PPC Management on the New Big Three

Pay-Per-Click or PPC is the fastest growing out of all segments of advertising including traditional as well as online media. With that in mind it is absolutely essential that you understand exactly which PPC advertising platform is best suited for your unique business needs or you may be left in the virtual dust. Throughout this article I will compare and contrast the three giants Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and the freshly launched Microsoft adCenter in order to shed some light on the unique aspects and features of each platform. I will cover three main areas of each platform consisting of ad distribution, demographics and tools. When you have completed reading this article you will possess the knowledge required in order to make an informed decision on which of these marketing platforms is the most beneficial for your company to launch a successful PPC campaign.

Google AdWords

Google Adwords is currently the most popular of the three advertising platforms. They continue to develop new tools and features that secure their footing upon the top of the PPC Marketing podium.

Ad Distribution:

The Google Network consists of thousands of web properties including search sites, content pages, email services (Gmail), newsletters and discussion boards. According to Media Metrics Data 80% of internet users in the United States will view an AdWords ad within the next month. You may choose to show your ads on the search network the content network or perhaps both depending on your custom needs. A few of the search sites that your ads will appear on when utilizing the search network are Google network consist of Google, AOL, Ask (formerly Ask Jeeves), Amazon and Shopping.com. Several examples of where your ads will appear when advertising on the content network are HowStuffWorks, New York Times, Washington Post and Forbes.

Demographics:

The Google AdWords system allows you to target users in several different ways. You are able to target users by specific locations or by specific languages. This is achieved by determining a users IP address, search query location, internet domain or the users set language preference.

Tools:

Google AdWords comes equipped with a robust toolbox that can streamline your PPC campaign management.

The site exclusion tool allows you to block your ads from appearing on any sites that you feel may be irrelevant or inappropriate for your advertisement. The keyword tool grants you the ability to help you improve your keyword lists, estimate your individual keyword traffic or find new negative keywords. You may add your new keywords directly to your selected adgroup or download them to your computer.

You can best utilize the traffic estimator by utilizing it to estimate your position based on your max Cost-Per-Click (CPC), your daily spend, impressions and clicks as well as your keyword status. The My Chang History allows you to view any changes that have been made to your account within a particular time period.

Yahoo! Search Marketing

Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) is the pioneer of PPC advertising and a global leader in commercial search services.

Ad Distribution:

The Yahoo Publishers Network is a collaboration of web properties consisting of search web sites, content publishers, email clients and more. Much the same as AdWords you may choose if you would like to show your ads on search or content sites. Several of the search sites that make up the Yahoo! Publishers Network are Yahoo!, Excite, iVillage and Sympatico. A few of the content sites include Advertising.com, CNN, ESPN and National Geographic.

Demographics:

The Yahoo! Search Marketing platform in my opinion trails the pack when talking about audience targeting demographics. The option available to you are very basic, however Yahoo! makes up for it with their Local Sponsored Search options.

Local Sponsored Search allows users who have a brick and mortar location to participate in gaining business from internet users who prefer to research online but purchase locally. Local Sponsored Search allows you to target visitors by a specific territory or service area up to a 100 mile radius.

Tools:

Conversion Counter is Yahoo! Search Marketing’s tool to help you measure the conversions of your advertising campaigns. Simply install a small segment of code onto the conversion page of your web site. Yahoo! breaks the stats down into information that is truly useful for your online marketing success.

Easy Track helps you in distinguishing web site and search engine traffic that result directly from your Yahoo! PPC Campaign.

Search Optimizer automates bidding strategies based on your keyword performance history. Yes, this tool does have it’s time and place but is still no substitute for manual optimization of your PPC campaign.

Microsoft adCenter

Microsoft adCenter is the newest competitor to the PPC advertising arena. Although there are still a few glitches that need to be ironed out adCenter has the potential to be a real competitor.

Ad Distribution:

Unlike the previous two PPC platforms we have gone over Microsoft adCenter only facilitates advertising throughout the MSN Search Engine. There is still potential that your ad will be viewed by a large audience, 40 million people per month to be precise. Out of the 40 million people who utilize MSN search 93% shopped and 81% of them made online purchases in the US. I feel that it is safe to say that we may also expect adCenter’s ad distribution network to expand over the next several months.

Demographics:

With the Microsoft adCenter you are able to find out who the searchers are, identify their geographic location as well as time of day information. adCenter takes the time of day information to the next level with targeting of ads by day of week as well as a precise time of day. The adCenter platform is the first of the PPC search engines that gives you the ability to target a select age group and even the gender of the searcher can be determined. The age and gender targeting feature could come in very handy depending on your product or services. MSN is able to provide such precise targeting demographics by pulling their information on individuals from Microsoft Passport accounts. What that means is anyone out there who has either a Hotmail account or a MSN Messenger account is easily trackable.

Tools:

adTracker is a mechanism used by Microsoft adCenter to track all clicks from ads served throughout MSN Search. adTracker measures the effectiveness of an ad by tracking which clicks result in a web site visit.

Bid Boost is a very interesting tool that is exclusive to Microsoft adCenter advertisers. The Bid Boost tool raises the value of a bid by a preset percentage after it recognizes that the individual is from your optimal user demographic.

In conclusion as you have read through this article you can see that there are pros and cons that come along with each one of these PPC advertising platforms discussed. The goal of this article was to arm you with a few facts that lend a hand in helping you to deciding on which PPC advertising platform is the most beneficial for you to launch a winning advertising campaign that produces highly qualified relevant traffic at an optimal return on investment.

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