Friday, 29 June 2007

YSM Adds New Features to Panama

Hot on the heels of the Europe rollout, Yahoo have announced some new tools to aid advertisers using their New Sponsored Search platform (aka Panama). They've announced the following tools, which can be seen in your migrated Panama accounts as of today:
  • Move Keywords Tool - this feature has been around in Adwords for donks, but Yahoo are finally adding it to their own setup. It enables advertisers to quickly and easily move keywords from one ad group to another.
  • Ad Copy Assistance - this little tool might come in handy; when writing ad copy, you can request Yahoo's system show you copy currently being used by advertisers using similar keywords. Checking competitor ad copy should be something you're already doing (in order to best differentiate/leverage your own) but this tool makes checking that copy easier and quicker. The tool also gives best practice tips on writing copy.
  • New Keyword Selector Tool - this new tool will suggest new keywords for your ad groups, and will also give you monthly traffic estimates surrounding these keywords. If this tool is more accurate and reliable than Google's, this could be a major plus point for Yahoo's system (Google's traffic estimator is often very inaccurate).

Whilst these tools are hardly groundbreaking, they do look useful and fairly user-friendly. I must confess though, I'm looking for some innovating moves by Yahoo at this stage, not just clones of features already existant in Adwords. The only truly unique feature offered so far by the new platform is the Account Access Controls. This tool allows advertisers to offer different users of their accounts various levels of access and permissions - from administrator (full access) to analyst (read only access).

Still, every little helps, and these releases today will bring Yahoo's new platform closer to Google in terms of functionality and overall efficiency for its advertisers.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Yahoo! Panama - sorry "New Sponsored Search" - Rolling out in Europe

In my annual leave absence, Yahoo! has quietly begun rolling out its New Sponsored Search system across Europe. Whilst it's been available for some time to US advertisers, we at this side of the pond have had to wait quite a bit longer to get our paws on the new interface. At this point Yahoo are migrating priority accounts only, with a staggered roll-out of all accounts scheduled for the next few weeks.

Early results from the US have been very good for Panama, not just in terms of ease of management but also in terms of straight results comparison; this had led some "cynics" to suggest the old system had some reporting issues, especially when it comes to CTR. I have always believe Yahoo under-reported CTR (or over-reported impressions) so this comes as no surprise to me.

So what difference am I expecting Panama to make to my everyday existence? Well, here are what I feel are the main benefits of the new system:

  • More intuitive Interface - A completely redesigned, easy-to-navigate control panel will help you see what's working and what's not. Making changes will also be much easier, and quicker, so you can act on what you see and improve results.
  • Fast Ad Activation - On the old system, it could take up to 5 days for your new ads to go live. With Panama, most new ads will go online within minutes.
  • Ad Testing - With the old system, you could only show on advert per keyword. With Panama, you can easily test multiple versions of an ad to find the message that works best in terms of CTR and, if using Yahoo conversion tracking, conversions.
  • Geo-Targeting - Display your ads broadly or narrow your geographic distribution to better target your customers, customize your ads and control your costs.
  • Campaign Budgeting, Forecasting and Scheduling - With the old system, you could only apply budgets at account level. Now you can create, budget and schedule individual advertising campaigns for greater control over your strategy and spending. You can also review forecasts of your potential clicks based on your bids and budget and see how many clicks you're leaving to your competitors.
  • Visibility - Understand how well your ads are performing relative to your competitors with the new Quality Index displayed for each ad. You'll also see the bid range necessary for premium placement at the top of the search results page.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Managing PPC Affiliates

Affiliates can be a great way of driving additional traffic to your site, as well as a cost-effective way of gaining additional orders. Since you only pay an affiliate when they make a sale, you can create a CPA model that guarantees a positive affiliate ROI. Any loss is on the affiliate.

The caveat to this model, however, is that as soon as your brand become unprofitable for affiliates, they'll drop you from their portfolio. Then bang - there goes your additional traffic and orders. If affiliates find you're an unprofitable brand across the board, you'll soon find yourself out in the cold in the affiliate community. Depending on how you've dealt with your affiliates, you might also find yourself black-listed among affiliates. If this happens, it's very hard to get "back in".

There are a number of things you can do to ensure your PPC affiliate campaigns bring positive results to your overall marketing efforts:

1) Offer affiliates a decent variety of products to advertise and phrases to bid on - if you maintain exclusivity on all the profitable phrases (e.g. brand, high-converting products, etc) and only give affiliates the "dead wood" you'll soon find yourself very low on affiliate traffic (after all, if it's not profitable for them, why would they continue bidding?? You wouldn't.)

2) Offer to aid affiliates in the construction of branded landing pages, which in turn link into your main site - since the engines don't allow two ads to show that lead to exactly the same website, your affiliates can drive traffic to a specially created landing page complete with your company branding, with a slightly altered domain name. Do a search for "warnerbreaks" on Google ,and you'll see both an official Warnerbreaks ad and a classic example of a good affiliate PPC campaign - a good, targeted advert with a customised branded landing page (the affiliate url in this case is - WarnerBreaks.SpecialOffers.Me.Uk).

3) Be careful of hidden fees - most affiliate networks have override fees and, in most cases, management fees built into their basic packages. Override fees can be as much as 30% of total sales, with monthly management fees in the region of £500 not unusual (more if it's a complex campaign). The amount of "management" you get with many networks is minimal, so it is often worth taking the management in house or hiring an experienced agency.

4) Police your affiliates carefully - another reason it's important to have good affiliate campaign management is that, despite most being very conscientious and trustworthy, there are those affiliates who will happily break the rules in order to drive more commision. It's vital when starting to work with affiliates, that you issue guidelines on what they can and can't do. For example, you might have a rule that no affiliate can bid above you on branded terms, or that they cannot use your domain name in their adverts. Once these rules are laid out, you need to keep a very close eye on affiliate activity to ensure they're not being broken. If they are, it can damage any official PPC activity you carry out, and can also be harmful to your brand.

These are just a few pointers on running a successful PPC affiliate campaign. If you want more info (and you should definately seek some out if you're serious about affiliates) then I would recommend a visit to Affiliates 4 U forum. This is packed with useful info and insightful posts on all things affiliate. E-Consultancy is, as always, a good bet for useful information also.