Tag Archive for Adwords

Google-ACCC article puts focus on Journalism standards

A recent post published by ITNews has managed to again raise a level of concern about the quality of Technology journalism online and but also highlights the danger of being quoted out of context to support a poorly research article.  When you read the quote from “Truman Hoyle” below you will see that you risk the danger of appearing like you have no idea about online marketing and one might wonder why you were quoted in the first place. The IT News article has pissed me as it was recently written around the recent judgement against the Trading Post which they were successfully sued by the ACCC over engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to Google AdWords campaigns but the article tries to link the decision back to SEO on some level. The article screenshot is included below because I have no interest in linking to mis-information.

Google-ACCC case puts focus on SEO

The case was about Sponsored Links

In what could amount to lazy journalism combined with failing to actually read a court judgement one of their journalists decided to pick an alternative viewpoint on how the case outcome had put focus onto SEO.  The mention of links does not automatically mean the story is about SEO, there is a large difference between SEO & SEM and the case is very clear that it’s about “sponsored links” as that term is mentioned 39 times during the case judgement.  If you check you will find that SEO is not mentioned once during the whole judgement  and the judge actually highlights that there is a clear difference between “organic results” and “sponsored links” just in case you took the time to read the judgement.  Part of the ACCC case was trying to force the judge to accept that users might not be able to easily identify between Organic and Paid results but the judgement focuses around Google AdWords and does not entertain the idea of SEO.  To re-enforce the flimsy nature of the article and how it is lacking support there is also no mention of any variation of SEO such as “search engine optimisation” to further re-inforce the point that this journalists failed to take the care the due diligence before writing this sub-standard post!

The journalist fails to make any real supporting links between the article theme about SEO and the actual court judgement, and gets a random quote from a lawyer at Truman Hoyle who weren’t even involved in the case.  The statement by Bridget Edghill doesn’t even really fit within the context of the judgement and could have even been taken out of context in reference to the actual court judgement.

Suggest you retract your quote

If I was Truman Hoyle Lawyers I would at least get my comment retracted as it does not put forward an image of a law firm that has an understanding of the difference between Google AdWords (case theme) and SEO (not discussed). I don’t see any way the judgement implied or suggested there was a link between the case and placing SEO users on notice as the case was about Google AdWords not Google Organic results, so any link between the two is fanciful.  There is a clear statement that there is no defamation implied or directed towards Truman Hoyle as it is clearly the journalist who has written a poorly researched article and added a law firm to try and add some credibility to his mis-informed article.

Journalists have to answer for fact checking

It is no wonder that business struggles to make the identification between how Google AdWords (Paid results) and SEO (organic results) actually differs. The journalist obviously found the word “link” in the judgement and choose to ignore the entire theme of the judgement along with the heavy use of “sponsored” links throughout the reasons for the judgement.  There is a very big difference in the context of the word “link” and it’s use for Google AdWords and some basic fact checking would have ensured this post actually added some value around the judgement instead of mis-informing the readers of ITNews.

Google AdWords is NOT part of SEO

Just to re-enforce the point while longer term there might be a case where SEO might place a website in front of a judge currently it’s just in the minds of fanciful journalists who don’t take the time to research articles before posting them! Feel free to respond with nasty and unsupported anonymous comments below or you can reach out to the the journalists who wrote the mis-informed post on twitter.

AdWords rematched keywords

AdWords ComicsSearch Engine Marketing (SEM) is easy to start doing. With an account and a credit card, anyone can get to the top of Google, Yahoo! or Bing in a matter of minutes. At least until they run out of money. An entire industry has grown up to help business owners avoid this, for a commission. There is one very good reason SEM agencies exist: it is easy to buy search traffic, but it can be expensive to learn how to get the right kind. Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing (soon to be defunct in Australia) and Microsoft adCenter (not in Australia yet) all provide a range of basic tools to their users to control the traffic that they receive, beyond putting keywords into a campaign.

One of the basics of SEM campaigns is understand how each search engine chooses queries that match the keyword as negative keywords operate differently in Bing/Yahoo than they do on your Google AdWords campaigns. Since Google is a majority of the web traffic in Australia this post will be focused on how you get better use negative keywords in your campaigns.

There are three ways that Google AdWords matches a keyword from a campaign to a search query:

  • Exact Match - Your ad is displayed on searches that match the exact phrase
  • Phrase Match - Your ad is displayed on searches that match or contain the exact phrase
  • Broad Match - Your ad is displayed on similar phrases and relevant variations

Both Broad Match and Phrase Match increase a campaign’s potential reach while keeping the size of the keyword list under control. These match types can also produce unproductive traffic, as ads are triggered by irrelevant searches.

Negative terms are the best way to deal with this. A negative term stops Google from showing your ad for any search query containing it. This is vital in campaigns with keywords that are relevant for multiple industries. Well chosen negative keywords make a real difference to the cost per acquisition of the campaign.

Obvious Negative Keywords?

A Sydney-based marketing agency has launched an AdWords campaign. The business focuses on generating search engine traffic for their clients, and is based in just one city. They are bidding on the keywords “online advertising” using Phrase Match in one of their campaigns. The cost per acquisition has blown out, and now they need to trim the fat.

AdWords Tree

A quick look over a keyword report, with ‘All’ selected from the ‘See search terms…’ dropdown, exposes a number of obviously irrelevant, expensive terms:

  • online advertising course
  • online advertising job statistics
  • Perth online advertising company
  • online advertising industry news

Based on this information, there are a number of potential new negative keywords, both single and phrases:

  • course
  • job statistics
  • job
  • statistics
  • Perth
  • companies
  • industry
  • news

Adding negative terms can lose sales for the campaign from other searches. For example, using ‘statistics’ as a negative term will also remove search queries like ‘online advertising statistics trends’, which might actually be productive. Removing ‘job’ may cut out valuable ‘online advertising job quote’ traffic. Negative keywords can affect more than the obvious, if you don’t have a closer look first.

Search Visibility & Negative Keywords

Instead of looking only at the cost per conversion of a campaign’s listed keywords, look at the numbers for the most commonly occurring words in the search terms that triggered your ads. Creating a list of all search terms containing all of the words from the problematic searches will show what impact using them as a negative keyword could have. Often a small number of words correlate strongly with unprofitable traffic. These can be removed from the campaign without limiting the flow of sales. If the cost per sale for all searches with the word ‘statistics’ is within your target, maybe a different response is needed.

For an accurate picture of what is going on in the campaign, this analysis needs a decent amount of data. You shouldn’t make a decision based on a small dataset if you have enough time or traffic to make a better analysis. There is a risk that the normal churn of clicks and sales will be mistaken for a trend or an impending disaster, you should also anticipate what is the expected result based on your change.

As the size of the campaign increases, so does the number of terms. Short of some heavy duty automation, or serious statistical analysis software, this technique is very labour intensive. However the idea that you can break a campaign’s traffic up into groups based on a few shared attributes is a useful tool to have. It can be applied to geo-targeting, day of the week, type of device, ads, placements, search and search partners, and even time of day.

Managing the Negatives in Search Engine Marketing

The keywords you select are just one thing that determines the quality of the traffic you will get in any SEM campaign. Other factors, such as changing search habits, competition, location, time, device and network all affect how well a campaign performs. Changes in any of the above will alter how the campaign works. Just as importantly, any change that is made to deal with this can affect the entire campaign. A campaign is more than just the keywords, and any change you make based on information from just one variable can affect a lot more than you planned.

AdWords ComicAuthor Bio: Anthony Contoleon is currently the online marketing coordinator for GreyHound Australia, who operates a portfolio of infographics, illustrations and vector drawings.

Google Adsense Refreshed

After around 6 months of beta testing and constant feedback from Adsense partners it seems the new platform is finally ready for primetime with the rollout occurring globally across all Google Adsense accounts.  But as in a number of previous updates, Google Adsense does allow you to return to the old Adsense interface for the moment but it is a good idea to start migrating over your reports and management to the new interface. The invitation to try the new Google Adsense is shown below but you can also click “no thanks” and skip straight to the old interface.

The new platform is meant to offer publishers much more control and deeper insights into your websites revenue, much more control over what is displayed and even more assistance with testing and optimising your Adsense.  You can now view graphical reports in your account, compare Adsense performance over time and quickly find the more important pieces of information. The requirement to add a 2nd pop-up ajax welcome screen seemed a bit redundant but once I closed the welcome screen shown below I was suitably impressed with the refresh as it was well overdue.

The first thing you notice is the home dashboard has a bulk of information you require such as earnings estimates, account alerts, performance summary, quick reports and saved reports.   The Adsense payments section has been cleared up and provides a much simple view on what amount is unpaid, what method will be used to pay it. It is also great to see last issued Adsense payment showed on the same screen with the ability to view all your finalised earnings and payments and export to CSV to send off to your accountant or book-keeper.

AdSense Earnings Reports

My Ads Section
The my ads section is now much more structured and splits up the 4 main Adsense products on the left hand menu with more products such as mobile content shown below. Each of the Adsense products can now be expanded to show sub settings including custom channels specific to that AdSense product. You can type to filter by custom channel or via by Adsense ad unit name which makes it easier for enterprise users or those with a large network of websites to better organise their inventory. You can now also see a bit more detail for each Ad Unit under Summary where it shows you what custom channel it is currently advertised under which can help understand and confirm you are adding the code for the correct Ad unit to your page.

AdSense My Ads

Hide Old Ads?
While it doesn’t seem that you can yet delete Ad units you can now hide Adsense units but with a simple click you can easily show “idle” or “hidden” ad units if required. You just have to click the hyperlink below the Ad unit and it’s done, you can even bulk hide ads via the actions button.

Hide Adsense Units

Allowed & Blocked Ads
The ad review centre seems much more open and transparent with the new interface and you can quickly see what number of advertisers are always allowed, how many advertisers you have blocked and have you enabled auto-approval to run ads immediately. The blocking options are also much more visible where you can see quickly what number of sites you have blocked and what sensitive categories you don’t want showing within your Adsense units.

Allow Adsense

Adsense Performance Reports
The new Adsense platforms has reports that most people who are used to AdWords or Google Analytics will simply fall in love with, as well they are simply awesome.

AdSense Reports Graphs

Custom Channels Performance Reports
If you want to have an understanding on how your Adsense is performing, you can select date period and select the items that you wanted displayed on your graph. The chart is dynamic and you can select just one of the following or multiple or all of them so you can begin to look for trends.

  1. Estimated Earnings (Your account balance for the time period selected. )
  2. Ad Unit impressions (Queries column shows the number of times an ad unit on your site requested ads be displayed.)
  3. Coverage (Coverage is the ratio of requested ad units or queries to the number that is returned to the site. )
  4. Clicks (Ad clicks)
  5. CTR (Click thru Rate)
  6. CPC (Cost per Click)
  7. RPM (Revenue per thousand impressions)

The cool thing about the new Adsense platform is that once you have picked your date period and what items you want graphed, if you want to work in more detail you can now click to export to Excel CSV or save the report for viewing later.

Products Performance Reports
This is a great report for quickly comparing how each of the Adsense products is delivering you and you can click each to drill down to view the activity via day units.

Ad Types Performance Reports
You can now get a better idea on which types of display ad are earning you the most money for your websites, but this is also important feedback to advertisers who are considering advertising on your website. You can view the performance of the following

  • Text
  • Flash
  • Image
  • HTML
  • Dynamic Image

Ad Sizes Performance Reports
This report is one of the most important for websites looking to test and optimise their earnings based on ideal Adsense unit size so you can know quickly compare which maybe generating impressions but not the average number of clicks. Just above the totals there is a line that shows your averages so you can quickly see if a particular unit size is performing above or below average and change it.

Bid Types Performance Reports
This is more important to larger accounts that have a larger mix of CPC and CPM bids but still provides an interesting set of data if you have both. Its likely the CPA from Google Affiliate platform will eventually be added back in along with CPL with the click to call/phone tracking features that are coming.

Targeting Types Performance Reports
The majority of your Adsense earnings will likely come from the automatic Contextual placement rather than the manual placement but it does provide a good insight into the quality of your content and website if there is a growing number of impressions around Placement targeting.

Ad Units Performance Reports
This is where you realise that maybe your ad units could be better categorised to make this report a bit more useful, but you now have a simple edit link where you can adjust and tweak the units details to offer better reporting.

Review of Performance Reports
The platform has moved a fair bit forward from version2 to the current version3 and much of the reports does make the platform a lot more friendly for preparing client reports straight from the interface so there might be a renewed push around Adsense partners in 2011.

Basically I love the new interface but some users of the old platform do have some complaints that certain data that used to be easy to find now takes up to 5 clicks to find it and there are some side issues such as how quickly you can see how today is doing against yesterday.  The comparison element is very important for those using AdSense so hopefully what look like dashboard modules can be customised and new ones added as you can in Google Analytics soon but I think the clean design will lead to an influx of Adsense users ready to get rich…

Google mortgage rates add up

Rodrigo Stockebrand noticed earlier today that his search queries for the generic term “mortgage rates” had started to show a new style AdWord’s result at the top of the organic results and it seems to be more than just a small test group.  It was covered briefly in a quick post at SEL by Barry Schwartz, but I thought there was more to explore around the new comparison ads and evaluate their longer term impact for advertisers and business.

It seems that the early Google’s AdWords comparison ad experiment has been expanded to cover home loan and mortgage products but has also taken place at the top of the search results in a 4th sponsored link.  The issue is that Google websites have an artificially inflated Google Quality score which guarantees any of their products top placement and potentially inflates the costs of advertising on that keyword, and the additional box is clearly a separate module as you can see thin white line between it and the standard AdWords modules.  Below is a screenshot of the new Google AdWords product which is exclusive to Google’s own comparison products, it’s not clear if it was manually placed for certain search queries to guarantee it would show just below the search bar.  But other advertisers should be able to check in their AdWords account under average position on if its showing even thou they are shown as top position.

Google Comparison Mortgage AdsLess space for organic results

One of the bigger concerns is that it doesn’t just affect competitors who are buying traffic with AdWords it compounds the problems for those trying to rank organically, there is more paid space and more Google products and less room for natural listings.  While this extra Google comparison ad has obviously pushed down the other ads, on my 1920×1080 resolution monitor it was less dramatic, but a majority of users don’t have a monitor so large so I dived into my visitor information contained in my Google Analytics accounts to find a baseline monitor size.  Looking at the average website visitors from my Google Analytics data around 48-54% of people have a screen resolution of between 1024×768 to 1280×1024 so I thought I would test the 3 smaller monitor sizes as to how it impacts the competitive landscape.

1920×1080 Resolution Monitor

Google Ads on 1920x1080 Monitor

Analysis: You can see that there is actually now only 5 organic results showing above the fold (visible without scrolling down) and the 6th result just creeps in.  The problem for organic rankings is that unless you are in the top 5 you are now going to miss out on a majority of the clicks, where in the past top 7 rankings still keep you above the fold.  Dynamic AdWords like these will also continue to change Google users behaviour and may have a dramatic long-term effect on the perceived importance of the organic results and further increase the market share of Google’s own products.

1280×1024 Resolution Monitor

Google Ads on 1280x1024 Monitor

Analysis: You can see that with the 1280×1024 resolution SXGA monitor but you can see that with the new Google Comparison Ads that showing below the 5th result on the first page will mean that you miss a majority of the potential clicks. Its hard enough for some clients to get to the 1st page on Google now it’s a case depending on your typically visitors you have to be in the top 5.

1280×768 Resolution Monitor

Google Ads on 1280x768 Monitor

Analysis: By shrinking the monitor size down slightly more to 1280×768 resolution it even cuts out the Google News results and also now only 7 AdWords ads are showing, decreasing the number of advertisers who are able to be seen.  It also reduces the organic results down to 3 which further increases your reliability on buying traffic from AdWords or from the new Google Comparison Ads.

1024×768 Resolution Monitor

Google Ads on 1024x768 Monitor

Analysis: The final screenshot is actually based on 1024×768 which is a 19inch monitor far larger than most laptop screens and still if you view the same result on a netbook you can actually only see the first organic result because of the 4 AdWords results showing at the top. Again Google News results are gone and there is 1 less Google AdWords spot on the right hand side.

Advice: If you are in this vertical start to examine in your web analytics solution the screen resolution of your typically visitors who just visit and those who generate a lead or revenue.  It will start to provide you a guideline as to if you are trying to increase your paid traffic what position you should try to bid for and from an organic ranking where you should be aiming if you want more clicks.  You want to break it down by those who just browse and those who actually generate a lead or revenue for your company.

Google’s potential audience?

The potential audience which is now able to see these new comparison ads is huge and its likely that the CTR from the other ads will plummet, which will likely impact their quality scores and lead to them having to pay more to bid for the same positions.  By Google offering a better quality Ad they are changing the behaviour of how people will select what ads to engage with but are also limiting other advertisers clicks as consumers are draw to the new style ad box.  The traffic volume based on the single generic keyword “mortgage rates” has estimated 1,000,000 monthly searches in the US with an average CPC rate of $14.88, according to Google’s own Google AdWords tool which is a massive audience to test the impact of its platform.  The question is how much cheaper is it to buy the lead directly from Google compared to fighting with other advertisers in the AdWords market?

Google’s invasive ad box

While its interesting to see how Google is experimenting with new Ad types, I have discovered that there is also a second ad that Google is running which offers a bit more interactivity for users with a drop down menu for the approximate home value for quicker rate comparisons.

Google Refinance Ads

As you can see in the screenshot below, the bigger issue is that when consumers actually interact with the ad it blocks a majority of the competitors advertising message and also close to half of the first 2 organic results.  This type of ad seems to lack any aspects of tact by how it impacts and overrides the competitors presence on the page.  These types of ads show that Google is testing the ads for different markets where you might want to compare two pricing points before visiting the website.  Obviously Google is tracking all the interactions and may start to refine the pricing points as it gathers more data on users, so those who are based in a lower economic area may start to see slightly different approximate home values or even APRs….

Google Refinance Mortgage Dropdown AdThe CTR between the two ads modules being tested would be quite interesting as if users with different motivation or at a different stage of the buying cycle.  Obviously to further understand the mortgage market Google is bidding on search traffic for its comparison ads around a number of keywords, but I’ve select the top 20 related keywords based on estimated monthly search volumes, but it’s also interesting what keywords they are choosing not to bid on.

Google is also bidding on the following keywords

  • mortgage loan rates
  • mortgage loan interest rates
  • home loan interest rates
  • mortgage interest rates
  • current mortgage interest rate
  • best mortgage interest rates
  • current mortgage rates
  • home mortgage rates
  • home mortgage interest rates
  • refinance mortgage rates
  • refinancing mortgage rates
  • mortgage rate calculator
  • current home mortgage rates

Analysis: obviously most of these keywords are very high volume but are also closely related to “mortgage” but you notice that “home loan” is also featured which shows they might be testing language for different markets such as the UK or Australia.

Advice: Look at the ROI around these terms and if you are not already bidding on them, I would advise doing a trial with their own campaign and own budgets.  Remember Google buys search traffic with AdWords for branding and for testing so you should look at buying the same traffic but for testing.

Google is not bidding on the following

  • compare fixed mortgage rates ($0.05/cpc)
  • bad credit mortgage rates ($35.72/cpc)
  • home mortgage loan rate ($18.72/cpc)
  • best mortgage loan rate ($36.37/cpc)
  • current mortgage rates canada ($4.61/cpc)

Analysis: Obviously the product is US focused so any terms that focus outside the country such as “current mortgage rates canada” are likely to be ignored. The keyword that The Google AdWords tool said has the most traffic “compare fixed mortgage rates” is likely a bug or very low quality traffic. It’s likely that Google is avoiding some of the very expensive terms because the ROI doesn’t match with their comparison ad business model or they are just overpriced.

Advice: Best look at what other keywords Google is not bidding on and if you are take a closer look at the ROI and KPIs around those terms as they have been ignored for a good reason.

Google protects its mortgage leads

The screen shot below shows you a sample of the Google mortgage comparison page, where you can filter out and compare mortgages with a few clicks.  The comparison mortgage is generic enough to be expanded to feature an entire comparison shopping site as the URL structure also hints at future products can easily be added google.com/comparisonads/mortgages.

Google Mortgage Results

Google doesn’t want to miss out on a single dollar of commission or miss a single conversion if possible and have built a fairly idiot proof contact system that can be automatically tracked and optimised.  When you visit the comparison mortgage page you will see there is 3 contact options available for each lender: phone, call back and email.  Call back and email appear to be exactly the same contact form but are coded slightly differently for tracking purposes which will affect future AdWords bidding strategies.

Google Tracking Leads

Google is actually fairly smart in how their built the platform as the number listed above is a special Google phone number that will forward your call to the lender, but it can also be used to track the lead generated.  If you fill out the request a call or email lender contact form Google provides the lender with another special Google phone number that will forward to you which they can also track as a lead. Any details that you enter such as Street Address or Zip codes are just passed onto IntelliReal that has partnered with Google.

Will Comparison Ads expand to other verticals?

I say yes, based on how Google is growing its maps & technology platforms its only a matter of time before it expands its product to include other verticals. It’s easy to see Google expanding its comparison ads to include Real Estate & Hotels as they already offer a simple search function within Google Maps as shown below. You have already seen one comparison ad that featured a drop down box which shows they have the technology to place other interactive items into their text ads now.

Search for New York hotels directly from within Google Maps

New York Hotels

Search for New York real estate from within Google Maps

New York Real Estate

It’s likely that Google has a number of options to increase its revenue by competing for direct leads and sales and cutting out resellers and affiliates but the question is how quickly they will risk upsetting their advertisers or how much money they can make on the comparison ad platform.  Do you take the path to doing more of the work generating leads and hope the reduced revenue from your advertisers doesn’t drop quicker than you can grow your comparison shopping products?

Google Comparison Ads expanding internationally?
If you want to know when Google Comparison Ads might be expanded to your country I suggest keep an eye out for any new financial licensee such as when Google registered Google Payment Australia back in 2007, in what was thought to be part of Google Checkout Australia.   Google Payment Australia Pty Ltd was supposed to be setup for local Checkout services and has a Australian Financial Services licence (No. 318755). Google Australia holds the licence under which it is authorised to offer Google Checkout as a “non-cash payment product”. The Google company is not licensed as a bank or deposit-taking institution in Australia and does not provide banking services but might allow it to soon offer a similar comparison ad platform in Australia soon.

Do Hotel sites get PPC?

While doing some research on a current project I finally got annoyed at the constant poorly placed and targeted Google AdWords campaigns running by some of the largest travel booking websites in the world. The only sites that appear to be successfully buying AdWords traffic is Tablet Hotels & Tripadvisor.  The companies that appeared to be having the most problems with AdWords traffic was Qantas, Travelocity & Expedia who just seemed to have missed the market in delivering a great first impression for AdWords visitors.  Even the leader Priceline.com didn’t fair that much better with a PPC campaign obviously setup by a monkey at a keyboard who has shares in Google and wants lower quality scores and higher CPC rates.

Test 1# Hotel Alexander, New York – The first test was to pick a random New York hotel from the Upper Westside of Manhattan and see what were the relevance of the ads showing. You can see that there is a 2 ads which are well off the mark with a hotel chain in Israel and the second is stretching it a bit thin as they are the Hotel Alexander Amsterdam in Europe.  While I didn’t add any geographic markers such as “New York” to my query, you have to consider the chances that your consumers will refine your traffic for you is not as likely and the search was done on Google.com with a NYC based IP address.  Its fairly obvious that these advertisers are not making use of AdWords many geographic filters and possibly even broad keyword match types.  Knowing that what the AdWord Ad is showing does not always match the landing page results, lets look at the other more suitable results shown to confirm there is a lack of understanding of PPC.

Hotel Alexander New York

HotelReservation.com advises that it is a hotel reservation system for smart savers, but you can see the landing page showing 91 possible hotels found for “Alexander” does not provide a smart  or time-saving result for this search query.  The landing page doesn’t even narrow down the selection by my country location (USA) or by state (New York) or by city (New York), instead it presents me with another search panel.  All the geographic information is fairly easily accessible and it would save me time and if it offered my result in a single click I might have reserved my hotel instead I leave and head back to the Google search results.

Hotel Reservations Alexander Hotel

The next site HotelReservations.com actually does an even worse job for a landing page by offering me a hotel listing for the Alexander Hotel in Germany, this doesn’t present the visitor with much confidence that the booking site even understands what New York hotel they were looking for.

Hotel Reservations Alexander Hotel

To show how far off the mark, the Okeanos Hotels are, you can see they don’t even have a hotel named Alexander but there are several hotels named Alexander in Israel they were likely targeting but its not a great campaign plan.  It’s clear they don’t understand PPC as the quality score for their campaign would be very low and their cost-per-click rates for bidding on those keywords would be far higher than they should be, meaning they are spending lots more money than they need to!

Okeanos Hotels, Israel

Hotels.com also seemed to miss the mark completely with the AdWords campaign taking me through to a Hotel Alexander in Italy, not the best or most relevant for such as high-profile site.  But when they do get the hotel location right they do a good job of promoting other hotels in the surround area that you should consider booking with.

Hotels.com Alexander Hotel

Test 2# Library Hotel, New York - While Hotel Alexander was not one of the highest ranking hotels in New York according to TripAdvisor, I wanted to see how that Travel PPC campaigns might improve by picking the #1 rated Hotel in New York which you would assume is a fairly high-profile search query they would be focusing on?

Library Hotel New York

Priceline.com fails to understand how to use PPC to drive sales by just dropping all the visitors at their homepage, this method offers advertisers a lower quality score but is much easier and less time-consuming for staff or agencies running their PPC campaigns.  Typically the conversion rates for a websites homepage is one of the lowest so its likely buying traffic for the sake of buying traffic is not a sustainable or effective way to grow your company.

Priceline Hotels

Expedia is the world’s largest travel site but it also makes the same mistake as Qantas does below by presenting the visitor who clicked on the AdWords result with an error page.  The advice to choose another hotel option was not given in the first place and advising someone looking to book a hotel to try again later will lead to losing the visitors business to a competitor. Expedia has the most to lose because of the sheer volume of money that is being spent every hour on their AdWords budget by their digital agency…. but really what does conversion rates matter in the travel industry with such thin profit margins….

Expedia Fails

Qantas Hotels Search – The test was for search on Google.com.au but when one of the hotels advertised was picked I was presented with an error page.  The problem is that I didn’t select a date for when I wanted to stay at the hotel, Qantas fails fairly badly as I clicked their AdWords Ad and was presented with this screen, the only upside they at least have kept some details from my search query such as the hotel was in New York, USA so I won’t have to re-enter that information if I choose to search again.  Qantas can easily have followed Hotels.com which offers a list of hotels in the surrounding area which I could book.

Qantas Hotel Booking

Travelocity also presents the same failure message, so I could assume they are using a similar bid management platform or trying to be more advanced than their CMS will allow which is causing the range of errors.  But Travelocity does win back points for having 3 different places you can find a contact number and they clearly advise they are open 24/7 which would likely catch more lost sales due to these types of error pages being the first thing an AdWords visitor sees.

Travelocity Hotel Error

Who is doing PPC right? It appears that Tablet is actually the poster child on how to do a travel PPC campaign right, they have a hotel specific landing page with clear photos, address details, reviews and a clear call to action with a simple booking widget.  They constantly are performing well for one or two other New York hotels such as the Soho Grand Hotel and should be commended for their smarter approach for travel PPC campaigns.

Table Hotels Soho Grand Hotel

The agencies that are looking after Qantas and Expedia should take a leaf out of Tablet’s book or read my book Google Advertising Tools 2nd Edition, as they are costing their clients a lot of lost sales by a poorly run PPC campaign, and yes I think that Travel sites really don’t get PPC but that’s lucky for their affiliates who can make it work, its not like they have a good history in Hotel SEO

Webtrends integrates with Marin Software

Webtrends has been fairly aggressively trying to catch up to its competitors through a number of purchase Transpond (Social Mobile Marketer), Widemile (Testing & Optimising) and ClickShift (Ad Optimisation) and the partnership with Marin Software could easily develop into an acquisition. Webtrends is now the only enterprise level web analytics platform that is still privately owned and not part of a bigger software company but its clear that sooner or later it will either have to merge or be bought out.
MediaPost has reported Webtrends & Marin Software have signed a license agreement which also involves the integration of their technology platforms.  The move is smart as it allows companies to link the entire campaign metrics similar to Overdrive’s Social Eye social media ROI dashboard.
The benefit is that companies can analyse website traffic via webtrends analytics platform to measure campaign performance and goals/revenues and adjust the paid campaigns through their Webtrends Ads which is now powered by Marin Software to improve or optimise their traffic.  The benefit for those using Marin Software is they can now collect details on organic traffic to source new keywords for SEM campaigns and measure its impact on brand awareness for a particular product or service, similar to Google Campaign Insights.
Facebook Integrations
Webtrends announced one of the first analytics solutions for Facebook fan activity and interactions that happens inside Facebook on custom tabs , Facebook apps and shares back in March 2010. Also just recently Marin Software had announced their bid management platform now allows for managing Facebook ads, but has layered over the ability to use algorithmic bidding, advanced audience segmentation and ad testing/rotation features.  The companies are working along very close paths and by using API integration it is easier to pass data between platforms and reduces incorrect decisions made based on poorly aligned data that previously processed manually to find patterns.
Benefits in buying ads?
The benefits of being able to successfully purchase advertising space on Facebook with a pure focus on measurable campaign objectives and optimise the campaign to deliver the most sales or leads does offer an strong incentive for more agencies to examine their platform.  The obvious other benefits is the time saved in reporting and analysis which allows for larger and more complex campaigns to be run more efficient with less cost and decreased wasted spend.
Google Analytics Competitor?
It moves their technology platform closer to a true competitor for Google Analytics which has continued to integrate with DoubleClick and AdWords.  While the recent updates to Microsoft adCenter do improve the market place for advertisers it doesn’t integrate as well as this agreement.  It will be likely that a number of technology companies will be looking at either increasing their purchases of smaller players or examining how much a bid for the two companies would cost. Webtrends has continued to remain a niche player with only around 1,000 clients or around 1.74% of all web analytics installs compared to Google Analytics 48.9% of the market.
analytics marketshare
Who would buy the combined Webtrends/Marin Software company?
It would be a smart move for one of the search networks such as Microsoft adCenter, AOL or even ASK to buy the two companies as it will finally allow for a real competitor to emerge to Google Analytics.  The a smarter purchase of Webtrends/Marin Software would be by one of the two leading social media platforms that are trying to show their investors they have a solid business model for earning revenue and their ad network is more than just an experiment for advertisers.  If Twitter or Facebook purchased the combined Webtrends/Marin Software company it would allow for them to expand their Ad network and rapidly scale their value to advertisers.
The dark horse in the market is Apple, which based on Google’s purchase of Urchin which forms the base of their web analytics it would possibly approved by the FTC and European competition watchdogs who want more than one powerful player in the market.  IBM would likely be locked out of any more purchases in the analytics space due to its recent consumption of two of Webtrends biggest competitors.
Webtrends competitors purchased
  • Unica was purchased by IBM on the 13th August 2010
  • Coremetrics was purchased by IBM on 15th June 2010
  • Omniture was purchase by Adobe on 15th September 2009
  • Urchin Software was acquired by Goolge on 29th March 2005
The upgrade has begun with existing accounts and any new advertisers will have to wait until October 2010 to start using Webtrends Ads for their digital campaigns.  It will be interesting to see what competitors such as Kenshoo, Efficient Frontier or Acquisio might be doing over the next few weeks to counter this technology marriage. I say the analytics market needs some more consolidation and plenty of more agreements to share API access and cross platform integrations would be welcomed by most advertisers and agencies.

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Google Funds PPC Agency

Trada LogoIt was announced by NYTimes and on Trada’s own blog that Google ventures has made an investment in the crowd sourced ppc agency Trada.com. Trada closed a US$5.75 million Series C round of financing led by Google Ventures and Foundry Group to increase its cash balances and working capital to continuing expanding its network of ppc specialists beyond 500.  The money raised in the latest funding round will be spent on international expansion to covers markets such as Canada, UK and Australia.  It will improve support for Trada campaigns in multiple time zones, currency support and banking details such as credit cards that currently make running some campaigns outside the US less efficient.

According to the press release, Trada plans to expand its platform to cover new types of advertising such as text ads on blogs, banner display, mobile and video ads.  The next expansion is planned around Facebook Ads but also what they can do with the Trada platform on other social platforms such as Twitter.

Does Trada get preferential treatment in Google?

The company argues that it will actually be under more scrutiny by Google because of the nature of their relationship, Google and Google Ventures are separate entities but still questions maybe asked by other technology platforms.  The obvious benefit of the Series C funding means Trada can scrap any plans or requests for what Google may consider grey areas of marketing.  The company will potentially slow the growth in some markets who are looking to bend or twist the search engines ppc rules. similar to the ITA Software purchase by Google recently it does place Trada in an interesting position with Microsoft/Bing. While Trada has plans to expand its platform it’s too early to see how the investment may change their business models if Google makes a decision to purchase more shares.

How does Trada work?
1) Setup client’s ppc campaigns in Trada, and request to add new campaigns on demand
2) Get the best ppc experts in the world to work on your campaigns
3) Complete control of your clients relationships and campaigns
4) PPC ads begin to run on Google & Bing
5) Conversions/Clicks are generated and shown on customised reports
Watch more about the Trada.com platform