How to Make Google AdWords Ineffective

In How to Become the Doctor for a Famous Rock Band Clifton Sewell tells the whole world (including his competitors) that AdWords are currently under priced in his vertical.

The doctors have been running paid ads on Google for four months now, under terms such as "San Francisco Doctor". They're spending roughly 50 cents per click for top positions and their total monthly spend is about $500. "We get about 20-30 new patients a month from it, so we're happy," said Clifton.

Next month part 2 of the series will be out, where Clifton bitches about how AdWords is ineffective due to being hyper competitive.

Google AdWords at Bottom of Search Results

I have not been able to get a screenshot, but at WMW Vegas I noticed that when Baked Jaked was looking at Google search results for [Gwen Stefani Tickets] that their were Google AdWords ads at the top, right, and bottom.

Longer AdWords Ad Copy Seen Live

This search showed one of the longer AdWords creatives.

I refreshed the Google search 3 times and saw that ad live as well on the third go.

Already 3 ads at the top sometimes, and now longer ad copy tested in some of the other ad slots. Initial thoughts:

  • those really don't fit on the sidebar. Maybe at the top, but they look screwy on the right 14% of the screen.

  • got to imagine those hog the CTR from the ads around them for sticking out so much

noticed at SearchGuild

Pay Per Click News...

AdWords Quality Based Minimum Bids:
have gone into effect. useful for those generic terms or low volume terms that used to get arbitrarily disabled, as well as terms that were slightly unprofitable at 5 cents a click.

AdSense:
has a new blog (from JenSense)

They also are beta testing allowing publishers to define user profiles for ad targeting.

PPC Trademark Law:
US courts say it is fine to use a trademark term to trigger ads, but not OK to use trademark terms in ad copy.

Miva vs Yahoo!:
patent dispute solved for $8 million, which is far cheaper than what Google paid, although Miva is forced to give Yahoo! an undisclused cut in future earnings as well.

Yahoo! Search Marketing:

Google to Test Longer Ad Copy, MSN PPC Beta, Baidu Sets IPO Price, Yahoo! Audio Search

Pay Per Click:

  • Google beta testing longer AdWords ad descriptions (up to 200 characters).

  • MSN to ramp up beta testing of MSN Keywords. Their ad copy specs will match Google's original 25 characters in the title & 70 characters in the description.
  • apply to beta test Yahoo!'s publisher ads
  • Ask Jeeves recently said they will show less pay per click ads. (Although they have also reported this in the past.)

We the United Spammers of Engines:
stuntdubl offers reinclusion request tips

Why the Desktop is So Important:
targeted marketing - Yahoo! sending email marketing based on data returned from the Yahoo! Toolbar.
Mozilla Corporation getting donation love from Google

Internet Stocks are Hot:
Baidu raises IPO price:

Baidu.com sold 4.04 million shares at $27 each, according to a person familiar with the transaction. The price was higher than the $23 to $25 range the Beijing-based company outlined in an Aug. 3 filing with U.S. regulators.

Amazon and eBay have both rose sharply recently.

The Sound of Search:
Yahoo! announced their audio search

SEO Book Review, Evolution of Search Engine Watch, Ask Jeeves PPC, & Widgets

Much of this post was stolen from NickW ;)

SEO Book Review:
NickW reviews SEO Book. That is about the most thoughtful review I have seen of any book or software or anything like that in a long time. Thanks for the killer review and suggestions Nick!

Danny Sullivan:
Now has a show on Webmaster Radio and posts daily archives on Search Engine Watch.

Fairly interesting to see that in the last year and a half Search Engine Watch changed from a site that was primarily driven by articles and email newsletters to a site that also has a forum, a blog, and a daily podcast.

It is easy to get stuck with a format because it is easy to do what worked in the past, but the fact that Danny's publishing mechanisms evolve so much should be a reminder to those in strong market positions afraid of changing formats. GrayWolf suggested that I make ebook updates available via RSS and others have asked why I have not made a printed version yet.

Ask Jeeves PPC:
Ask Jeeves to sell their top 3 ad positions internally, if they will make more cash from them than selling Google AdWords ads (factoring in both CPC and clickthrough rate). They will also syndicate these ads onto other sites including Dogpile, Search.com, and Search123.

Surely some of the quicker selling ads will be travel related ones, since IAC has a ton of potential selling ad space across it's various properties including Expedia, Hotels.com, and the like.

Widgets:
Yahoo! owns the market.

With search being so profitable you can bet that niche companies which create products that make it easy to access data or may drive traffic are going to be bought up quickly and have their products given away.

Small Pay Per Click Search Engines - Worthless...

Smaller search networks can not compete with the big boys in building advertisers, users, and monetizing traffic. Hence they have to rely on gimicks and low quality publishing partners to get any exposure.

Joe Holcomb, a former executive at BlowSearch, was recently canned:

The “official” reason for my termination from BlowSearch was “Company Financial Crisis / Downsizing”.

He did a bunch to try to pump up the issue of click fraud and promote BlowSearch as a nearly fraud free network, but most of that was just marketing spin. They were using white label MyGeek services:

How was this a gimmick? Well, I used two of the services in the MyGeek back end and promoted it as a partial solution to click fraud. The manual IP blocking became “Competitor IP Blocking” and the publisher selection page became the “Traffic Source Selection” system. This all served to help the advertiser to achieve better ROI and really answered two of the biggest problems the search engine industry has been harping on (me included) for a long time now. Giving the advertiser the ability to choose and protect their ad investment.

Of course Joe just got a bad deal, and thus is going to have reason to paint a negative picture, but traffic tends to consolidate (just look at the share price of Google vs Miva) and the only way to break into a hyper competitive market is to create something uniquely innovative:

There was a post over at sew recently, some guy whining that he was getting beat silly in the serps by some old established sites. He was whining that they were doing x and so was he, they were doing y and so was he, they were doing z and so was he.

He didn't have the right attitude to succeed on the web. When you go up against those big established sites you really have to be committed and go the extra mile. If you want to world champion you have to fight the best in their own back yard, its no use being as good or even a little better, you have to knock them spark out to get the decision. - NFFC

No matter how you spin it, BlowSearch was not some amazingly new blow your hair back website. Heck they were spinning up something that was nothing more than a white label feed.

You can fake people for a bit, but eventually your source shows.

Joe also talked about his Click Defender idea, which the company never apparently believed in as much as he did. A while ago I called him out on the ClickDefender.com domain content being a joke, and apparently the owners of BlowSearch thought the same.

Interesting to see another blogger blog that they lost their job. I certainly noticed some of the marketing spin he created to help boost BlowSearch, and althoug I doubt they have much mindshare it will be interesting to see how quickly BlowSearch loses it.

From my short experience crossing with Joe online he at least seems like a good marketer, and someone should want to hire him for that. Best of luck Joe.

Google AdWords to Drop On Hold & In Trial Status

Just logged into AdWords and found the following:

In the coming weeks, your keywords will no longer be evaluated as normal, in trial, on hold, or disabled. Instead, your keywords will either be active or inactive, depending on their quality and maximum CPC. Each keyword will be assigned a minimum bid based on its quality. As long as its maximum CPC meets this quality-based minimum bid, your keyword will remain active and trigger ads.

Not sure if it was causing too many customer support queries or the technology was a failure or what, but Google is dropping the in trial, on hold, and slowed AdWords account statuses. Ads will simply be active or inactive.

Google states the following about the pending change:

  • The keyword statuses normal, in trial, on hold, and disabled will be replaced with active (triggering ads) or inactive (not triggering ads). In addition, accounts will no longer be slowed. Currently, accounts are slowed when they don't meet our performance requirements and your ads appear rarely for your keywords.

  • New keywords will no longer be disabled or have a minimum clickthrough rate (CTR) threshold. Instead, your keyword will trigger ads as long as it has a high enough Quality Score (determined by your keyword's CTR, relevance of ad text, historical keyword performance, and other relevancy factors) and maximum CPC.
  • Ad Rank, or the position of your ad, will continue to be based on the maximum CPC and quality (now called the Quality Score).
  • Remember: The higher the Quality Score, the lower the CPC required to trigger ads, and vice versa.
  • You can move an inactive keyword to an active state and show ads by (1) improving its Quality Score through optimization, or (2) increasing its maximum CPC to the minimum bid recommended by the system.

It will be interesting to see if using higher bids allows you to run ads with low relevancy scores for fairly generic terms. If it does it may mean that at least for a short period of time there may be a good number of underpriced terms (depending how high Google makes the minimum suggested bids to tax the poor relevancy - currently AdWords defaults to a 5 cent minimum or whatever some other low amount in other currencies).

It is sorta interesting to see because this is clearly Google moving away from keeping ads relevant and may cause sooner text ad blindness (similarly to how people became blind to banner ads). Google recently allowed people to pay to run untargeted ads on partner sites via CPM ad sales. The fact that Google is willing to accept low relevancy ads on it's own site should really show that Google wants to be all nearly all things related to internet advertising.

Many people did have complaints with good words getting disabled before trial, so this new system will help accomidate them, while allowing bulk upload of relevant longer search queries and taxing away the profits from the buy dead children at eBay and other off topic bulk eBay ads.

Searchday is running an article about the new AdWords change where they state:

Pegging minimum bids to a quality score that considers all of these factors effectively eliminates Google's previous de facto minimum bids. For ads that receive a high quality score, Kamangar said the minimum bid as little as a penny. Conversely, for ads that receive a low quality prediction, the new minimum bid could be higher than the previous minimum of five cents.

Click Fraud Testing

Danny pointed at MarketingExperiment's recent piece on click fraud (free registration required).

They tried click fraud on test campaigns, clicking 10 times on each. Below is the number of clicks Google charged for from each test set:

Individual clicking on the ad: 0
Individual clicking on the ad with Anonymizer: 1
Clicking on the ad with a different computer, same IP address: 1
Clicking on the ad with a different computer, different IP address: 1

They mentioned impression fraud and looked at alleged click faud in three real accounts, which showed that fraud tended to increase as click cost rose.

They also gave tips on how to avoid click fraud or minimize its effects. The article is worth a peak if you plan on swimming in the PPC market. They also have a 50 minute audio I have only listened to a few minutes of.

I am not sure why they did not test other engines as well. They should have at least done Overture. It would be interesting to compare how various engines fight (or do not fight) click fraud.

Whoever is big in the click fraud prevention market should really use some a / b / c comparison testing as the cheap marketing opportunity that it is.

Andy Beal Endorses LookSmart?

Search Engine Lowdown is sponsored by LookSmart, and in their advertisement post it sounds as though Andy is endorsing their service:

If you want quality traffic at a lower cost than other leading pay-per-click search marketing programs, check out their LookListing service.

I guess quality is a broad word, with many meanings, but from my experiences that post sounds a bit economical with the truth.

Ocassionally I have thought about taking advertisers on this site, but it would take a lot of money for me to say nice things about LookSmart's traffic quality.

If LookSmart believed in their own products would they be displaying AdSense ads on their sites like FindArticles and Zeal? When I just checked even LookSmart itself was serving up AdSense ads.

From your internal testing does LookSmart provide quality traffic cheaper than leading pay-per-click search marketing programs? If their network traffic quality is high then why do they need to outsource their ad sales to Google? In spite of contextual ad click fraud why are some people willing to bid more on AdSense than on LookSmart?

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