out to publishers
ROAS on par with search

Lower maintenance:
Full text search –
Manage campaigns Costco style – in bulk, easier now than 3 mo ago
Campaign import – import from others
Favorites – keywords
Improved navigation – usability testing

They’re offering $50 free clicks at the booth in the exhibit hall.

(Incidentally, the hipster guy totally needs to give me his coffee)

Frederick (Google) is next.

Adwords features: upcoming
Editor Tips and Tricks – Advanced search allowes you to find duplicates, copy and paste to a spreadsheet–shouldn’t need to take it out of the editor but you can just paste in and out if you need to, use it to find the worst performing ads in your account–figure out the worst 10% and optimize those words better.
More control over Keywords – Negative keywords, tells you the percentage of traffic that you’re going to be cutting out. Exact negative capable. So “flowers” is going but flowers by itself is too general. Negative phrase is available as well.
New Reports: From each ad group campaign, which keywords triggered that ad and what is broad, exact, etc. What do people really search for “certified pre-owned cars” vice “used Lexus”. Find keywords tat should be excluded (I sell games but not chess sets)

Pay per Action: only pay for completed action.

Account snapshot: little graph on how you were performing was there and then it went away, now it’s coming back and more robust than before. Also added SMS notifications

Customizable dashboard.

Paul (Ask) didn’t prepare any jokes. Launching the ask content network: Mixed feelings about that acquistions, but they have a good verticals and they’ll be available to advertisers throught eh content network.

66% of clicks lead to conversions came from those clicking on more than 1 listing.

Third largest search network out there. 35% reach search alone 40% search plus contextual. Audience overlap is good because it reinforced branding

Combined search and contextual is 4 times better than display along.

Also are offering referrer blocking soon, so that they can control click fraud. Don’t look at it just from keyword but also from network. Discover which don’t convert as well and which do. Block the non-useful ones.

Key Publisher Benefits: Only been around for two years. 60 internal brands: polled them to find out what they like and what they don’t like. Ads have to perform very well or it’s not worth it because of the impact on negative user experience.

Relevancy thresholds set by publishers by vertical. Also performance thresholds can be set so that low paying ads won’t take up space. Again, by vertical.

Search is much stronger for CPM. They’re trying new things to bring up the clicks for display ads.

Q&A (after the jump)

Dell: works with everyone through an agency–which engine works with whom and how do you stop low quality activity from smaller engines
Yahoo: many layers of defense, tend to pick larger quality partners, evaluate traffic with conversion rates and will drop low-quality partners, a valid but not high-quality are filtered as well.
Ask: trying to define standards and metrics, doesn’t think that they did a very good job trying to set up how to work with them so that they can get the right sort of data that will help them figure out fraud. Wants to offer more exposure and control. Have a standard form to give data in so that they can evaluate it more easily.
Google: from a technical perspective you can always look at who it came from, if there’s a problem, talk to your content manager or contact them. If it’s not possible through a site exclusion, they’ll still try to do something. FollowUp: Is there any reason why there shouldn’t be clarity? Sometimes the lawyers get involved but not otherwise
Haven’t been impressed by the accuracy of geotargeting from yahoo. Google and MSN is better
Yahoo: Not generally the feedback we hear. Might be something specific with what you’re targeting and who you’re reaching. Talk about it afterwards.
Google: IP blocks, AOL users, it can be really hard to figure out where people are coming from (refs Matt this morning). If you see a problem, tell them.
Follows on previous question: Skeptical about 90% accuracy (Matt’s number from You&A). Why can’t they see through Reston (AOL proxy)? Everyone dials a local number.
What percentage are you confident about being geo addressed?
MSN: Stop by the booth, doesn’t have it now. Isn’t just about IP address. They sign in and tell them where they live as well as age, etc. Also automated stuff. Trying to get more information while preserving privacy. Not perfect today.
Yahoo: IP targeting is the third way. If it’s explicit, that’s first [seattle, plumber]. If they id it some other way [movies, 90210] on a cookie. No specific number.
Google: Question depends on the country. Spain everyone comes from Barcelona. Believes Matt’s 90%?
No one really seems to know.
Yahoo is typically more restrictive about affiliates, what changes are you planning to make toward allowing them in
Yahoo: More traffic but high-quality, affiliates are hard. There were always be some who aren’t happy with the policy but they are drawing lines. (non-answer)
What’s your view of automated bid management?
Google: Some people need it because they have so many keywords and only hand edit the top 100. They don’t really have a recommendation. (How many people would be comfortable telling Google what the true value of a click is? Verdict: not too many)
Microsoft: Want people to focus on the areas that is going to get them the best quality. Not necessarily managing the bid themselves but the important pieces. They’d like to head to the point where someone else would manage the bid, while marketers write titles, creatives etc instead.
Yahoo: API program wants to encourage it. Advanced analytic package.
Ask: Bid management is not dead. Tools are needed. May recommend tools but won’t be building one.
API cost, Yahoo, what’s up with the asterisk of ‘there might be a cost’
It’s for the power advertisers, people who are in normal usage won’t have a problem. There is a threshold.
Trademark enforcement: MSN and Yahoo are strong, why isn’t Google’s?
Google: If someone wants to protect their trademark, they’ll do it in the ad text but if an affiliate creates a better ad, they’re going ot use it. Offers to talk afterward.
Yahoo search partner network: What’s the philosophy of how blended the network is?
Yahoo: It’s not pure search, it’s also domain type partner and content sites, anyone who will drive quality traffic. If they don’t match up, they’ll boot them from the network. Referrer data, analytic packages should reveal who those are. Talk to someone at the booth.
Google: it’s typical to lose referring data, go ahead and talk to an engineer about that.
Back to SEM agencies, How are advertisers responding to the SEM buying and are Ask and yahoo jealous
Microsoft: advertising is a business model, has been a key area of investment for a while. Aquantive makes perfect sense for building out of platform and network but also the talent. They’re just getting started. Want the thought leadership without harming the value and trust to their advertisers.
Google: Doubleclick; deal hasn’t been closed yet, they’re excited about the people more than than technology. If you’re concerned, let your account rep know and they’ll share as they can.
Ask: Jealous? Do the engines want to own that space? There’s synergy and they’ve been innovating in the SEM space and yeah they’d like to have some in house but not jealous just envy.
Yahoo: They’re trying to build an ecosystem.
Everyone but Google: When will ad scheduling be implemented?
Microsoft: can be done already; may not be easy to find
Yahoo: That’s at the top of the list, but they’ve heard it and it’s in the pipeline.
Ask: Not an easy problem to solve, rely on agencies to do it. From the SE’s perspective, trying to keep up in a real time fashion isn’t necessarily possible yet. Do things in batches, trying to speed it up. Not in real time out of the gate, but one to two hours at the moment.
Content network only, landing page quality
Google: Landing page quality is important. Don’t have it right now for content network but are very close to rolling out–already out to some small degree.
Wiki-space, can’t bid on our niche terms, the bids are too high
Google: When you enter the keyword, you get a preliminary price then they go out do a
New advertisers have to have the elements separately and they need time to get a baseline. Questioner: can’t even get an account rep. Frederick: we’ll talk later
MSN claims that it’s the same ROAS context and search–how does that work?
MSN: has been comparable because the inventory is the very highest quality. It makes sense because the audience and the inventory is very high. Thinks the cost side is fairly realistic but knows that it’ll drop off when they go off their network.
Google API is still a beta, when will that not be anymore?
Pricing scheme, new versions every couple of months. Structure is the way it should be. (He says between you and me, consider it out of beta.)
Yahoo: We’re not in beta.
MSN: DOS is formally coming out of beta.
Panama made my cost of sales double, is that going to get better?
Yahoo: Most people are seeing higher ROI. Conversion rates have been the same but clicks cost less. (She’s seeing higher cost of sale even on branded words) Atypical.
Policy regarding prescription drugs and rogue pharmacies?
Yahoo: Three years ago, needs to be certified through a third party before you’re allowed to go live.
MSN: Same approach, same third party
Google: Same.
Ask: automated process, flag the keywords, caught 89% of the times. Need certification and have to have it on the web page.

Susan Esparza is former managing editor at Bruce Clay Inc., and has written extensively for clients and internal publications. Along with Bruce Clay, she is co-author of the first edition of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies.

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

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