Wednesday, March 18, 2009

LAST CHANCE: SearchQuant SEM March Madness, $2K Prize Money, NO BUY-IN.

In case you missed my earlier post, here's your last chance to get in on the SearchQuant SEM March Madness Tourney. $2000 in prize money, no buy-in (see, I told you it was 'March Madness'). So far we have 31 people registered to play, including folks from:

Efficient Frontier
Rimm-Kaufman Group
multiple SEM consultants and SEM advertisers

In the spirit of the Olympics, many SEM competitors will lay down their swords temporarily, only to take them up again once the Madness that is March is over.

At some point I'm gonna realize how stupid this was on my part, so register before I do and let the Madness course through your veins.

Registration link is here, and you have until Midnight tonight (Wednesday) to register and make your picks.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Google Stumbling into the World of SEM Sales

I've been hearing of more and more situations where Google reps are telling 5 to 6-figure per month SEM advertisers that their Conversion Optimizer tool is capable of delivering double-digit lift in campaign performance. Just today on the Inside AdWords Google group I read the following:

"We've just completed a new analysis on the performance of campaigns
which have adopted Conversion Optimizer. We found that on average,
these campaigns achieved a 21% increase in conversions while at the
same time decreasing their CPA by 14%. The analysis compares the
performance of Conversion Optimizer campaigns with a control set of
campaigns and represents the average impact of Conversion Optimizer.
The actual impact will vary from campaign to campaign (and a small
number of advertisers could conceivably perform better without
Conversion Optimizer). If you would like to learn more about Conversion
Optimizer, the results we've seen, and how it can help you get more
conversions and lower CPA, join us for one of the three webinars we are
hosting March 18-19th. Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew."

Yet, the clear majority of anecdotes on the web point to Conversion Optimizer actually hurting campaign ROI, as I detailed on this Webmasterworld thread. [The WMW thread includes links to C.O. ROI anecdotes.]

For those of you who may never have used SEM tools before but are realizing that you need to move from manual & infrequent SEM management to a more instrumented, calculated approach, I'd suggest strongly that you consider the motivations behind the paid vendors, as well as for Google with their free Conversion Optimizer. The paid vendors have to actually drive lift in ROI, or people won't pay for their product. Google just has to get you to hand over the controls to your bank account, at which point they're able to spend your money however they see fit.

Think about that.

You don't get what you don't pay for, people.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Does Google Charge Itself API Fees?

I was looking at our firm's Google AdWords API bill this morning, and all those huge numbers reminded me that as Google becomes more and more of a competitor to the companies comprising the ecosystem around it, they have the distinct advantage of not having to pay AdWords API fees.

Does anyone know if the department within Google that uses the API makes an internal transfer to the department that runs the API? I seriously doubt it.

API access & associated fees are the SEM industry's water rights issue, and Google, as landlord of a large agricultural district that it has come to own fair & square, is now making the same mistake as their presidential candidate = not trusting free markets. By charging API fees to SEM firms but not themselves, Google is preventing SEM firms from investing to their fullest in building solutions that help advertisers profitably spend more on AdWords. Every dollar an SEM firm must spend on API fees is a dollar less spent on support for targeting functionality, or better client services, or marketing to get that technology in more advertisers' hands.

In a real way, Google charging API fees is driving down rents on the land Google owns - not a smart move for a landlord to make. So Google, as you think about how to overcome the macro-economy's effect on your SEM world, please rediscover free market economics and realize that the SEM community - if freed from unequal access to the water you lord over - will do that much more to help your/our customers spend more on AdWords.

Monday, March 09, 2009

SearchQuant March Madness: $2000, No Buy In + You

SEM + March Madness + $2000 + NO_BUY_IN + You = Hell Yeah Baby!

SearchQuant, the SEM blog with a fresh, uncensored view on paid search is sponsoring what will be the SEM industry's biggest ever March Madness pool. I've invited 200-300people from the SEM world to participate, and best part is there's no buy-in. Prizes:

FIRST PLACE: $1000 (or, if 2+ people tie, $1000/#ppl)
SECOND PLACE: $500 (likewise, if a tie, $500/#ppl)
THIRD PLACE: $250 (if tie = $250/#ppl)
FOURTH PLACE: $250 (if tie = $250/#ppl)

What, no buy-in? Certainly there must be a catch, no? WRONG. No buy-in, just a good old-fashioned fun time with everyone trying to win money, and maybe some SEM trash-talking on the message board.

Email me at chris dot zaharias at gmail dot com if you want in, or follow this link. Only caveat - you have to work in the SEM industry or manage SEM budgets as part of your job. **I will, at my sole discretion, decide who's allowed into the tournament.**

aka Chris Zaharias
PS - Did I mention there's no buy-in? Just checking...

50% of Private SEMs to Suffocate This Year

I'm traveling this week, it's tax season, and some thoughts don't need much verbiage. This week all my Searchquant blog posts will be titles + a picture + a link, that's it.


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