Friday, October 21, 2005

Is PPC getting too expensive?

As we manage PPC campaigns for clients, one of the things that we get to see very closely is spiralling costs of advertising. It is getting to ridiculous levels for some of the common/competitive keywords.

Unfortunately what this means is that very soon search/PPC advertising could almost become out of bounds for smaller companies that have low budgets (but high aspirations). While search engines still highlight the fact that ANY advertiser can advertise online with the ability for their campaigns to go online almost immediately, the reality is that if one has a small budget, these campaigns could literally be still-borns.

One of the great promises of search advertising was that it provided a platform for smaller companies with limited budgets to reach audiences that they hitherto couldn't. Will this promise remain unfulfilled? One hopes not.

On Target Media & Marketing Services

Monday, October 17, 2005

"The Sandbox" --- does potential PPC revenue have anything do with it?

There's bean a lot said and written about the "sandbox" effect, and the holding period before websites start showing up in search results (while the discussion has mainly centered around Google, who's to say that there's nothing similar happening with the other search engines)?

What's the whole purpose behind the so called Sandbox? The reason, from whatever I've read, seems to be that the search engines (and I am generalizing it, and not focusing solely on Google) want to ensure that the new websits that come up are not illegitimate creations of people trying to con the search engine. I find that a bit hard to believe--- if search engines have all these sophisticated algorithms, that are continuously tweaked to measure relevancy of a page/ website, then why should the newness of a site matter at all?

I suspect there's got to be a lot more to it than relevance, and I believe that the PPC factor has a big role to play in it. Logical isn't it: a new website is launched, it figures it can't rank well for a certain period, but certainly wants all the traffic it can get, especially if driving online traffic is critical to its business. What option does it have--- invest in PPC to circumvent the organic search rankings.
Pure search engines (such as Google.com ---- you can no longer refer to the entity Google as a search engine...) depend so heavily on the PPC revenues, there is bound to be a temptation to do whatever it takes to boost these revenues. Even if it means there is a compromise with the organic search resuts... Especially if a company is publicly listed and has to show rising quarterly revenues...

Absolutely, nothing wrong with it-- except that if indeed there is any such agenda behind the holding tank/sandbox or whatever you call it, then the world has a right to know. Let's make it very transparent-- just like the paid inclusion programs.

More later,

Manoj Aravindakshan
On Target Media & Marketing

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Back again..

Well, after what seems almost an age, I'm back to writing this blog again. As is to be expected, a lot has happened since the last time I wrote a few lines here --- the Yahoo-Google "size of search index" claims have grown a little louder, Google has made changes to its Adwords program (and tried to make it simpler) and here in Singapore, MSN has launched its own AdCenter.

A few random searches on MSN Singapore seemed to indicate that the take up of its PPC offering is quite slow--- not quite unexpected considering the relatively small size of the market, as well as the overall slack in search marketng/advertising so far in this part of the world. In a way, that was perhaps MSN's strategy anyway --- to roll out the product in a relatively smaller market and ironing out any potential issues before it faces more PPC-savvy online advertisers. Considering the high stakes involved in the PPC search marketing area, and intense rivalry between Microsoft & Google that seems to just get bitter by the day, MSN could ill-afford to start on the wrong foot. Thus its real challenge is this month (October) when it is expected to finally mount its challenge (after the brief warm-up in Singapore--- it almost seems like the off-season games in Asia that the big football teams from Europe come to) against the big two -- Gooogle & Yahoo! Search Marketing..

Whether it can cause any dent in the market share of the big 2 PPC players remains to be seen. More importantly, from an advertiser/ online marketer's perspective, the question would be whether MSN can provide additional value ---- in the form of lower click costs that are increasing by the day (and of course better conversions !)

Manoj
On Target Media & Marketing Services, Singapore