Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Seven Questions Employees Should Ask Before Joining a Startup

In continuing what is turning out to be my “list of sevens” series (see also: Seven Reasons To Become a Founding Entrepreneur and Seven Founding Sins), I wanted to list seven questions which prospective employees that should ask before joining a startup. While most of the material I’ve written in this blog about startups has been related to founders/entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, most people involved in startup endeavors fall under neither of those categories. They’re employees.

There are many benefits associated with joining a startup as an employee at any level (energized work atmosphere, little bureaucracy, upside), but there are many significant risks coupled with them as well. Of course, a prospective employee should ask numerous questions of both his/her role and the company before joining any firm, but there is a set of questions specific to joining a startup that people should pose. I’ve tried to outline what I think are some of the most important questions below. Keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list, merely a suggested seven to get a discussion going. I encourage everyone to suggest additional questions in the comments section below.

If you are receiving employee options, what is the number of fully-diluted outstanding shares?
Typically, option grants are a key component of compensation in a start-up and are often promoted as such. But the details surrounding stock options are often complex and confusing for non financially-oriented individuals. It is best for employees to understand as much as possible about their option grants (this subject could be the topic for an entire series), but the first place to start is to ask how many outstanding shares there are. From that point, one can calculate the percentage of the company an employee will own and a better gauge of the magnitude of this compensation component. It surprises me how many startup employees I know who are excited to have received a grant of x number of options, but never bothered to ask what relative percentage of the company that translates into.

Has there ever been a down round, a flat round, or a CEO change?
Any of these three events are an indicator that the startup has faced some difficulties in the past and may not be on track moving forward. If one of them has occurred, prospective employees should seek out as much information as they can the context of the situation. After all, there are exceptions to blind the assumption that these are a black mark (e.g. a founding CEO stepping aside to make room for professional management could be an indicator of successful growth). However, if any of these issues have arisen, it is a signal to dig deeper into the health of the business.

What is the burn rate and how much cash is in the bank now?
Even if a start-up is successfully executing, it could still face a cash crunch if it is not yet profitable. Employees should ask to find out how much longer the company will ride without the infusion of another round capital. While the actual answer to this question won’t necessarily provide a definitive answer about the ability for the company to access both cash and capital, it will open up a discussion about it.

What is the plan for exit strategy and its timeframe?
The answer to this question is a soft one with many factors, and can always change depending on circumstances. However, it is best to find out management’s view of a possible exit strategy. Is the company pieced together for a quick flip, building for multi-year significant value creation, or plan on holding for the long term as an eventual cash cow (for founder/investors)? These expectations will affect not only how long employees may be working for the company as it exists today, but more importantly, the resulting surrounding corporate culture.

Could you meet the CEO, the founder(s), and those on the management team?
Start-ups are all about the people involved. And there are a small number of people who are largely going to affect the organization. Even if an entry-level employee is going to work in engineering, I think it makes sense for him/her to meet the VP Sales; likewise, a marketing manager should meet the CTO. Yet it might not happen unless the prospective employee requests it. The handful at the top are going to have a profound affect on the future of the company as a whole and the position (regardless of function), and therefore it is best to meet as many people possible in the company possible before joining.

Are there plans in the next six months to hire anyone along the chain-in-command between your position and the CEO?
Start-ups often have key vacant positions open as the companies expand and grow quickly. I recommend explicitly asking if there is an anticipated change in the reporting structure in the foreseeable future, as any modifications or additions (even those a few rungs up in the ladder) could significantly affect employees’ roles and responsibilities.

How many employees did/does/will the company have six month ago, now, six months from now, a year from now?
Employee count is a strong (but not a perfect) proxy for management’s and investors’ outlook on the business. Start-ups hire ahead of growth (or at least predicted growth), which translate into a viable company, a healthy work environment, and future internal opportunities. Financial figures and projections are helpful indicators, certainly, but are often a distortion of the full picture (especially early on in a company’s cycle). The growth in employee count (or lack thereof) directly signals how much work needs to be accomplished how rosy the expectations are.

Why employees leave organizations?

Every company normally faces one common problem of high employee turnout ratio. People are leaving the company for better pay, better profile or simply for just one reason 'pak gaya'. This article might just throw some light on the matter...got it as a forward email...

Early this year, Rahul, an old friend who is a senior software designer, got an offer from a prestigious international firm to work in its India operations developing specialized software. He was thrilled by the offer. He had heard a lot about the CEO of this company, charismatic man often quoted in the business press for his visionary attitude.

The salary was great. The company had all the right systems in place employee-friendly human resources (HR) policies, a spanking new office, and the very best technology, even a canteen that served superb food. Twice Rahul was sent abroad for training. "My learning curve is the sharpest it's ever been," he said soon after he joined. "It's a real high working with such cutting edge technology." Last week, less than eight months after he joined, Rahul walked out of the job. He has no other offer in hand but he said he couldn't take it anymore. Nor, apparently, could several other people in his department who have also quit recently. The CEO is distressed about the high employee turnover. He's distressed about the money he's spent in training them. He's distressed because he can't figure out what happened. Why did this talented employee leave despite a top salary? Rahul quit for the same reason that drives many good people away.

The answer lies in one of the largest studies undertaken by the Gallup Organization. The study surveyed over a million employees and 80,000 managers and was published in a book called “First Break All The Rules”. It came up with this surprising finding:

If you're losing good people, look to their immediate supervisor. More than any other single reason, he is the reason people stay and thrive in an organization. And he's the reason why they quit, taking their knowledge, experience and contacts with them. Often, straight to the competition.

"People leave managers not companies," write the authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. "So much money has been thrown at the challenge of keeping good people - in the form of better pay, better perks and better training - when, in the end, turnover is mostly manager issue." If you have a turnover problem, look first to your managers. Are they driving people away? Beyond a point, an employee's primary need has less to do with money, and more to do with how he's treated and how valued he feels. Much of this depends directly on the immediate manager. And yet, bad bosses seem to happen to good people everywhere. A Fortune magazine survey some years ago found that nearly 75 per cent of employees have suffered at the hands of difficult superiors. You can leave one job to find - you guessed it, another wolf in a pin-stripe suit in the next one. Of all the workplace stressors, a bad boss is possibly the worst, directly impacting the emotional health and productivity of employees.

HR experts say that of all the abuses, employees find public humiliation the most intolerable. The first time, an employee may not leave, but a thought has been planted. The second time, which thought gets strengthened. The third time, he starts looking for another job.
When people cannot retort openly in anger, they do so by passive aggression. By digging their heels in and slowing down. By doing only what they are told to do and no more. By omitting to give the boss crucial information. Dev says: "If you work for a jerk, you basically want to get him into trouble. You don't have your heart and soul in the job." Different managers can stress out employees in different ways - by being too controlling, too suspicious, too pushy, too critical, but they forget that workers are not fixed assets, they are free agents. When this goes on too long, an employee will quit – often over seemingly trivial issue.

It isn't the 100th blow that knocks a good man down. It's the 99 that went before. And while it's true that people leave jobs for all kinds of reasons- for better opportunities or for circumstantial reasons, many who leave would have stayed - had it not been for one man constantly telling them, as Rahul's boss did: "You are dispensable. I can find dozens like you." While it seems like there are plenty of other fish especially in today's waters, consider for a moment the cost of losing a talented employee. There's the cost of finding a replacement. The cost of training the replacement. The cost of not having someone to do the job in the meantime. The loss of clients and contacts the person had with the industry. The loss of morale in co-workers. The loss of trade secrets this person may now share with others. Plus, of course, the loss of the company's reputation. Every person who leaves a corporation then becomes its ambassador, for better or for worse.

We all know of large IT companies that people would love to join and large television companies few want to go near. In both cases, former employees have left to tell their tales.

"Any company trying to compete must figure out a way to engage the mind of every employee," Jack Welch of GE once said. Much of a company's value lies "between the ears of its employees". If it's bleeding talent, it's bleeding value. Unfortunately, many senior executives busy traveling the world, signing new deals and developing a vision for the company, have little idea of what may be going on at home. That deep within an organization that otherwise does all the right things, one man could be driving its best people away.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Insolvencies reach record levels

A record number of people in England and Wales went insolvent between July and September, official figures show.

The government's Insolvency Service said 27,644 people went bankrupt or entered into Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) to manage debts.

Overall, insolvencies are 55% higher than during the same three-month period in 2005 and are widely expected to top 100,000 for the entire year.

Experts have blamed greater personal debt for the rise in insolvencies.


Significantly, the insolvency figures show that the proportion of people taking out IVAs has risen relative to those going bankrupt.

In total, 15,416 people went bankrupt between July and September. At the same time, 12,228 people entered into IVAs.

A year ago, just over 12,000 went bankrupt and fewer than 6,000 entered into an IVA.
The sharp rise in IVAs has been controversial.

IVAs are heavily marketed by providers, who make money from acting as go-betweens for lenders and borrowers.

Some debt charities have criticised IVA providers for marketing them to people who would be better off either going bankrupt or coming to an informal arrangement with creditors.

"If the current trend continues, the number of IVAs will overtake the number of bankruptcy next year and that is an indication that the IVA solution is becoming more popular than is good for people," said Malcolm Hurlston, chairman of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), a debt charity.

Lenders, too, are concerned at the rise in IVAs.

"Several lending institutions have raised concerns at these record levels and have commented on the limited extent to which the advice sector is regulated," Stephen Treharne, head of personal insolvency at accountancy firm KPMG, told BBC News.

In response, a leading IVA provider, Thomas Charles, told BBC News that they were reacting to a real consumer need and not pushing the IVA concept inappropriately.

"If somebody in debt talks to a debt advisory firm, they should be given a full understanding of all the options - including bankruptcy, IVAs and informal arrangement plans," said James Falla, managing director of Thomas Charles.

"The key is, advice has to be measured, correct and well-targeted. Nobody can enter an IVA without the acceptance of the creditors and that ultimately is the backstop," he added.

Rate rise

Problems for debtors may just be about to get worse.

Next week, the Bank of England will decide whether UK interest rates should rise, thereby pushing mortgage repayments higher.

Most analysts predict that an interest rate rise from 4.75% to 5% is on the cards.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Yahoo! engine sparks Browzar backlash

The man behind private surfing tool Browzar has responded to mounting criticism by assuring users that the search tool on the application's homepage will be dropped immediately.

A major element of the backlash since Browzar's launch last week has been related to its utilisation of Yahoo!'s Overture search engine, which has outraged many users by burying impartial results behind pages of sponsored results.

As a result, some have called Browzar "adware", a claim Ajaz Ahmed - founder of Freeserve and now Browzar - has denied.

Ahmed said on Monday: "We don't do adware. We have Overture and people are not happy with the way that they show their results. As a response to that, the engine is going to be changed." He added that the new engine would be one that explicitly labels its sponsored results as such.

The problems extend beyond Overture, which is the same engine used by websites such as Lycos and Orange. Bloggers such as Scott Hanselman have pointed out that Browzar does not erase all traces of activity as it claims, leaving some pages in the cache of Internet Explorer, the browser on which the Browzar application depends.

Ahmed said on Monday he had been "corresponding with Scott". He said Browzar was "currently investigating that situation" and would "come up with an update to fix it".

Other inconsistencies are also apparent. For example, logging into a Google Account through its homepage then shutting the Browzar application leaves you still logged into Google if you then visit it in IE. Ahmed added: "It's still in beta form. We'd be more than happy to listen to anyone and make appropriate changes."

He also hit back at criticism that Browzar was being touted as a browser, when it is in fact an IE shell application. Although the application's website generally avoids calling it a browser, it is referred to as such in some parts of the site's FAQ section. "We've not tried to hide the fact that it's an IE shell," said Ahmed. "If we need to make that more explicit then we'll certainly change that."

Browzar - which is free to download or run from the company's website - is designed to offer a private browsing experience by avoiding the retention of any cache or autocomplete data.

Ahmed called the response since last week's launch "overwhelming" and claimed the company had already received thousands of congratulatory emails from satisfied users.

Google Debuts 200 Year News Archive Search

News and history junkies take heart: Google's new News Archive Search lets you search back over twenty decades worth of historical content, including scads of articles not previously available via the search engine.

"The goal of this service is to allow people to search and explore how history unfolded," said Anurag Acharya, Google distinguished engineer, who played a major role in shepherding the new product.

Google has partnered with news organizations including Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Guardian and the Washington Post, and aggregators including Factiva, LexisNexis, Thomson Gale and HighBeam Research, to index the full-text of content going back 200 years.

Archived news results can be found in three ways. You can search the news archives directly through a new News Archive Search page. News archive results are also returned when you search on Google News or do a general Google web search and your query has relevant historical news results.

Both free and fee-based content is included in Archive Search, with content from both publishers and aggregators. Search results available for a fee are labeled "pay-per-view" or with a specific price indicated. Google does not host this content; clicking on a link for fee-based content takes you to the content owner or aggregator's web site where you must complete the transaction before gaining access to the content.

Search results look similar to those produced by a search on Google news, with a few additional time-related features.

"Much like news, we are grouping related articles together from a given time period," said Acharya. "The ranking here, as you may expect from a Google service, is based entirely on relevance," with no precedence given to fee-based vs. free content. The mix of fee vs. free links will also vary depending on your query.

On the left side of search results are links to drill down into content from specific time periods. A blue arrow icon points to a "period of particular interest," when an event occurred or "something special happened," said Acharya.

One of the most interesting features of the new service is how it automatically creates a timeline that shows how an event or topic played out over time. Clicking the "timeline" link reorders results in chronological order; you can then drill down to get content from specific dates simply by browsing. There's also an option to limit search results to a single day via the advanced search page, according to Acharya.

This is a fantastic feature for people interested in seeing how a particular historic event played out over time. But it's also useful for simply keeping up with the progress of contemporary events. "We usually see history as a view of the past many years later," said Acharya. "Now we can enable you to search for anything and everything as it unfolds."

The service is rolling out with a U.S. English interface, but there's already a lot of non-English content available. "Our coverage is the deepest in English, but our plan is to expand into other languages fairly soon," said Acharya.

Google has no plans to become a content aggregator itself, or to even offer a streamlined payment system where you can use your Google account to pay for content, according to Google content partnerships director Jim Gerber. "At this point we are focusing on trying to make the content easily searchable and navigable," he said.

Are Google's partners worried about potential future competition? "The response from our partners has been overwhelmingly positive," said Gerber, because Google is currently only providing a link to partner sites where users log in and pay. "They see this as a great source of free, very targeted traffic." Content owners and aggregators not currently in the Google News Archives program can contact Google and request to be included, Acharya added.

As ZDNet blogger Garett Rogers, former SEW news editor Gary Price have pointedly noted, much of the fee-based content in Google Archive Search is available at no charge via many public libraries who subscribe to fee-based services and provide free access to patrons.

Google itself does something similar to this by permitting university users to access fee-based content licensed by the university in Google Scholar results. But for now, Google has no plans to build gateways to content through public libraries.

"Today users can't find this information on Google so we're just making sure we get it into the index," said Gerber.

Don't want to pay a fee for archived news? Check out Topix.net's one-year archive of news that Danny reviewed last week.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

View where your ad is showing around the world

Like many businesses leveraging search advertising, you may be trying to reach customers beyond your physical location. Perhaps this means reaching a neighboring city, or maybe there's another state or even country to which you can ship your products. As you probably know, location targeting options give you the power to reach customers in just those places where you want to promote your business.

However, since you're not in the next city over, or that other state or country, you've been unable to see your locally targeted ads--until now. We've heard your feedback and now have a tool for you to use to preview your ads no matter where they're targeted. Here's how it works:

Visit www.google.com/adpreview

Enter your keyword(s) in the search box and click on the "Search" button
Preview your ads on the search results page that loads or the subsequent pages (click the next link to see more ads on the right-hand side)

The search results and ads are not active, so you can preview at will without accruing impressions or accidental clicks. Best of all, you can refine the results page by adding location attributes and values manually to the URL of the ad preview page. Optional attributes include a target country, longitude/latitude coordinates, regions, and cities. In the U.S., you can also set a target ZIP code or designated market area (DMA).

For example, if you are trying to preview ads for "camping tents" in Chicago, IL, the URL you would use would look like:


Learn more about how you can preview ads and see what your customers in different geographies are seeing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pay Per Click ???

PPC is one of the four basic types of Search Engines. PPC is also one of the most cost-effective ways of targeted internet advertising. According to Forbes magazine, PPC or Pay Per Click, accounts to 2 billion dollars a year and is expected to increase to around 8 billion dollars by the year 2008.
Let us take a quick look at how PPC Search Engines work.
These engines create listings and rate them based on a bid amount the website owner is willing to pay for each click from that search engine. Advertisers bid against each other to receive higher ranking for a specific keyword or phrase.

The highest bidder for a certain keyword or phrase will then have the site ranked as number 1 in the PPC Search Engines followed by the second and third highest bidder, up to the last number that have placed a bid on the same keyword or phrase. Your ads then will appear prominently on the results pages based on the dollar amount bid you will agree to pay per click.

How do you make money by using PPC into your affiliate marketing business?

Most affiliate programs only pay when a sale is made or a lead delivered after a visitor has clickthrough your site. Your earnings will not always be the same as they will be dependent on the web site content and the traffic market.

The reason why you should incorporate PPC into your affiliate marketing program is that earnings are easier to make than in any other kind of affiliate program not using PPC. This way, you will be making profit based from the clickthroughs that your visitor will make on the advertiser's site. Unlike some programs, you are not paid per sale or action.

PPC can be very resourceful of your website. With PPC Search Engines incorporated into your affiliate program, you will be able to profit from the visitor's who are not interested in your products or services. The same ones who leave your site and never comes back.

You will not only get commissions not only from those who are just searching the web and finding the products and services that they wanted but you will be able to build your site's recognition as a valuable resource. The visitors who have found what they needed from you site are likely to come back and review what you are offering more closely. Then they will eventually come back to search the web for other products.

This kind of affiliate program is also an easy way for you to generate some more additional revenues. For example, when a visitor on your site does a search in the PPC Search Engine and clicks on the advertiser bided listings, the advertisers' account will then be deducted because of that click. With this, you will be compensated 30% to 80% of the advertisers' bid amount.

PPC is not only a source of generating easy profits; it can also help you promote your own site. Most of the programs allow the commissions received to be spent for advertising with them instantly and with no minimum earning requirement. This is one of the more effective ways to exchange your raw visitors for targeted surfers who has more tendencies to purchase your products and services.

What will happen if you when you integrate PPC into your affiliate program?

PPC usually have ready-to-use affiliate tools that can be easily integrated into your website. The most common tools are search boxes, banners, text links and some 404-error pages. Most search engines utilize custom solutions and can provide you with a white-label affiliate program. This enables you, using only a few lines of code, to integrate remotely-hosted co-branded search engine into your website.

The key benefits? Not only more money generated but also some extra money on the side. Plus a lifetime commissions once you have referred some webmaster friends to the engine.

Think about it. Where can you get all these benefits while already generating some income for your site? Knowing some of the more useful tools you can use for your affiliate program is not a waste of time. They are rather a means of earning within an earning.

Best know more about how you can use PPC search engines into your affiliate program than miss out on a great opportunity to earn more profits
i hope this will help you a lot
more you can find at www.ktmonline.com

for your easyness just collected some definations

Bid - The amount that an advertiser is willing to pay for a click on a specific keyword.
Budget - The amount of money that an advertiser sets aside for an advertising campaign. Different publishers allow for advertisers to set daily, weekly or monthly budgets.
Clickthrough Rate (CTR) - The percentage of clicks on a link. This is usually a percentage based on the total number of clicks divided by the number of impressions that an advertisement has received.
Conversion Rate - The relationship between visitors to a web site and actions considered to be a "conversion", such as a sale or request to receive more information: the percentage of people whose clicks have resulted in a sale or desired action in relation to the total number of clicks on an advertisement.
Cost Per Click (CPC) - The cost or cost-equivalent paid per click-through to an advertiser's website.
Cost Per Thousand (CPM) - The amount an advertiser pays for one thousand advertisement impressions, regardless of the consumer's subsequent actions.
Delisting - The removal of a listing as a result of inaction or poor performance.
GeoTargetting - An advertisement targeted at a specific geographical region, area or location.
Impressions - The number of times an advertisement is viewed by web surfers.
Keywords - Search terms or phrases that are related to an advertisement or ad copy.
Landing Page - The specific web page that a visitor ultimately reaches after clicking an advertisement. Often, this page is optimized for a specific keyword term or phrase.
Linking Text - The text that is contained within a link.
Pay Per Click (PPC) - Advertising model in which advertisers pay for click-throughs to their website. Ads are served based on keywords or themes.
Rank - How well a particular web page or web site is listed in a search engine or advertising results.
Return On Investment (ROI) - The percentage of profit that results in a marketing or advertising campaign. Naturally, advertisers want the amount of money made to exceed the money spent

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Search Engine Marketing Services: Trends and Predictions

Search Engine Marketing Services: Trends and Predictions

The search engine marketing industry is consistently evolving, sometimes at a pace that makes it hard to believe that search engine marketing services can stay on top of all the latest developments. The one constant for search engine marketing firms, and for the industry in general, is change--usually for the better, sometimes for the worse, but almost always significant. The industry is not for the faint-hearted or those who abhor change. However, savvy search engine marketing firms try to look ahead to anticipate trends. Here are my predictions of issues that search engine marketing services will face in the short term.

More Accountability Demanded from Search Engine Marketing Firms
Search engine marketing firms that use tactics designed to trick the engines into showing results that aren't directly addressing the search query will struggle, as more companies begin to look at the larger goals that lead them to investigate search engine marketing services in the first place. The "traffic-centric" mindset will evolve as companies begin to demand accountability from search engine marketing firms in terms of bottom line increases. Ranking increases delivered by search engine marketing services will be questioned if they do not lead to significant traffic increases, and traffic increases will be questioned if there is no subsequent increase in business generated from the website. This is a good thing for quality search engine marketing firms, since the "snake-oil" practitioners that have given the industry such a bad name will never be given serious consideration by any company that does its homework in the vendor selection process.

Rising PPC Costs and Increasing PPC Frustration
As larger companies with huge budgets continue to jump into the pay per click (PPC) arena, costs will continue to rise. (Average PPC costs have increased 37% from Q1 2005 to Q1 2006.1) These well-funded companies will use PPC as a branding tool as much as a sales tool, which will squeeze out many of the current smaller advertisers. In fact, the top 10 PPC advertising companies, based upon the number of PPC impressions, include such names as eBay, NextTag, Vonage, Time Warner, Orbitz, Target, and Yahoo.2 More large companies will continue to join the fray, many of them throwing ROI out the window and bidding high prices for desirable keyphrases for the sake of branding. This means that search engine marketing firms will find small- to medium-sized companies turning to SEO to achieve results when they no longer can afford PPC.

Increased Interest in Organic SEO
While PPC costs rise, there is also a trend that no doubt disturbs the engines that offer PPC programs. Sixty-six percent of consumers "distrust" paid search ads. Up to 85% of searchers say they "tend to ignore the paid listings", while 87% of commercial clicks take place "on the natural (not sponsored) search results." Three times as many marketers who outsource the management of their natural SEO to search engine marketing firms and who also participate in pay per click advertising recognize a higher ROI from their search engine marketing services than from PPC. These facts, coupled with the fact that Google has recently announced that it will begin to take the relevance of pages into consideration when deciding in what order the ads will appear (which will mean that effective PPC campaigns will need at least some basic organic SEO), point to one obvious result--an increase in the number of companies that investigate organic SEO programs, whether internally generated or provided by outside search engine marketing firms.

Continued Reluctance from Agencies to Pursue Search Marketing
To most, it seems like a perfect fit--traditional advertising agencies joining forces with (or purchasing outright) PPC providers and organic search engine marketing services. However, the average agency is scared to death of search engine marketing services in any form (although some forward-looking agencies have finally jumped on the search engine marketing bandwagon). The reasons are simple: accountability and metrics.

Advertising agencies have for years made money based upon a percentage of what a company spends on advertising. This model has been the accepted norm for decades. However, it raises some ethical issues. What is the motivation for an agency to recommend decreased spending on non-performing initiatives? Moreover, what reasons does an agency have to report on the effectiveness of each of its campaigns? (If an agency's clients dug deeply into any such metrics, they would likely reduce their advertising spend based on the performance of individual campaigns.) Many PPC service providers have adopted this model, even though the goal of a PPC campaign should be to monitor the metrics of a campaign to decrease the spend (eliminating underperforming key phrases, for example).

Good search engine marketing services offer metrics that scare traditional advertising agencies. If these agencies were to present such metrics to their clients, those same clients may start to demand similar metrics for other campaigns (television, radio, magazine ads, etc.). Until the "percentage of spend" model is altered, large agencies will continue to reject search engine marketing services and will not recommend them to their clients.

Continued Focus on Google for Organic SEO
In general, where Google goes, other engines will follow. Smart search engine marketing services will continue to optimize for Google, which currently accounts for half of searches in the United States. However, instead of trying to trick Google by unraveling the latest, ever-changing algorithm, search engine marketing firms will instead need to use the "piggyback" approach. This approach entails learning from the extensive studies that Google conducts of its users (learning by observing the commonalities of the types of sites that consistently rank highly) and applying those same attributes to client websites. In this way, search engine marketing firms not only make sites better for Google, but also for users. As other engines try to close the relevancy gap in search engine results, search engine marketing firms will be rewarded as the tactics they have used for Google success become the accepted industry standard.

The use of search engine marketing services is still a new, "unproven" channel to many companies. Even so, it is changing the way that many traditional advertising agencies must do business. With PPC costs on the rise, and the effectiveness of the PPC channel coming into question, more companies will investigate the hiring of search engine marketing firms using organic tactics for their Internet marketing needs. Smart companies that outsource organic or PPC advertising will no longer say "what have you done for me lately"--they will say "prove what you've done for me lately." Search engine marketing services that are on top of the curve will be more than happy to do so.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Introducing ad scheduling

Today we released ad scheduling, an advanced campaign management feature that allows you to determine when your ads run. Here's Jon D. from the Advanced Bidding team to tell you more:

Ad scheduling (also known as "dayparting") lets you tell Google exactly when you want your ads to run, and more importantly -- when you do not want them to run. In addition, more advanced users can automatically modify their bids based on time-of-day and day-of-week cycles in campaign performance.

Ad scheduling can also help you improve your ROI by ensuring that your ads run when it makes the most business sense. For instance, a local business may only want to run their ads during business hours, or an online retailer may want to boost their bids during their busier-than-normal lunchtime shopping period.

If you wish to try this new feature, you can enable it via the Edit Campaign Settings page

Google Checkout

We recently had the chance to catch up with Eric Lange, product manager, to learn more about Google Checkout, a new service that works with AdWords to help advertisers sell more online and process sales for free. Here's what we learned:

Give us some background on Google Checkout. Why this product at this time?

A growing number of people look to online search when they want to buy and we believe Google Checkout can help make the search and buy experience faster and easier. For shoppers, the goal of Google Checkout is to include more relevant information in search advertisements and make it easier to buy from sellers with a single login--that way, users don't have to re-enter their purchasing information every time they buy online. For advertisers, we want to make it easier to attract new customers and process their purchases for free.

So what exactly is Google Checkout and how would advertisers use it on their sites?

Basically, Google Checkout is a checkout process that advertisers integrate with their websites. Customers who visit their sites can use this checkout option to buy from them using a single username and password. And once they do, advertisers can use Google Checkout to charge their credit cards, process their orders, and deposit funds in their bank accounts. We have several integration options for advertisers to choose from.

How does Google Checkout help advertisers attract new customers?

That gets back to the motivation for the product – buyers often start the purchase process by searching online and they're looking for places to shop that are convenient and secure. Google Checkout makes it easier for shoppers to find these places by displaying the Google Checkout badge on the advertiser's AdWords ads. The badge is like a little sign on the AdWords ad that helps shoppers more easily find stores that accept Google Checkout.

You mentioned processing purchases for free. How does that work?

Put simply: for every $1 advertisers spend on AdWords, they can process $10 in sales for free through Google Checkout. For example, if an advertiser spent $1,000 on AdWords last month, this month the advertiser can process $10,000 in sales at no cost. If advertisers exceed their free transaction processing for the month, they'll only be charged 2% plus $.20 per transaction. The processing fees – or lack of them – reflect what we see as a natural relationship between generating leads through online advertising and processing online sales.

Sounds interesting. Where should advertisers go to learn more?

I'd recommend taking a closer look at http://checkout.google.com/sell?promo=sawb and watching this video introduction. We hope this new service helps our advertisers grow their businesses.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The PPC City Never Sleeps

What can we expect to happen with the quantity and quality of PPC traffic in the not-so-distant future? Has the genesis of the machinery that creates, controls, and disperses traffic reached its plateau, and everything that can be invented has already been invented? It may appear so on the surface.

Consider Overture. The company currently has the widest reach, extending to 80 percent of Internet users, 67,000 active advertisers, and last quarter revenues of $152M. "Key factors that will ensure our continuing leadership position are our long-term contracts with distribution partners, state-of-the art proprietary technology that allows us to operate the business on this scale, and having a very strong international element," said Overture's Wax.

Have the industry leaders become complacent? Make no mistake. "We not only believe that someone smaller than us, or someone currently not in our space, can come up with a great idea that could change our industry and FindWhat.com's standing within the industry," said Thune. "We assume it will happen. And it has recently, with Google's entrance into pay-per-click paid listings."

Currently, the large and small PPC players alike rely on anecdotal evidence of their traffic effectiveness, as provided from time to time by cooperating advertisers - though many advertisers themselves rely on quite unscientific traffic-to-sales conversion information.

To address these issues, 7Search has recently introduced a feature that in the long run can produce a huge impact on the whole traffic industry. The company created an "ROI feedback tool" that sends information on advertisers' sales back to the search engine, where it is used to gauge the quality of affiliate traffic.

It is hard to overestimate the importance of 7Search's approach. Just think, for example, what it can do to the Google's Ad Words program relevancy and rankings algorithms?

"There's targeted traffic, and there's more targeted traffic," said Prestipino. 7Search is also implementing a patent-pending technology dubbed "predictive search" to increase relevancy of advertisers listings appearing as a result of the search.

Search123 works along similar lines, integrating the technology that will assist in matching keyword-based search queries and phrases with users' intentions. "Understanding the dynamics between the buyer and the seller", explains Beriker, "is what it will take to be the leader in this industry."

Search123's website sums it up best: "We're obsessed with traffic quality."

And so are all of us in the business of buying and selling, measuring and analyzing, loving and hating, going broke and making a killing on Internet traffic.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Advantages Disadvantages Of Internet Marketing: The Good The Bad And The Ugly

The Advantages Disadvantages Of Internet Marketing are many.

A few Advantages Disadvantages Of Internet Marketing are:

* It's on the internet so it's low cost

* Very fast

* And you can reach a global audience

However it:

* Can leave the businessman feeling isolated

* Hard to tell if people are lying because you can't see their face

* And you can be overloaded with information.

There are more Advantages Disadvantages Of Internet Marketing, but I wont cover them all in one article. However I will focus on a few important ones.


Low cost:

The internet is made up of electrons, so there is not really anything physically to grab hold of like in a brick and mortar business. This considerably reduces your costs as you don't really need many materials or buildings. Just a computer with world wide web capabilities : )

Very fast:

A great advertisement I saw once said "If you were an electron, you would be there by now". This was an ad at an airport. It's referring to the internet. It's made up of electrons so it's VERY fast. Click a link, and you could be looking at an Australian website, click another one and you could be in America. If you wanted to get information any other way from these countries, you may end up having to go there.The world wide web eliminates the need for this. Go any where you want with the click of a button.

You can reach a global audience:

By this I mean, you don't have to set up shop somewhere and sell to the locals. You can set up an online shop, and sell to anyone in the world. This means a huge increase in potential revenues and a fraction of the cost it would take for you to set up shops all over the world.


Can leave the businessman feeling isolated:

This is very common. Because the world wide web is faceless (In most cases), it can appear cold and inhuman. This can leave you feeling isolated and very inward. Not a nice feeling at all. Everyone likes to socialize and meet people, but in this case, its quite difficult to, in business anyway.

Hard to tell if people are lying:

There is so much information on the world wide web now, it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between crap and quality. A lot of the crap is targeted at newbies. Here's an example "Make money fast by doing NOTHING", sound familiar? I bet you've had a ton of emails saying something similar.

Information Overload:

Once again we get to the part of there being a lot of information on the world wide web. There can be too much good information too. There can be a lot of competition for an industry, this can leave you more confused than if there were presented with loads of crap. You might not be able to tell who to chose. If you are a veteran of the net, you wont have much to worry about, however if you're a newbie then this is a problem.

The above are the positive and the negatives. Overall, I would definitely say that if you can do business online, then definitely do it.

How To Write More Powerful Brochures, Leaflets, And Catalogues

Probably the most interesting thing about brochures and leaflets is that they're seldom read in what we've come to know as the right order - as you would read a book. Rather in the same way that many people read magazines in dentists' waiting rooms, they will flick through brochures and leaflets and stop to take a longer look at bits that grab their attention.

Alternatively they'll flick all the way through and then go back to bits they've noticed and that have interested them. They're just as likely to flick through from back to front as they are from front to back.

What all this teaches us is that despite seeming logical, writing for brochures and leaflets in the form of a story that starts at the beginning, goes through the middle and finishes at the end, is not necessarily the best way forward.

Obviously you can't make every page stand alone with a message on it that says "in case you're flicking through backwards or only want to read this page, here's a summary of our corporate profile again." But there are some tricks you can use to get this random reading pattern to work a bit more effectively for you, rather than against you.

A lot depends on the type and style of brochure or leaflet you want to write, of course. In my experience, generally speaking the more specific the purpose of a brochure or leaflet the more likely readers are to read it properly and thoroughly.

If a leaflet contains assembly instructions, or a brochure contains technical specifications of equipment, there's a good chance that readers will start at least near the beginning and then work through towards the end. Once again, that's because readers will only get their full value from the leaflet or brochure - the "what's in it for them" - by reading it properly. Where you get the worst random grasshopper reading, however, is with the less specific documents like "welcome" leaflets or "corporate" brochures. So let's look at how we can minimize the problems with those.

Despite all of the above, often it is still worthwhile to organize your content in a reasonably logical order. Many people do absorb brochures in the usual order, and even if they don't they still expect to find the introduction at the beginning, the substantiations in the middle and the conclusion at the end. This approach is useful for the moderately subject-specific document, like a leaflet about a new service or a brochure about a new line of garden furniture.

The trick here is to put the main points in as crossheadings (some people call them sub-headings) in bold type, so that someone scanning the document will get the gist of your message even if they don't have time to read the body text.

You should also ensure that the crossheadings make sense in their own right and that understanding them is not wholly dependent on their being read in any particular order. Body text should support and expand on each crossheading and lead the reader towards the next one, but without creating a "cliffhanger" (in case the reader is going in the wrong order).

For the more general subject matter - the most likely to be skimmed, scanned, flicked through, read upside down or otherwise not absorbed properly at all - here's some advice from US writer John Butman from "Writing Words That Sell" which he and I co-authored some years back. This is what John calls "chunking:"

"Chunking means that the story you are writing is not, in fact, a story at all. It doesn't have a sequential flow. It's a string of tiny stories, each with its own message. Each chunk is relatively separate and each page or page-spread is also reasonably separate. This approach means that you need to be careful about antecedents - you can't refer to something mentioned on page one, because the reader may have started reading on page twelve."

I find that John's "chunking" approach works particularly well when there is a lot of visual material, with the "chunks" of text acting almost like expanded captions to illustrations. With "chunking" you may also use crossheadings, but their importance in telling the story by themselves is not as critical. Crossheadings here, then, can be more cryptic or abstract provided that they are relevant.

And a quick word about style, particularly if you are writing a "corporate" brochure or leaflet: this medium, equalled only (perhaps) by the "corporate" website is the most prone to suffer from the curse of "corporate speak." Sadly it would be very easy for me to illustrate what I mean just by including excerpts here from corporate brochures I could find in the offices of both small and large companies based in the city where I live. The curse of "corporate speak" lurks everywhere regardless of the environment, rather like cold viruses or headlice.


Many people fail to realize that catalogues should be written. Often their objective in creating a catalogue is to cram in as many products as they can with descriptive copy kept to a few mis-spelled words in tiny type squashed into a corner. These people are the on-paper equivalent of the "stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap" species you encounter in retailing.

However in a retail environment customers can usually pick up the products, have a good look at them, read the on-pack copy and find out all they need to know, so the fact that they're in a no-frills environment doesn't matter too much. When a product is pictured in the small, two-dimensional environment of the printed page it's not only no-frills but also very lonely, unless the product has the support of some well-chosen words to inform readers and encourage them to buy it.

Considering that for many businesses and other organizations their catalogue is their only shop window - or at least represents, potentially, a very significant revenue stream - you would think that everyone's attention and skill would be focused on its written content as much as its other elements. But no. All too often catalogues look as though their copy has been written by a well-meaning high school pupil who can look forward to a glorious future as a street sweeper.

Yes, of course some products that get sold via a catalogue do not need a lot of description and the only words you need to include are choice of colours/sizes/quantities etc.

But what about the "how to order" messages?

I don't know about you, but if I'm thinking of buying something from a catalogue there's nothing that puts me off faster than having to spend a lot of time figuring out how to fill out the form, who to make the cheque out to and where to mail it, etc. The same applies if I have to hunt around for website details.

It's not difficult to get the process right. Simply work out the steps you want customers to take, write them down simply, rough out the order form itself, and then try it out on your mother, your brother, your neighbour, the milkman, or anyone else - provided they are not involved with your organization. That's a cheap and fast way of discovering any flaws in the system, especially small goofs that can get overlooked so easily if you're too familiar with them.

And here's another one. How many times have you looked at a catalogue only to find that crucial information you should keep (like contact details for ordering, delivery information etc) is placed either on the order form itself or on the back of the page the order form is on? The result is when you mail off your completed order form you're obliged to mail that important information away with it. Stupid, huh.

There is no mystery about creating good catalogues - only common sense. It's perfectly okay in my view to keep your writing crisp and concise because it helps to use the space more efficiently. But whatever you do, never lose sight of the fact that the way a catalogue is written and designed says a lot more about your organization than you think. If it is cluttered, unclear and illogical, customers will think your company is too. If it is busy but accessible, clear and easy to understand and logically planned, well - need I say more?

Retailers spend fortunes on the design, layout and flow of their instore displays. Supermarkets can increase or decrease their turnover by thousands, simply by moving the fresh produce from the back wall to the side wall or by putting the bakery beyond the delicatessen or by increasing the aisle width by a few centimetres. Think of your catalogue as a paper-based store or supermarket, and you'll find it easier to give it the consideration and respect it deserves.

Instruction leaflets and manuals

A few years ago I bought a new computer, printer, keyboard and monitor all at the same time. I heaved all the boxes into my office at home and unpacked each piece enthusiastically. There was metal and plastic and cabling and cardboard and polystyrene and bubble wrap all over the floor. My two dogs picked their way through it, sniffing suspiciously as if all these items were chickens lying dead and headless after a fox attack.

I sat cross-legged in the middle, leafing anxiously through the instruction booklets, desperately trying to find the English language pages. When I did, I couldn't understand a word, largely because the instructions a) had been compiled by technical people who assumed substantial prior knowledge even though it was a "home" computer and b) whoever had written the UK version must have been taught English by Donald Duck.

And do you think the manufacturer might have supplied a simple instruction sheet telling me how to bolt it all together? No. Every piece had its own awful instructions but as far as the manufacturer was concerned, each item was on its own.

So I phoned my dear computer guru Jason and booked him to come over the next day and sort it out, despite him telling me it was easy and I could do it myself.

"Just read the instructions," he said.

"I can't understand the ****ing instructions," I shouted back down the phone. "You come and do it, I'll watch what you do, then I'll write it down and send the text to the manufacturers with an invoice for my time. At least that way poor so-and-sos who buy this kit in the future will find out how to get it working without having a nervous breakdown."

There's one very strong point that emerges from this true story. When people read, listen to or watch a set of instructions, they often do it in fairly stressful circumstances, in uncomfortable surroundings, in poor light, etc. Accessibility, simplicity, visibility, and clarity are vital.

People who buy products that require instructions, need to know how to use the product as easily as possible. And because many people are technodorks like me, instructions need to be understood by the lowest common denominator.

Logically then, you might think, the best person to write instructions for technodorks like me is someone who knows every last detail about the product, how it was made, how it works, what it does, and what its inside leg measurement is. In other words, an expert. This could not be further from the truth.

Instructions should never be written by experts, because they know too much. What this means is that they are very prone to making the mistake of assuming the reader knows a little bit about the subject matter already. To an expert, the fact that before you begin assembling the bookcase you need to align sections A, B and C with each other may be so blindingly obvious it's not even worth mentioning. To someone like me it's not just worth mentioning, it's absolutely essential if I'm not to spend the next three hours wondering why on earth I can't find any bolt holes that line up.

Wherever practical, instructions should be written by someone who knows as much as, but no more than, the audience. For any form of instructions to be followed by non-technical users, the writer should assume zero prior knowledge and the best way to ensure s/he does that, is if s/he doesn't have any prior knowledge her/himself. Provided that the writer has a logical mind and the ability to write clearly and simply, s/he can't fail to work out and then write good, usable instructions - because if s/he understands them so will everyone else.

Equally, instructions should not be written by the sales people, the marketing executives, the guys in the lab, the production staff, or anyone else - even you - if there's a risk they might have become familiar with the subject matter. Familiarity can breed if not contempt, at least wrongful assumptions about the audience's existing knowledge. For any product to be used by ordinary folks in the street, try to get the instructions written by someone from a totally unrelated department or even from outside your organization. Failing that, get them tested by one or more typical users who have no prior knowledge of the product, and edit them carefully on the strength of the feedback you get.

There is nothing that will blacken the name of your product and your company faster than a customer like me not being able to put your product together easily.

Although customers like me will get over it after taking a cold shower and asking the brainy next-door neighbour to interpret the instructions, we'll probably remember all those bad things next time we're shopping for the sort of products you sell. And we'll buy your competitor's.

Online vs. Offline Advertising

Let's face it. Email marketing and publishing have became very popular tool for promoting your business, especially in the USA. Many people use email in everyday communication. Email is fast and cheap. What would you like more? Many people subscribe to ezines about Internet, Jokes, Tips, Recipes, Horoscopes... Majority of these emails are free and very quality.

Advertising and marketing online and offline has at least one thing in common - you have to know your target audience. Market segmentation is very important because you don't want to loose your money sending your ads to someone who has no interest in it. Email advertising and online advertising in general is more effective because there are many state-of-the-art techniques which enable that you track every advertising.

Some good services for tracking are:

Web Site Tracking

Stat Counter http://www.statcounter.com
Web Trends http://www.webtrends.com

Email Tracking

Group Metrics http://www.group-metrics.com

In online advertising you can get information where your visitors are coming from, what do they read on your web site, how much is your email newsletter open-ratio, how much is click/thru ratio for every link in your newsletter, also you can get demographic reports about your visitors/subscribers and many other things. Because of that, in online presence you have great options for 1-1 marketing. You can adjust your web site design and content according to your visitor needs.

If you advertise on TV or magazines you can't know exactly how many people actually saw your ad. There are some predictions but not that precise, of course.

One of the main advantages of offline advertising over online is that people still believe more in what they see on TV than on the Internet.

Online promotion has one very big advantage over offline promotion and that is interactivity. In online promotion you can have interactive ads that behave differently based on visitor's behavior. Popular thing in online advertising is making ads like mini home pages. Yahoo! use that technique for advertising their services.

13 Facts About Newspaper Advertising

Advertising in the paper works for many people in business. The astute merchant understands the newspaper's weaknesses and works to avoid them whenever possible.

Here are 13 facts you should know.

1 Despite declining circulation figures and increasing ad rates, newspapers still reach large audiences, daily.

2 Newspapers are considered the PRIMARY advertising medium by 99.4% of all retailers. Newspapers have been there in every step of the typical store owner's life from the very beginning. Newspapers covered his birth, his high school graduation, his engagement, his marriage, the death of his parents and everything else.

3 Many, if not most, retailers, lay out their own ads. It is said that over the years, merchants have come to believe the only way to get it right is to do it themselves. This thinking has given rise to the new breed of newspaper salesperson. No training, just a list of customers and the daily question "Gotchyur ad ready yet?"

4 There is no proof full page or double-truck ads are more effective than half page ads. The savings can be spent on a concurrent radio campaign or billboards.

5 The same with color. It looks great, but the increased cost many times does not justify the small increase in readership. Forget the color and go with more frequency.

6 The paper is delivered daily, but there is no need for an ad every day as the paper reaches the same readers. 3 times a week works just fine. Spend the difference in the shopper or on a supporting radio campaign.

7 Newspaper coupons will have a better rate of redemption with a radio chaser. Especially if the coupons are NOT in a Sunday paper competing with 85% of all coupons weekly. Think about a coupons on Tuesday with supporting radio to drive them to it.

8 Less than half of newspaper readers read the entire paper. Most are skimmers. How many times through the paper does it take for you to find your own ad?

9 Over half of every newspaper is advertising. Almost as bad as TV where commercial breaks now last more than three and a half minutes. More than two-thirds of the huge and heavy Sunday brick is advertising and stuffers and lap cards (those pesky little cards that fall out when you pick it up).

10 Newspaper rates are climbing faster than any other advertising media. The smallest of ads in the smallest papers can cost over $100. One time, one shot and POW!, its at the bottom of the bird cage or spread out for an indoor dog's emergency.

11 Newsstand and subscriptions prices are rising, too. 75 cents an issue is rapidly losing to 4 quarters.

12 Most papers offer no competitive protection. Your ad can be placed side-by-side with your competition. Get the salesperson to guarantee you separation.

13 Daily newspaper numbers are dwindling. There are less than 1000 daily papers left in the US. Smaller communities must rely on weeklies or papers from another area with a "local" section. In some markets one publisher controls several small town papers, printing them at a central location, changing only the front page for each community.

Newspapers are still a formidable advertising force. Find ways to continue to use the paper to increase store traffic, but do it with other advertising too, so the media mix is efficient. Don't let anyone tell you NOT to advertise in the paper. Just do it better.

How to Write B2B Ads That Catch Customers

Are your business-to-business ads working for you? If they are not making sales, are they at least generating interest in your company? Are they making an impression on your potential customers by making you stand out in a crowd? If not, then you should take a look at this article and get those ads working hard for you.

Don't just fish for customers, catch them!

1. ALWAYS include your company name in the first sentence, preferably as the first word. Don't start out with 'we'. And briefly state what you do right away. For example: "Solinc designs plastic injection molds." You want them to know who you are right away. Also, many B2B sites don't allow visitors to view the total ad without paying or registering. You want everybody to at least be able to search for you on the Internet. This can also help your ad to appear on some search engines.

2. You need a 'hook' to reel in your readers. There are probably plenty of other ads right next to yours so you need to get them within the first sentence or two. Use some great adjectives. Which is better: "Solinc designs injection molds." Or "Solinc expertly designs high quality, precision injection molds." Now they know who you are, what you do, and why you are special.

3. Ask a question about why your reader should choose you and answer it. Questions such as "Do your customers demand high quality?" "Are you looking for a total solution package?" Then tell them that's what you deliver, you've got what they need.

4. Clearly state what you do step-by-step. Use bullets, numbers or short dedicated paragraphs. Make a list of your products and services. Then tell a little bit about them. Don't forget to use your adjectives here. Give them a 'line' to find the bait.

5. Give them some food for thought. It's time to ask them another question. This time ask them about a problem they might have that you can solve. For example, "Are you completely satisfied with your current supplier?" "Are you frustrated with late deliveries?" "Are you looking for faster and more reliable service?"

6. Give them a call to action. This is your 'sinker'. Offer them the answer to their questions by contacting you today. Don't let them get away.

If you follow these steps you are on your way to catching some customers. But you need a few more pieces of bait to land the big catch.

·Include your keywords and company name throughout the text. This can help your ad land in the search engines. Avoid using the words 'we' and 'it' and 'our product'.

·Use 'you' often. It pays to include your potential customer in your ad.

·Be entertaining or subliminal, but don't be boring! This can be a bit tricky in some areas of business, especially manufacturing. A good trick is to use a product noun as a verb and couple it with an adjective. An example would be for injection molds. Not the most entertaining subject, but: "Inject some speed into your production with high quality molds by Solinc." And you've got a line with pull.

·Be sneaky. Some B2B sites don't allow you to put in your email address or URL in the ad copy. However, if you spell out "dot" or "at" in your addresses your potential customers can find you.

·And finally, be polite. Never use all caps or more than one exclamation point at a time, be careful of poor grammar or bad spelling. Show your potential customers you care.

Don't forget, practicing and proofreading lead to good ad copy, which leads to good sales.

100 Excellent Words and 70 Action Getting Phrases for Ad Writing

70 Action getting phrases.

Act now! Send your name. All sent free to introduce. Amazing literature. Free. Ask for free folder. Bargain lists sent free. Be first to qualify. Booklet free. Catalog included free. Complete details free. Current list free. Dealers write for prices. Description sent free. Details free. Dime brings details. Everything supplied. Exciting details free. Extra for promptness. First lesson, 25 cents. Folder free. For literature write. Free booklet explains. Free plans tell how. Free selling kit. Free wholesale plan. Free with approvals. Full particulars free. Get facts that help. Get started today. Get your copy now. Get yours wholesale. Gifts with purchases. Illustrated lists free. Interesting details free. Investigate today. It's free. Act Now. Literature free. Mail material to: Money making facts free. No obligation. Write! Offer limited. Send today. Only 10 cents to introduce. Order direct from: Order Now. Don't delay. Particulars free. Postcard brings details. Request free literature. Revealing booklet free. Rush name for details. Sales kit furnished. Sample details free. Samples sent on trial. See before you buy. Send for free details. Send for it today. Send no money. Send postcard today. Send 15 cents for mailing. Send today. Send your want lists. Stamp brings details. Stamped envelope brings. Test lesson free. Unique sample offer. Valuable details free. Write for free booklet. Write us first! Yours for the asking. 37-cent stamp for details. $1 brings complete 32-page catalog free.

The key is to combine your words: EXAMPLE: "The Magic Mammoth Miracle"; "The Three 'M' Program". This has already caught the attention and interest of your prospect. Now for example, say: The Money Making Facts Are Free. Simply fill out the form on my website or whatever action it is you want them to take. Fill in with a few details and you have an excellent Profit Pulling Ad. Of course you should be creative, but make sure to build your ads around these words and phrases. Make sure that your follow-up material is as interesting as the ad so you can get orders.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Branding through Search: Strategies & Tactics

The "Branding & Search" session at featured Cam Balzer of Performics, Jessica Koster of Danskin, Jonathan Mendez of Digital Grit, Ron Belanger of Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Rand Fishkin, of SEOMoZ. The panelists spoke of the new branding trends online, and the as yet untapped potential of search marketing to build and strengthen brand recognition.

The Big Ad Agencies Start to Catch On
This year, marked perhaps most publicly on that galavanza of media marketing Super Bowl Sunday, ad agencies show signs of waking up to the power of Search as a branding tool. They're starting to integrate it with other more traditional media buys. And a few hiccups notwithstanding, they're seeing some pretty impressive results. This heralds some potentially big changes, and big opportunities for those SEMs who are ready to capitalize on this shift.

As deep pockets open their eyes-and coffers-to search's potential for branding, they could change the playing field of paid search marketing as we know it today. One panelist described one big brand client's relationship to capturing the #1 position on the SERP. They were prepared to bid whatever it took, no caps, no limits, and no need to justify the bid costs in relationship to clicks or orders to hold that top spot for the days surrounding their big media drop. Because their intent was brand awareness not sales or clicks.

New demographics are entering different vertical spaces, online. They're up-and-coming consumers, many in the 18-30 age bracket, who may not have been brought up with the tried and true brands of yesteryear's advertising media. Ad agencies need to learn how to find these searchers, know what they're looking for, and test the best messages that will leave a lasting brand impression with them.

Reconfigure Your Goals to Brand (Not Sell) with Search
Rand spoke of 6 basic Search branding goals. Simplistic as they may seem to veteran marketers, these oft-repeated goals are still the pillars of brand awareness:

1. Improve the visibility of your product or company
2. Create brand association with events or product categories
3. Position against competitors in specific market sectors
4. Build buzz for viral marketing
5. Leverage brand awareness to support your natural and paid search campaigns
6. Reach the 18-39 year olds by branding within the online marketplace

Safeguard Your Brand Name
If you've built your brand name over decades, protect your message, look, and feel in the online space. Jessica Koster at Danskin is working to marry their traditional brand with the new online space. As a company that's built its reputation over 100 years, for loyal customers, Danskin means dance. They get over 30% of their online orders from brand related listings.

If You Brand It... They Will Come
Mendez took the audience through a case study with one of the master branders SONY. The campaign goal? Build buzz. Not sell product. Build buzz. The product was a new Vaio notebook and all media pointed to the same landing page. An informational page without a single call to action. Not bad if the goal is to increase awareness but still, you had to really work if you actually wanted to buy the product.

As you dissect current campaigns online, and you find-or design-these four elements, you'll be looking on a solid online branding campaign:

1. Consistent creative messaging
2. One landing page collecting visitors from all media
3. Media or keyword buys in generic product or industry spaces
4. No specifically strong calls to action or promotions

Consolidate Your Message, Work At Higher Levels

Cam Balzer, Director of Search Strategies for Performics, has long been leveraging search for their nationally branded advertisers. Their clients have brand awareness in the public mind. But up until relatively recently, Balzer and colleagues leveraged search for ROI driven goals. That meant they looked for immediate click-through-rates or purchases to measure campaign efficacy.

But as they started to look more broadly at the metrics coming back to them, the behavior patterns indicated by search, and the potentials of this self-selecting medium, they realized Search could easily be used for purposes beyond ROI driven goals. They could extend brands and tap into more of the market and mindshare of the 60 million Americans who use search every single day.

As Cam simply said, "Search is becoming synonymous with being a consumer." As you go more deeply into analyzing large volume of search behavior, an interesting fact is unearthed. Consumers actually depend on search to build awareness, to learn about a brand or product, more than they use search to buy a product.

Work Online Ad Mediums Cooperatively
Ron Belanger of Yahoo! Marketing dropped a few nuggets of insight to wrap up the formal presentation of this session.

As a sign of our more accurate appreciation for Search as branding tool , Yahoo! has changed the names of its display ads. They used to call the display ads Brand Ads and keyword ads Search Ads. Now, more aptly, Yahoo! offers Display and Search ads, working with clients to find the sweet spot where the balance of ad spend in each compliments the other and builds a more robust campaign

Recently Yahoo! has seen, through their larger spend clients, a direct commensurate increase in search demand when clients purchase display, in conjunction with search. So next time your search ad rep calls, and tries to sell you more Yahoo! display, listen up. It might be more worth your while than you thought.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

eBay explores 'super union' to thwart Google

The prospect of a "super-union" between two or more of the internet's most powerful companies was raised today as news emerged that eBay has held talks with Yahoo! and Microsoft over a possible partnership designed to thwart the advance of arch-rival Google

A spokesman for eBay refused to rule out the possibility of a deal, telling Times Online that the company is in regular contact with Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google.

"The reality is we work closely with all these companies. We're always talking to them," he said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, eBay's parallel sets of discussions with Yahoo! and Microsoft began in earnest late last year and were spurred by Google entering into eBay's market with the launch of an online classified advertising site.

The four companies already compete and co-operate on a number of fronts. But there is a growing feeling within the industry that Google is becoming more aggresive.

Julie Meyer, chief executive of Ariadne Capital, the technology venture capital firm, said: "Google is undertaking the biggest landgrab the world has ever seen. We are seeing it exercise its market power, its cash and its brand.

"It probably would take a coalition of major players, a kind of super-union, to stop it and I would not be surprised at all to learn of a whole host of discussions behind the scenes."

Industry observers have noted that Google, which has a cash pile of $10 billion, has recently begun to act as a venture capital firm, investing in a string of online projects and placing bets in a number of areas.

The company's entry into online voice communications last year with the launch of GoogleTalk threw down the gauntlet to Skype, the market leader in internet telephony that was bought by eBay for up to $4.1 billion (£2.2bn).

Google has also been hugely supportive of opensource software developers, such as the non-profit Mozilla foundation, which compete aggressively with Microsoft, the world's largest software house.

Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google are all jockeying for position in online search, an area where Google holds a clear lead. Google has also begun a concerted drive to recruit the brightest IT engineering teams across the globe.

Overnight the company announced that its quarterly sales had soared past $2 billion for the first time.

Meanwhile, sites such as eBay's online auction house, the world's largest, rely on Google to drive consumers to them, a relationship that benefits Google's partners but which could leave them vulnerable to changes in policy from the search-market leader.

Rivals will also be mindful that Google, despite being set up seven years ago, has only been operating as a public company - with the huge escalation cash resources that has involved - for less than two years.

Sources close to eBay today noted in conversations with Times Online that eBay and Microsoft already co-operate in some areas - there is a link to the eBay site from Microsoft's MSN portal homepage, for instance. These kind of tie-ups could form the basis of a more consolidated effort to fend off Google, they said.

There has been speculation that eBay could enter a formal agreement over its online advertising spending with a chosen partner and offer information to either Microsoft or Yahoo! on its massive consumer base in return.

Such an agreement could echo that announced this week by Google when it revealed partnerships with seven major IT companies in the field of enterprise search.

Included in those was a deal with Oracle, the IT company, which recently announced its own offering to allow companies to search for digital information stored internally – a direct rival to Google’s offering.

Google executives have said they believe such "co-opetition" will become more common as companies compete for revenues amid the complex web of corporate relationships that have developed in the online sector.

The Journal also raised the prospect of one side in the eBay-Yahoo!-Microsoft triangle taking an equity stake in another. Such a transaction would mirror Google's acquisition of a 5 per cent stake in AOL, principally a portal business that competes with Yahoo!, for $5 billion in December.

However, industry sources discounted that idea, noting that once completed, cross share-holders can be troublesome to unwind. "I doubt these companies have a clear enough vision of where they are going to commit to that. The industry is just changing too fast," one said.

eBay already has close ties with Google in the finely interwoven online marketplace. The auction site spends heavily on Google ads

Google quarterly sales surge past $2bn mark for first time

THE internet giant Google yesterday reported that its first-quarter revenue had soared past $2 billion for the first time in its seven years.

The company’s introduction of new products such as a finance website helped it to win market share from its rivals Microsoft and Yahoo in internet advertising.

The rise in searches helped to offset Google’s increased expenditure on marketing, new staff and offices.

Martin Pyykkonen, an analyst at Hoefer & Arnett, said: “They’re spending heftily on marketing expenses, but strategically it’s the right thing to do and the underlying reason why revenue growth was so strong.”

The company said that net profit excluding special items rose to $592 million (£330 million), or $2.29 a share, from $372 million, or $1.98 a share, a year earlier. Sales surged 79 per cent to $2.25 billion. This outstripped Wall Street forecasts for growth of 63 to 78 per cent.

Eric Schmidt, chief executive, said: “Google had an exceptional quarter with strong growth and profitability.”

Google shares jumped as much as 4.9 per cent in after-hours trading to $435.51.

The results will help to allay concerns about the company’s health that date from the fourth quarter of 2005, when it missed analysts’ forecasts for the first time. The disappointing results sent Google shares tumbling, wiping $19 billion from its market value.

The company has since experienced a host of problems that have prompted investors to erase a quarter of its market value from its peak at $475 in mid-January.

Google shares slumped in February after George Reyes, the chief financial officer, surprised investors by warning them that growth was slowing.

Soon after, the company accidentally released internal profit targets at a presentation for analysts. Embarrassed, Google admitted in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that the figures were a year old, prompting investors to send its shares lower. The shares recovered when Google joined the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Google has also fought bad publicity for bowing to pressure from the Chinese Government to censor its content, in defiance of the company’s so-called motto, “Don’t be evil”.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google’s founders, had claimed in their listing prospectus that the company would encourage its employees to do good.

Analysts estimate Google controls more than 60 per cent of the internet search market. According to AC Nielsen, 49 per cent of US searches are conducted on Google


February 1: Google’s fourth-quarter earnings miss analysts’ forecasts. The company blames weakness in the UK market and a higher than expected tax bill. Shares tumble 7 per cent

February 13: Google shares slide after US magazine Barron’s says that they may be overpriced

February 16: Google hauled before a congressional committee over self-censorship of its China website. Congressmen accuse Google, Yahoo! and other companies of “sickening and evil” collaboration with the Chinese Government.

February 28: CFO George Reyes tells investors that advert revenue growth will slow. Shares fall as much as 13 per cent

March 7: Shares slide further after Google admits to US regulators that its finance staff inadvertently disclosed confidential revenue targets to analysts

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dealing with ‘click fraud’

Last month the newswires were abuzz with news that Google Inc has agreed to settle a lawsuit that alleged that the online search engine leader overcharged thousands of advertisers who paid for bogus sales referrals termed “click fraud”. Google agreed to an out-of-court settlement by committing $90 million to many advertisers who had used Google’s network during the last four years. The lawsuit, filed by Lane’s Gifts & Collectibles on behalf of all Google advertisers, revolves around one of the most sensitive subjects facing Google and Yahoo Inc today.

Years ago I had seen advertisements on the net that said you could make money by merely surfing on certain sites. I instinctively knew that this was a scam but did not link this to click fraud. Now of course we know that scam artists repeatedly click on specific advertising links even though they have no intention of buying anything-driving up advertising costs for companies that pay for each click by a prospective customer. Yahoo!, which was also named in the lawsuit, has decided to fight the allegations.

From Google’s perspective it serves no purpose to open the can of worms. The price to be paid is a meagre 0.8% of revenues it collected over the same four-year period. Even here, a significant portion of the settlement would go towards the plaintiff’s legal fees and not to the advertisers who did not get value in the first place. And the settlement was in the form of credits that can be set off against future advertisements, available to a broad pool of the innumerable marketers who ran ads that might have been affected by fraud over the said period of four years!

Advertising Age, sometime ago reported that the combined advertising revenues of Google and Yahoo! last year rivalled the combined prime time ad revenues of America’s three big TV networks—ABC, CBS and NBC. Google topped the list with $6 billion in online advertising revenue, Yahoo! clocked $4.6 billion and Microsoft’s MSN internet unit generated $1.4 billion.

Now look at the impact of internet at another level. CBS ties up with Yahoo! to feature 60 Minutes, its long running news programme in Yahoo!—its website draws an estimated 126 million users per month, while 60 Minutes show in CBS had an average weekly viewership of 14 million people. Imagine the impact this combined audience delivery would make on the ad revenues.

In India too, quite a few heartening trends have been put out by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). One survey indicated that the online population in the country is poised to grow to 100 million from the current 38.5 million users by the turn of this decade. An estimated 4.6 million Indian internet users bank online and the number is expected to soar to over 16 million, inclusive of internet and mobile banking, by 2007-08.

Internet advertising is projected to grow at 50%—to Rs 750 crore by 2010 from the current level of about Rs 100 crore. In 2010, it will be the fourth largest media after TV, print, and out-of-home. Radio, with all the expansion that is taking place, would be only the fifth medium.

The traditional cinema medium, which saw a revival, would still be lagging behind despite the delivery of commercials for this medium through the internet.

The other day I was with a media owner who pro-udly told me that Google gives him approximately Rs 1 lakh every day based on click through delivered by online editions of his publications. With increasing growth in the medium, there is little doubt that two things would happen: He will get more income from Google and there will be many click frauds that would be brewing!

Click fraud looms over Google, Yahoo

Click fraud is to Google and Yahoo what bird flu is to world health -- a problem that's manageable today, but could grow into a crisis without aggressive prevention efforts.

Silicon Valley's twin titans of the Internet era get almost all their revenues from pay-per-click advertising.

Advertisers hire Google and Yahoo to distribute the online equivalent of billboards that take people to the advertisers' sites. But advertisers pay only when someone is interested enough to click on their links.

There are several variants of pay-per-click advertising, but one form is particularly relevant to click fraud: affiliate networks.

Independent Web sites, known as affiliates, sign up with Google, Yahoo or smaller Internet companies and agree to let those companies place ads on the affiliates' Web pages. The affiliates then get a cut of any pay-per-click revenue.

Let's say I set up a Web site called Mike's Favorite Spots in Hawaii, where I regularly post news and tips about vacationing in the most beautiful place on earth.

I could sign up with Google's AdSense program and Google would place ads on my site. Google's computers would detect that my site relates to travel, and would place appropriate ads there.

Advertisers might, for example, pay $1 to Google for each ad clicked on my site, and Google would perhaps pass along 50 cents to me, the affiliate.

Everyone wins: I get advertising revenue, Google gets paid, and travel advertisers reach a relevant audience.

But a criminal could set up a fraudulent Web site and look for ways to generate phony clicks on the ads. The criminal collects ill-gotten gains, while advertisers are paying for worthless traffic.

That's click fraud, and it can be very lucrative.

But if it ever becomes rampant -- say, half of all pay-per-click traffic -- the business models of Google and Yahoo could collapse as advertisers walk away or spend drastically less money.

There's no reliable evidence suggesting click fraud is anywhere close to epidemic proportions, and Internet companies have already figured out how to block unsophisticated forms of click fraud.

But Google and Yahoo aren't sharing enough information to tamp down rising concerns about click fraud.

Among the recent news fueling advertiser anxiety:

Mountain View-based Google last month agreed to settle a class-action suit on click fraud by providing $90 million in credits to advertisers. That's a pin prick for Google, which reported profits of $1.5 billion in 2005, but more lawsuits against Google and other Internet companies are pending.

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo was accused earlier this month of failing to catch at least a few spyware companies -- peddlers of software that forces ads onto the screens of unsuspecting users -- who are simultaneously engaging in click fraud.

Ben Edelman, a graduate student in economics at Harvard University who also has a degree from Harvard Law School, uncovered the spyware-click fraud connection. Last week, he told me Yahoo gave him a written response that it will look into the matter. But Edelman said Yahoo isn't willing to concede there's any broader problem with its affiliate programs.

Also in March, federal prosecutors in San Francisco announced the latest in a string of click-fraud criminal indictments.

The arrests highlight a bigger problem created by click fraud: Scammers are secretly taking control of hundreds or even thousands of home and business computers, setting up what are called ``bot nets.''

Bot nets were initially used for extortion, by threatening to overwhelm Web sites with traffic if they didn't pay up, and for stealing credit cards and other personal information. But click fraud is now emerging as another motivator for bot-net criminals.

Despite these red flags, Google and Yahoo are hiding behind a ``trust me'' defense. They keep insisting click fraud is under control, without giving details.

``We have said for some time that we believe we manage the problem of invalid clicks very well,'' said Nicole Wong, Google's associate general counsel, in announcing the class-action settlement.

Google notes, with some justification, that many so-called experts who claim as much as 30 to 40 percent of all pay-per-click traffic is fraudulent are trying to sell consulting services or software to stop click fraud -- giving them an obvious incentive for overstatement.

Yahoo spokeswoman Gaude Paez told me last week that, ``the rates of click fraud that many software providers claim exist are highly inconsistent with the rates we see on our network.''

But neither company is willing to say what percentage of pay-per-click traffic they are flagging as fraudulent, or the total amount of refunds they're giving advertisers who claim click fraud.

If click fraud really is a small problem, releasing hard numbers will prevent advertisers from getting any more nervous than they already are.

If click fraud is a significant problem, advertisers -- as well as investors in Google and Yahoo stock -- have an ethical and legal right to know.

Both companies, to their credit, say they are considering whether to release more information and might be willing to accept independent third-party audits of click fraud.

As long as any bad clicks are getting through Google and Yahoo's filters, advertisers clearly need more information -- if only so they can direct their dollars toward companies doing the best job of detecting click fraud.

So if Google and Yahoo don't start sharing more click-fraud information voluntarily, unhappy advertisers will probably force them to do it anyway

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

PPC Bid Management Software Showdown

If you?ve been keeping up with the search engine industry lately, you?ll know that Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a fast growing trend. Nearly all of the major search engines and directories have now integrated one type of PPC or another into their search results. At the moment Overture.com (formerly GoTo) is the clear leader in the PPC field, with an estimated 90% of the total PPC search market. But others such as FindWhat, Kanoodle and eSpotting are slowly catching on.

Overture currently has partnerships in place with Yahoo, AOL, AV, Lycos, Netscape, InfoSpace, MSN and Excite. People bid to purchase keywords from Overture and the top 2 or 3 bids (called Premium Listings) appear on their partner sites when searches are conducted for those keywords. Most of the time, Overture results appear above regular search results as ?sponsored matches?, so you can see how effective this type of campaign can be when used to draw targeted traffic to a web site. Whenever a viewer clicks on a sponsored listing, they are taken to the advertiser?s site and the advertiser is charged for the click at the rate determined by their bid on Overture.

The main drawbacks to advertising on PPC engines to date have been:

a) The quick exhaustion of funds due to large traffic volume

b) The time consuming nature of bid rank analysis for multiple keywords

c) The impact of bid gaps on cost-effectiveness (when your bid is more than it needs to be to maintain your target rank).

When you are managing PPC campaigns for hundreds of keyword sets for multiple client sites, these problems are compounded. Fortunately, software has sprung up to help people manage their PPC campaigns and automate the bidding process.

We have reviewed eight of these Bid Management Software programs in our effort to find the one right for our client campaigns and thought we?d share the results with you:

(Please note a more detailed version of this article, including a Software Features Chart can be viewed at our site here: http://www.high-search-engine-ranking.com/PPC_Bid_Management_Software_Showdown.htm)

1. Tangare?s Pay Per Click Maximiser www.tangare.com

The Pay Per Click Maximiser is a great product. A downloadable desktop program, no monthly fees, plenty of keywords and a good price for the Standard edition (USD $199 for 500 keywords). It supports FindWhat, Kanoodle and eSpotting in conjunction with Overture US & UK and allows the user to determine the bid update frequency. Other notable features include the ability to export reports to Excel, HTML and email.

My only real problem with this program is the Interface, which tends to be confusing, (all that gray on gray) and not very intuitive. There is a help menu, but on first launch, it is not clear where to start or how to launch a new project. The ?manage search terms? tab is also a little user unfriendly, but once you study the help menu to determine how to set your rank targets and bid limits, you?re off and running. Their free trial download simulates the bid optimization process, but is otherwise fully functional. Score 8/10

2. Click Patrol http://www.clickpatrol.com

Click Patrol claim to be the largest provider of automated Pay-Per-Click bid management services, but I can?t see any redeeming features that differentiate the service from other providers. For starters, it is Internet based, so if you are security conscious, you may not like the idea of handing over your Overture account login details to a third party provider. Then there are the monthly fees, which are the most expensive of all programs reviewed, ranging from $100 to $500, with an extra fee per keyword if you want your bids checked more often than every 24 hours. See the Features Chart for details. They do support seven of the major PPC engines and I hear their ?Auto Position? feature works well to close price gaps, but there is no free trial of their system that I could find, only case studies and a screen capture. Score 5/10

3. Gapster http://www.did-it.com/gapster

With the release of their freeware bid optimization tool Gapster, Did-it had an opportunity to win hearts and capitalize on a thankful market. It sure sounded promising: free automatic bid monitoring & updating for 200 keywords on Overture US & UK, FindWhat and Kanoodle.
Unfortunately, they chose to abuse the privacy of their customers and win enemies for their trouble. As reported by Danny Sullivan in his latest Search Engine Update newsletter, beta users of Gapster allegedly had their Overture account login details published on the Internet last month, care of one of Did-it?s own servers. The security breach was quickly corrected, but the damage to Did-It?s reputation was already done. Mindful of this first impression clouding my judgment, I tried to download the beta version to verify the product itself and give them the benefit of the doubt. But at time of writing the download was unavailable due to the software undergoing an update. Let?s hope their updating their security protocols. Score 0/10

4. Save Per Click http://www.saveperclick.com

Another Internet based program, Save Per Click supports more PPC engines than any of the other products we reviewed, Nine in total, including some I?ve never heard of. They offer a free 7day trial, but you need to have an account already in place at one of the supported PPC engines. This is a fairly straightforward program, but my major gripe is price and the inability to pre-determine bid update frequency, although you CAN choose time of day. The monthly fee ranges from $19.95 to $89.95 for the Standard edition (updates once a day) and $59.95 to $199.95 for the Pro edition (updates once an hour). Price range is determined by number of keywords. See the Features Chart for details. Score 6/10

5. Auto Pilot http://www.managebid.com

Probably the pick of the Internet based programs, Manage Bid?s Auto Pilot software was the only one reviewed that provided unlimited keywords. The hitch is that each keyword will cost you 0.25 USD a month to monitor, with a minimum spend of $25 per domain, per month. Bid updates are done every 24 hours and the program provides support for eight PPC engines (some obscure). There is also an Economy Mode for the penny pinchers, at 0.10 USD per keyword, with a minimum spend of $10 per domain, per month. But economizers must update their bids manually ? see the Features Chart for details. Score 7/10

6. PPC Professional http://www.ppcmanagement.com

Now this one has real potential. You have the choice of purchasing a lifetime version or a monthly subscription and you also have the flexibility of determining how often your bids are checked and updated. Keywords supported range from 50 to 5,000+ with costs staggered from $89 or $12 per month for 50 keywords to $999 or $100 per month for 5000+ keywords (see the Features Chart for detailed pricing). With a ?Smart Bid? feature to ensure your bids are cost-effective and the ability to import keywords straight from Overture, this new product has many features the bigger names don?t. You can print reports or email them directly to customers and the developers claim to keep your login and account info secure. It also supports unlimited Overture accounts for those of you with multiple clients. Currently the software only supports Overture.com, but a new release planned shortly will support other engines and include new features. The 10 day, 10 keyword trial version has a few bugs to be ironed out and the interface isn?t as intuitive as others, but definitely one to watch. Score 7/10

7. Position Guardian http://www.positionguardian.com

Not the most feature-packed product, Position Guardian (Premium) is an Internet based bid monitoring and gap analysis tool that automates the process of checking your bids on Overture and sends you daily notification of bid gaps. Unlike the other products reviewed, Position Guardian does not include automated bid updating, you have to manually change the bids yourself by logging in to your Overture account. Sure it?s cheaper than some, with prices ranging from $7.95 to $57.95 per month depending on keyword numbers, but it still seems like a lot to pay for less than half the work (see the Features Chart for detailed pricing). In their defense, they do provide a free online version that allows you to manually check for bid gaps one keyword at a time ? handy if you?re worried about that all important keyword. Score 4/10

8. BidRight http://www.bidright.net

We have a winner! BidRight was very hard to fault. A downloadable desktop program, no monthly fees, generous keyword limits and a very competitive price for their new release Pro edition (USD $199 for 500 keywords). See the Features Chart for more pricing options. Version 2 supports FindWhat, Kanoodle and eSpotting in conjunction with Overture US & UK and allows the user to determine the bid update frequency from every 60 seconds to every 24 hours. Their interface follows the WYSISYG principle and it was the easiest of all the software to install and start using.

Particularly impressive is the ?Gap Surfing? tool that finds the most cost-effective position from a range of ranks that you predetermine. So if you wanted to remain in the top 5 positions, you choose position 1 as your target rank and enable gap surfing with a range of 4. BidRight will find the largest price gap in the top 5 and slot your bid in there automatically whenever it is scheduled to update, preventing you from overbidding and saving you lots of money in the process. Other new features include the ability to export reports in CSV format, a drop back rank feature when maximum bid has been reached. Combine all this with the ability to customize the update frequency for your most important keywords and you have a very powerful tool that becomes a must for managing any PPC campaign. You can download a fully functioning 15 day demo, with the only disadvantage a five keyword limit. Score 9/10

Well BidRight was the ultimate winner of our Showdown and I was so impressed with the product that I immediately signed up to become an affiliate! If you would like to buy BidRight, you may like to use our affiliate link: http://store.yahoo.com/cgi-bin/clink?bidright+NARxJp+index.html. Be sure to mention Coupon Code WR 007 to obtain a 5% discount (we do get a commission if you use our link, so if that bothers you, feel free to use the general link above). Remember you can view the Features Chart for all the software reviewed from the longer version of this article located at our site: http://www.high-search-engine-ranking.com/PPC_Bid_Management_Software_Showdown.htm.

If you are in the market for any kind of Bid Management Software, you may want to keep an eye on current talk about the implications of such software on server load at Overture. Apparently Overture are considering restricting access to their servers from persons using bid management software because the server load is becoming too great. They may block access from certain IP addresses that abuse the system or they may restrict access by software. To reduce the impact on search engine servers, you should use your bid management software responsibly, restricting bid checking to every few hours or daily rather than every few minutes.