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5 posts from May 2009

May 22, 2009

Changes to Google Suggest

Google is making big changes to their Google Suggest Tool to help make user searches faster and more relevant. Google Suggest is a feature that lists suggestions below the search bar as you type your search query.

Some changes include:

  • Adding suggestions on the results page (previously Google Suggest was only from the original search input)
  • Personalized suggestions based on your past searches when you are signed into your Google Account and have Web History enabled
  • Navigational suggestions to a specific site if Google thinks you might be looking for a domain
  • Sponsored link suggestions - Google will now suggest sponsored ads in the suggestion tool if they detect the ad to be the most relevant to your search query. The ads will be shown as a "Sponsored Link" and have a colored back ground.
 

Google search tool1

It will be interesting to see what kind of effect this will have on Paid Search. Will Google begin to allow bids for "Suggestions" ? Will Quality Score play a larger part in ads appearing in the Suggestion Tool? 

Written by Erin Gordon (Erin.Gordon at channeladvisor dot com)

May 15, 2009

Introducing a new blog in the ChannelAdvisor Family... Amazon Strategies

Hey everyone - Scot Wingo here.  I'm excited to announce to Searchmarketing.com readers that we've added a new sister blog to our family - Amazon Strategies.  We'll be covering selling on Amazon, which we think of as a marketplace @ CA, in detail.

This will be the only time we probably cross-post here, so be sure to subscribe to that feed if it's of interest to you.  With 91m active-buyers and new PPC programs like ProductAds for those that don't want to 'sell on' Amazon, more and more retailers are taking a look at Amazon.

To recap the various areas you can read ChannelAdvisor's thoughts on ecommerce channels:
  • eBay Strategies - News, analysis and strategies for optimizing your sales on eBay.
  • Amazon Strategies - Our newest blog, focused on advanced amazon strategies for ProMerchant, ProductAds, FBA, CBA, etc.
  • CSE Strategies - Everything related to Comparison Shopping Engines.  There's more coming in 2009 for CSEs than any time I've seen in the last year - stay tuned here.
  • SearchMarketing.com - We have a team of paid-search geniuses at ChannelAdvisor that spend day and night optimizing search marketing campaigns for hundreds of top retailers.
  • Blog.channeladvisor.com - Product-related thoughts from some of our top engineers, product managers and services folks at ChannelAdvisor.
  • Strategy and Support Center  - For our customers, we provide even more in-depth strategy and channel details in the SSC (new beta is out check it out!)   

Oh yeah - almost forgot - we're kicking off Amazon Strategies with a post that is intented to answer the FAQ we keep getting: How big is Amazon Prime?   You can go direct to that post here.


May 14, 2009

Google Trademark Policy Update

In a move that no one saw coming, Google has just announced that they WILL allow advertisers to have trademarks in their ads even if they are not the owner.

Make no mistake, this is a big deal.

Currently the policy is that advertisers are allowed to advertise on trademarked terms, but they are not allowed to use it in their ad copy.  As you can imagine, bidding on trademarked terms and not having the ability to use that trademark in your ad tends to get pretty expensive in terms of higher CPC's from low CTR and low Quality Scores.  An example of this would be bidding on a term like 'yamaha speakers' and having to use some general, loosely relevant headline like, 'name brand speakers.'  Obviously when the user sees the general ad, he/she is not sure if you are selling yamaha speakers or selling other brands of speakers.  This has long been a very big pain point for many resellers of trademarked products.

Here are the types of advertisers that will now be able to bid on trademarked terms:

  • If you are a reseller of trademarked goods or services

  • If you sell components or replacement parts for trademarked products
  • If you run an informational site as long as you are providing non-competitive and informative details about the products or services

Starting on May 18th you can submit ads with trademarks, and these ads will begin to show on Google on June 15th.


So let's talk about the winners and losers.

Winners:
Google: 
1.  Increased query to ad text relevancy = higher CTR = more clicks from same level of traffic
2.  They can drop their painful editorial process that is costly and labor intensive

Resellers:
Better CTR's and better Quality Scores!

Losers:
Trademark Owners
With everyone being able to use trademarked terms in ad copy, it will now make their ads blend in with the rest of the landscape.  Previously, the trademark owner benefited by being the only ad with bolded text on the page, thus having a distinct CTR/Quality Score advantage.

To take full advantage of this policy update, we recommend auditing your campaigns to identify which trademarked products/categories that you are currently promoting.  Once you complete this, submit new ads incorporating the trademark and leave them in Active status so they go live as soon as Google opens up their filters.  Also - make sure to not do a hard cut-off on your existing ads, as Google will slow down the delivery(as they build up Quality Score) of these new ads when they are launched.

Written by Andrew Belsky (andrew.belsky at channeladvisor.com)

May 11, 2009

Keeping Affiliates Off Your Brand Keywords

Many advertisers partner with affiliates to expand their online reach, since it can be a profitable way of bringing in more revenue/leads/conversions, etc.  While the advertiser pays a commission for conversions, it is up to the affiliate to place the ads and pay for any traffic generating initiatives.

As we all know, the discussion around affiliates bidding on trademarked terms is nothing new, but for a few of my clients, I have noticed a “questionable” practice: affiliates bidding on the advertisers brand keywords, copying our ads word for word, and linking directly to the advertiser’s website.

“Why should I care?”
For most advertisers, their brand keywords are the most inexpensive and highest converting keywords.  When an affiliate bids on your brand keywords with your display URL, they are essentially bumping your ad from the search results page.  Since Google will not serve more than one instance of a Display URL in search results, the entity with the highest bid will win out.  So if the Affiliate has the higher bid, the advertiser will be paying out more in commissions than they would regular click costs.

How can I monitor my affiliates so that this doesn’t happen to me?
In order to see if the brand ad you see is yours or from an affiliate, you have to do a search on your brand keywords.  On the search engine results page (SERP), right-click on the ad and select “properties”.  You should see the entire destination URL of the ad.  If the ad you see is from an affiliate, their tracking tag will be at the end of the URL.

ChannelAdvisor customers using SearchAdvisor can take advantage of the Keyword Monitor tool.  Upload your brand keywords in addition to your top non-brand keywords (up to 250) in the “Keyword Monitor Insert” link on the “Tools” Tab.  When you run the keyword monitor report in the “Reports” tab, it will list which ads are showing on your top keywords, including your brand keywords.  The ad copy and keyword destination URL is displayed for all ads on the SERP.  If you discover an affiliate is bidding on your brand keywords, open up the date range to see how long it has been going on.

Remember, brand keywords are the cheapest keywords with the highest conversion rate and ROI in your account.  Affiliates know how well these keywords convert and how cheap they are to bid on.  Don’t pay dollars for affiliate brand keyword conversions when you can pay pennies by running them yourself.

Written by Dennis Hayes (Dennis.Hayes at channeladvisor dot com)

May 07, 2009

What matters most to consumers: free shipping, low prices, or coupons?

David Spitz, ChannelAdvisor's COO, has a post over on eBay strategies about the popularity of free shipping, coupon/promo codes vs. value pricing.  We thought his use of Google Trends and insights would be of value to SearchMarketing readers as well.  You can read it here.