Archive for June, 2008

Try the New Google Template Ads

June 27th, 2008 No comments

Recently Google released a new ad type – template ads. I’ve been beta testing them for Google and providing advertiser feedback. While the system isn’t perfect yet, the template ads are a really interesting development for Google’s content targeting product, and I encourage other advertisers to give them a test.

Essentially template ads are the next step forward in Google expanding image ads for content targeting. Basically Google is providing functionality to allow advertisers to build their own rich media ads for use in content targeting. Eventually I assume they are going to let you just upload rich media ads, but for those who don’t have any in house design teams to develop the ads the templates provide a easy way to build some. There’s several templates to choose from (a pretty photo show, a coupon, a quiz), I’ve tested two that seems right for Viator’s business.

Showcase templates allow an advertiser to showcase up to 12 products in one ad. I have a problem with the minimum being set to 6 products, I’d prefer 5 since I am making ads that are like “Top 10 things to do in Paris”, 5 would be nice for shorter lists. A price is required to be specified in the price field, I’d prefer not to (or to upload several prices and have Google display the correct one for the geo location) since we show the same ads to multiple countries with different currencies. Basically I just show dollars now, which seems ok, but not ideal. But on the plus side, each product link can be separately tracked.

Vatican Showcase Ad


As you can see, the products display along the bottom and the selected product appears at the top with its image, description and price.

The other template I have tested is the slideshow template ad. Similar to the showcase template multiple images are loaded up with a slideshow fade out or wipe effect to transition between them. On the down side this template lacks the functionality to track the frames separately, there’s only one link for the template. But unlike the showcase ad the slideshow has can be set to play automatically whether or not a user interacts with it, so there is more of a rich media feel to this ad. Click on the ad below to see it in its full 728×90 size.

Slideshow Template Ad

The template ad creation interface is fairly straightforward, but it does take about 20 minutes to make a showcase ad — pulling the images, copy, links, and so on takes some effort. I begged for a save draft button since the ad creation is all on one page, I’d hate to lose half my work because of a short internet outage or something. I also like the color customization, but would prefer to the ability to just enter a hex code for the color I want versus picking from their few choices. Also Google resizes the ads to all the standard IAB sizes, and sometimes that looks a bit funky, it would be a nice feature to be able to clean up the funky ones to have less text or a better sized image.

The placement reporting for content targeting is not yet distinguishing between the ad types in much detail, but it does break out html versus text ads, so its possible to get some idea of the template ad distribution and performance. I’d like to see more, like placement reports on the sizes and the template ad type and link to have more complete detail on what is driving the traffic.

In general, I like the new ads, and they seem to be driving some quality traffic and decent conversions. Running rich media ads in the past for Viator showed that, in general, the rich media ads have a higher average order size than search marketing (but lower conversion), and that seems to be true for the template ads as well, they are tracking a higher average order size. The template ads also have better conversion rates than the rich media I’ve run in the past, its still not as good as search, but its better than other network ad buys, probably due to the high degree of targeting. Definitely worth testing out for any marketer having content targeting success.

When to unpause a keyword (everyone deserves a second chance)

June 20th, 2008 No comments

Any search marketer will tell you that you can’t go wrong testing out a new keyword. If the keyword drives conversions, wohoo, you’ve got a keeper! If it doesn’t, you can always pause it and the budget you spent was the price of a lesson on what kinds of keywords you might not want to buy. I regularly clean up my accounts by pausing non-producing or really, really low performing keywords, as do most good search marketers.

But at some point, unless they’re really generic or almost irrelevant, I think paused keywords are worth a second look.

If the keywords are for a particular product (ie, an iphone, a vatican tour, etc), its worth a quick check to see if the product is now on sale or more competitively priced than before. Also, if the landing page has user generated content elements (like a review), does it have more favorable content now that it didn’t before? Has the website functionality changed in a way that improves conversion or makes the landing page more attractive or functional? Any of these kinds of factors might improve the keyword’s performance and make a re-test worthwhile.

When you’re looking to drive additional traffic, its also much less time consuming to hit the unpause button than it is to go out and find new keywords. Worst case, the keywords still don’t convert well and you pause them again, best case they convert better and stay live in the account. You might lose a little budget, but that’s a fair price for learning.

I wouldn’t recommend resuming any really generic keywords – its unlikely that those will have improved much in performance, and they’ll probably end up inactive from low quality scores anyway. Sometimes its good to let things go.

If you are going to retest some keywords, be sure to give them ample time to get traffic (if they are tail terms) and drive transactions, particularly if you are in a business like travel, with significant latency.

A good time to retest is right before your high season, for example, November for retail, and May or June for travel. Which means I need to get on it!