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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Google Advertising Professional is No More

I received an e-mail today from Google announcing a few changes to the Google Advertising Professional (GAP) program.

First and foremost, the title Google Advertising Professional is no More. It's now Google Qualified Individual. No more calling it GAP.

"Based on feedback from you and our advertisers, we are refining our Google Advertising Professionals naming in order to reduce confusion between our two qualification levels: Individual and Company. (Company level qualification was previously only available in the United States.)

Starting this month, anyone qualified at the individual level will see a new "Qualified Inidividual" logo appear in the Pro Center tab of My Client Center (MCC). Please replace your old logo with this new one on your website and other marketing collateral. Don't forget to link your Google Advertising Professionals logo to your Professional Status page, which profiles your business information and Google's validation of your Qualified title."

Also, Company Qualification has been launched in EMEA countries.

Learn more about the requirements here.

Two other features were also highlighted in the e-mail. They are:

"Program Features for Qualified Professionals

Professional Status Page

Get more out of your qualification by linking your logo to your Professional Status page. The Professional Status page is a Google-hosted page which validates your qualification, and can be customized with your business information. Link your Professional Status page to your program logo, your website, and in any place that you want to promote your qualification. To activate your Professional Status page, login to My Client Center and click the 'Pro Center' tab. Click 'My Profile' and fill out your business information. Your Professional Status page will then be activated and your unique URL will appear in the main page of the 'Pro Center' tab.

Google Local Business Listing

Let more potential clients find you on Google Local. We are happy to offer Google Advertising Professionals in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan one-click access to the Google Local Business Center via the 'Pro Center' tab in My Client Center. Complete your business listing information to be included in the "Google Advertising Professionals" category in Google Local. Tip: Use your Professional Status page as your URL in your Google Local listing so prospects can see your Qualified status and business information."

Good stuff for the GAP, err, GQI community.

Top 5 AdWords Feature Requests

A thread started by AdWordsRep in 2004 has made its way to the top again at the Search Engine Watch forums. AdWordsRep opened the thread by asking:

"What are the top five features and/or tools that you'd like to see included in future refinements of the AdWords program?"

The thread is packed with solid requests and information. It's had 90+ replies and almost 7,000 views since it's been started.

Have a feature request for AdWords you want to get in front of Google. Head on over to Search Engine Watch and let your voice be heard.

AdWords vs. AdCenter

I haven't seen too many threads that attempt to compare AdWords to AdCenter. That's probably due in part to the fact that AdCenter is still in beta and only being used by a few thousand (at most) users.

If you're interested in seeing some comments/comparisons to the two systems stop by WMW and check out this thread.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Joanne Bradford to Lead MSN Advertising

Microsoft announced that Joanne Bradford will assume the role of corporate vice president of global sales and trade marketing. She will also serve as chief revenue officer.

Microsoft has said that in her new role Bradford will oversee Microsoft's push to embed advertising in several of its software products, including the Xbox video games, mobile phones, Internet protocol TV and its suite of Office products.

The lynchpin of these efforts is MSN AdCenter, a new ad platform Microsoft is developing (currently in beta and available by invite only) to allow advertisers to target ads across several different media channels.

Google has also been making strides in allowing advertisers to target multiple forms of media via a single interface. Google has been testing ads in newspapers and also recently acquired a radio advertising company.

Big changes on the adverting landscape in 2006. Exciting times to say the least.

Friday, January 27, 2006

More on the AdWords Editor

Still waiting patiently for an invite to try out the new AdWords Editor but in the meantime figured I would like to highlight some of the current threads where it's being discussed by people who are already using it.

Here's a pretty lengthy thread at WMW where it's being discussed. Overall comments seem positive. For example, here's a comment by WMW member werty:

"My overall impression that once you get past the initial slowness of importing your account, it is extremely fast at will be very helpful when trying to clean up accounts. The other nice feature is you can sync your current settings, work on them offline and post them later."

Some interesting comments in this thread also. WMW member inasisi hasn't been all that thrilled with the AdWords Editor so far:

"I found the Google Editor to be very buggy. It hung my computer three times. I am not going to touch it again till they come out with the next version"

Another interesting comment in the same thread from WMW member eWhisper regarding the lack of publicly available info on this product:

"Just FYI - to use the editor, an NDA must be signed by the party receiving the download as it's a beta test product. Google is continuing to receive feedback to increase its functionality, and to learn exactly how people are going to use it."

There's also bee some limited discussion at Threadwatch. One comment that caught my attention was by TW member Gopi:

"But it seems its only possible to bulk upload ads and keywords, you still have to manually add adgroups & campaigns..."

More related information:

AdWords Editor FAQ

Express interest in participating or give feedback about the AdWords Editor

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

AdWords Radio Ads! (Not Quite Yet)

A thread at SEW grabbed my attention today with the headline AdWords "Radio Ad". For a brief moment I thought someone was already testing a radio AdWords ad.

What the thread starter, integramed, had done was set the destination url of an AdWords ad to an mp3 file. I had never considered trying this before, and it turns out I wasn't missing anything. SEW member, AWR (AdWords Rep) posted that this would be against the AdWords editorial policy specifically referencing this section:

"Destination URL Must Work

* Your Destination URL must work properly. Check your spelling and symbols to make sure you entered the correct URL for the page you want users to visit.

* Your Destination URL must link to a working website. You cannot link to an email address or a file (ex. an image, audio, video, or document file that requires an additional program or application to open or run).

* The landing page for your ad cannot be under construction. We require your Destination URL to link to an actual web page with content relevant to your ad. When your site is under construction or down for maintenance, you must pause your Ad Group(s)."

Oh well, I've calmed back down and will wait patiently for a legit way to advertise on the radio via AdWords.

AdWords Editor Beta

Looks like some invites are being sent out for the AdWords Editor (Beta).

I haven't received one yet, but am really interested in exploring the "upload your revised campaigns " features. Being able to make changes off line then upload them will present huge gains in efficiency for people managing campaigns with thousands of keywords and ads.

Overall the initial feature set looks promising:

Navigate your account quickly and easily
Locate and edit keywords, CPCs, and more
bulk changes to keywords and ad text
Work offline, then
upload your changes
Copy and paste keywords and ad text

More discussion at the Digital Point forums.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

AdWords - 4 Line Ads Showing up in Search Results

Thanks to Barry at for posting a screen shot of a 4 line AdWords ad.

That's even more ad real estate than we saw earlier this month when a Digital Point user posted a screen shot of a 3 line AdWords ad.

No one has been able to confirm if these sightings are a test or a bug, although I would lean towards a test. Where else would Google grab the extra text from for the ad if it was not user generated? They wouldn't change an ad so drastically without notifying the customer, would they?

More discussion here.

AdWords Tip of the Day

There's a good thread over at Digital Point relating to the AdWords program and various matching options. The opening poster, tbarr60, asks:

"Is there any benefit to using broad, exact and phrase match for the same term?"

DP members give a few answers, and based on those answers TOPS30 posts a free php script that's intended to "auto append whatever product type to product models".

Good stuff, stop by and check it out.

Monday, January 23, 2006

AdWords Team Asks for Feedback

The Inside AdWords blog is great resource. If you use AdWords and haven't bookmarked it yet, do it now. It's a great place to get info "straight from the horse's mouth".

In a recent post Blake, a member of the AdWords team wrote:

"There's just something about a new year that calls for some serious reflection on the past, followed by a spot of excited and hopeful planning for the future.

In this spirit, the Inside AdWords crew sat down together recently to brainstorm ideas for the future of this blog. One of the first (and best) ideas was to ask you, our readers, what would be most useful or valuable to you during the coming year."

Don't let this chance to interact with AdWords team pass. The blog they run is one of the few places where AdWords users can get "official" information about AdWords straight from the AdWords team.

Delays When Creating and Editing AdWords Ads

I see a lot of questions regarding impression delays associated with creating new ads or editing existing ads. A thread on this subject came up at WMW on Sunday.

The exact question posed is:

"Whenever I create a new ad or edit an existing ad in a campaign my ads are reviewed manually by a Google person."

There are a number of answers in the thread but I think WMW member Israel sums it up the best:

"Many, many keywords and ad copy can be considered 'sensitive' and won't show even on Google itself until reviewed by a person during weekday business hours."


"In a nutshell, you'll never show on the Search Partner or Content Networks until your ad is looked at by a person. You may or may not show up on Google searches themselves from the get-go. It all depends on how the giant, brilliant algo interprets the meaning of your ad."

Israel does a great job of summing up a common question that new and even some experienced AdWords users have. Thanks Israel!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Leaders in PPC Management in the Industry

Happy Friday to everyone.

There's a small thread (3 posts total) running at Webmaster World where the opening poster, Jmez, asks: "Does anyone have any insight as to who the leaders in the industry are for managing paid search?" The only reply Jmez has received so far is from someone who works at a PPC management company.

The thread/question got me thinking....who are the leaders in this industry? Do you think we even have any real "leaders" in the PPC management industry yet? The PPC management industry is still relatively new and it seems to me that new players are emerging on an almost daily basis. There are some large companies that manage PPC, but a lot of the new players are either independent or part of small start ups.

I can see advantages to working with a larger PPC management company, but, can also see some distinct advantages when working with smaller, independent PPC management firms.

Do you think the industry has matured to the point where we have clear cut PPC management leaders?

More at Digital Point.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Targeting for AdWords CPM Campaigns

An area of concern for a lot of companies is their image on the web. They want a strong presence, but want more control over where their ads will appear than Google currently offers.

A good example is a company that wanted to run a site targeted CPM ad campaign on a handpicked network of sites that display Google ads (Adsense). While they want maximum exposure - and know that Google can give them that - they don't want to advertise on sites that may publish material that is critical of their service, or, where competing ads may detract from their message.

Google is working on an automated solution for that issue. Quoted from a Business Week article:

"ad sales manager for financial services Jerry Canning lets it be known that Google is working on an algorithmic lever that advertisers might pull in the future to keep their ads from running next to blue or just pinheaded consumer-generated postings"

When it's ready, that will be a great feature for CPM advertisers to take advantage of. Instead of simply saying "run my ad on sites a, b & c" an AdWords user could say "run my ads on sites a, b & long as "x" isn’t present."

Cool stuff.

Burning Money

This is more of a reminder than anything else...don't forget to pause AdWords campaigns that you don't want running anymore. Google has no problem delivering clicks and taking your cash if you don't.

User tonyrocks at the Digital Point Forums wrote:

"Oh yeah! Just got my credit card bill yesterday...apparently I forgot to "pause" one of my campaigns. oh about burning a few bucks without knowing it! Bad enough the gas bill is through the roof!"

Other forum members shared similar stories (it's happened to me as well) and also discussed using some alternate payment methods to prevent this from happening.

Related: How Do I Pause an AdWords Campaign?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Banned From AdWords

I've often wondered what it would take for Google to ban a person or company from using AdWords. I know plenty of people who have received warnings for some, well, let's just say using AdWords for some sneaky tactics, but haven't ever talked with anyone who's been banned from AdWords. After all, AdWords is a pay to play system and it's Google makes a huge % of it's income.

I came across a thread today at Webmaster World where a user talks about being banned, forever, from AdWords. It wasn't just his personal account that was banned, the AdWords account owned by the company he works for was also shut down!

WMW member Fehay said:

"I recently had my account suspended and after a brief dialogue with support was told that any past, current and future accounts I started would not be allowed to run. "

The reason for the ban was:

"I had some poker ads I was trying to run and either the destination url was inappropriate or the ad was. Either way it would run for a bit until a human reviewer would decline it with the standard 'inappropriate' response. "

The real kicker is:

"To add insult to injury it looks like they've now suspended the account that belongs to the company I work for! (maybe because I've logged into my own account at work and so they've assumed that I own both?) "

It's that last line that really gets me. I know a lot of people (myself included) that manage multiple accounts, both personal and professional. Does this case show that the actions of an individual can negatively effect the company they work for? If I were use my personal AdWords account for something not exactly on the up and up and that action ended up getting my company's AdWords account terminated would they have any recourse?

In my opinion this is a very serious issue with a lot of potential negative implications for both individuals and companies involved in managing multiple AdWords accounts. I'll keep an eye on this story, that's for sure.

Delays with New AdWords Accounts

I've been following a thread for a few days at SEW in which member I, Brian asks:

"I joined AdWords on Friday, set up an account, and 3 small campaigns with adgroups to test different keyword areas.The set up FAQ says it make take a few minutes to go live, and stats reporting may be out for three hours - but after 3 days, nothing is happening - no impressions, nothing."


"Is there a magic "on" button I have to press?"

That question was posed on the 15th, and on the 16th his ads went live. He confirmed that the account was under review, which one would have to assume is normal for new accounts.

On the evening of the 17th he made some changes to his account and posted today that it appears the entire account has been paused again. No impressions are being reported hours after the changes have been made, and, he is not targeting the content network which I know requires approval before ads go live.

So, with that said, the question of the day is:

"Is it normal for new accounts to be repeatedly suspended for review??"

I've had my account for years so I'm not fully up to speed on the potential delays associated with a new AdWords account.

If any of this sounds familiar to you stop by the forums and lend a hand.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shorter Yahoo Ads Coming This Week

This week, Yahoo! Search Marketing will begin shortening its sponsored search text ads to 70 characters. Earlier reports indicated this would begin on the 18th, so keep your eyes open for less clutter (smaller ads) on Yahoo's search results pages starting tomorrow.

Discuss Yahoo's change to their search ads in the Search Engine Watch forums.

AdWords on the Radio

Google has has agreed to acquire dMarc Broadcasting Inc., a digital solutions provider for radio broadcasters, for undisclosed terms according to Reuters.

Google has indicated that they expect to integrate dMarc technology into the Google AdWords platform to create a new radio ad distribution channel for Google advertisers.

Cool stuff. In the not-to-distant future advertisers will be able to control multiple advertising channels via a few (depending on what services you use) interfaces.

Log into your AdWords account, set up some search ads, throw in a few radio ads and maybe a television and print ad for good measure. I like the sound of that.

Discussion at the Digital Point forums.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Google Has Acquired Overture

Not really, but that's what I read at TechNewsWorld.

"Remember, they are entering the market after Overture, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Yahoo," Jarboe pointed out. "When you are the third guy in any market (Google has acquired Overture), you need to differentiate yourself."

I probably make more writing mistakes before noon than TechNewsWorld authors have in the past few weeks but that one was just too amusing to pass up.

Trouble With AdCenter Bulk Uploads

Oilman, a Search Engine Watch moderator, started a thread discussing some issues he has been having with using AdCenter's bulk keyword upload feature. With AdCenter being the new kid on the block a lot of established PPC marketers need the ability to bulk upload their keywords from other PPC programs such as AdWords and Yahoo (Overture). This need is further compounded by the fact that the AdCenter interface won't let you cut and paste keywords. You either have to type them in one at a time (noooooooooo!) or use the upload feature.

If you have had luck with getting the upload feature to work stop by and share your tips.

Related: Friends of Google and Yahoo (anyone else find that page header a bit ironic?)

What Exactly Would I be Targeting?

Here's a copy of a post I made over at Digital Point:

"I was putting together a cpm campaign today. I typed in the domain I wanted to advertise on and as usual Google suggested some other "related" sites I may be interested in.

One of the results was displayed as When I clicked the link it took me to:

Any idea what the heck that is?"

I know Google has done/is doing some testing with integrating AdWords ads into e-mails, specifically e-mail newsletters. That still doesn't explain why the url posted above would be included in a site recommendation list when setting up an AdWords CPM campaign.

More discussion at the Digital Point Forums.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

New AdCenter Profiling Tools

DM News is reporting that new demographic targeting features are available for AdCenter users in Europe. The report indicates that "ten European markets can be profiled, then marketers can further drill down their targets by demographic categories, including gender, age, age and sex, and number of children in household".

Hopefully these additional targeting options won't be too far behind in the USA.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Microsoft adLab

Microsoft is taking paid search seriously - as they should. It's a multi billion dollar industry (with incredible growth) and they realized they "dropped the ball" in the paid search arena by getting into the game a little later than their major competitors.

Microsoft has set up a research center in Beijing called "adLab". It's short for AdCenter Incubation Lab. The adLab has about 22 scientists on board in Beijing, with another 20 or so at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond.

"The Microsoft team of top researchers in this field is unsurpassed and certain to produce compelling advances that will impact and ultimately change the game in online advertising," said Tarek Najm, general manager of AdCenter.

It looks to me like the adLab is set on cranking out some cool stuff - like video hyperlink ads.

"The technology "can detect product items displayed on a television screen during a show or commercial," Microsoft said. Consumers can then "zoom into products featured on the television screen and click through to detailed product descriptions and information on where the products can be bought", according to the announcement.

"Until now, there is no way for the user to actually interact with these ads in the video," Microsoft data-mining analyst Li Li is quoted by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as having said."

Having another big player in the pay per click/search marketing arena is sure to bring a lot of changes and innovations in 2006. Nothing drives innovation like competition.

AdCenter Roll Out Coming in June

Forbes is running a story that indicates Microsoft plans to roll out it's AdCenter product (currently a beta/pilot with a limited number of users) in June 2006. During the pilot AdCenter ad distribution has been limited to about 25% of the ads that appear in MSN's search results. Microsoft says that by the end of their fiscal year in June of this year that number will grow to 100%.

Search marketers who have been participating in the pilot have been anxious to see how well ctr and conversion rates will hold up when the AdCenter product is available to the general public. Advertisers have been seen great returns with AdCenter so far, but, that's with limited ad distribution and a very small group of competitors.

AdWords CPM Ads: Controlling Ad Delivery

I'm looking for tools/tips on how to control, outside of manually pausing and unpausing campaigns, to throttle the ad delivery in AdWords CPM campaigns.

As I've experimented more and more with CPM campaigns through AdWords I've realized that the daily budget can easily be met by 6:00 or 7:00 am each day...which means I'm not getting impressions during the prime day hours. So far I've been pausing campaigns at about 10:00 pm, then reactivating them each morning at about 9:00. It's the only way I've been able to control the ad delivery a little better and get impressions during the day when my target audience is most active.

I think it's time for Google to make time of day advertising a standard option in the AdWords control panel. I know that's an option that MSN AdCenter has... If you have any helpful tips or tools for controlling CPM ad delivery please feel free to share.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

AdWords Ads on Google Maps

ClickZ has reported the appearance of AdWords ads on Google Maps. To quote from the article:

"Google is experimenting with plotting local advertisers' locations on its Maps product, giving marketers a visual and spatial accompaniment to their locally targeted ads.

A search on "hotels" in New York City returns an organic list of local hotels, plotted on the map with red markers and bracketed by sponsored hotel listings, plotted on the map with blue markers. The same search in other locations, such as San Francisco, doesn't yet return the paid listings."

I can see how this integration of ads, if fully adopted, will be huge for AdWords users that adverise products and services that are location sensitive.

AdWords Access Fee for API Users Only

This is a follow up to my post earlier this week: AdWords access fee in February 2006?

eWhisper posted the following in the thread mentioned in my original post:

"This is referring to the API development program. 3rd party providers will be paying access fees over a certain API limit.Advertisers will still have their normal API quota stated in the MCC for free (although they can pay for additional quota)."

More information at

If you're an AdWords api user it's worth a read to get all the details so you know if you will be effected. If you're not an AdWords api user please move along as there is nothing to see here:-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

3 Line AdWords Ad

A Digital Point forums user, leeds1, posted an interesting screen shot of an AdWords ad on Google UK that has three lines of ad real estate instead of the standard two line ads. I haven't personally noticed any three line ads in the USA, but know Google and the other PPC companies are always testing new ad formats to help improve click through ratios.

I find it slightly amusing that this screen shot surfaces about a month after Yahoo announced they were going to shorten their ad copy limits. According to an e-mail sent to Yahoo advertisers in December effective January 18 Yahoo plans to introduce a new ad format that features a "streamlined design that will make the search results displayed on Yahoo even easier for consumers to read". When you break that down it really means Yahoo is shortening the ad text length to 70 characters...just like AdWords ads.

Clicking AdWords Ads Results in an Error

Some AdWords users are reporting problems today with their AdWords ads. AdWords users have been reporting that while their ads are being displayed like they should, when a user clicks on those ads they are greeted by a "Server Error" message from Google stating that "the server encountered an error and is unable to complete your request." AdWords users have indicated that even though visitors are making it to the destination page, they are being charged for those clicks.

One user has indicated that Google has responded to his inquiry stating that there is a system problem and AdWords advertisers will be credited for clicks generated during this downtime.

More discussion (including a screen shot) in the AdWords forum at Digital Point.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

AdWords Access Fee in February 2006?

I noticed a post by Chris Boggs over at the Search Engine Watch forums asking about a potential access fee for AdWords in February of this year. Here's part of what Chris had to say:

"I just spoke with a rep from a company that I am analyzing for their bid management tool. When we discussed pricing, the topic came up about new fees that Google will allegedly start leveling against advertisers (or those in control of an AdWords account for them) at the beginning of February.

Basically, he stated that Google will only allow an "X" amount of actions within an account per day, like an API query limit. Once those actions have been reached, surcharges will apply. So if for example I am Joe Advertiser who manages my account and may make 20-30 campaign changes a couple times a day, I should be OK. If I am to institute a new spiffy bid management system that makes adjustments 6 or more times a day, however, I will probably reach that level and the management fee will be levied against the manager of the account directly, not the account itself."

Fees aside, I would be against anything that limited my free access to my AdWords account on a daily basis. Some weeks when there's more work than time I'm forced into having a AdWords crunch session where I stay up until 3:00 in the morning and crank out everything that needs to be done. I would hate to think that starting in February I would have to space that activity out, or, be financially penalized for following my normal routine.

Google, we're already spending $ via AdWords...don't make it any harder than it already is for us to do that;-)

AdWords Agency Discount?

I've been looking around for a couple days for confirmation - one way or the other - of the existence of a discount program for agencies that use AdWords.

I found a thread in the Search Engine Watch forums that leads me to believe such a program does exist, but at the same time makes me wonder what the criteria is for being accepted into an AdWords discount program? Is it your monthly spend? Do you have to be a GAP (Google Advertising Professional)?

There has also been some discussion in the Digital Point forums. Here's a link to the thread.

If you have any insight or information regarding the existence and qualifications for an AdWords agency discount program please share!

Monday, January 09, 2006

YSM Accounts Receivable Upgrade

This just popped into my inbox and I figured I would share the news. I've missed some important e-mails from the YSM team in the past and figured this was an important notice for anyone who could be effected.

Dear Yahoo! Search Marketing Advertiser,

We wanted to let you know that there will be a one-week period this month when advertisers who are invoiced for click charges will not be able to make changes to their spend caps.

From January 17 through January 23, we will be upgrading our Accounts Receivable system and, as a result, will not be able to process any modifications to your spend caps during this time. In other words, if your account reaches your spend cap during the time period from January 17 through January 23, your account will be taken offline and we will not be able to make any changes to your spend caps during this period.
In addition, the Billing Transaction Detail report within your account will not be up to date during this time. However, your account balance will be accurately updated.

If you think that you may need to make changes to your spend cap this month, particularly if your current spend cap may not be enough to keep your listings online for the entire month, please contact us at phone # removed to initiate a change prior to Friday, January 13.

We appreciate your patience during this time.


Your Partners at Yahoo! Search Marketing

$11,000,000,000 by 2010

I love the pay per click and search marketing industries - have for years. Ever since I first started playing with AdWords I realized the days of "send out a mailing and wait 6 weeks for results" were destined to head the way of the dinosaur. Having worked in "traditional" direct response advertising for over 10 years I had become accustomed to the pay and wait game.

PPC is like direct marketing on steroids. No more waiting for weeks for results, expensive printing charges and lost mail. PPC is like what direct mail would be, if it could be, when it grew up.

We're at an exciting time in the search marketing industry. Mediapost reported that it's being predicted that search marketing will be an 11 billion dollar industry by 2010 - double what it was in 2005. With growth like we have seen (up 44% when comparing 2004 to 2005) I don't see any reason to doubt that prediction.

Hang on, 2006 will be great a year for search marketing professionals.

Microsoft to Release AdCenter Test Results

According to an article published by DM News in late December, Microsoft plans to release the AdCenter test results in the first quarter of this year.

"MSN's U.S. AdCenter test began in October with 500-600 advertisers and agencies. Now in the second phase, with 800 advertisers and agencies, MSN temporarily halted taking on more advertisers. The company is "hoping" to launch officially in the first half of 2006 and will release results of the test in the first quarter, a Microsoft official told DM News. "

The article goes on to say how publishers have been happy with the ROI from AdCenter so far, but would like Microsoft to speed up the release in order to see how well the program scales. In my opinion it's easy to generate a great ROI if you're one of two people (or in some cases the only person) bidding on a keyword, but that changes when the market is open to all the competition. When you're the only game in town it's easy to generate a great ROI. Of all companies out there Microsoft should know this as well as anyone;-)

I, like many other users and potential users of AdCenter, will be very interested in the results Microsoft releases. Above and beyond that though, I'm more interested to see how AdCenter will scale as it becomes available to the general public.

AdWords Site Targeting Missing the Target

Over the past few months I've been experimenting with the AdWords site targeting (CPM ads) option available through the AdWords interface. While the technology looks promising, the interface and selection criteria need some work.

For the purpose of this analysis I used the site tool to select sites based on a term I entered. The wording above this tool says:

"Please enter one descriptive phrase or URL per line. Terms can be one word (like tennis) or a phrase (like Formula One racing).For sites, use the format or site sections, use the format "

I typed in the term "photography" and was rather surprised at some of the suggested url's that were returned. Here are a few questionable ones from the returned list:

Display url = url displayed.
Actual url = url you're taken to when you click on the display url.

Display url:
Actual url:
Summary of page: "The requested URL was not found on this server."

Display url:
Actual url:
Summary of page: The page contains a total of 7 links and an Adsense block. Hardly a page suitable for Adsense, much less for a site targeted campaign.

Display url:
Actual url:
Summary of page: Questionable content according to the Adsense TOS. At the time of the writing there are full nudes displayed on the target page.

Display url:
Actual url:
Summary of page: "Multiply is temporarily unavailable as we perform site maintenance"

Display url:
Actual url:
Summary of page: This is a dating site - not related to photography at all.

Display url:
Actual url:
Summary of page: No clue on how this would be photography related. Maybe the term picture or photo is mentioned somewhere in the site.

There are also about a half dozen sites that are pure garbage.

This seems to be a common trend regardless of what industry or term you try and target via the AdWords site targeting tool. There are decent sites returned but a lot of garbage is intermixed within the results.

Another problem area has been typing a url into the site target tool only to have it say site targeting is not available, even though you were just at the site and saw Adsense ads running. I've found that if you click on the "advertise on this site" link in the Adsense block on the site you'll be able to get a site targeted campaign up and running, but, you can't accomplish the same thing through the site Targeting tool in AdWords. Try as an example. Site targeting works fine of you go to the site and click the "advertise on this site" link, but you'll get a site not available message if you type the url into the site targeting tool in your AdWords account.

Site targeting is a cost effective way for marketers to get the right message in front of the right person, but, Google's site targeting tools still need some work before they are up to most AdWords user's expectations. Until the AdWords site targeting tool is up to par I'll continue with a method that's worked well for me so far:

1) Define target term
2) Search Google (set returned results to 100 instead of 10)
3) Scrape the results.
4) Quickly review the returned sites/urls.
5) Input desired urls into the AdWords site targeting interface.

Sites that don't run Adsense will be automatically filtered from the results. What you'll be left with are the top returned sites in your niche that run AdWords ads (Adsense) and are available for site targeting. Not a perfect science but in my opinion a better way to target on topic sites that will see (via organic search) traffic in your target area.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

MSN AdCenter

In mid to October 2005 MSN launched their AdWords & Overture (Yahoo Search Marketing) competitor, the MSN AdCenter in the US. As with all new PPC marketing programs, there are common questions from people interested in it's current functionality, options and plans for the future. Through participation in various forums and blogs I've seen some of the same questions asked again and again, so I'll do my best to answer some of them here.

Q: How do I sign up for the AdCenter pilot?
A: You have to register for an AdCenter account. If accepted, the AdCenter team will contact you via e-mail with instructions on how to activate your AdCenter account.

Q: What kind of targeting options does AdCenter have?
A: The current AdCenter targeting options include geographic location, gender and age, day of week and time of day.

Q: What kind of distribution will my AdCenter ads get? Where are they being displayed?
A: During the pilot AdCenter ads are being displayed "on up to 25 percent of MSN Search traffic." The other 75% of the time ads will be served through MSN's partnership with Yahoo.

Q: Is there a minimum amount I have to bid for keywords?
A: The minimum bid for a keyword or phrase is $.05.

Q: I've been using AdCenter and would like to give some feedback. What is the best way to get in touch with the AdCenter team? A: You can use the AdCenter feedback form or post a message in webmaster forums that are monitored by AdCenter representatives: MSN AdCenter wants your feedback at Search Engine Watch and MSN AdCenter wants your feedback! at Digital Point.

Q: I own a website. Can I put these ads on my site like I do with Adsense or Yahoo ads?
A: At the present time MSN AdCenter does not offer a publishing arm of it's product like Adsense. No official date for a release of an Adsense like product has been announced at this time. I would keep an eye on the MSN Search Blog for current news.

If you have other questions or want more information you can visit the official AdCenter FAQ.

Tracking Content and Search Clicks in AdWords

The AdWords team did a nice write up on tracking content and search clicks if you're using a 3rd party analytics solution to analyze your weblogs.

I started playing around with this about a week ago and have enjoyed seeing a new level of detail in my reports relating to my AdWords campaigns. It's been very helpful in identifying some areas within my content enabled campaigns that could use a little more attention.

Friday, January 06, 2006

AdWords Help

Of all the PPC marketing programs out there today, AdWords is by far the largest and most popular.

Outside of getting help with AdWords here, there are a bunch of great resources I often visit when I have questions about AdWords. If you have a question about AdWords feel free to e-mail me at questions @ If I can, I'll do my best to answer your question here.

In the meantime, check out these AdWords resources for help with your AdWords questions:

Official AdWords Help/FAQ
Search Engine Watch AdWords Forum
Digital Point AdWords Forum
Webmaster World AdWords Forum
Search Engine Roundtable AdWords Forum (New)
Inside AdWords Blog

Welcome to PPC Discussions

Well, after a month or so of sitting around staring at this empty site I decided it's time to get things rolling.

I plan to spend some time here posting about and discussing something I really enjoy, PPC marketing. While I'm not what I would call the best writer in the world, I would like to think that the past couple of years I've spent learning about PPC haven't been completely wasted and that I've picked up some useful tips and knowledge along the way.

If you have a question relating to pay per click marketing that you would like to discuss here please fell free to drop me an e-mail at questions @ I'll answer as many questions as possible right here at the blog.

Thanks for stopping for by.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are mine alone and do not represent the views of my employers, employees or any person or company besides myself.

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PPC Discussions is a blog about paid search authored by Jeremy Mayes, a search marketer from Illinois.

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