The Online Marketing Mavens love content. There have been a lot of improvements lately on the Google content network. I can tell you from my recent experience, there appears to be some major glitches with Yahoo’s content network (for example, campaigns not even running).
Search engines are different from the content network. In search engines, the keywords we use indicate our intent- what we want to research or buy. In the content network, Google matches ads with the content on web pages. We’re reading the content, not actively searching for anything when we see the ads. This can be accomplished by (1) contextual targeting or (2) placement targeting.
(1) Contextually targeted ads are keyword triggered (it is the default automatic opt-in). Google will show your ads on web pages where the keywords appear on the page. This is not just a straight-up keyword match, but also based on fancy linguistic processing technology. For example, if you sell coffee, Google will match it to websites about drinking coffee and knows not to show it for the Java programming language.
(2) Placement targeting is much easier to grasp because you simply select specific sites you want your ad to run on. I want to run on nytimes.com or something. You can identify placements by domain name, demographics, topics, or categories.
Early in the content network there were several problems. We couldn’t tell what sites we were served on, and had little control. Consider the previous coffee example. Targeting the content network can be a problem if you didn’t want your ad along side an article about getting scalded by coffee. So this can be a problem for the sophisticated marketer.
Recent improvements have made the content network a much more viable option for advertisers. Now, we have more advanced options:
- placement reports lists the sites where the ads show up
- pricing options of CPC or CPM
- controls to exclude sites or categories (ie, exclude user generated content or parked domains).
Just when you thought it was heaven on Google Earth, along comes another new feature currently in testing. My Google rep calls it the “Super Campaign”. Now the worlds of keyword targeting and placement targeting combine. In the Super Campaign, you can target both placements and keywords in the same campaign. In a perfect application, you could target shopping sites and use keywords related to only to coffee. Only showing up for shopping content about coffee.
You can see in the screen shot how this looks within the Adwords interface. Can’t wait for his to be widely available to test on new campaigns!
The Super Campaign could obviously lead to an entirely new approach to content targeting. Think about targeting health sites, but only with keywords for exercise (not healthy foods). Or general news sites and targeting certain type of news with keywords, only content about “gas prices”.
The possibilities are endless…
UPDATE 7-21-08: The new option appears to be available to all advertisers now. It’s accessible by drilling down to the AdGroup level in Google Adwords.
I love algorithms: “Google has been developing a new algorithm for indexing textual content in Flash files of all kinds, from Flash menus, buttons and banners, to self-contained Flash websites. Recently, we’ve improved the performance of this Flash indexing algorithm by integrating Adobe’s Flash Player technology.”
Late yesterday Google and Adobe announced a collaboration to make dynamic web content more searchable. Finally, millions of sites that use Flash technology will be searchable without the need for companies to alter them.
Search engines currently index very limited data about Flash sites which has caused major challenges for designers in marrying creative, dynamic content, and searchability.
What will be indexed by Google? Google says all of the text that users can see in the Flash file will be indexed and can be used to match query terms in Google searches. If the Flash site contains only images, they will not recognize or index any text that may appear in those images. These elements will be invisible to Google. Although they will be able to better crawl links in the site, they won’t be able to read the anchor text for Flash buttons which target some URL, but which have no associated text.
How will this impact PPC paid search? Will Google use this new algorithm for the Google AdsBot? Since the AdsBot collects only landing page information to apply to quality scores, it makes sense this technology would eventually be used to read Flash landing pages. This would allow advertisers to offer a more customized and dynamic user experience and better meet the needs of searchers. Fer sur.
Yahoo also plans to support searchable SWF. Hurry up, Yahoo…
My blogmate has really learned how to motivate me. After weeks of being absolutely swamped in planning-buying-new business-reporting-competitive-POV-trafficking mode and unable to even think about posting, Lisa has finally found a topic I am jumping to write about in my spare time. One that all the research needed is my 4+ years of media experience with clients. She wants me to write about what success means for an online campaign!
Now success should be evaluated by the goals of the campaign, which it also should have been planned against. While Lisa and I are key educators in online media in general for many of our clients, it’s becoming apparent that many of them are comparing the results of Online Display and Search Engine Marketing against each other. While the strengths of each advertising medium should be compared at a higher level (which is a whole ‘nother ball of wax), here are our thoughts about how the individual components should be evaluated.
Online Display: Sarah
Online Display Success: Brand alignment, ad placement (ownership, environment, etc) reach and frequency of target audience. If rich media involved – interaction rate, interaction time, etc.
SEM Success: For branding, the content network is great place to select sites to be served on. I’d select pay-per-click payment options (rather than CPM) and see how it goes. Increased visibility in search results may help to raise awareness and increase searches for your business. Using tools at Compete.com and Google Trends, you can see if keyword searches for your brand increase over time.
Goal: Site Conversions
Online Display Success: High CTR, can be tracked through to conversions by spotlight or floodlight tags.
SEM Success: Conversion tracking can be setup in Google and Yahoo to measure actions taken on the site. I’d also recommend, in addition to basic conversion tracking, use Google Analytics for pageview analysis, advanced goal definition, conversion funnel analysis, and various advanced conversion reports.
Goal: Mass Reach/Awareness
Online Display Success: Reach/Frequency of target audience, made easier by efficiency.
SEM Success: Mass reach can be achieved through search but you’ll want to make sure the traffic is still highly qualified. Widening a geo-target, increasing budget, and/or expanding keywords can increase the frequency the ads are served. Reaching the masses successfully to me would mean getting more conversions at an effective cost while branding through search.
*FAQs we all know and love:*
What is an average CTR?
Online Display: Since we are typically using display for brand purposes and paying for impressions, this is something I try to steer clear against focusing on, especially because even on a really good day 99.6% of online display ads will not get clicked on. Here is a must-have article on what to focus on instead, which cites .3 % as an overall average. Now in my experience with a wide variety of brands, I typically see more in a range of .05-.2%. In my book if it’s within that, no red flags are raised and the campaign could be “successful” based on goals, delivery, etc. And of course CTR all depends on a wide range of factors including creative, call to action, environment, competitive landscape, etc. A very passionate blog was recently posted by Cory Treffiletti about the topic that I couldn’t agree with more – please check it out!
SEM: For PPC search, the CTR can vary wildly depending on the type of business and keywords. For brand terms (you are bidding on your own brand name) I could see 5%-30% CTR. A high CTR is not necessarily a good thing. It could indicate brand confusion or poor natural search rankings. At least you’re getting them now.
For other terms, again, it can vary widely, but 1% and up would be an acceptable range. After all, the ultimate goal is not to get a CTR, but leads or sales.
What is an average interaction rate?
Online Display: Interaction rates can vary just like CTRs. Industry, creative, competitive environment, offer, advertising environment, etc, can obviously cause different outcomes, not to mention type of rich media. Also, unlike the hard data of a click (qualified or unqualified), interaction rates are measured differently. Some rich media vendors don’t account for accidental rollover for expandables. This can drive an interaction rate up but average interaction time down. What I’ve gathered from various rich media vendors are 5-11% interaction rate, 2.4-14 second avg interaction time. As mentioned, metrics vary on this, so know your goals, vendor, and variables!
SEM: Search begins with a user interacting with a search engine to find what they seek. Much can be learned from the keywords searchers use, as well as the action they take once on a site. In analytics, we can see how much time a visitor spent on a website by the keyword that led them there. Understanding how users search then linking that back to how users behave on the site can provide information to help shape search campaigns and other online marketing tactics.
I bore the crap out of people when I talk about Google’s technical changes. As Erin says, “deal with it”.
I was getting all these posts in my feeds about Google implementing a new quality score factor to Adwords. Google says “load time” refers to the amount of time it takes for a user to arrive at your functional landing page after clicking your ad. Starting in March, Google will begin to analyze the loading time of your landing pages and connect its quality to the overall quality score.
The official Inside AdWords blog posted an announcement about it March 6th. If you work on creating landing pages, you should be following this closely over the next few weeks.
Once Google adds “load time evaluations” to the account in the keyword analysis page, we’ll then have one month to review the pages and make necessary adjustments.
The purpose of this change is to provide the best possible user experience for those clicking on the ads. As a campaign element we haven’t considered much in the past, it serves as a reminder for advertisers to keep in touch with the user experience. I think we’ll find that that reducing the bells and whistles will lead to more conversions overall.
We still don’t know the parameters of the load time, what is too long? I guess we’ll find out…