02 Jun Location, location, location: Spots to consider for online ads
Recent changes with Google, Yahoo, and MSN have marketers reconsidering the best location for their ads.
In recent months, popular search engines have undergone significant changes: Google allows marketers to target specific ad positions within search results; MSN booted all Yahoo ads from its search results; and Yahoo announced a partnership with eBay. While the effects of these changes among competing search engines remains uncertain, it’s certainly a good time for online marketers to reconsider how they use these online venues.
When it comes to online advertising, three aspects of location are important: the site, the position, and the destination. Each aspect of location influences the effectiveness of your campaign.
The right site
With 42 percent market share, Google remains the search leader, according to comScore, the Internet data provider. However, recent changes among Yahoo and MSN mean that marketers need to reassess where to place ads beyond Google. MSN has dropped Yahoo search marketing ads from all US-based searches. This means that marketers must now place separate advertising with MSN, and that they must assess the effectiveness of MSN and Yahoo independently.
Yahoo and MSN attract different users, and search engines have strong brand loyalty. Yahoo is a strong favorite with 18 to 34 year olds, while MSN and AOL have a stronger preference among the 35 to 55+ age group.
MSN offers one of the best tools to understanding the demographics of customers. In the research area of the Microsoft Ad Center, you examine the traffic, geography, age, gender, and lifestyle of users by keyword. Within a few seconds, I was able to find out that women ages 24 to 35 and men ages 36 to 50 are the most frequent seekers of information about “cheese.” I learned that these individuals are often affluent and often lead a “bourgeois propriety” or “career and family” lifestyles. What more could a marketer ask for?
Although, according to comScore, Yahoo has a 15 percent higher market share than MSN, it’s unclear to most marketers whether MSN or Yahoo will provide the most cost-effective solution. It’s also uncertain what effect Yahoo’s partnership with eBay may have on market share as individuals begin to see eBay listings mixed with their Yahoo search results.
The right position
While marketers continue to vie for the top advertising position on search engines, many are beginning to question the wisdom and cost associated with the battle for first position. Many savvy marketers use a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) model for online advertising. This defines the success of an advertisement based on the cost it takes to convert one visitor into a customer. Given this, a top position that costs $10 per click and generates a negative CPA may be less desirable than running the same ad in a lower position at $4 per click if a positive CPA is possible.
Although Yahoo had allowed marketers to target specific ad positions, until recently it wasn’t possible to do so on Google.
If you find that your ad gets the best results when it is ranked third or fourth among all Google ads, Google now allows you to set a preferred position for those spots. Google will then try to show your ad whenever it is ranked third or fourth, and avoid showing it when it is ranked higher or lower. If your ad is ranked higher than third for a given keyword, the system will automatically try to lower your bid to place your ad in your preferred position.
You can request that your Google ad be shown only when it meets your defined criteria, such as when it is one of the following: higher than a given position; lower than a given position; within a range of positions; or in an exact position. Google position preferences are not immediate or guaranteed. It can take a few days for a preferred position to kick in, and ads will still appear in other positions, though Google makes every effort to display ads in the preferred spot.
MSN allows clients to target ads by day and time. If individuals are logged into MSN as a user, you can also target them by location, age, and gender.
The right destination
If your online campaigns result in a high volume of clicks, but a small number of conversions, one of the first places to look is your landing page. A landing page is the page on your own site that individuals arrive after clicking on your ad. A good landing page is just as important as a good ad, good keywords, and strategic bidding.
In order to achieve a desirable CPA, you need to provide good content to individuals who “click-through” to your site. Site visitors are impatient. If they don’t find answers immediately, they’ll often return to the search results and visit another site from their original search results. Headlines, subheadings, navigation, bullets, and copy are very important components of a landing page.
Consider improving your landing pages with the following strategies:
Remain focused. Don’t use landing pages as a brochure. Keep the landing page specific to the topic/product described in the ad.
Sell. Landing pages need to ask visitors to buy. Links to place an order must be prominent. Make a conversion the next step in the process. Test promotional offers that encourage visitors to act immediately. Include an 800 number for individuals who want to place an order by phone.
Eliminate distractions. Limit use of photos. Remove as many links and navigational elements as possible.
Synchronize landing pages with ads. Make sure the content of the ad is present on the landing page. Claims that are made in the ad should be included and expanded on within the landing page.
Build your brand. A landing page is an opportunity to link your company with the very specific needs of site visitors. It’s an advertising portal where you can associate you brand with their keyword search without isolating anyone else.
Rev all engines
By creating an effective landing page, marketers increase conversions and make Google, Yahoo, and MSN campaigns more competitive and profitable.
Although the search engines are competing for your advertising dollars, it doesn’t mean that marketers should elect using one search engine over another. The most successful marketers strive to operate unique MSN, Google, and Yahoo campaigns simultaneously – with each of them performing at enviable CPA levels.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.