Vertical Zoom – Local Search Summit III in Oslo

6 June, 2008

AdViking has finally recovered (more on that later) enough from the Local Search Summit in Oslo to put finger to keyboard and round off the Vertical Zoom with a quick rundown on AdViking’s key takeaways.

As written previously Local Search Summit (LSS) is an invite-only session between various non-competitive Publishers who are at different stages of deploying a Local Search strategy.

The main points for AdViking were:

  1. Search is a Key Business Enabler
  2. Advertising Growth isn’t Just Search
  3. Paper is Dead.  Long live Digital
  4. Direct Sales Force Publishers have become SEMs

Search is an Enabler

For the LSS publishers, is maturing quickly from a destination strategy into a key infrastructure play  That is by having initially deployed a vertical strategy, people are realising that by having a broad horizontal search infrastructure it can enable Publishers to quickly build and deploy verticals, e.g.:  Search driven hyper-local algorithmic digital newspapers.

Advertising Growth isn’t Just Search

Three main points to consider about this topic.

It might be obvious to most in the industry but one important recent penny drop is that Display is still here and not going away.  There’s lots of examples out there but here’s one example from the IAB/PWC comparing 06 to 07 ad spending in the US.

One example is some current thinking that AdViking it putting into around Contextual and how it is probably going to be more effective for Contextual ads to move from the typical AdSense model of PPC and apply the inventory management algorithms of Display.

Paper is Dead.  Long live Digital

One Publisher shared the fact that driven by demand from China, the cost of stock printing paper has risen to $1000 per tonne and rising.  Until recently, it was typically established  around $600.  Obvious impact of this is that it’s getting more expensive to put anything to paper.

Another interesting point was that there is now an increasingly environmental push that is starting to have an impact.  e.g.:  The Norwegian government has banned the printing of the Yellow Pages book.

Direct Sales Force Publishers have become SEMs

It’s confirmed that Publishers are leveraging their feet on the street  to become SEMs to their advertisers.  From evidence at the LSS (e.g.:  Directories are selling video ads created through partnerships with companies like Spotzer, Spot Runner) AdViking would go as far to say that they are becoming digital media agencies with a mix of selling directly to brands, agencies and the SME advertiser.

As for recovered, that’s a comment on the night time activities.  First of all, due to excellent weather and the time of year – the sun didn’t really set and it was quickly 2am but felt like 11pm.  That matched against the fact that AdViking had organised for everyone to stay at the new design hotel Grims Grenka and the nights for LSS was the ground opening parties on the rooftop bar which to quote one of the attendees, “this is amazing, it’s a supermodel party on the roof”!

Post-Script: LSS member, Irish Times have launched their new search service.  It’s work going to have a look as they have done some great things with pushing Search forward.  A Fuller View has more on A New Local Search Site in Ireland – relaunched


Google Trademark Game… Advantage Brands!

7 May, 2008

Advantage Brands

As posted early last month Google finally opened it’s barriers and let advertisers ‘back in’ to bid against brand names. Whether it really was to do with the ‘Mr Spicy‘ ruling in the States or, as we suggested at the time, more to do with the bottom line, advertisers have flooded back to take advantage of the levelled playing field… Or have they… ?

One thing that Google have made clear is that, unlike Yahoo! and MSN, they will not allow brand names to be used in the written ads. So this causes one obvious and one not-so-obvious problem.

The obvious first: you can’t use the brand name! So, for example, if Peugeot have protected Peugeot then you can’t advertise ‘Peugeot’ in the advert unless authorised. Therefore you have to use tautology… “Brand New Pug” or “NewPeugeots” or “The Entire Range of the car you want”.

The not-so-obvious is more interesting… As you probably know – Google measures adverts by a Quality Score, this score has affects both the Minimum Bid as well as the Ad Position, meaning a poor performing ad must bid higher to achieve the same position.

Whilst this makes sense, one of the key variables to decide the quality score is … ad relevance… And the main defining factor is using keywords in ads.

Therefore, say you’re bidding on ‘Peugeot’, or phrases including ‘Peugeot’, and cannot use the word ‘Peugeot’ then relevance will drop, thereby increasing minimum bid and lowering position.

So the real test of where Google sits will be how (or whether) it adjusts Quality Score in light of it’s own policies.

Check AdViking for the latest on episode two of the trademark wars… ‘The Brands Strikes Back”!

What’s Your PPC Flava: Enable, Disable, Engage?

18 April, 2008

Adviking notes that Google have turned the screw in terms of search-driven PPC. Not only do they have greater search share, but they also earn more per page view. Is this merely down to increased competition within the keywords? We don’t think so.

Think about this: Google offers time targeting, geo targeting, offline editing, publishing of phone numbers on ads, hands-off editorial process, wider range of payment options, tight control over keyword and a much more intuitive UI. Do they do this for the advertiser? Yes and no. Talk to any advertiser and they will tell you that targeting is crucial, they know their target cost per acquisition and Google comes out very favourably. All of the list mentioned either makes targeting easier (= more valuable, = higher spend), or the process of publishing quicker. Google ENABLE.

What about Yahoo! ? They launched their new Search Marketing product with much fanfare, but it pales when matched up to the above list. It sort of has geo-targeting… but that’s about it. Worse, it seems to hamper advertisers: the editorial process can be a real pain, ‘advanced match’ is rather arbitrary and they make odd decisions… For example you could have an offline editor, but access is restricted. Medium and low value campaigns are capped to just 20 ad groups (so clients who would spend more don’t). They could offer time-targeting, but don’t.

AdViking wonders whether the hook-up on ads between Google and Yahoo! is also because Google is so much better at extracting value because it understands advertisers, rather than DISABLING them, like Yahoo! does. Maybe they should take some notes…

Credit must go to MSN, they have tried to catch up with Google. AdCenter started off clunky, but has add good functionality and targeting, including profiling. It’s not quite there, but improving rapidly. However MSN has one giant challenge: low reach! By the time a business has set up Google for a trial, and then moved on to Yahoo!, they omit MSN – some still think that Yahoo! run MSN ads (they used to a couple of years ago). Not only that, but because of the low reach, geo targeting or profiling becomes pointless because it reduces even popular terms to the odd click through a day. So, the challenge for MSN is to ENGAGE – both the public who still don’t use their search much, as well as the advertiser who sees it as ancilliary to business.