Sunny Masand's Facebook profile

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More Revenue for Google; Thinks Irrelevancy makes more sense !

In late February, Google launched an AdWords Beta titled Automatic Matching Beta that is designed at driving additional impressions and clicks for advertisers…and revenue for Google. This beta is an expansion on previous changes Google made when it changed “Broad” matching to “Expanded Broad” matching.
With Expanded Broad matching, if a searcher performs two searches, Google will try to present a result based on the initial query. For example, a search for “MP3” yields results all about that subject. Next, if one searches for “accessories,” and Google presents me with multiple results, including one for “MP3 accessories.” The idea being that the research is for MP3s, so a search for accessories must be related to that subject.

Automatic Matching focuses on working with an advertisers daily spend. Google now is examining campaigns that are trending to spend below its Daily Cap and then altering them so they will deliver more ads. For example, under this system, if a company is bidding on sneaker keywords and isn’t pacing to spend its Daily Cap, Google will start to show their ads on similar keywords – such as slippers or shoes. The thought process is that since you are searching for sneakers, you might be interested in slippers or shoes. In some ways this is counterintuitive to what search is; if I asked about sneakers, why would I want slippers? There will be transparency of what’s going on, so keyword ads that are shown based on Automatic Matching will be indicated in a Search Query Performance Report. The beta only affects paid search and search syndication traffic; vertical and content targeting is not included. Keyword quality scores and minimum bids are not affected at this time.
If you’re an advertiser that is looking to drive traffic or impressions, this may be something to look forward to. The tradeoff is the limitation in being able to customize copy for these expanded keywords beforehand. If the focus of your search marketing is to drive conversions based on a CPA or ROI goal, you’ll need to weigh the benefits and consequences of this feature.

Regardless of if Automatic Matching becomes a part of AdWords or remains limited in beta, the idea brings to light the following three things to always consider in your existing campaigns.

Test Match Types – While Broad matching in Google may drive more impressions, the best way to confirm that it’s the right solution for certain high volume/high cost keywords is to test it against Exact or Phrase match and look at the results.

Negative Matching – Leveraging the ability to use negative matching in Google is a great way to ensure targeted users are seeing your ads. It has the ability to raise the Clickthrough Rate (CTR) for individual keywords, which may lead to driving subsequent clicks at a lower cost.

Using Search Query Reports – This report is full of insights. It can help drive decisions on what keywords you should consider adding as negatives, or add to the account so you can control the message on a more granular level. As the search marketplace gets more complex, this is a very useful tool.

Source: Search Marketing Trends

Thursday, December 06, 2007

9 Common Mistakes in Landing Page and PPC Campaign Design

1. Mismatched URL and Site Topic to User Inquiry

Many individuals try to create a one-stop shop landing page for a group of leads so they can build links and try to rank one spot naturally. That is fine as long as the topics are narrow enough in focus to where a visitor from either site feels at home. But when you have visitors coming in from related but not identical fields, it is important to consider that you may be losing more PPC conversions than you’re gaining in natural search by having a mismatched URL and landing page focus as compared to the terms you’re targeting.

2. Below the Fold Call To Action

The call to action is the whole point of a landing page, so why hide it well below the fold where you’re automatically going to lose 30% of visitors.

3. Collecting Unnecessary Data

Every piece of data you collect in your landing page means fewer submissions. While there is certain information you absolutely must have, collecting unnecessary or redundant data is just throwing money away. When it comes to high-dollar time-sensitive lead that you are going to pursue over the phone, there is absolutely no need to collect the specific address. Sending out a piece of snail mail is useless, and so if you’re just trying to figure out which of your subscribers to send the lead to, zip code is plenty. (For that matter you can get rid of the ‘State’ entry as well).

4. No Testimonial

Testimonials dramatically increase landing page conversions because they indicate to the user that the form is legitimate and completes the promise it makes. It’s obvious that a testimonial can be faked, but a casual internet user doesn’t think quite so cynically and will regard testimonials as a quality assurance indicator.

5. Too Many Calls to Action

There should be one or a maximum of two calls to action on your page. While you might be inclined to think that offering users the opportunity to sign up for your newspaper, give you a call, send you a fax, sign up for your RSS feed are all good things, they create confusion and a paradox of choice for the visitor.

6. PPC Not Directed to Landing Page

This is about the dumbest mistake possible, yet seen most of the times in different campaigns. You’re bleeding money through a PPC campaign, you’ve created a landing page, but your campaign doesn’t drop the user directly on the page. Instead people often have their highly converting page one or even two clicks away. If you're investing money to convert via a landing page, don't make the visitor work to find it.

7. Call to Action Not Distinguished or Obvious

Think of your entire landing page and PPC campaign as an elaborate plan to get people to complete one single action. Now that you’re in the right mentality, how dumb is it to leave the call to action button a muted color or otherwise not distinguished. Instead, use an arrow or incorporate a different design element that immediately draws the reader’s eye to the call to action.

8. Using Flash, Video, or Other 'plug-in required' design elements

People clicking on a PPC campaign link typically aren’t the most sophisticated internet users. So running a landing page which requires a plug-in is a surefire way to dramatically cut your conversions.
Rule of Thumb: If your grandma connecting through a dial-up on her Pentium I 586 can't quickly see and complete your call to action, it’s too complex.

9. Being too cheap with your PPC campaign to target top terms

Nobody is saying that you need to spend $12.00 a click like some of those mesothelioma attorneys are doing, or even $0.25 cents a click to capture long tail industry terms like texas trucking accident. But often people want to limp into a PPC campaign with only a few hundred dollars and end up bidding ridiculously cheap keywords that do them no good. Spending a few extra cents per visitor is often the best way to ensure a decent return from your campaign.
No matter whether your goal is to buy a mansion or just to drive some additional leads to your business, a decent landing page and PPC campaign is an essential component of that success.

Google Updates Web Analytics, Relaunches Urchin

Google announced three new features of its web analytics service: Site Search Reporting, Event Tracking and an updated version of the almost forgotten Urchin Software.

• Site Search reporting: It aggregates data on the effects of searches on site usage, e-commerce activity and conversion on rates. By tracking internal search patterns, it enables users to identify keywords, categories, products and trends to help users measure their sites effectivity in bringing marketing revenues. Site search reporting works well with Google Custom Search, GSA, Google Mini and other non-Google site search products.

• Event Tracking: Finally, Google Analytics is making the measurement of visitor engagement in the interactive features of users’ sites. These interactive elements which are part of the non-static HTML includes Ajax, Javascript, Flash movies, gadgets and widgets, downloads and other multimedia web 2.0 site specific features.

• All New Urchin Software: This software is a refurbished version of the analytics software bought by Google not so long ago. The Urchin Software is a proprietary desktop version of the web based Analytics. It is currently in beta stage and can be downloaded for a trial period of 90 days. It will be made available for a fee once it gets out the beta stage.

As a bonus feature, Google Analytics is now available in several new languages including Czech, Hungarian, Portuguese, Thai, Indonesian and Filipino.

Monday, April 30, 2007 Offers Paid Search Placement To Small Businesses

Search engines like are aiming for a bigger stake in the interactive advertising market, by offering both large and small businesses options that the giants are not offering.

Starting tomorrow, kicks off its new ‘Local Verified’ service, giving businesses the option of paying an annual fee to secure placement at the top of its localized search results. is focused on offering businesses of all sizes multiple local search options, from standard CPMs and banners, to completely free listings.

According to comScore, almost half of consumers who used a local search Web site visited a local merchant as a result of their search behavior, highlighting the efficacy of local search as a source to drive traffic and sales.

Paying $249 for a premium listing with provides smaller businesses with a cost-effective alternative to the primary search engine's local ad models, allowing them to play with the big boys in the online ad landscape.

The free listings also serve merchants with little or no interactive marketing experience, by allowing them to post or update their business' name, description and contact info, even if they don't have a web site.

The Kelsey Group predicts local search spending to grow to $2.6 billion by 2011.

Part of the shift stems from the online behavior of the small business owners themselves, as they use search engines to find suppliers and contractors and are realizing that the Web can help customers find them too.

Source: MediaPost

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Google Adds Preferred Cost Bidding To AdWords

In a response to the Advertiser’s demand for greater control over how they manage their bids and costs, Google has released a 'Preferred Cost Bidding' feature for its AdWords program. This new, global option allows advertisers to specify the average price they would like to pay per click (preferred CPC) or per thousand impressions (preferred CPM), as opposed to a maximum bid.

According to the AdWords Help Center, the preferred cost bidding system works best for advertisers who are aware of how much each click or impression is worth to their business and want their AdWords advertising costs to be more consistent among other factors. The feature also serves as a time-saver, freeing advertisers from having to constantly adjust their maximum bids.

It may be best for site owners that can contend with a possible shift in conversion rates, however, as the preferred cost bidding system removes some control over ad positioning.

So if an advertiser targets a $5 preferred CPC, the AdWords system may place an ad in a range of positions as it works to get that preferred cost, according to Google.

The option will be available to all advertisers by the end of the week, but in the blogosphere, discussions about the merits and flaws of this new feature, as well as how much control it really affords advertisers have begun.

While advertisers with SEM experience may prefer to micromanage their ads, 'Preferred Cost Bidding' seems to be a viable option for those who have don't have the time or budget to actively manage an AdWords campaign.

Source: MediaPost

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Google Tips Its Hand On Voice Search

Some people read tea leaves to predict the future. Stephen Arnold reads Google patents, and right now he's focusing his attention on United States Patent 7,027,987 voice interface for a search engine.

Arnold, a Google expert who has written a book on the search leader, believes the patent is a roadmap to Google's future in voice search applications. He said the patent reveals that the company has plans to use voice search across the board for a wide variety of devices big and small and for an equally wide swath of applications ranging from voice-to-text products to a variety of telecommunications uses.

Google is optimizing voice search to run on Google's data centers. There's no limit to how they can scale it. They can embed the function on mobile phones, on browsers, on chips, and even on big mainframes. It's entirely device independent.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has his name on the patent, which Arnold said is important because the Google executive would likely want to be associated with research that has an important future.

While the patent is replete with arcane vocabulary and schematics concerning voice-processing technology, it also has sections that clearly discuss the future. The client devices may include devices such as mainframes, minicomputers, personal computers, laptops, personal digital assistants, telephones, or the like, capable of connecting to the network. The client devices may transmit data over the network or receive data from the network via a wired, wireless, or optical connection.

The Googleplex with hundreds of thousands of processors scattered throughout Google's data centers plays a central role in the forthcoming voice search functions. Because of the power of Google's data centers, other search competitors will find it difficult to duplicate Google's voice search applications.

Processing voice is computationally intensive. The new fast processors and fast RAM are the reason the patent opens the door to do voice searches. Google now has the machine its data centers to run voice. It will likely be a network delivered service that can be used by any device with a microphone.

It doesn't take much imagination to see that Google voice search applications could operate seamlessly with many Google applications like GoogleTalk, Google Calendar, or Google Docs. Google users should be able to use the voice functions to quickly turn voice into text on Gmail and even to translate simultaneously among different foreign languages. The patent opens the door for easy spoken translation in real time.

Update by Sunny: Last week Google announced a free voice beta called Google Voice Local Search, which is a telephone information service. This could well be the way for the company's future in voice search.

Source: InformationWeek

Google to Buy DoubleClick for $3.1 Bn

Google reached an agreement with private equity firm Hellman & Friedman to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion in cash, the largest acquisition yet made by the Internet giant.

The addition of DoubleClick, which provides the technology to place ads on Web sites, could help Google control even more of the Internet advertising market, particularly in attracting brand ad dollars. DoubleClick has already announced plans to create an online advertising exchange that would let marketers bid for ad space on Web sites.

The pending acquisition is another blow to Microsoft, which was reportedly in talks to buy DoubleClick for $2 billion. It is also an enormous bet by Google that DoubleClick's ad-serving technology will help the company expand beyond its dominance of search and text-based Web ads into display ads favored by brand marketers.

While Google generated $10.5 billion in 2006 ad revenue, nearly all of its sales come from text listings on search results pages and elsewhere. Google's efforts to translate its search dominance into a leading position in display and video markets have so far been mostly unsuccessful.

The data going through Google could, however, give some publishers pause.

Google is going to have to be very thoughtful about how they take advantage of this installed base they have. Publishers want to be very sure of what's going where and how it's protected.

Source: Adweek

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Google Bows Web Site Optimization Tool

Adding to its already enormous toolbox, Google today launches Google Website Optimizer, a product designed to help Web site owners test drive different landing pages in order to determine which designs drive the most conversions.

Depending on the type of business, those conversions might be sales, downloads of information, viewing video, and other kinds of transactions.

Website Optimizer, which was released as a closed beta in fall 2006, is integrated with Google AdWords and free to AdWords advertisers. Google considers Website Optimizer the third leg of the proverbial stool with AdWords dedicated to driving Web traffic and Google Analytics focused on measuring Web activity.

The new Website Optimizer is dedicated to converting visitors into customers and improving Web pages. The tool allows advertisers to receive up to 10,000 versions of a Web page. This tool lets you have one page, add a few Java scripts and then when visitors hit the page, there are different combinations served.

Website Optimizer allows advertisers to have one page, perhaps a home page, add some Java scripts to the page, and then be able to show visitors different versions of that page. Advertisers can then track and see which version is most effective for their purposes in terms of driving return on investment.

Source: MediaPost

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Google, EchoStar Announce Automated TV Ad System

Amid mounting speculation about Google’s plans for TV advertising, the Mountain View, CA-based giant announced a groundbreaking partnership with EchoStar Communications to introduce the first automated system for buying, selling, delivering and measuring television ads on EchoStar DISH Network's 125 national satellite programming networks.

Under the agreement, Google will have access to a portion of the DISH Network's advertising inventory that spans all channels and dayparts. The national test is on an invitation-only basis to advertisers.

"Our partnership with EchoStar is important for us as we begin to offer a TV advertising platform broadly," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt in the official press statement. "We think we can add value to this important medium by delivering more relevant ads to viewers, providing better accountability for advertisers and better monetize inventory for TV operators and programmers."

Adds Michael Steib, Director of Google TV ad sales; "We will be receiving aggregated data. While being very sensitive to user privacy, we are able to learn how many households watched each ad. Specifically, we're making available second-by-second commercial measurement. The end result should be more relevance for consumers and better results for advertisers.

It develops into this digital ecosystem where we are helping the advertisers put the ads in front of the right audience and the viewer will see more and more relevant ads," added Steib.

Google has been testing the system with Astound Cable, a small cable provider, in the Concord, CA DMA.

"Ours is the only end-to-end system with auction-based pricing, full digital workflow and detailed commercial measurement to inform the advertiser and agency on the effectiveness of their campaign," said Steib.

The system is intended to add efficiency to the entire buying, selling and placing process, Steib said. It will use a Web-based system like AdWords. Advertisers will bid for inventory with an auction-based system and indicate their CPM bids. Google will run the auction--and report back in 24 hours whether the advertiser won the auction and if the ad ran, where it ran and the number of household boxes delivered.

Advertisers can then adjust their pricing based on how well creative performed in which conditions.

Participants in the beta uniformly pointed to the real-time measurement elements of the test as revolutionary because within 24 hours, advertisers will know not only what ads have been viewed, but where in the ads viewers have tuned out. Advertisers will also get to see how their ads perform in different dayparts.

To read the complete story, click here.

Source: MediaPost