Search Engine Strategies 2008: Day One (Ad Quality)

By Scott Wolpow, Public CTO, for
Time really flies! This is the third Search Engine Strategies I have attended. As time goes by, so do the rules about the engines.
The four day conference covers both areas of the search engine, namely Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing. It is well worth the money spent.
The first day is always a little quieter as the conference hall is not open yet. I choose to attend a track covering SEM.

The title was Ads in a quality score world. It focused on the relatively new practice of basing Cost Per Click [CPC] based partially on how good your ads are and how they reflect the page they go to [which is known as the landing page].
Speaking at the Panel were notables from Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and three members of media agencies.
Back in the dark ages before, GOTO.COM [which became Overture>Yahoo Marketing], there was no real standard on advertising on search engines and on sites. Most were done on a traditional model of cost per impression. It was a flat rate. GOTO.Com started first with bidding for placement and soon started using CPC [also known as Pay Per Click-PPC]. In 2004 Google started changing the model. They also included in the pricing model formula a factor to include what rate your ad was Click Through [known as Click Through Rate-CTR]. The more successful the CTR, the lower per click you paid and the higher your ad appeared. The rational was that it was better to have 150 clicks at $1.00, then 1 click at $100.00. Google also started to make sure that your keywords reflected the landing page where the ads sent the viewer.
What the engines discovered was that there was growing dissatisfaction among users the engines. Too often they arrived at spammy pages, or pages that had nothing to do with the ad. This lowered the expectation of the user and the engines worried that consumers would lose confidence.
To combat this, the engines decided to start determining the quality of the landing page. They wanted to know how relevant was to the ad. They also wanted to make sure the ads were worded in a way to get people to click on the ad.
The Media Agencies reported some mixed results, but the conversion rate [the amount of visitors who bought or did the required actions] did increase.
During the Question and Answer phase I asked if there were tools a web designer could use to test the pages. Yahoo and Microsoft both stated that they would either post guidelines or build a tool. Google as usual said no.
Soon to come: Biding on KW, tools you can use, How to Write a better ad.