Today, I want to look at all of the different networks that are available to advertisers. I will not only explore the major Search Engines offerings, but also their Search Partners & Content Networks. Reviewing what they mean to your business and how they will best fit into your advertising strategy. Let’s take a close look at what Pay Per Click advertising offers.
Any fan of PPC Tuesday is already well aware of the Big Three search engines: Bing, Google, & Yahoo. They represent major portals that encompass millions of searches from users around the world.
Though this accounts for a lot of search advertising, it does not account for all of it. Search companies also license their engine to other properties that would like to offer a similar service to their smaller audience. This includes X-Box and other MicroSoft properties that are powered by Bing, as well as Facebook, and possibly iPhone’s web search in the future. Google’s search engine powers Amazon, Nintendo’s Wii, AOL, and many other sites. Yahoo went above and beyond the other search engines by providing an Open Source version of their product called BOSS, allowing developers to build on top of Yahoo’s engine.
The third component of Search Engine advertising is the content network. This represents sites that choose to have advertising listed on their site. Ads are matched based upon themes and the content of individual pages. Each of these methods provides stark differences between one another.
The major search engine portals allow you to target specific, pay for performance advertising in a way that does not offend users and is a great cultivator of business. Someone searches what they are looking for, they find that you meet their need, and a transaction is born. This brings the most volume, the most insight, and the most valuable means of advertising.
Search Partners allow you to target users of the one-off engines. It is still following the same model of responding to a query, but is important to keep in mind that they offer a different experience than the major portals. Even though the delivery is different the inventory being served is the same. This includes the ads, which are still in response to a search query, and offer the benefit of responding to a users intent, like the engines. These Partner sites usually have less volume, but can represent growing markets, including mobile devices and video game equipment. On the downside, with some search partners like Amazon, users are looking for results relevant to that domain, and can be put off being taken to another site. On the flipside, it is giving you a more targeted audience than who is searching on the major engines. Following the Amazon example, those searches are more likely to be ready to purchase than on a generic search engine.
Content networks allow advertisers to offer text ads on pages that share a theme, or category, but are not targeted beyond that. When you display ads on the content network, you increase your reach way beyond search engines and can choose to target other sites where your prospective customers congregate, including Forums, Blogs, and even on competitors pages. Unfortunately, you can’t respond to any intent. Your ads are displayed there, hoping someone will divert their attention away from the content on the page, read them and click on yours. This disconnect from responding to a users search will be reflected in the performance of your content campaigns, especially when compared to search campaigns.
Now lets take a look at what methods are best, and when you would want to use these channels. For most advertisers, the major search engines are still your best bet. They offer you an audience whose volume far surpasses any other single site. Also, as I mentioned, with the engines you receive an advertising venue that is designed to serve users with relevant links to other sites. They are conditioned to trust the results, and as long your ads don’t betray that trust, you can benefit from it. Most of the major providers also have vertical search, or searches specialized around a certain topic on there domains. This allows major search engines to segment their audience based upon what they are looking for.
Partner networks is a safe addendum to search advertising. It allows your ads to still respond to searches, and you increase your reach to the different segments that are not going to the major portals. The search partner network does not allow you to target who in the network you want to utilize, its either all or nothing. In most instances we advise to opt-in to it, and only in specific cases, where the major portal needs to be solely targeted, should it be opted-out of.
The content network has many stark differences than the other two. It can (and probably will) be it’s own video subject and should not be treated the same as search. If you choose to utilize the content network, take the time to choose what sites you would like to appear on. You can usually apply demographic targeting as well, based upon a content site’s user base. This allows you to go after new audiences either before or after they turn to search. For example, if you have great prices on big name electronics, it may make sense to target product review sites, which a user may go to after searching. In other instances, someone may go to a specific forum they are familiar with before going to the search engines. Either way, it may be important to your business to target people off the search engines. Just keep in mind, search engine advertising works for a reason. You cannot expect the same results from a content network.
Lastly, in the coming months, Yahoo & Bing will finalize their partnership. It will be interesting to see how it fits in the mix. Will Yahoo eventually become a member of Bing’s search? Maybe, probably, but not in the near term. So far all reports have Yahoo as a separate search engine, in addition to Bing, but it can only be a matter of time until they are only using one set of advertising to both audiences.
I hope this has been helpful.
To Learn More about Exclusive Concepts Profitable PPC product, or any of our excellent services in our suite of online marketing offerings including our Managed Conversion Testing Service, SEO Foundation or Precision Email Marketing, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Also, if you have specific questions about how your PPC Account is structured – including how you are taking advantage of the different networks, sign up for one of our Profitable PPC Audits, they are quick, free, and offer some great insight in how to optimize your campaign.
Thank you, this has been Chris for Exclusive Concepts Daily Concept: PPC Tuesday. I look forward to talking to you next time.