David Szeleta will be speaking about “Advanced PPC” at SearchFest 2010, which will take place on March 9th at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Tickets are available now. To purchase, please click the following link.

Online advertising expert David Szetela is Owner and CEO of Clix Marketing, one of the few agencies that specializes exclusively in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, creating and optimizing clients’ Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter advertising campaigns. Clix is also one of the few agencies paid according to their performance – as a percentage of profit or a commission per sales lead generated. Szetela’s 25+-year career working for small magazine publishers as well as Apple Computer and Ziff-Davis Publishing has provided him deep experience in direct response marketing. His articles on PPC advertising have been published in MediaPost, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, MarketingSherpa, on his company’s blog, https://www.clixmarketing.com/blog.

He is the Principal PPC Editor of the paper and online publication SEMJ.org (https://www.semj.org/editors.html) and the PPC expert faculty member for the online certification company Market Motive. He is also a frequent speaker at Search and Advertising industry events like Search Engine Strategies, SMX, PPC Summit and ad:tech, and he hosts a weekly radio show called PPC Rockstars (https://www.webmasterradio.fm/Advertising/PPC-Rockstars/), distributed by Webmasterradio.fm and iTunes. His book on PPC Content Advertising “Customers Now” was published in November 2009, and his Wiley/Sybex book “PPC Advertising on One Hour a Day” will be published in May 2010.

1) Google’s Content Advertising Network doesn’t have the best reputation with some advertisers. Can you explain why this is?

Many Google AdWords advertisers have tried expanding to the Google content network, only to see their costs soar, while revenue and profits failed to keep pace. Other advertisers shied away from the AdWords content network because they heard it delivered poor quality traffic. Nothing could be further from the truth; the quality of the traffic is just fine.

Content Network Advertising can often lead to excellent results—better than acceptable conversions (sales or leads) that deliver profitable revenue to the bottom line. The secret is for search advertisers to realize that they need to use very different tactics and best practices to control ad placement and attract high-quality site visitors.

2) Outside of Google’s content network, are there others worth using?

Google’s content network has incredible reach, however, there are independent networks and exchanges that also have great reach, and some nifty abilities such as setting the price you’re willing to pay across relevant sites on an auction basis. I wrote Customers Now in collaboration with the folks at ContextWeb who have the ADSDAQ exchange link, and I really think it’s worth taking a look at them if you’re building and testing content network advertising in 2010

3) When it comes to new target audiences, you are heavily in favor of content network advertising as a starting point for test campaigns. Can you extrapolate on that?

Yes, absolutely. It’s much cheaper to test messages and ads on a content network than on search. For instance, you can test new ads on a high-quality content site at the category level (i.e., food section). Or all the way down to the article-content level (i.e., the best imported chocolate). Also, content networks are great opportunities for inexpensively testing dynamic media like flash or video for response rate and conversions.

4) Can you tell me what you think are some of the unique practices for content ad campaigns as opposed to search advertising?

To begin with, the role and function of keywords in a content network ad group is very different than those in a search ad group. Content ad group keywords describe the types of pages where the advertiser wants their ads to appear. The advertiser is literally telling Google, “Show my ad on pages that contain most or all of these words.” For example, a vendor of vacation insurance might target holiday-goers by using a keyword list that contains the words ”Vacation Holiday Cruise Tours.”

Another big difference is content network ad copy must be very different from those used in search advertising. Objective number one of a content network ad is to distract the reader’s attention away from the page’s content. I emphasize in the book that ads need to yell, not whisper, and pop off the page, rather than blend into the surroundings.

In addition, I would recommend advertisers make very competitive offers in order to attract prospective new buyers – for example, free shipping or 20% discount for first-time purchases.
Finally, advertisers have a lot of latitude with ad copy and design, since there’s no penalty if the ad copy doesn’t match the keyword list. So it’s a good practice to test a wide variety of ads and offers.

5) What would be an example of a good image ad as opposed to a bad one?

A good image ad must be eye-catching enough to stand out from the content on the page. This can be a big challenge these days, with site visitors so accustomed to skipping right past banner ads, so a great banner ad needs to telegraph several concepts in rapid succession: “I’m worth looking at”; “I have something – a benefit – that you might be interested in”; “It’s clear what action you should take to find out more.” The benefit must be clear and immediately compelling, like “Save $300 per Year on Home Heating Oil – Starting Now!”

An example of a bad content ad is one that would blend in with the page so that the reader feels compelled to read the content on the page and not get pulled into the ads. In other words, an ad is not going to perform well if it simply blends like in chameleon into the background on a content page for which it’s being served.

6) What does the future hold for PPC advertising? Can you give us some insight for 2010 and beyond?

The trend of conversion optimization and performance-focused marketing are going to continue to gain importance in 2010. With smart phones becoming more prominent and people using their phones to search for information, product and services, mobile search marketing volume will continue to increase. This means if advertisers want to compete in this space, they are going to have to optimize their PPC campaigns for this distribution channel, as well as create mobile-friendly versions of their landing pages and websites. Furthermore, the Google Content Network will continue to expand in 2010. Advertisers wanting to boost their volume significantly need to learn how to take full advantage of this aggressively expanding network. And, speaking of expanding volume, advertisers who have the ability to appeal to an international audience need to start paying more attention to users outside the US. This summer, comScore released its Global Search Marketing report. This report stated that of the 100 billion global searches conducted monthly, only 22% were conducted in North America. Companies with global fulfillment capability need to reach out to a global audience, such as Europe and Asia Pacific (who were at the top of the comScore report for percent of global searches).

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