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Everything But Google: Alternative Search Advertising Options

Just finished lunch, I’m excited for this session. Lots of people here. Glad I found a plug! I’m so HAPPY to see Sage Lewis of SageRock on the panel – rock ON Sage 🙂 The rest of the panel:

Jay Sears, ContextWeb
Ted West, Looksmart
Dustin Kwan, Ask
Mary Berk, Microsoft

Sage started off with fun points derived from a good ‘ol family vacation, and went into various methods he’s used for clients to bring in online success from outside-the-search-box ideas.

Back to our point: What should you do as alternatives to Google rankings?

Create a buzz by paying bloggers to post. Using sites Pay Per Post, Social Spark, Review Me. DON’T do this for rankings though, remember your purpose. Sage has worked on 2 campaigns here with opposite results. His campaign to create buzz and tell people about a contest had astounding success. But another case study with B2B in a specific niche to fill out surveys was completely unsuccessful. If you have a large umbrella of an audience you can create an effective buzz, but targeted niches are actually worse here.

Where should you focus alternative online marketing campaigns? What gives the biggest bang for the buck?

Sage liked because its good “cheap” traffic, and they get great conversions. Interesting. Last year panelists made fun of Ask because they didn’t bring conversions. I think its great if they heard that and adjusted accordingly – go Ask!!!

Superpages is also great for local campaigns, (better than the YellowPages or YellowBook) – he’s seen a lot of great conversions through there, they have qualified traffic.

Also Facebook Social Ads are excellent for buying ads to promote items on facebook. Facebook lets you demographically target which is sooo powerful.

Quigo lets you target local newspapers and magazines. It is PPC, but it gets you the targeted traffic you need.

Sage showed us a spreadsheet with average CPC and CPA drawn out on all the various engines, and from here on it went downhill for me. What is my problem with spreadsheets??? I understand the importance of all the CP acronyms but seeing it all together makes the head spin, I guess its the artist in me, sigh. That stuff is interesting, though, because remember not all of your marketing campaigns perform the same. You need to track who does what and repeat what works for you. Its different for each company.

3 Tips Sage had for us:

  1. Buy alternative advertising through REFERRAL! Ask your friends and your consultants. Your trusted friends and advisors won’t mislead you. Yay Sage so true!!!! We have a lot of good secret converter sites for those who ask 🙂
  2. Be absolutely clear about your goals and timeframe. Unclear goals will give you unclear results, and that makes everyone unhappy.
  3. Alocate 10-25% of your online budget to TESTING. Sage said it, not me, you can cry on his blog. Remember this is testing…it may not convert, but if you don’t test, you run the risk of missing out on beautiful traffic. This point makes me wonder….Why does everyone prefer to spend money failing rather than testing? I see the same failures with lack of keyword research.

Next up we had Jay Sears from ContextWeb.

Jay addressed a lot and quite frankly most was over my head or went too fast. Poor Chris, if I’m lost he’s just beyond clueless right now. Anyway, here are the notes, make what you can of ’em:

Why isn’t search advertising? Search is demand fulfillment, and its order taking. I guess that means they don’t have to advertise? Jay went on to mention there is only so much search; searchers only spend 5% of time online searching, and 95% looking at content.

Targeting content vs keyword search

Go wide on your content, implicit interest
Go specific keywords on search, explicit interest

Keywords can appear out of content
Embarrassing, negative brand impact
Poor performance

Keywords assume explicit interest by the user
Red sox vs baseball
Toyota sienna vs family minivans

What’s hot now: The battle for Display Advertising . Here we go to the confusing world of PPC….

Portals and the P-word:
Yahoo bought rightmedia, bluelithium
Google buys doubleclick
Microsoft buys aquantive
Aol buys tacoda and quigo

There is the trend of big searches buying popular portals!

Branded sites create extended networks.
Martha Stewart creates Martha’s Circle
Readers Digest, Forbes, Warner Brothers, Glam Media

Ad Networks
Category specialty – adify and niche
Technology specialty – behavioral and contextual

There are 120K blogs being created every day, and there are over 70 million weblogs tracked – that’s a lot of places to be!

What is ContextWeb doing about it?

  1. Offering solutions with Scale and Control
  2. Make long tail addressable
  3. Content is a high value common denominator (make success repeatable)
  4. Solutions for big, small, buyer and seller

Trends to watch

  • Display and content advertising market as the next battleground
  • Self Service
  • Buyers and sellers become traders

Hmmm. This guy was just totally over my head from AdNetworks down. Maybe someone else got it, lol. Re-reading my notes and I don’t get it. Feel free to comment and enlighten.

Next Jonathan Ewert of Looksmart covered some of the unknowns in search, and some alternatives to consider.

All markets transition, and Jonathan spoke of how the search markets are transitioning. What’s happening? Here’s the slippery slope…

Fewer search engine choices will drive higher prices
-> Which drives the need to diversify ad spend
–>Which creates a need for search advertising networks
—>Which interoperate with eachother
—->To offer cost-effective reach
—–>And the potential for great return

Search Advertising Networks: leverage traffic from keyword and contextual searches on the internet, outside of proprietary traffic on the major search engines. Search Advertising Networks are a 90 Billion/yr industry. Holy.

*lightbulb* this is why I’m confused, they are talking in a PPC land right now and I’m so organic I could grow on a farm. Oh well, expand your mind right?

Consumer search engines – large volume
Search advertising networks – middleman
Niche/vertical search engines – small targeted volume

Online advertising overtook TV spending in the UK last year, and it is expected to in the US soon as well. Are you found?

What do advertisers want? AKA, the people paying per click.
Make it easy (aka import from Google). Make it fast. Make it flexible. Make it competitive. Make it effective. Do the heavy lifting yourself if you’re the SAN!


Ask the place you’re able to advertise if they answer the phone? If they offer targeting options? Looksmart won SES best ad platform, so if you are in the market for one check it out.

Next up Dustin Quan of Ask. He’s covering Ask sponsored listings, and improving your performance online.

Ask is the 4th largest sponsored search network. Why should you advertise outside the big 3? Because you can extend your reach. 70% of ask users don’t use the MSN, and 30% of them don’t use MSN, Yahoo or Google. So that’s 30% more potential traffic, even I get that math lol.

Ask’s average CPC is 74% less than Google and CPA is 60% lower than Google.

How can you improve your performance with Ask Tools? The most underutilized are:

  1. Dynamic Insertion codes (inserts that text into your copy)}
  2. Keyword Prospecting reports
  3. Run of category targeting
    (get the codes from the slide, put a SS of his slide here)

Keyword prospecting reports will tell undersold or low bid keywords. It also helps you find high volume keywords to expand your campaign.

Make sure to test different search networks because not all are the same. What works for you on Y! and G may not work on Ask, and vice versa.

Try run of category for a low cost solution for broad terms that are expensive and competitive. Run of category isn’t good for specific searches, though. Everyone seemed excited to learn of the 5 cent minimum here, I guess its a back door for expensive keywords?

For performance and tracking use dynamic insertion
For keyword expansion use prospecting list
For high volume keywords use the keyword prospecting report

Next up we have Mary Berk with Microsoft. Obviously Microsoft is the smallest of the big 3. She discussed building a network, diversity, quality, and getting started with Microsoft Ads.

Microsoft considers 3 different parties: End users, Advertisers, and I missed the last one, damn.

Goal circle: show high quality ads, engage users, further reach, advertiser and publisher engagement, dynamic and robust marketplace.

Google is a class act, but they have limited advertiser options. The more options you have the better your potential for success, so…

Why Microsoft Ad Center?

Quality counts:
Remember quantity isn’t quality
MSN leads in overall conversion rates
Plus they drove 18% of purchase and 15% of dollars based on 9% of the traffic.

Reasons to look at other engines:

Each offers different things. They maximize our knowledge and your reach
Look to other engines to discover varying cost per acquisition

Microsoft Advertising Products:

AdCenter Publisher
Content Ads
Mobile Search

Tools at (FREE tools!)

  1. Understand your keywords
  2. Analytics
  3. Community blog


Sage, tell us more about the pay per post success, mine never work. Sage re-iterated it was NOT for rankings, it worked for PR and buzz purposes. He believes the bloggers are the evolution of the press release and anyone that follows bloggers we have bloggers that we follow and trust.

More questions to Sage about the wildy unsuccessful pay per post. Was there a backlash? Yes, bloggers talk. Be careful to plan your campaigns right.

How can and is behavioral targeting hurting search? It can be negative (scares people), but also positive, because you don’t get ads in front of you that aren’t relevant to you. Networks need to educate consumers and tell them they’ve been watching them for years and years. They need to be clear how the data is used, not “we store cookies” lol. Store cookies = up in your koolaid for you laypeople. You can opt out if this freaks you out, go to: . But then don’t be mad when you’re a 22 yr old woman searching and it you get irrelevant Viagra ads, lol.

Ok, you made it through the post and you’re still alive. PPC is an important part of your campaign, forgive my fumbling from the organic perspective here 🙂