Strange Microsoft Adcenter Update to Terms & Conditions

By Jim Gilbert

Please tell us there will be more specific information on this odd announcement! Calls to the support center don’t appear to help, since the agents don’t seen to know much about it.

The email from Microsoft:
We’re writing to notify you that your Microsoft adCenter Terms and Conditions are updated. The changes take effect on April 30, 2007.

Some of the key adjustments to your Terms and Conditions include:
— “Microsoft may use matching criteria other than keyword searches to display your

— “Microsoft may display your advertisements on its network of advertising channels operated
by the Microsoft network of participating websites and other distribution outlets.”

And you have to love their closing:
“If you do not consent to these revised Terms and Conditions, you may cancel your adCenter program relationship with Microsoft at any time… blah, blah…, blah…”

Google AdWords — Raise My Bid to WHAT? And Then!

by Jim Gilbert

Remember to check the and then part…

On the morning of February 16th (Friday) many adwords advertisers woke up to find a shocker with their Google AdWords accounts.

Improve your Quality Score or Raise your bid to $1.00, $5.00 or $10.00!

Weve seen this before, but not on so many legitimate sites and quality landing pages all at one time before. Google has assured us that this appears to be a technical glitch and one they are working hard to resolve. “Good grief we hope this is an issue”.

However, even after this is fixed, we still expect some fallout even on the most legitimate of sites — the quality knob may have gotten turned just a bit too high!

By the end of the day we noticed some very interesting changes in AdWords… Look at the graphic below: Pause / Unpause Keywords (long time in coming, but well worth waiting for AND Add a “Quality Score” column (too bad it’s just great, ok and poor — if you are being asked to bid $10 YOU KNOW IT’S POOR)

Other sites also reported to original issue… SEO Roundtable, Webmasterworld and DigitalPoint.

Google Checkout Icons – An Unfair Advantage?

By Jeff Martin

I remember in the 90s when web directories and web rings played a vital role in moving traffic along the web. Web directories often gave you enhancing options to your text listing such as bolding your title, changing your text color and placing my all-time favorite – Hot Icon! the flaming HOT icon next to your listing Hot Icon!. Anything that set your listing apart from the others could really pay off. Google is allowing for this type of distinction by allowing Google Adwords advertisers who offer Google Checkout on their site a colorful icon that displays at the bottom of their ads in the Google search results pages:

Google SERP Screenshot with Google Checkout Icon

The Google Checkout icons may significantly help draw attention to Adwords ads that have the icon while at the same time become a problem for other ads. It could be argued that the icons offer an unfair advantage to ads with icons as:

  • The icon takes up a line of text so that the more ads with icons there are on the right the less ad space there is for other ads. It’s possible that an ad that would normally show just above the fold on the right side may not show up without scrolling depending on the number of these icons.
  • They may have a better chance of drawing the eye of users and the click away from advertisers paying more and/or with better quality scores.

This is especially true in Google search results page real estate where it’s cheaper to place ads on the right and more towards the bottom of the fold of the page as these ads get less attention typically. Ads in this area with the icons may have more success now. The image below from an eye tracking study by Enquiro illustrates this as the “hotter” the color the more visual attention the real estate receives (the thick red bar towards the bottom represents the typical fold of the page):

Google SERP Eye Tracking

As more data is collected we should know more about the ramifications of the Google Checkout icon for those who have it as well as for those who don’t.

PPC/SE Market Share… Who Cares! Let’s Talk Conversions! Google, Yahoo, MSN

by Jim Gilbert

Okay, we’ve all seen numbers published on search engine market share for the big three in numerous ways including PPC market share. Number of searches, search engine revenue, PPC revenue blah.. blah.. blah..

But Wait… What do REAL WORLD Conversions Look Like from an advertiser’s point of view?

This test began when MSN’s AdCenter came about and is as about an accurate comparison I am capable of making (which by the way is very fair and quite accurate). Granted, the exact campaigns cannot be built in all 3 PPC engines, but these campaigns are real and built as closely alike as they can be.

And yes EVERYTHING (well most everthing) has been considered including:

– Conversions in this case are based on online sales of a simple product that sells many, many times per day! (so don’t try the “small sample size” excuse on me here).
– No budget limitations.
– Etc… etc… etc…

No more words… the results

Percent Of Actual Conversions
Google 76%
Yahoo 19%
MSN 5%

Save Time, Money And Increase Pay-Per-Click Profits With Web Analytics

by Jeff Martin

There isn’t anything sexy or exciting about looking closely over your campaigns. However, doing so through web analytics can save you not only time and money but can also lead to increased revenues through your paid search campaigns.

It’s no secret the search engines stockpile data concerning anything you do. You can’t perform searches without them knowing what you searched for (of course) what results or ads you clicked on, how long you stayed at a site and then went back to the results and choose another, how many results pages you combed through, where you are located, etc. Their data is broken down day-by-day, click-by-click.

Yet, for PPC advertisers, despite paying to have visits to their sites, advertisers are not allowed to know the particulars of each user who clicks their ads through any reporting from the search engines. The search engines have been consistently under pressure to share the information you have. Google has said that they desire to be more transparent and more sharing in the future, but time will tell. Because this click-by-click visitor and usage information is not made available, it’s important to review your web analytics closely and frequently.

Web analytics can save you time by:

  • Viewing all user activity and their relevant information, for all PPC networks in one console (in real-time)
  • Running custom reports to filter down to specific variables you want to use or data you only want to see, getting rid of the “noise”
  • Helping spot suspicious activity through customized and automated reports rather than combing through raw data to see if suspicious activity exists

Web analytics can cut costs and save you money by:

  • Ensuring that your ads are only showing for geographic regions you have specified
  • Ensuring that your phrase / exact matching settings are being observed
  • Ensuring that ads are not showing for negative keywords you have specified
  • Ensuring that your ads are not running outside of ad scheduling hours
  • Helping you monitor campaigns for suspicious activity and aiding you in seeking credits

Web analytics can help increase revenues by:

  • Finding new negative keywords to use based on all of the queries that generated clicks
  • Finding new niche and tail keywords to advertise on based on all of the queries that generated clicks

Web analytics allow marketers to spend more time marketing and business owners to spend more time running their business rather than pouring through data.

Google 8am to 8pm Maintenance?

by Jim Gilbert
Read the Original Post below and you will understand why I am congratulating Google.

Contratulations Google and Thank You, Thank You, Thank You…. for finishing the AdWords maintenance on Saturday!

“On January 13, 2007, AdWords system will be unavailable from approximately 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM Eastern Time due to system maintenance. Please note that your campaigns will continue to run normally during this short downtime. We apologize for any inconvenience”.

Original Post
First, many, many people are reporting fairly severe problems with Google AdWords, AdSense and other mechanisms because of this “emergency” maintenance being performed by Google.

Gotta get on my soap box (being from way back when computers began…lol) and ask the obvious questions…

– 12 hours of maintenance in the middle of the work day?

– Did Google go union on us?

– If it was so critical to do this maintenance, maybe (just maybe) some of the non-union Googlers could have come in and worked during the middle of the night! Hey, we seem to have to work 24 hours a day so why can’t they?

UPDATE: They are doing it again!
On January 13, 2007, AdWords system will be unavailable from approximately 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM Pacific Timedue to system maintenance. Please note that your campaigns will continue to run normally during this short downtime. We apologize for any inconvenience.

– I repeat… maybe (just maybe) some of the non-union Googlers could have worked late last night!

More Grumbling about Yahoo’s Panama

Hey even I’m guilty of griping from time to time, so I’ll try to give Yahoo the benefit of the doubt on Panama. After all it is a SIGNIFICANT technological improvement over the old Overture system.

However, it seems as more people get transitioned to the new Panama system the gripe factor keeps rising. Make up your on mind — but do read the other post we have made on this subject and bee sure to keep tabs on the Panama Gripe Thread at Webmaster World.

And remember… we already told you this: Accounts are transitioned with “categories” mapped as “campaigns”. WRONG! For years agencies have been building Yahoo accounts from Google accounts and equating “categories” to “adgroups” — NOT campaigns. Yes the transition is messy!

posted by Jim Gilbert

Yahoo’s Panama – Converting Worse than Old System?

Posted by Jim Gilbert

Is it possible for Panama to actually perform/convert worse than the old system? What could cause that, since it just displays the same ads as the old system?

D I S T R I B U T I O N… D I S T R I B U T I O N… D I S T R I B U T I O N…

From Webmasterworld
“I have switched one of my accounts to the new interface. The conversions and cost per conversion is very bad. Its almost 30% of what we were getting previously. We have seen 80% of the traffic from Bogus sites.”

Dear Yahoo: If we are wrong here, please feel free to correct us. Discussions with Yahoo reps have yielded no clarification on this, so we are left with nothing but deduction from analytical research to formulate these answers.


Let’s not waste any time here and get right to the answer. Yahoo has at least 3 distribution networks:


1. Yahoo search
2. Yahoo search partners
3. Content networks (YPN – Yahoo Publisher Network)

It’s #2 the Yahoo search partners distribution that is causing the problem. Entities that own a lot of Internet real estate (“domains”) get to partner with Yahoo for an XML feed of Yahoo’s sponsored search results — this is NOT part of the content network.

So, what is being called “bogus” sites are sites displaying sponsored Yahoo ads from XML search feeds NOT YPN — turning off content network will not help stop it!


An example will show you what is happening. Just follow the screen shots below.

Recently I did a “Google” search (did not even use Yahoo) for one of my favorite local Italian restaurants — Paesanos in Plano, TX — And got this result:

Following the link, we found this (if you know much about the “black hat” world you will immediately recognize this as a “parked domain” (Monitized Internet real estate):

Following the Italian link, we found a continuation of the same underlying theme — “Monetize the heck out of parked domains”.

So What? Pay attention to the final image below! It shows that the monitization of this domain (and millions of others) is being done using Yahoo Search Partner XML Feeds! Yahoo ads on “bogus” sites (as the webmasterworld poster called them). It’s NOT from the Content Network and advertisers can’t stop it!

Yahoo’s Panama – Ripe with Malaria

First, consider the hype surronding Panama’s release (keep in mind these are statements right from the “horse’s mouth”): “More like Google”, “Easy Transition of Overture DTC accounts to Panama” and “if necessary, just import your Google account into Panama”.

That’s the hype… Now this is the truth:

  • Google like — not hardly… But it IS VERY MSN like. Why the heck did Yahoo pattern Panama after MSN? Did they have Microsoft’s help? Did they hire Microsoft people to help? If you are forced to pattern a product after an existing one seems Google would be a better (and more proven) platform to copy than MSN’s Adcenter. Really makes one wonder who is making technology related decisions at Yahoo
  • Accounts are transitioned with “categories” mapped as “campaigns”. WRONG! For years agencies have been building Yahoo accounts from Google accounts and equating “categories” to “adgroups” — NOT campaigns. So if you have 28 categories you will end up with 28 campaigns EACH with its own adgroup! Fixing this mess is a monsterous manual task.
  • Yahoo is right about “importing your Google account may be the easiest way to make the transition”. BUT, as it turns out, only Gold and Platinum level accounts are allowed to use the import function! Where the hell did this rule come from?

For years Yahoo didn’t get it — appears they still don’t. … Jim Gilbert


If you want more comments on Panama, you may want to see this Search Engine Watch thread: Panama is LIVE – for some!