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Archive for February, 2010
Well, it has finally happened. After coming to a basic agreement in July and finalizing the terms in December of last year, Yahoo! and Microsoft have received regualtory approval from the U.S. Government and the EU. The result is a search partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo! in their combined battle for online advertising with Google. The new search platform has been named Search Alliance.
Ads in search on the two partners will be powered by Bing, and their combined audience is estimated at 150 million Americans and over half a billion people worldwide. All of the ads will be served from Microsoft AdCenter. The two companies are currently working out the technology details, so all of your ads on either network will stay the same for the time being. The hope is to have everything running off of the Microsoft AdCenter by Q4 2010 to capture the valuable holiday season.
What this means for advertisers
If you manage or use either Yahoo! or Bing search advertising, then nothing will change for a few months. The new merger should reach out to all advertisers with ample notice and instruction on moving over accounts, or possibly have everything moved over automatically. We will see how this works out in the Fall or possibly later. There is no hard deadline set for the transition, but it is coming.
The combination of the advertisers may end up affecting your campaigns in more ways than just an interface change. With the combination of searchers, there will also be a combination of advertisers. Currently if you run campaigns in both search engines you are competing in separate auctions for your PPC ads. This split can keep the Cost-Per-Click (CPC) lower because the number of advertisers (bidders) is lower. With this new merger, the combined pool of advertisers may cause the CPC to go up for some of your keywords.
Currently we see the cost of keywords in Bing and Yahoo! to be between 40%-60% of the cost of the same words in AdWords for similar position. These cost savings are a primary motivator to advertise on the Yahoo! and Microsoft platforms. While this new paring will grow the number of searchers it could also increase the bottom line. We won’t know for sure until the move is completed, but it may be a good idea to start planning for an increase in the cost of keywords.
The major benefit to advertisers is the consolidation of advertising. Search Alliance will become a one-stop-shop for PPC advertising. The alliance will instantly become the #2 search advertising platform, so advertisers that run ads on Search Alliance and on Google AdWords can easily capture a large percent of the overall search market.
The bids for keywords will probably go up, but they are still not likely to be more expensive than AdWords. Google currently maintains about 80% of the search market, but that extra 20% can be the difference for some online advertisers. The new Search Alliance between Yahoo! and Microsoft will make capturing that audience easier than it has been before.
Previously only one of those words was an Apple product. After January 26th, however, Apple now sells iPads along with iPods. What may be a silly name or a great name briefly caused a bit of confusion with the search engines.
IPED and IPEDS are acronyms that have quite a few results in Google, Yahoo, and Bing. But, the other spelling brethren to the iPod do not have much meaning. Because of this, all three search engines show spelling corrections for those words and typically include “iPod” search results as well. Today, we still see this for iPud and iPid. And, immediately after the Apple announcement, we saw it for iPad, too.
This was soon corrected, whether naturally or through intervention, in Yahoo and Google. Bing is still showing results for iPod when you search for the new iPad. This instance appears to show a small flaw in the search engine algorithms. How do you quickly add a new term when it had been written off as a typo?
The iPad announcement is the most recent example of this, but many web 2.0 companies experienced the same problem. When companies began to emulate Flickr’s naming convention of adding an ‘r’ to the end of their name, it also confused search engines. Is Snappr a service, or is someone looking for a lawn mower. This is especially apparent when services first launch, which is exactly what we witnessed with the launch of the iPad.
What does that mean for Search Engine Marketers? It means that Google may have a bit more to say about brand names then we would like to think. Is the new product you are launching or marketing a typo for something else? Then you may want to think about a name change. Of course, a strong product can overtake the ‘typo’ designation as they iPad has done in Google and Yahoo, but you may not have the marketing gusto and hype power that Apple carries. If you have flexibility in the name, then do your homework.
It may be time to add “Googleability” to the traditional product naming guidelines. Not only do you need to distinguish your brand from others, but you need to have a brand that isn’t even a close spelling of another product. If I sold a product called a “pespi,” I would be in a world of pain trying to market it online.
We would like to keep the search engines out of these types of processes, and they want to stay out of them as well. Google’s vision is to “organize the world’s information.” No part of that says anything about governing or changing that information. The unfortunate truth is that online marketing is growing rapidly, and to keep up you need to capitalize on the traffic that Google and the others can drive. So, pick your product names carefully, and market the heck out of them.