Keyword Advertising

Microsoft recently opened up AdCenter to allow everyone access. Previously one could join only by invitation. I liked this as I could play around with ads and due to the limited number of people, ad prices where lower than normal (simple supply and demand).

I have tried all 3 of the biggest PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertiser programs, Google’s AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions (previously Overture) and now MSN’s AdCenter. There are others out their but these 3 will be the biggest players.

Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions
Right off the bat I found Yahoo’s service the most complicated. Yahoo has missed the mark on branding their PPC Ad Service. Originally this service was called GoTo which was good. Then it was changed to Overture which was equally good. Recently the name was renamed again to “Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions” (Press Release). My personal insights tell me this is a major screw-up for Yahoo. They need a name to focus on. GoTo was fine, something better would have been GoToAds or something similar. People looking for Yahoo’s Ad Service may find themselves in front of incorrect products.

The user interface is by far the most complex of the 3. It is not straightforward how or where ads will be shown. The worst part was the budgets. As a test I setup an ad budget of $10/day for 30 days. Yahoo took this as I had a pool of $300 ($10 times 30 days). After one day I had spent $250. The life saving grace of this service is that Yahoo refunded the entire amount. If this service does well it will because the customer service was extremely helpful and prompt.

Microsoft AdCenter
AdCenter has a pretty nice interface. However there is a little complication as to which campaigns where active/approved. Also each campaign was comprised of orders. Each order could target only 100 keywords. The other two services could handle much more for their equivalent to Orders. All 3 services had target locations but only AdCenter had target “times”. With Microsoft’s service you can target specific days or times. This could be greatly helpful if you really know your prospects well. Although there is a great chance of mishandling/mistargetting, those advertisers with proper skills could benefit from this extra targeting ability.

One last thing of immediate note is the ability to import and export the ads. A simple CSV file can be uploaded/downloaded. This is much easier than using the web based interface. If you are targeting many dynamic things this can be very useful and time saving however with the keyword limitation it is not as useful as it could be.

Google AdWords
This is my preferred service. To be fair I have used this in the past and it was the very first service that I have used. I still don’t feel that the interface is as nice as it could be but it does seem the best. This is also the quickest interface and probably has the most hardware running this. This is also the most popular and most widely used out of the 3 services. It lacks an import/export interface but the estimation tools are more imbedded into a campaign’s setup. This is useful for targeting/pricing correctly. Since this is the most popular of the 3 services you may find yourself paying a little more for a keyword but can expect more visits.

All 3 of these services do a good job of getting targeted visitors to your site. Clicks will depend almost entirely on your ad writing ability and product/service.

You will however want to take a portion of your budget and compensate for potential “Click Fraud”. Click Fraud is where one the Ad Service’s affiliates is faking visitors. I know that Google probably does the best job catching this and may charge you less on suspect clicks but this is not foolproof. Budgeting 5-20% is not unheard of.

Ideally for all 3 of these services I would like to upload entire campaigns in text files. To me these always seem less complex and you don’t have to learn new verbiage and interfaces.

The Good and Bad About Meat Gifts!

At Christmas time I gave the gift of meat. That’s right, I ordered steaks from Omaha Steaks. I knew the people and knew they appreciated a good cut of meat. Great, Omaha won a loyal customer. Then they screwed up! The calls began.

Every week or two I get calls from Omaha Steaks. I don’t care why they are calling unless it is to tell me they accidentally gave me mad cow! I told them not to call and even placed my number on a do not contact list. Worse of all this is my cell phone number so they continue to eat up my minutes.

This is a prime example of overselling. When you have a customer that likes you don’t piss them off. Next season I was going to use them again. I still will if their competition looks bad. However if they are on their game Omaha Steaks just lost a customer.

Next Generation Nintendo to be Named “NINTENDO WTF?!”

Nintendo recently announced officially that henceforth the system known as Nintendo Revolution was to be renamed Nintendo Wii (pronounced Wee). After much critisism Nintendo has gone back to the drawing board and renamed the new console Nintendo… WTF!?

WTF is a common instant messenging abbreviation for “What the F!!!?”. It is second only in popularity to LOL “Laughing out Loud”.

Early today an official at Nintendo’s corporate offices, Ms. Mari O’Luigi, was asked to comment on the second name change. She had the following to say.
“Our reasonings at Nintendo are complex and may not be understood by the masses. Our last console was forced into a niche of very young people. The next Nintendo console will be aimed at a much more mature crowd and should have a much more mature moniker.”

When pressed further by the news media Ms. Mari O’Luigi appended her previous statement with “Hey… Why the F not?”.

Disclaimer: When news such as the Nintendo picking such a silly name as Wii, some people choose to make up a much more interesting story.

Integrating Ads for Increased Profit

Many of you out there may have small to medium sized websites that you have placed ads on. More than likely these are Google AdSense ads. The terms of AdSense say that one can not bring undo attention to one’s ads. The reason for this is because Google only wants clicks that are natural and give the advertiser a worthwhile visitor. Saying “Please Click on my Ad so I Can Make a Few Cents” is the biggest breaking of terms and the easiest to spot. However even mentioning one’s ads brings undo attention and can get one banned from AdSense.

There are a few tricks however. The reoccurring theme with both of these highly effective concepts is to make ads not look like ads. Having large image banners at the top of web pages or on the side in a tower is not effective any more. The common web user has evolved to block out glowing ads that take up a large percentage of the screen. I call this “Banner Blindness”. Banner Blindness has evolved from web-surfers learning to find information that is valuable. Clicking on large flashing ads is seldom worth a visitor’s time. Most advertisers who use this method have products that normally can not be considered “top-notch”.

The first and older “Highly Effective Ad Technique” is to use text ads and embed them inside other text. This is often used on News sites. As you are reading an article, half-way through there is a text ad. You read it and consider it before you even realize it is an ad. Is this undo attention? Maybe, maybe not. If the visitor clicks on this, they are seeking more information about the product/service but they do not realize it is an ad. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with this as the advertiser got a highly targeted visitor with the chance of obtaining a conversion/sale.

A second and possibly more devious trick has less to do with embedding text next to other text. It has to do with adding images by ads to make them almost like menus. I have done this on this blog. The first time this was mentioned was in this Ad Image post. The user has since changed his model to be a little different. As seen on his Pig website. I have used this trick on my Help Desk and Christmas websites. My fellow blogger John Chow has recently posted about this as well.

The bottom line is to have a site that obtains the most ad revenue, a website designer needs to make ad implementation a forethought. Unfortunately this has brought rise to some “AdSense Only Sites”. These sites are worthless sites that only have keywords, very little content and ads embedded throughout. Any visitor that clicks on a link will almost certainly be clicking on an ad.

Whether or not you choose to use these tactics is up to you. You know best. When in doubt remove yourself from the situation and take up the mindset of the advertiser. If you would like to see your ads displayed this way then most likely Google or whoever the ad deliverer is will think likewise.

Remember who was here first! (Are you listening Teddy Geiger?)

There is another Geiger out there that you might have heard of. Yes, I’m talking about that musican Teddy Geiger. Just remember people, I was here first. I don’t have anything against Geiger #2 (I am Geiger #1 for future reference).

I have come up with a fair way to settle this with Teddy. Arm wrestling. It is the only fair, non-bias way that I see that can fit this situation. So Mr. Geiger #2 the gauntlet has been thrown down. Name the time and the place and we’ll have a little Geiger on Geiger arm wrestling.