Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Hat SEM Competition

The search marketing firm I work for, Efficient Frontier, is applying portfolio trading applications from Wall St to the optimization of large paid search campaigns on Yahoo and Google. Over the last three years we've gotten to the point where we're managing more search spend than any other firm globally, and have made a pretty good name for ourselves. In my opinion this is due to:

1)A product (and product engineering team) that is fundamentally better than the competition. When people ask me what selling at Efficient Frontier is like I tell them to imagine they're selling advanced trading applications on Wall St, but everywhere they go traders are using Excel spreadsheet and abacuses.

2)An experienced, dedicated Client Services team that knows our solution well and works very hard to help improve clients' campaigns.

3)A set of customers who see enough promise and returns from our solution that they work with us through the highs and lows of managing campaigns and being a hyper-growth startup.

A lot of the competitors in our space, though, don't have everything they need to be successful, and so they resort to less than honorable sales tactics when they come up against us in competition. Below I'll run through a few of those amusing tactics.

I. The Cowardly Brand Hijack (aka 'The Samir Squat')
If Efficient Frontier is widely known as the best SEM firm in the world, and if there's a lot of buzz around them (including in Business Week, WSJ, Forbes and Fortune), then some competitors - take SearchForce for example - have no moral issue (or backbone) in buying their company name(s) as keywords. Threat to become a serious SEM player? No. Total spineless jellyfish of a human? Absolutely.

II. The Powerpoint Play
Back in autumn 2003 a major SEM firm (one whose execs speak regularly at all the major search conferences) contacted me saying they were interested in using Efficient Frontier's solution to manage spend for their clients. Like the Boy Scout that I am I sent them our corporate Powerpoint deck prior to a phone call with them. Fast-forward 18 months and we've now seen 2-3 of our slides *in their SES presentations*. Imitation is flattery, but I think there's a 18,000-year pitstop in Purgatory for purveyors of this tactic.

III. The Fake Prospect Routine
A top five SEM firm once had someone on their payroll fake being a prospect in order to find out how we pitch our solution. They went so far as to claim to be with a vintage clothing website that was looking to launch a paid search campaign. My NYC sales manager was out sick at the time, and so I flew out to New York and met with the guy. After hearing what they wanted to do, I told him our solution would be overkill for their size spend and we parted amicably. It was only 4-6 months later when an industry good Samaritan called me that I found out the truth. The Samaritan said that he had found out about this from an employee at said SEM competitor while interviewing him for a job. The person who did this denied being on the SEM competitor's payroll, but his denial was weak. To the person who stooped to such low levels, it didn't feel good to lie... did it?

IV. The Baseless, Defamatory Email
Below is an email exchange between one of our clients and the Director of Sales of a top 5 SEM firm. All names have been taken out to protect both the innocent and guilty, and my comments to the client are italicized. Read from bottom to top.

From: VP Internet Marketing at EF Client
To: EF Client Services
Subject: FW: EF Competitor follow-up

Hello EF Client Services,

First, just a quick note to let you know we look forward to your visit with us. We felt the last visit with you was quite productive for all concerned, and we look forward to this visit. Second, we received an e-mail from [EF Competitor’s Director of Sales], per below. These people are nothing if not persistent. We reviewed their product when we were working on the decision matrix to select a bid management vendor. We ultimately selected your company, as you know, and as we mentioned during your last visit, we’ve been impressed at every turn with the people at your company.

[EF Competitor Director of Sales] does work hard to be persuasive though, in terms of arguing that their system would get us a better return, vs. your portfolio approach. Our goal is pretty straightforward, to get maximum customer orders and customer registrations (at $XX.00 value per registration) for our online PPC money spent, within our ROI constraints. So that I can discharge my fiduciary duty appropriately, given the amount of money we are currently spending online, and plan to spend going forward as we grow our campaigns, can you and/or the appropriate people at your company review the below, and offer any rebuttal or commentary to [their] assertions below?

Thanks again,

VP Internet Marketing
From: EF Competitor’s Director of Sales
To: VP Internet Marketing at EF Client
Subject: RE: [Competitor Name] follow-up

[VP Internet Marketing],

Glad to hear all is well. But I was hoping to get my foot in the door. [CZ – he is resorting to attempted mud-slinging to get his foot in the door, perhaps because – as his original email shows – he doesn’t know how to articulate his firm’s unique value prop, or one does not exist. If I *were* to consider this competitor, it would be because they were able to clearly convey what they do, how it’s different, and how it gets better returns than EF – that’s all that matters.]

Although we’re not privy to Amazon’s decision-making process, we feel there could be two significant reasons they recommend Efrontier. Firstly, I think one of the founders of efrontier had previously sold a business to Amazon and I’m sure has continued the relationship. Secondly, the portfolio approach generally achieves scale at the expense of efficiency. Since the client is paying the media and Amazon is sharing in the sale, Amazon would want the most scale with little concern for efficiency.
[CZ – actually, our seed funder sold a previous company to Amazon, and if anything that has made our goal of working with Amazon harder given that Bezos overpaid for them and underutilized what was nevertheless a great comparison shopping engine before, Bizrate or NexTag existed. We have had zero support from Amazon corporate in building the case for a relationship, and they’re working with us… because they want to.

As for [EF Competitor’s] contention that we manage keywords less than efficiently, consider this an ***open invitation for he & I to publicly debate*** the relative merits of our two firms’ optimization approach at AdTech. I will need three slides and 4 minutes to show everyone in the audience how our approach clearly works better than [EF Competitor’s] within every conceivable business goal. For starters, though, have him examine the following 2-keyword bidding example which compares our portfolio approach to his firm’s rules-based approach: ]

As far as we know [CZ – that’s code for ‘We think in the absence of any data that…], Amazon has not tested any of the other leading technologies. That point alone would concern me. [CZ – not if, in Amazon’s case, they had 1.5 years to see our solution in action.]

Hope we can stay in touch. BTW, my original offer still stands. Now that you’re fully stabilized with Efrontier, we will put our money where our mouth is. If we don’t get you a 25% improvement in the results you’re getting now within 90 days, we’ll refund 100% of our management fees. That’s how sure we are! [CZ – no, that’s how desperate you are. I can only wonder what sort of financial or operational situation (EF Competitor) must be to feel like they have to offer their services for free. And for their clients (who want them to be focused on their paying customers), this sort of offer should have them worried. You don’t see good SEM firms with robust businesses in a position where they have to make low-ball offers to get business. The SEM market is exploding now and for the foreseeable future, and all it should take to win new business is a good technology solution, strong client services & operations, and a clear strategy going forward. As I often tell my CEO – Efficient Frontier’s solution sells itself as long as we in Sales properly understand and explain to prospects what we do & how we do it.]

[Director of Sales]
[Efficient Frontier Competitor]

Jupiter Research rates [EF Competitor] #1 Search Engine Marketing agency for market suitability in Search Engine Marketing Agency Constellation Report [CZ – anyone who bases their opinions of SEM firms on what Jupiter says obviously hasn’t any familiarity with how the technology research business works. Since getting a strong rating from Jupiter – or any other firm – involves paying for their research, spending valuable time educating them on our offering and sponsoring conferences, webinars and websites, we are happy to cede Jupiter rankings to [EF Competitor] while we advance on our position of world’s largest SEM firm as measured by spend under management. SEM firms are like hedge funds – and good hedge funds spend zero effort marketing themselves, and 100% of their efforts getting strong returns for their clients.]

-----Original Message-----
From: VP Internet Marketing at EF Client
To: EF Competitor’s Director of Sales
Subject: FW: [Competitor Name] follow-up

Hello [EF Competitor Dir of Sales],

Thanks for the e-mail. We've been pretty happy with eFrontier thus far, and continue to see good results from our use of it.

Interesting information regarding [Travel site], I didn't know they'd switched. [CZ- see below; they didn’t switch to (EF Competitor) and were never working with Efficient Frontier other than a short-term test during which we showed 250% lift in volume while keeping Cost Per Booking constant. I’m reasonably certain (Travel site) is working with another firm (Travel site told me that directly), but I guess I could be wrong.] Don't know who the large mortgage business is, but hopefully they didn't sign a contract that binds them to eFrontier if they don't want to be there. It was fairly easy for us to get flexible terms.

One question, if eFrontier's methodology is flawed, why would Amazon Services recently pick eFrontier to be the PPC platform for all of their merchant retailers. We partner with Amazon quite heavily, and have found them to be pretty astute at intelligently assessing platforms (whatever the application) that deliver maximum ROI. They work on pretty thin margins, and have to be good. [CZ – good point. Amazon always prefers to build internal solutions, and is only working with us because they feel it’s in their own interests to do so.]

VP Internet Marketing

-----Original Message-----
From: EF Competitor’s Director of Sales
To: VP Internet Marketing at EF Client
Subject: [Competitor Name] follow-up

Hi [VP Internet Marketing],

We had communicated about a year ago regarding your paid search campaign. At that time you had selected Efficient Frontier for your SEM company. I hope you have been satisfied. We have been signing up new clients that have used EFrontier but failed to deliver the return needed for their businesses to grow sufficiently. [CZ- see below. They have one former EF client, a firm we chose to stop working with for the reason stated below. If they care to know, we have 6 ex-[EF Competitor] clients, but who’s counting.] [Retailer], [Travel site] and a number of other large advertisers have made the move. [CZ – (Travel site) was never ‘working’ with us. We did a short-term test (which showed 250% sustained lift on 1800 keywords and $100K+/mo in spend) with them, but their agency opted to work with another firm. To my knowledge (Travel site’s) decision was to work with a firm other than (EF Competitor), putting in question his statement. We did stop working with (Retailer), for the sole reason that they only secured a $20K/mo search budget and were thus unable to stomach our $5K+ minimum fees. One reason we stop working with people below certain monthly spends is that it detracts from our ability to serve our client base as well. Given that the majority of our clients spend $100K+/mo, it was the right move for EF and for (Retailer).] Most clients' businesses are very volatile and the lack of response with that type of management is where portfolio management fails. There is a large mortgage business which actually still uses efrontier (probably under contract) but has to turn it off anytime there are shifts in the market. [CZ – if the (EF Competitor) sales person is as sure of what he says as he sounds, someone should call him on it because it’s completely false. I’ve been in internet sales/mgmt for 10+ years, and one truth comes to mind: mud-slinging is what people resort to when they can’t articulate their own value prop. For the record, though, our systems react far better to changes in impression/click/cost/revenue/margin data than (EF Competitor’s) for the simple reason that, unlike (EF Competitor), we create and continually update mathematical models that reflect the historical and actual performance of our client’s keyword portfolio. Recent keyword performance data is weighted more heavily than historical data precisely in order to react to the ‘shifts in the market’ (EF Competitor’s) obviously misinformed sales rep alludes to but can’t elaborate on.]

If your business is static and does not change and you are willing to have waste hidden in the facade of a portfolio, then that type of management can work.
But the real question is "Do you really want to grow"? Without the marriage of strategy, analytics and customizable technology, any tool alone can at best just manage the best possible return that is available. If that is sufficient for your business, then a tool will work to that level. If you want to raise your conversion without chasing
competitors’ bids, then you need more. [CZ – (Competitor’s Dir of Sales) has wrongly assumed that EF is just a tool, probably because that’s the impression someone else gave him and he simply adopted it. As (EF Client) knows, our strengths are not only technology, but also the fact that we have the best Client Services team in the SEM space, backed by a 30-person engineering & operations team that supports them.]

Let me know if you are interested in talking about your current status and your future goals in search.

[Director of Sales]
[Efficient Frontier Competitor]

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gobble Gobble Gobble

Alright, I'm heading home for Thanksgiving, and am going to try to explain to my kids what this holiday is all about. If the explanations I've given to foreign friends of ours is any indication, it's not gonna go over well.

We're thankful for native Americans having helped our forefathers survive harsh winters upon arrival in North America, the same native Americans whose populations were decimated by our guns and germs in the ensuing decades, but we're still thankful darnit!

Monday, November 21, 2005

C'Mon Measurement People

It's always bothered me that the different internet measurement firms *never* have the same data; you would think that since one of th primary features of the internet *is* measurability that Comscore, Nielsen/NetRatings and others would be within 2-5% of each other - but no.

Data released by the Pew Internet confirms that measurement is still an art and not a science:

"Pew Internet Project data from June 2004 show that use of search engines on a typical day has risen from 30% to 41% of the internet-using population, which itself has grown in the past year. This means that the number of those using search engines on an average day jumped from roughly 38 million in June 2004 to about 59 million in September 2005 – an increase of about 55%. comScore data, which are derived from a different methodology, show that from September 2004 to September 2005 the average daily use of search engines jumped from 49.3 million users to 60.7 million users – an increase of 23%."

One says 55% growth in a 15-month period, the other says 23% growth in 12 of those 15 months - and both stats are thrown out by yours truly. My preferred method of arriving at industry-best stats are to average out what the top ratings firms say.

Please, someone fix this!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Track Correctly Or Die

Advertising on Google, Yahoo and the other paid search engines can't be done well without tracking and optimizing to granular, keyword-level impression/click/conversion data. Over the last several years, however, I cannot tell you the number of times I've run into organizations who either don't understand what that means or couldn't do anything with the data if they *did* track that way. What surprises me most, however, is the lack of articles on this topic - you would think with all the agencies and SEM-related firms in the fray that there would be myriad Tracking 101 articles, but I couldn't find any. So I'm writing a brief one, although keep in mind that I'm in Sales and not Client Services which doesn't make me the brightest bulb on the porch when it comes to this topic.

First off, here are some less-than-perfect ways advertisers track search ad buys, and what they'll say they can know about how their search campaigns are performing:

1)To the search engine level - "I know what the overall ROI is of my Google buy and my Yahoo buy." If you ask them how a particular keyword or adgroup/campaign is performing they'll reply with a statement that would be inadmissible as evidence in any court of law. To get to this high-level tracking, the advertiser will have one common tracking code for each search engine.

2)To the campaign level - "I know how each of my campaigns is performing on Yahoo. The cruise campaign has generated 345 bookings this month to date, at ~$75/booking." In this case the advertiser has unique tracking codes in place for each campaign.

3) To the keyword - "I know how each keyword is performing on each search engine. I know everything I possibly can and am tracking at the most granular level possible. I'm an expert and am speaking at the next major conference." Contrary to popular belief, this is NOT the most granular level of tracking and is therefore NOT the best way to track.

4) To the individual click - "I know not only how each keyword is performing but how each CLICK on each KEYWORD performs." This person gets it and is, in fact, tracking optimally. It's not enough to know how each keyword performs - you need to know how each click performs in order to know
a)what the impact of bid changes are
b)what time of day traffic converts best
c)what particular ad copy converts best

For many of you in the industry this may sound like common wisdom, but my own sneaking suspicion is that less than 10% of keyword buys are tracked this way today.

Webmasterworld Vegas

I was at the Webmasterworld Vegas conference Tue/Wed; WMW attendees are the most advanced SEO and SEM community anywhere, period. A few thoughts from the show:

-I mean no offense by this, but it is glaring to the eye that there's a *generally* inverse relationship between SEO skills and personal appearance. Must have something to do with staring at a computer screen all day long, but it's clear most SEO folk don't get out much or are in SEO for that reason. [NOTE: I'm writing this from the home office having not shaved or showered yet. My wife says the difference between SEO and SEM is SEM folk take showers *before* going to work.

-Online gaming and herbal supplement sites convert well. How else to explain the presence at WMW of firms like, JoeBucks and others?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

ServiceMagic - the EBay of Home Services

One of my favorite internet companies is ServiceMagic (part of Interactive Corp) - they've been in business for 4-5 years now and help consumers and home services providers find each other. In the last 24 months I've used them to find someone to

-replace my garage roof after a fire
-haul debris to the dump
-paint the inside of the house
-replace broken glass
-fix a broken washer/dryer
-tear out and lay a new driveway
-replace an 80-year-old sewer line to the street
-design an upstairs addition

Most people find ServiceMagic when doing a home services-related search on Google or Yahoo, and from there the process is simple: you fill out a 1-page form describing the project and when you want to start it, and then ServiceMagic forwards your project to a number of local, pre-screened service providers for that category. The service providers tend to be better than average in terms of customer service. They get the leads sent to their pagers, cell phones, via email or fax and respond quickly.

Interestingly, whenever I've had one of the service providers over to my house to do the work, I ask them what % of their business they get from ServiceMagic and they typically say 30-90%.

30-90%. To me that is the sign of a huge business. As far as I can tell they have very little competition at the national level, and charge a much more reasonable fee per lead than these local providers pay to the yellow pages or newspaper classified depts.

What's most exciting about them, IMO, is their very advanced and thorough use of Google and Yahoo Search as sources of traffic. You'd be hard pressed to do a home services-related search and not find them in the results.

That's my kind of Web 2.0 business, and one I think will emerge as a major Internet powerhouse.

Interesting Things To Do With Keyword Ads

1. Send that special someone an email saying "Go look up [that special someone's name] on Google", and have an AdWords ad saying something nice. Or if the contractor who built your home has only completed 4/22 items on the punch list 7 months after your move in date, have the AdWords ad say something not so nice.

2. Write Adwords haiku and upend the traditional publishing model by *losing* money when people click on your poetry. Better yet, if the Poetry Foundation (which was recently endowed with over $150M by the heir to the Eli Lilly fortune to promote poetry online) sees this blog, give anyone who wants to $50 to run poems on Adwords. On the topic of poetry in SEM, you *must* read this 2002 article by Christophe Bruno titled 'The price of words : towards a generalized semantic capitalism'. Battelle mentioned it last year on his blog I believe.

3. Be the first to spot the paid search equivalent of Proust's 'Remembrance of Things Past', a circular paid search journey consisting of something like this: an Adwords ad leading to a page with Overture ads leading to a page with the original ad in AdSense. Given that ~10% of Google's UK revenues come from people doing ppc arbitrage, this has to exist somewhere. Whoever finds it first gets a free Shorebreak T-Shirt (that's my Webmasterworld handle).

Historical Keyword-Level Data

My firm (Efficient Frontier) manages large paid search campaigns, over $150M in annual spend for about 70 advertisers; I think we do as good a job or better than anyone else out there. We're fortunate right now to have enough business opportunities that we can turn down potential clients when the fit isn't there. In those cases when I've told a prospect that a)we're overkill; b)they have more fundamental issues to address first; or c)we'd rather use our capacity elsewhere, an enjoyable conversation typically ensues wherein I give them all the real-world advice I can.

One of the recurring themes in these conversations is the importance of historical, keyword-level conversion data. Without several months of historical keyword-level conversion data (HKLCD) *no* firm can quickly help an advertiser who's already fairly advanced, *unless* they're in the business of leveraging one client's data for the other (we're not, as doing so would be wrong & quickly lead to most of our clients leaving us IMO).

While stressing the importance of keyword-level tracking months back, it occured to me that there would be sustainable value in an industry-wide HKLCD repository. If you want to jump into search marketing, depending on current keyword generation tools is tantamount to blind dating - not something you want to do unless you're desperate. As an example, Google's Traffic Estimator has been broken since day one; at the individual keyword level it is 30% or more off 70% of the time. Or, think about how illiquid the stock market would be if instead of 8000 equities we had 50,000,000. Now add to that a total lack of publicly-available historical performance data, and you essentially have the Yahoo/Google version of the stock market.

Oddly enough, while aggregating HKLCD data is in the majority of advertisers' interest, it's not happening because:

1)good/early advertisers don't want to help bad/late ones.
2)search engines and SEM's typically are restricted from using client conversion data for any purpose other than helping that specific client. On the SE side I know that's not the case, but it is the case more often than not in the SEM world.

Claria of all people is building an offering of this type, but it doesn't look like it'll be the fine-grained type of HKLCD that advertisers or their SEM's need to launch fully-educated and optimized campaigns at birth. Likewise, the Fireclick Index is fun to look at but you can't actually do anything with it, nor can you trust it (no offense to Fireclick).

Any ideas on how to make an HKLCD repository happen? Does anyone else think it should happen?

My Kid's Searching Activity

So I let my 8-year-old son get on my laptop; 45 minutes later I put him to bed and get back on the PC myself. I'm scrolling through previous searches to find something and I see his searches from that session:

'venom er'
'black widow spider bites'
'funnelweb spider'
'shark photos'
'i want a girlfriend'

That same thought hit me at roughly the same age 28 years ago, and I'm inclined to say I would've learned too much too early if the Web existed back then.

Other note on kid searching - it invariably leads to adware/spyware ending up on my computer; something about free games...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Online Marketing Conferences: Too Much Sausage

I've been going to most of the major online marketing conferences this year, and the percentage of attendees who are there to sell something rather than buy/research something has gotten way outta wack **just in the last six months**. I'd venture to say conferences are 40-50% vendors at this point, and that's a Bubble Sign. Good move on the part of Danny Sullivan to sell SES earlier this year.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Why Bush Won (hint = AdWords)

In the 6 weeks leading up to the last Presidential election, I ran a paid search campaign on Google targeted to the swing states and espousing my particular point of view by driving people conducting politically-themed searches to sites sharing my viewpoints.

4.8M impressions and 45,000 clicks later, Bush won, so AdWords geotargeting works:

Search Total 3,220 clicks / 142,855 impressions / 2.2% CTR / $359.46
Content Total 23,601 clicks/ 4,686,307 impressions / 0.5% CTR / $2,396.66
Winner: Bush
Loser: Kerry

Why more individuals don't pay to promote their own viewpoints is beyond me. What better vehicle to promote your own political agenda than the paid marketplace of ideas? I know, I know, many people are disgusted with the idea of anything other than Google's algorithms determining what results should show up for searches that are political in nature. Not me though, not me. If we took the money raised from individuals/corporations and horribly spent by politicians and their parties on lame TV ads, and gave each citizen a $50 online marketing budget, political advertising would be much more interesting. Not to mention the level of increased involvement in the political process it would foster.

[NOTE: this post is about search marketing and politics, not *my* politics; it just so happens I preferred Bush to Kerry last time around.]

Remember the name: Chitika eMinimalls

Many of you know about Google's contextual advertising network - AdSense. AdSense gives Google a way to grow its distribution outside of straight search, and to date no other ad format (with the notable exception of affiliate programs) has shown the ability to monetize traffic as well for so many websites/publishers. Yahoo is in beta with YPN (their competitive offering to AdSense), but while YPN is paying out at a higher rate than AdSense, they're very likely doing so at a major loss; CTR for YPN is 1/4 - 1/5th that of AdSense.

In my opinion, AdSense's real competition is going to come from a little startup no one's ever heard of - Chitika. They've developed a syndicated minimall (think comparison shopping engine) that targets its product display to site content in the same way AdSense does, but rather than display search ads, they display dynamically-generated product comparisons. A growing number of AdSense publishers have been trying Chitiki's eMinimall for several weeks now and are reporting 1.5-10X higher earnings than with AdSense.

I mention this to point out that
a) Google's competition is going to come from startups like Chitiki, and those startups will push Google to better monetize traffic
b) Yahoo's YPN is not yet showing itself capable of gaining marketshare in a profitable way
c) there is still much room for innovation in online advertising formats, as the below example from Chitika shows

Guadalupe Island

This time last year my brother and I went to Guadalupe Island, an extinct volcanic island 150 miles off the coast of Baja California and hung out in cages for a week watching large numbers of great white sharks in 100-foot visibility water. If you've ever wanted to see great white sharks in person and take all the great white shark photos you can possibly fit into your hard drive, I highly, highly, highly recommend going down there. No need to go to Australia (too far), South Africa (too far) or the Farralons (too murky) - San Diego Shark Diving can take you there on a fully-equipped boat from San Diego Harbor.

"Sounds great, but will I actually see sharks?", you ask? The answer is, Guadeloupe Island and San Diego Shark Diving will *blow you away*.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Y! Search Marketing - Going Google-style

YSM is *certainly* going to change its formula to factor in CTR; as much was said during Yahoo's most recently quarterly investor conference call. During that call Yahoo management said that the new bidding system would be released sometime in the first half of 2006, but that the benefits to Yahoo's revenues would not really kick in until the second half of 2006.

On that topic, I'm not sure many advertisers have considered the ramifications of this to their YSM campaigns. IMO (and note that I'm with Efficient Frontier so my viewpoint is that of someone who stands to benefit from the below) any firm using a rules-based bid management tool on YSM is going to have to make sure their bid management vendor has a strategy to be able to continue managing spend on YSM.

Rules-based systems were built with bid position-based systems in mind, and when YSM adopts AdWords' more opaque style, rules-based systems will cease to work effectively. AtlasOnePoint, Did-It, Performics, Overture's own Search Optimizer, KeywordMax and over a dozen other rules-based bid management systems will need to be significantly modified/rewritten in order to be able to effectively model the impacts of CTR, ad quality, and maximum CPC/effective CPC on keyword performance. My suspicion is that a couple of them will make the transition, and the remainder will have to hope their clients are unaware of this.

Many of you have probably already seen how ineffective rules-based systems are in managing to revenue *and* profit goals on Google AdWords; as someone who talks to large ppc advertisers all day long I can't tell you the number of times I've heard advertisers say their rules-based bid mgmt solution doesn't work on Google AdWords. Now imagine the same applying to YSM (and MSN who will also factor in CTR in 2006) and you have a situation where virtually every firm offering bid management stops bringing anything more than administrative value to the advertiser table.

Should be a fun 2006!

SearchQuant - A New Angle On Search Marketing

After reading everyone else's search and online marketing-related blogs for the past couple years, I've decided to start my own. John Battelle, SEW, Threadwatch, SERountable, David Jackson, Greg Linden, the Reprise boys and many others have been the staple of my SEM blog experience, so big props out to them for all the knowledge they've shared.

I'll keep the goal of my blog simple - to provide a perspective on the world of search marketing that is unique. If I shuck some AdSense of Chitika alongside my musings, it'll only be to learn about those systems and not to make $$. To that end, any profits from this blog will be donated to Michael Yon who is providing a field-level perspective on Iraq that IMO should be required reading for anyone for or against U.S. actions there.

Thanks for stopping by, and do let me know what kinds of things you'd like to see me write about.

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