No Better Time to Give Bing Ads a Try

bing promotion

So, you’re spending all your ad spend with Google AdWords, how’s that working out for you? If you’re wondering about what other search marketing options there are beyond the seemingly infinite grasp of Google, you’ve come to the right place. At Acquisio, your success as an advertiser is our success, and we want to ensure that you get the most bang for your advertising buck by making sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Simple, easy and effective solution - Bing Ads

3 Great reasons to use Bing Ads:

1)  There are 158 million people that search with the Yahoo! Bing Network who don’t use any other search engine. Your business is missing out on millions of potential clients by focusing too much of your advertising budget exclusively on other search engines.

And if you think those 158 million people don’t matter to your business, think again.

2) Bing searchers are proven to be more active spenders.

  • Bing searchers spend 23% more than the average internet searcher
  • Bing searchers spend 4.3% more than searchers on Google
  • Bing searchers are proven to make a purchase decision faster than those using other search networks

True, the reach is smaller, but you’ll be reaching higher quality users, and that’s worth it.

3)  Acquisio is offering up to $2,500 of free advertising on Bing.

Set up is easy and by participating in the promotion, if you are a new Bing Ads client, you can receive:

  • $100 incentive for 3 months of Global Monthly Bing Ads spend of $500 to $1,000
  • $750 incentive for 3 months of Global Monthly Bing Ads spend of $1,001 to $7,000
  • $1,500 incentive for 3 months of Global Monthly Bing Ads spend of $7,001 to $25,000
  • $2,500 incentive for 3 months of Global Monthly Bing Ads spend of $25,001 +

The process is simple:

  1. Sufficient Budget will be Allocated to Bing Ads Campaigns
  2. Keywords will be Deployed and Managed with Acquisio Rules
  3. Monthly Reports of Bing Ads Performance will be Delivered

Diversify your ad spend; it can really help you grow. There’s no time to waste, our promotion ends July 31st 2014, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.  If you want more information, or you want to try Bing Ads, contact us here.

Bing Ads Express – There’s Still Hope

bign ads express

With the recent announcement that Bing Ads Express is shutting down, Marc Poirier, Acquisio founder and SEM expert, looks into what went wrong and offers his suggestions on how Bing could turn the tables and potentially revive the Express Ads program in a new way.

The Announcement

“On July 30th, we will sunset the Bing Ads Express product and will offer search marketing opportunities to our customers only through Bing Ads,” announced Bing this week, on June 16th, 2014.

The Bings Ads Express program launched last October, 2013, and allowed SMBs to set up ads without fussing over any of the campaign details. Businesses simply filled out a short form with their basic company information, set their budget and the Bing team did the rest of the work.

The goal was to help out small businesses that didn’t have the time or the expertise to manage their paid search campaigns. In theory, taking all the stress and work out of paid search was great, but in reality, Bing Ads Express just didn’t sync with users. Here’s why.

What Went Wrong

For one thing, Bing Ads Express presumably wasn’t being used by its intended clientele.

Bing wanted to target businesses with limited experience in paid search, people who didn’t know what keywords to use or how to manage their ads. But SMBs with limited experience and a limited budget more often than not invested their money in paid search they recognized and trusted – like Google.

Instead, Bing was likely working with SMBs who were” too savvy” for the Bing Ads Express program, explains SEM expert and Acquisio founder, Marc Poirier. “Likely the businesses advertising on Bing only knew about the search engine because they already had sufficient spend or experience with Google AdWords and they wanted to experiment with some other advertising route.”

In that case, the simplicity of the program would not appeal to the more experienced SMBs using it. Suddenly the entire premise of the system becomes a problem. Clients wanted more control over their ads. The SMBs wanted to decide where their ads were showing up, what keywords were being used and so on, and that kind of input was not compatible with the Express model.

Another problem Bing Ads Express faced was traction. “Bing would have had to spend a fortune acquiring new relationships with their clients, setting up accounts and supporting them,” said Poirier. Bing would have to spend a lot of time and money convincing SMBs to advertise with them, and it just wasn’t worth the effort.

One last problem Bing Ads Express faced was the limitations of their product. Express was a PPC program, but SMBs don’t care about clicks as much as they care about calls and conversions. There are no call tracking features with Bing Express Ads, and the basic features that come with the program didn’t do much to maximize conversions for local or mobile. True, these are not basic features, and true, Google Adwords Express has these same issues, but without offering too much in the way of paid search, it was difficult for Bing to attract new businesses and draw SMBs away from Google Adwords.

Express Ads 2.0?

Is there still hope for the Bing Ads Express product? It’s been retired, and reporters are saying R.I.P, but Marc Poirier feels there’s still a glimmer of life there.

“Working with resellers is the way to go,” explains Acquisio’s founder. “Removing the SMB facing portal doesn’t mean Bing won’t keep a lot of the work they did and use it for resellers. Bing Ads Express for resellers is still on the table.”

Trying to address SMBs one by one didn’t work. It will more strategic for Bing to work with resellers who already have thousands of clients and can introduce a new product, like Bing Ads Express, easily.

Plus, it will be better for Bing to work with resellers who you can incentivise to promote their product to SMBs. That way, instead of selling to SMBs themselves and making little headway, resellers can help Bing push their product on already existing clients.

Bing may have lost the Express Ads battle so far, but they’re still fighting the paid search war. According to Poirier, with smart strategies and partnerships, the underdog might just come out on top.

 

Microsoft’s Free Windows OS + Bing Ads Could Change Everything

option 2 microsoft

In a world where Google is a common verb and where Apple iPads are toddlers’ favorite toys, it’s hard to imagine anything that can crumble the Google/Apple empire. But there’s been a new development, one that could potentially turn into a digital David and Goliath story.

Microsoft’s announcement

windows_bing_0_1Microsoft announced last month that it will soon give away a free version of Windows (yup, completely free) for small devices like smartphones and tablets. Recently Microsoft shared more details about the plan, saying the free OS will be a new operating system called “Windows 8.1 with Bing” and will be available for small devices (including low cost computers) with screens of less than 9 inches.

“Windows 8.1 with Bing” will be preloaded on small devices and in some cases may come with a free subscription to Office. In all cases, when a users opens their internet browser, Bing will be the default search engine.

This announcement is great for Bing, and if Bing does well that’s great news for Microsoft who will soon rely on Bing Ads as a new source of revenue once their OS is available for free.

While many people may dismiss this announcement, Marc Poirier, SEM expert and founder of Acquisio, sees the potential in the new Microsoft/Bing strategy.

Why is this meaningful?

Right now Microsoft generates money by selling licensing to their Windows software and programs, but Microsoft is in a position where they can no longer hope to grow their company by selling licenses alone.

“The world has changed,” explains Poirier, “Google is out there with free Google apps and people can use Microsoft Office-like environments in the cloud.” Microsoft needs to think of alternative ways to exist or else the company will face the same problem Yellow Pages once did.

yp old new

Yellow Pages was in denial about the success of the company up until they hit a wall. Realizing that no one wanted a paper book anymore, the directory restructured themselves, and with a lot of work they successfully transitioned online to new media.

Microsoft is at that same critical stage. Revenue from sales is limited, too many users have access to free alternatives, or even hacking, and the incentive to pay for operating systems is shrinking. Free OS is the way to go for Microsoft, it’s just a matter of executing it well.

If Microsoft changes their business model and gives away their OS, they need to make money somehow, and that is where the partnership with Bing comes in. By partnering with Bing, Microsoft will benefit from income generated through Bing Ads. Ad money will become their new source of revenue when sales profit no longer exist.

The Microsoft + Bing Potential

Bing has limited traction, with 30 percent reach in the Unites States and a mere 2-5 percent reach in other countries around the world. However, Microsoft has a popular OS that is used on the majority of computers worldwide.

Approximately 90 percent of computer owners have PCs and use Microsoft’s operating system. Because Microsoft Windows has such presence on computers all around the world there is a very significant opportunity for the Microsoft/Bing pair to upstage Google really quickly.

“If Microsoft effectively bolts Bing into the OS experience and the Bing search engine works well, users should have no reason to open up a new browser window with Google for search, and at that stage Bing Ads would become a real threat to Google as the next big global ad network,” explains Poirier.

The release of the free OS is not for PC computers, it is for small devices, and it’s no secret that Microsoft has not been very successful in getting people to adopt their mobile platforms. Giving the mobile operating system away for free, the way Apple does with iOS, may change that. More people may bundle the Microsoft OS, using it both on their PC and mobile or tablet devices. We’ll have to see how Microsoft handles it, but there is definitely strong potential.

Microsoft will also share the free OS with low cost computers, which are becoming more and more popular for audiences with low income or even those in developing countries. With the free OS available on these devices, Microsoft and Bing will reach a wide international audience, which is key to their success.

If people all over the world start using Bing rather than Google, Bing Ads will increase in value and popularity. With this massive potential  to change the way marketers distribute advertising efforts, if things go as Microsoft hopes, get ready to split your advertising budget between Google and Bing Ads.

Maybe we’ll even start saying “Bing it” instead of “Google it.” Who knows?

Reach Users in Specific Locations More Easily with Location Group Targeting

Blog-Post-Chris

The world of PPC advertising is a tumultuous one, with numerous changes, updates, and “enhancements” coming down the pipeline from the search engines we all hold so dear. Just last week, Google made a big announcement regarding several new features that will be coming to AdWords over the next several months. But not every new feature rollout gets a big fanfare announcement. Some just sort of appear and you hear about them through the grapevine. One such feature is Location Group targeting.

Where and What Is Location Group Targeting?

Location group targeting allows you to set your location targeting according to special location conditions, allowing you to reach customers based on their proximity to certain place types or by certain demographics. There are 3 different location groups to choose from: places of interest, location extensions, and demographics.

You can find location group settings by navigating to the Settings tab of a given campaign, clicking the “+Locations” button, clicking “Advanced Search,” and then choosing the “Location groups” tab. Support for location groups is not currently part of Editor, so you will need to add location groups manually to each campaign in which you’d like to run them. Local Targeting

Location Group Types

Targeting by places of interest allows you to select targeting areas around airports, universities, or “central commercial areas” within a given geographic region. Say, for instance, you were advertising for a New York car rental company, you could set targeting for airports within the New York metro, knowing that your customer base may be searching in that specific area.

If you have brick-and-mortar locations loaded into your account as location extensions, you can set up your targeting to reach users within a given radius of those locations. Want to increase foot traffic to your pizza shop on North 3rd Street? Specifically target users within a mile or two of that exact location. Want to increase phone orders and deliver within a 5 mile radius? Set your targeting to 5 miles around your location to reach all users that location covers.

Targeting by demographics is limited right now, with the only option being to set your target based on household income data. This setting is based on data from the US Internal Revenue Service, and, thus, is only available for targeting within the US. But if, say, you’re advertising high-end luxury vehicles, you can target locations that fall within the top 10% estimated annual household income. Advertising financial assistance? Perhaps targeting locations within the lower 10% estimated annual household income is a good choice.

Modifying Bids by Location Group

After you set up your location group targeting, you can then set bid modifiers for these groups. For example, if your car rental business operates throughout New York, but you know business is best near the airports, maybe you want to set your airport bid modifier to +50%. I’d actually recommend setting bid modifiers to location groups to +1% for a few weeks in order to see if performance within these regions actually warrants special bid modifying, then apply a larger bid modifier if the performance supports the idea.

Location group targeting should be available to everyone, so get in there, try it out, and let us know how it goes in a comment.

 

Search Engines: Friend or Foe Redux

I didn’t believe it when I first saw the blog posts and tweets. People seemed to be reading more into a Yahoo T&C that was possible.

It just didn’t make sense that Yahoo would actually make substantial changes – new keywords, new text ads, new ad groups – in their customers accounts.

But it turns out not only was it true, but Yahoo had the nerve to come out and defend the practice.

Six months ago I wrote about the way paid search advertisers view and think about paid search engines.

sullivanYesterday Danny Sullivan – who is not only perhaps the most knowledgeable person out there about the ways of the search engines, but also a very thoughtful and considered writer and thinker – took Yahoo to task for their behaviour.

Advertisers are not idiots, nor are they children. And they got treated that way by Google for years, denied the ability to easily opt-out of programs like AdSense For Content, if they so wanted. You couldn’t do that, because Google was steadfast that offering such options would just be too confusing for those poor little advertisers to understand. Things have gotten better, so for Yahoo to start acting like the Google of old? It’s astounding.

Yahoo should have never given itself the right to make changes this way. They should have asked advertisers if they wanted this “service,” to be more transparent and honest with them. They certainly shouldn’t have reacted with a “we’ll do what we want, you all don’t know better” post as they did.

The specific issue at hand is important, and all Yahoo advertisers should make their thoughts known to via their account reps. But the broader point is critical too – in many substantial ways these search engines don’t treat us that well.

Google on iPhone and Local Search

Continuing the trend of pontificating about next year, playing with the new Google iPhone Search App, it occurs to me that this is IT for igniting local search. (NY Times Story Here)

Whenever Google starts putting ads into those results that is, which may be a while but we all know is coming.

Suddenly localization of advertising isn’t dependant upon either local qualifiers (words like “boston” or “back bay” in the query), or IP-based detection.

Now GPS (or cell-tower triangulation) adds the qualifiers automatically. And the placement and utility of the app will cause searches an very local queries that people would have never done at their desks or even on laptops.

It will be interesting to see how this type of geo-targeted result gets priced, since local bidding competition will be low.

Rethinking Paid Search

Two years ago we took a deep soul-searching look at paid search management practices and technology and decided both were inadequate.

Since then we’ve developed completely new management practices and technology, and it’s time to roll them both out publicly.

The management practices are built around a framework called High Resolution PPC. It’s based on the idea that there are three distinct stages in the paid search process and specific steps and checks to sequentially create a well formed and effective campaign.

The technology is our ClickEquations platform, and was developed based on the idea that paid search is not as efficient and effective as it could be because the software tools we have had are inadequate in a number of very specific ways.

Background
We’ve been professionally managing paid search accounts for about five years. As the market and engine platforms have developed, the size and complexity of the accounts managed has grown. Working with both venture-backed startups and Fortune 100 companies we live with high expectations, competitive sensitivities, and serious budget and ROI oversight.

While it’s been exciting to go along for the ride as the market exploded and the technology evolved, anyone who’s lived deeply in paid search management over the past years knows the day-to-day hasn’t been exactly a picnic.

It’s a lot closer to a horror show.

The search engines are opaque (to put it kindly) on multiple layers. If you try to actually figure out what’s happening and why, you find key information is missing, available information is contradictory, and things aren’t exactly consistent. The Matching Algorithms used by the Search Engines and their rules change constantly.

The image of easy-management and easy-money that caught the media’s attention in the early years is ingrained in the imaginations of VPs of Marketing, Merchandising Managers, and even some Directors of eCommerce. Which means they have expectations and make requests that make the PPC Manager’s head spin – on a daily basis.

But most importantly, the amount of change that the industry has gone through over these short, jam-packed years has not been kept up with by either the ‘best practices’ or the ‘delivered technology’.

Paid search management is a young profession, one in which everyone has been learning on the job, sharing info via the web, and attending  those endless conferences, but past a very small number of truly universal tactics there is no agreed upon ‘right way’ to organize and manage paid search, in even the most general sense.

That’s no way to spend $9 Billion or $10 Billion.

And the software tools haven’t fared will in this rapid-change environment either. The engines built interfaces that primarily serve their own needs. Instead of thinking about how paid search managers actually should and do work, and building tools to facilitate this effort, the tools are organized around the needs of the engines and their algorithms.

This leaves search managers often facing screens with 5 open applications, each which has one piece of the data or one tool they want, none designed for the whole job. In this environment work flow requires on a lot of application and context switching, cutting and pasting, and mental contortions supported by the acceptance of silly limitations and obvious inaccuracies.

We think it’s time for both the process and technology of PPC to catch up with the market realities and demands.

Introducing High Resolution PPC & ClickEquations
In the next few posts I’ll formally introduce both High Resolution PPC and ClickEquations.

High Resolution PPC starts with three primary goals – targeting the right prospects, assigning an accurate value to each, and then satisfying them. It provides the context for using the available paid search controls and options with clear ways to measure results and priorize work.

ClickEquations was and is being developed with three primary goals as well – delivering clear and accurate data, helping to prioritize opportunities and tasks, and automating as many PPC process steps as possible.

We’re excited to share the results of the last few years of work, and are eager to get your feedback.

After the upcoming introductory posts, I’ll deep dive into the specific components of each over the coming weeks and months.

Quality Score Changes (Bid Taxes Going Up?)

I always wonder if Frank Luntz invented the name Quality Score for Google.

It just sounds like the man behind ‘climate change’ (which was otherwise known as ‘global warming’) would call something a ‘quality score’ when it actually functions as ‘advertising tax’.

The Quality Score is Google’s way of handicapping your keywords/text-ads, in the sense of both ranking and limiting their appropriateness and therefore likelihood to run.

The idea, as Google portrays it, is that keyword/ad/landing-page combinations which are more appropriate for a given search get a higher score, and those less appropriate get a lower one. A higher score helps ads run more frequently and be positioned higher, while a lower quality score drives them to be run less frequently and positioned lower.

This of course all aligns with the idea of putting user experience of searchers first, as better ads (more relevant and ‘voted’ so by clicks) get higher quality scores.

And oh ya, the lower your quality score the more you have to pay for the chance or priviledge of running your ads at all.

This is where the prime directive gets sold out – ads with lower quality scores (to a point) can run and even rank highly if the advertiser is willing to pay enough.

In some cases quality scores were so low that a ‘Minimum Bid’ was put into place, which is the moral equivalent of saying that we have no available seating for dinner this evening, unless you can find it in your heart to slip the maitre de a Benjamin.

Beyond a certain point, however, keywords have been shut down entirely (and marked ‘inactive’ until the words, ads, landing pages, or bids were modified and re-evaluated.)

Quality score is calculated using yet-another-secret-google-algorithm, but we know it reflects the symmetry of language between the query, keyword, ad, and landing page, click-through-rate performance, load time of the landing page, and other elements.

Quality Score Revised

The way Quality Score is calculated and applied is being changed, which as just announced in a blog post entitled ‘Quality Score improvements’. Luntz would be proud.

Here’s what they say about the changes:

A more accurate Quality Score

Most importantly, we are replacing our static per-keyword Quality Scores with a system that will evaluate an ad’s quality each time it matches a search query. This way, AdWords will use the most accurate, specific, and up-to-date performance information when determining whether an ad should be displayed. Your ads will be more likely to show when they’re relevant and less likely to show when they’re not. This means that Google users are apt to see better ads while you, as an advertiser, should receive leads which are more highly qualified.

Keywords no longer marked ‘inactive for search’

The new per-query evaluation of Quality Score affects you in that keywords will no longer appear as ‘inactive for search’ in your account. Instead, all keywords will have the chance to show ads on Google web search and the search network (unless you’ve paused or deleted them). Keep in mind, however, that keywords previously marked ‘inactive for search’ are not likely to accrue a great deal of traffic following this change. This is because their combined per-query Quality Score and bid probably isn’t high enough to gain competitive placement.

‘First page bid’ will replace ‘minimum bid’

As a result of migrating to per-query Quality Score, we are no longer showing minimum bids in your account. Instead, we’re replacing minimum bids with a new, more meaningful metric: first page bids. First page bids are an estimate of the bid it would take for your ad to reach the first page of search results on Google web search. They’re based on the exact match version of the keyword, the ad’s Quality Score, and current advertiser competition on that keyword. Based on your feedback, we learned that knowing your minimum bid wasn’t always helpful in getting the ad placement you wanted, so we hope that first page bids will give you better guidance on how to achieve your advertising goals.

It’s worth mentioning that the impact of these changes will vary from advertiser to advertiser; some might see no changes to their ad serving, while others may see a noticeable difference. As always, we recommend optimizing ads to prevent them from receiving a low Quality Score.

First Impressions
The core idea of calculating Quality Score on the unique characteristics of each search instead of coming up with a single score per keyword is clearly a step in the right direction.

The dynamic nature of the new Quality Score, however, may make it a lot more challenging to know and manage the implications of your Quality Scores. They don’t say if they’ll still report Quality Score in the Adwords interface, of more importantly if they’ll make any QS rating available via the Adwords API.

By scoring independently in each situation, many keywords may suffer what will in effect be a lower impression share – getting shown far less often than their potential – but it’s not clear that this loss will be reported or visible.

We may see volume drops for certain keywords and not have any clear indication that the reason is a low Quality Score in certain situations. And it’s not clear that there will be any feedback as to which situations – certain queries, certain network sites, certain times of day or whatever – are delivering low QS which therefore will make it quite difficult to take corrective action.

Similarly, while not having keywords marked ‘Inactive for Search’ sounds positive, it may be worse to have words running at extremely low impression counts if there is not a clear indication that this is happening or that it’s due to frequently low Quality Scores in the situations where the keyword is being scored and considered.

The ‘First Page Bid’ metric at least makes the process of bribing the matre de more transparent. There’s nothing worse than either slipping someone a $20 only to have them scoff at you because a $100 was necessary, except of course passing off a $100 when $20 would have done.

Having the price of admission clearly marked will enable advertisers to make their own decisions as to value.

One issue it would be great to have Google clarify is the way Quality Score is calculated, and therefore ‘First Page Bid’ too, over the life and history of a keyword. In the past the ‘Minimum Bid’ was frequently insanely and unjustly high for new keywords added to a campaign, and would decrease rapidly as a click-history was established.

This required paying up to $10 per click for terms without any competitive bids and which would later settle at bid prices as low as $0.10. Hopefully these types of ‘hazing’ fees for new keywords won’t be included in the new system – but of course only time will tell.

The Roll-Out
The new Quality Score changes are being rolled out slowly, so you may not see these in your account immediately. There will be another post at the Adwords blog before final system-wide launch.

Do you have Quality Score concerns? Post a comment!

Update: More info on new Quality Score reporting.

Google Agrees: Each Search is A Question

I’ve suggested before that you should think of each search as a question.

Paid search ads are run in an attempt to raise your hand and deliver answers.

Today Google noted that they are monitoring over 1 trillion URLs, for use in finding the organic rankings which are delivered on search result pages. Wow.

But I was glad to see how they characterized the reason why they’re doing all this work:

As you can see, our distributed infrastructure allows applications to efficiently traverse a link graph with many trillions of connections, or quickly sort petabytes of data, just to prepare to answer the most important question: your next Google search.

Fisking A Yahoo Blog Post

The search engines have an inventory of ad space they want you to buy. They want you to pay the highest price possible, although they obviously have to work within market conditions and create (or even deliver) value.

They operate highly complex, extremely secretive ‘auctions’ based on rules and algorithms they choose not to share – in small part for competitive reasons but mostly because doing so would degrade their revenues and the relationships they have with advertisers.

And when they make a change to the rules or algorithms under which we all choose to advertise, they inform us via blogs and notices within their software, which not surprisingly puts the changes in the best possible light.

The same is true when they simply try to explain how the system works in an effort to educate. This is fair and reasonable, to a point.

As mentioned in the earlier post on this topic, their job is to make money, yours is to be an educated and wary consumer. But there is a point where self interest and ‘marketing bluster’ turns into white-washing and deception.

How Honest Should They Be?

I think the line between marketing hype and accuracy should in part be based on the complexity of the topic, the chance that the advertiser can know or will likely be advised that the positioning is rather one-sided, and the magnitude of the cost of the deception, among other variables.

Against these measures, I think all the engines regularly go way too far in surrounding important and costly issues in friendly sounding and rather inaccurate language.

Take for example the following excerpt from a recent Yahoo blog post about what to do (and even think) when your ads aren’t displaying all the time:

If your ads are not being displayed as often as you like, it may be time to take a look at how your spending limits and bids are set. To help get your ads displayed more often, consider increasing your spending limits. If that’s not possible, there are ways to work within your means and still compete with the deep-pocket competition.

While you may not have the advertising budget to maintain round-the-clock ads in top positions, there are ways to help get your ads in front of searcher eyes more often at lower cost. First, go for specifics. Consider selecting keywords that have lower minimum bids and are targeted for a specific service or product that a searcher may specifically type in. Not only are these “tail” terms likely to be more affordable than general terms, they are less liable to blow your budget.

If you translate that happy sounding stuff into english, you find that Yahoo suggests spending more money and buying more of their unused inventory.

They do this while perpetuating the falicies that one searcher is as good as the next (regardless of the keyword they match let alone the query they type) and that higher positions are inherently better than lower ones. And they get a bonus 10 point for gratuitous use of the pop-culture phrase ‘tail terms’.

They also fail to discuss the many other ways you could likely work on improving the situation – the ones that don’t make them any more money.

Yahoo Fisked

Let’s take it line by line:

If your ads are not being displayed as often as you like, it may be time to take a look at how your spending limits and bids are set.

We start by subtly setting up what is probably a false premise, although they do it cleanly by disclaiming that ‘it may be time’.

If your ads are not displaying as often as you’d like, the first things you’d want to consider are the keyword selection itself and the associated match types, and then the reported (or likely) ‘quality index’ in terms of alignment between the keywords, ad-copy, and landing page terminology and content.

If a bike has a flat tire and rusted chain, pushing harder may work but it isn’t the best initial advice. Paying more is usually just pushing harder on a system where something is out of whack.

To help get your ads displayed more often, consider increasing your spending limits.

Again, the first suggestion is to push harder. There’s no margin in putting air in the tires.

If that’s not possible, there are ways to work within your means and still compete with the deep-pocket competition.

OK, a positive statement. You can find a way to make your business work. We’re here to help. Great.

While you may not have the advertising budget to maintain round-the-clock ads in top positions, there are ways to help get your ads in front of searcher eyes more often at lower cost.

Uh Oh. A quick drop into bad-assumption hell. Four things you may not neccessarily want to do – maintain round-the-clock ads, run them in ‘top-positions’, get your ads in front of more ‘eyes’, and even get a ‘lower cost’. It’s a nice sounding sentence, but based entirely on an over-simplified characature of how PPC works.

What we want, in the real world, is to get conversions at the highest ROI. From there we work backwards and get the best clicks (ie from the most qualified users as defined by the topic of their query and/or the history of similar conversions) at the lowest price. To do this we want the right people to see our ads, however many of them there are. Eyes are generically not valuable, cost is relative to return, and time of day and position are not ‘more is better’ things regardless of the common perception.

First, go for specifics. Consider selecting keywords that have lower minimum bids and are targeted for a specific service or product that a searcher may specifically type in.

The first piece of good advice thus far, ironically, is to ‘go for specifics’. To bad it’s passed off in such a general and ultimately misleading way. We want keywords that attract queries which are both highly relevant to our subject and if possible demonstrate intent towards serious prospects.

While we all want to have lower costs, making lower bids the (or only) criteria is silly. We want the lowest possible bids for keywords which generate conversions. If you really want lower minimum bids, leave Yahoo and go bid on a 3rd-tier engine. That’s not good advice because the traffic is of such substantially lower quality that it more than offsets the lower bid – obviously.

The idea of ‘going for specifics’ is excellent advice if it’s clear that it means increasing the targeting of your keywords (or more specifically narrowing the range of the queries you attract) and doing a better job of valuing specific keywords via the use of negatives, match types, and bids. I’m sure that’s what they meant.

Not only are these “tail” terms likely to be more affordable than general terms, they are less liable to blow your budget.

The tail wags the dog here, again. Buy cheaper words so you can stay in the game longer. Shouldn’t the idea of conversions, revenue, and return get a mention?

Are we playing at the $5 table in Vegas or Atlantic City because we know we’re going home broke but we really want to be able to play all weekend? Sure sounds like it.

Let Me Try It

This review may sounds a bit harsh and over-reactive. Yahoo is just trying to give some friendly advice, and taken with a less critical eye it’s just another generic piece of questionable advice.

But this isn’t advice from just another search blogger or ‘guru’. This is from a company getting thousands or tens of thousands of dollars from people who will take this advice to heart and move forward making bad decisions as a result.

Consider this alternative:

If your ads are not being displayed as often as you like, make sure you’re bidding on keywords directly relevant to your offer, and that your text ads and landing pages are directly aligned in both word usage and clearly focused context for those words. If they are, it may be time to take a look at how your spending limits and bids are set.

Your goal should be to see your ads displayed as often as possible to searchers who are likely to purchase your goods or services. With proper setup and management you should be able to generate a good number of sales within your means – even when competing with the deep-pocket competition.

Make sure that you’ve chosen as many different highly relevant keywords as possible – the more specific the better. Very general terms and category names usually have a lot of competitive bidders and therefore see higher per-click costs. If you want your ads to appear for these keywords it may be necessary to both raise bids and increase budgets – although a better Quality Index (a big part of which is higher click through rates that come from well written creative) can help minimize those.

More focused words and phrases are often overlooked by many bidders, despite the fact that advertisers often see higher conversion rates from more detailed keywords. So you may experience lower costs and higher revenues!

An approach like this gives more balanced information to search advertisers, helping them to become successful and therefore keep advertising. Which produces better long term results for Yahoo as well as their clients.

Sure it takes a little longer to think through and then write with more meat and less marketing fluff. And it both provides and expects more from readers – they may not undertand all the terms and concepts and will therefore have to seek out explanations.

But I think advertisers deserve and would appreciate the additional effort and information. And it would be great to not have to be so suspect of everything the engines say and do.