Boston Pubcon: A closer look at pay-per-click advertising

Boston Pubcon: A closer look at pay-per-click advertising

Author | Vikas Malhotra | Monday, Apr 24,2006 8:17 AM

Boston Pubcon: A closer look at pay-per-click advertising

Continuing with the updates on the Pubcon sessions being held in Boston, USA, the PPC (pay per click) session on Day 2 was an interesting one. PPC advertising is a much written about methodology and justifiably so, for the current stock of Internet users are slated to grow from 850 million at present to 1.6 billion by 2010. Also, the Internet is a better advertising medium because, behaviourally, people use the Internet throughout the day, whereas they use TV mostly at night and newspapers mostly in the mornings.

We would focus more on the takeaway features of the four big-time players in this market. However, here is some general stuff on how to optimise your PPC campaign before we dig deep into product features. To improve the rank of ads on the results page on most search engines, some of the things one can do are:

1. Group related keywords together and create relevant ad text

2. Two to three creatives should be tested with every categorisation

3. Campaigns can be optimized using various match types

4. Broad match (default)

5. Phrase match (exclude expanded matches)

6. Exact match (takes most work)

7. Negative matches

8. Examine landing pages and their call to action closely

Let’s now turn the focus on the players and start with the new player on the table:


MSN is the last player to enter the PPC market. Till date, they were using Overture/Yahoo PPC engine to serve ads on their results page. However, they have now launched their own PPC programme, which is now live in Singapore and France. It is to be launched in the US in a big way in Fall 2006.

MSN PPC will be bringing some cool features to the table. It is helping advertisers to segment their audience in a myriad ways to help them target better. MSN lets you target your audience based on geography, age and gender. In other words, if as an advertiser you wanted to target rich women over 35 years in the West Coast of the US, you will be able to do that with MSN. This is a feature that is very unique to the PPC market.

Also, it allows you to bid separately for these market segments. This means you can set different bids for the male segment than that for the female segment of your audience. Also, you can customize bids and optimize for audience demographic, geography, day of the week and time of day, wealth index and lifestyle.

To have this level of control on your campaign is great empowerment in the hands of advertisers.


The big daddy of the PPC market is revving up its PPC engine with some new features. To start with, Google has modified its way of ranking PPC ads on the results page. Its new formula is: Ad Rank = Maximum CPC and Quality score.

Here, quality score is defined by taking some of the factors like User Post click experience, ratio of links/ads on the landing page, and privacy policy of the advertiser into account.

Also, Google has introduced a new keyword selection tool, which is more elaborate and helpful to advertisers.

Another feature which is now available is ‘seasonality’ of search volume data. Google has also decoupled its content network from its PPC campaign. This means you can set up content ads as a separate campaign and bid separately on it.

Besides, one can optimise campaigns in Google based on topics and select demographics.

Google Analytics is another tool, which is now a standard feature of Adwords (Google PPC) programme. It helps advertisers with their ROI calculations. Advanced and sophisticated users can upload keywords using Excel sheets and manage their long tail of keywords automatically and concentrate on high ROI keywords manually through the Adwords API, which is available at

Yahoo/Overture PPC:

Yahoo did not introduce any new feature in its product at Pubcon this year. In fact, it was the usual ‘yada yada’, wherein they talked about Yahoo reaching out to 92 per cent of the total Internet users.

Its PPC interface remains as unwieldy and campaign management still remains a trifle difficult than with other players.


This company is trying to find its bearings in the international PPC market. MIVA is the new name of the group. In 2004, undertook an aggressive merger and acquisition strategy, bringing together numerous companies from around the globe, including Espotting, Miva Corporation, B&B Advertising, MVCool and Comet Systems.

MIVA currently offers Pay-Per-Click advertising in the US and most of Europe (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway and Denmark) through its distribution network of partners, search engines, portals, directories and vertical niches. Some of them are Mitsui, Lycos InSite, Verizon and Thomas

The cool thing about Miva is that they already offer a pay per call advertising model. They leverage their partner networks to set up telephone bids on a pay per call basis. This also leverages the fact that most users research online and want to buy offline, so the pay per call model caters to that segment as well.

Another cool thing about this model is that you do not need to have a website to bid on this model.

Lastly, Miva revealed that they have also tried pay per text message on mobile phones in the UK market for which they have tied up with mobile directories there. When a text request is serviced for a user, a text ad is also supplied. The CTR on that ad was measured at 8 per cent. Interesting, isn’t it?

Overall, Pubcon concluded with lots of beer, conversation, gossip and camaraderie amongst webmasters and industry participants.

See you at the next Pubcon in Las Vegas in November.

(The author is Chief Business Consultant, Media Estate, and Founder Director of Mosaic Services, a leading Online promotions and search marketing company.)

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