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Posted by admin on 11th June 2012

3 keys to improved PPC profitability

Do you manage sponsored search ads but find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the latest tools and trends? Are you spending hours and hours poring over data to improve conversion rates only to see minimal improvements? If you answered yes, read below to find our tips on how you can improve PPC performance by focusing your efforts to optimize keywords, streamline bid management and improve your quality score.

Optimize keywords

With Google AdWords’ keyword research tool, generating a list of relevant keywords is now as easy as the click of a button. While generating a long list of potential keywords is a good start, you can’t stop there. The list must be optimized in order to have a positive impact on conversions and avoid wasting campaign money on poor performing keywords. In order to improve performance it is necessary to actively purge or demote unsuccessful keywords, optimize keyword matching type and add in negative keywords in order to eliminate unwanted search strings and more closely target your keywords.

Streamline keyword bid management

One task that never goes away from PPC management is keyword bid management. Since your business competes with others to win more views at the lowest cost, keyword bid management must be done aggressively and consistently.  This task is as dynamic as any other financial analysis, since there are many factors that determine ad visibility, the cost of a click and the cost of a conversion.  Effective keyword bid management can be complex and time consuming. However, since keyword bid management is based on mathematical calculations where past performance is a good predictor of future performance, it is well suited to automated tools. While Google AdWords offers free bid management features, we believe these are inadequate as they limit your PPC intelligence due to Google’s black box approach.  For success in keyword bidding, it is important to be able to analyze all of the potential variables that impact conversions including those provided by conversion tracking and web Analytics.  Continue Reading

Posted by James Lee on 1st May 2012

How to get the most from Ad Copy Testing

If you want to develop pay per click ad copy that delivers results, a sound testing strategy that compares the performance of multiple ad copy versions is essential. However, when setting out to evaluate or test different ad copy versions, it is also important to understand ad serving methodology as this can dramatically affect your results.

Recent improvements by Google have resulted in three options for ad serving:

  1. Show ads with high click through rates more frequently
  2. Show ads with the highest conversion rates more frequently
  3. Show ad versions equally regardless of “early” conversion or click through rates

If you observe the timing when Google starts serving more ads to one ad copy version over others, you will notice that it often occurs before sufficient data has been generated.  If ad serving is skewed in favor of one ad copy version, then the ad copy evaluation may also be skewed.

To illustrate how the basis for ad copy serving can impact results, I have presented a real case study. In this case study, 2 ad copy versions were tested in 2 different time periods producing very different results.

Case 1.

Ad copy                                % Served             CTR                        Conv                      Cost/Conv

Copy A                                 84.2%                    2.64%                    11                           $30

Copy B                                  15.8%                    2.51%                    6                              $10.9

Case 2.

Copy A                                59%                        2.16%                    12                           $16.4

Copy B                                40%                        2.62%                    4                              $39

 

Based on this data, which ad copy do you believe has the best conversion performance?

Chances are you selected Copy B from Case 1 and Copy A from Case 2 as the winner of ad copy testing in terms of conversion performance.

If you observe the data closely, you can see Case 2 presents convincing data that copy A is superior to copy B.  Why is this not true for Case 1?  The reason is that Copy A’s served percentage in Case 1 is 5 times greater than Copy B’s.  As you can see, the ad served percentage had a significant impact on results.

From this data, we can conclude the following:

  1. Ad copy performance may not be scalable.   The inconsistent performance of Copy A (Case 1 vs. Case 2) suggests that ad copy performance is not scalable as Copy A is served 5 times more than Copy B.
  2. Google’s click based ad copy serving method may not the best option when profitability is the objective. The latest trend in Google’s ad serving logic would be to display ad copy B more often based on its higher click through rate even though ad copy A shows superior conversion performance and overall profit generation.
  3. The best approach for evaluating ad copy is to distribute ads evenly until there is sufficient performance data to make an informed decision. As illustrated in the scenario above, ad copy A’s performance was superior to copy B in terms of maximum profit generation.  However, when ad distribution is uneven, performance data may be inconclusive or skewed, potentially leading to the wrong decision on ad copy performance.

 

In conclusion, to select the best ad copy and optimize ad performance, it is not only important to test copy versions but also to ensure that each version is served evenly for a sufficient period of time in order to generate true profit driven performance data.  Once a sufficient amount of performance data is generated, it is then necessary to establish the performance difference that will distinguish winning ad copy from copy that will perform poorly.  Don’t fall into the trap of continuing to run multiple ad copy versions and poor performing ads long after you have the necessary data to tell you which ads and ad copy will produce the best results.

To assist advertisers with the process of testing and determining the highest performing ad copy, ClickSweeper provides a profit driven approach to ad copy evaluation. ClickSweeper’s profit driven approach determines ad quality based on click through rate and cost per conversion. Once the data is in and poor performing ad copy has been identified, the poor performing ads can automatically be suspended in each Adgroup so that you can stop wasting money and diluting your efforts by continuing to run underperforming ads.

Posted by James Lee on 8th April 2012

Selecting PPC management software for Tourism & Hospitality Industry

We work with clients in many different industries and understand that each industry’s goals and requirements for their PPC management software differ.  For example, in the high volume e-Commerce industry, keyword bidding based on ROI is typically an essential feature.  Larger corporate clients that manage product inventory tend to place high importance on the PPC management software’s ability to integrate inventory into search advertising.

There are many different requirements that businesses can have in regards to their PPC management software. When beginning the selection process for PPC management software, it is critical that a company first define its current and future requirements.  On the other hand, you’ll want to make sure you have a clear picture of the features included in the PPC management software and associated costs so that you don’t end up paying for features that your business will not need.

Just as the requirements differ between industries and individual companies, so do the features offered by various PPC management software vendors. In other words, not all PPC management software is alike and not all is likely the best suited for your business.

In our research and development efforts, we have found that there are PPC campaign requirements typical of certain industries that tend to be particularly well-suited to the features offered by ClickSweeper. In particular, we have found that the requirements of e-Commerce and Tourism & Hospitality companies are especially well-suited to the features offered by ClickSweeper.

The Tourism & Hospitality industry relies heavily on paid search to generate leads and maximize sales. In this industry, the average sales price is relatively high.  To maximize their advertising ROI, tourism and hospitality advertisers want to control both search networks as well as display networks in their bidding.  ClickSweeper addresses this requirement by providing campaign management and bidding on both networks.  Another characteristic of this industry is that it tends to attract good quality traffic from MSN Bing search as well as Google search.  As a result, advertisers in this industry typically place a high level of importance on PPC bid management software that offers features covering both Google and MSN. This requirement is met through ClickSweeper’s bidding & campaign management feature; one of the features is campaign copy from Google campaign to MSN instantly.

Another characteristic commonly seen with companies in the e-Commerce and Tourism & Hospitality industries is that they tend to generate a high number of conversions. This characteristic is a prerequisite for running campaigns utilizing conversion based and ROI based bidding.  While we have seen some companies, particularly in the hospitality industry, experiment with position based bidding; the trend favors ROI based bidding that maximizes conversions while containing acquisition costs.  ClickSweeper’s bid management feature supports conversion based bidding, ROI driven bidding and position driven bidding.  It also provides the flexibility to manage bid strategy at the keyword level giving advertisers the ability to select any one of the three bidding options for any keyword.

Finally, the economical pricing packages offered with ClickSweeper tends to win the favor of businessman who have a good ad budget but still want to lower software cost in Tourism & Hospitality industries.

In review, the close alignment of the features and pricing of ClickSweeper with the requirements of advertisers in the e-Commerce and Tourism & Hospitality industries makes it one of most well-suited PPC management software options available for these companies.

Posted by admin on 16th March 2012

Keyword Matching Type Optimization

Conversion based keyword bidding and ROI optimizer can be excellent approaches for automating bid price adjustment in PPC management.  These strategies for automating bid price adjustments include sophisticated algorithms to handle many different user scenarios as well as optimize for both the number of conversions and the cost per conversion.

However, when conversion based keyword bidding evaluates keyword performance and identifies keywords that do not meet conversion goal, their bid price would be automatically adjusted downward which is likely to result in few to no clicks.  And, this can result in loss of conversion opportunity which is undesired effect.  To address this scenario, ClickSweeper has just added a new feature, Keyword Matching Type Optimization. With our new keyword optimization feature, the under-performing keyword will be given a new opportunity with the addition of the keyword with different matching type. Continue Reading

Posted by admin on 14th February 2012

How important is ad position for paid search ad?

Is a top ad position critical for achieving results in paid search? I’ll present an argument here that ad position is often, but not always, the most important factor in achieving results with paid search campaigns. Let me explain.

Marketers who utilize paid search advertising typically have one of two objectives:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Lead Generation and sales

The importance of ad position depends on which of these objectives you are trying to achieve. If your primary goal is to build brand awareness, achieving a top ad position is critical in a similar way that achieving page rank is critical in SERP (search engine results page). Commanding a top position represents dominance in the market, financial strength and marketing power. Securing a top position will increase brand awareness and generally translates into more clicks but at a higher cost per click. More people will see your ad but less than half of them will click. If your goal is brand awareness, this strategy can produce the desired results. Continue Reading

Posted by admin on 11th January 2012

Guaranteed Improvement in Pay Per Click Ads – MSN Ads

If you manage Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising for your company or clients, it is likely that one of your goals for the new year is to improve advertising efficiency.  However, improving paid search advertising efficiency can be difficult.  If you manage one or more Google Adwords accounts, it is likely that you know first-hand how difficult and time consuming it can be to attain even a 10% or 20% improvement.   But I believe there is an easy way to nearly guarantee improvements in ad performance.

The key is to focus on MSN search ad performance. Unfortunately, many advertisers either totally ignore MSN advertising, spending their entire ad budget on Google, or loosely manage their MSN account with the result being minimal traffic and poor ad performance.

As part of my responsibilities, I routinely review account performance for clients with our managed service plan. As part of this review process, I have identified many accounts with impressive MSN ad performance.  As an example, local advertising for plastic surgeons and lawyers show MSN ad performance as good as or better than Google in terms of conversion performance.  The MSN click volume for these clients sometimes equals that of Google and oftentimes is at least 50% of Google click volumes.  As far as conversion performance; cost/conversion of MSN ads is often better than that of Google.

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Posted by admin on 12th December 2011

ClickSweeper Update for Latest Google & MSN API

A few clients have recently inquired about the latest Google API updates in response to an email alert they received from Google. The email alert indicated that the following API versions are being sun-setted:

  • v13
  • v200909
  • v201003
  • v201008
  • v201101*

ClickSweeper has already been upgraded to the latest Google API (v201109).  We have also completed an MSN API upgrade.

With these updates completed, we are now planning to add a number of new features to ClickSweeper PPC management software, next year to further enhance the power and usability of this tool.

Posted by admin on 12th December 2011

ClickSweeper Managed Service

A new feature introduced in November is the Managed Service subscription model.  The PPC Managed Service subscription provides both manual and software management components giving you the highest level of ad management. The Managed Service subscription includes the following service:

  • Account performance review
  • Campaign and keyword optimization
  • Keyword bidding strategy tuning
  • Google & MSN account synchronization

Our Managed Service subscription provides many of the same benefits you would receive from an ad agency, but at a lower price.  Additionally, it provides added flexibility by allowing clients direct access to their account and the ability to make updates at anytime.  If you are a corporate marketer or e- merchant with a decent budget, this is a perfect solution.  If you are an ad agency with limited SEM in-house expertise, this is an affordable outsourcing PPC package.

Posted by admin on 21st November 2011

Google’s Keyword Position and 1st Page Estimate

Position based bidding is a common approach used by many search marketers today. While this strategy can provide greater control over ad placement and exposure, targeting a specific position in Google SERP through Google AdWords does not always guarantee the desired result.

In an effort to assist advertisers, Google provides 1st page bid estimates as a guide on where to start bidding in order to maximize an ad’s potential.   According to Google, while the 1st page bid estimate is not a guarantee of ad position, a bid that is lower may result in missed ad opportunities. For example, ads with bids below Google’s 1st page bid estimate may be displayed on the 2nd page of search results or only appear on the 1st page for limited time periods. In reality, since ad position is a function of many factors including Quality Score, bid amount, budget and user and advertiser behavior, bidding lower than the 1st page estimate can still result in a first page ad position and conversely, bidding above the 1st page estimate may not always result in a top ad position.

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Posted by admin on 11th November 2011

Analytics Based Keyword Bidding

The primary goal of ClickSweeper’s Analytics based bidding is to extend visitors’ time on your site while improving conversion performance. This is accomplished by promoting keywords that result in longer site visits and demoting keywords that produce shorter site visits. In order to use Analytics keyword bidding successfully, it is important to know how site visit time and bounce rate are calculated.

How is Site Visit Time calculated?

ClickSweeper’s Analytics based bidding optimizes keyword bids through an analysis of Google Analytics keyword data; site visit time, bounce rate, and Analytics conversion data. When a visitor lands on a site and browses multiple pages, a time-stamp (arrival time) is recorded on each page. Site visit time is calculated by aggregating the durations across pages i.e., calculating the difference between the last and first time-stamp within a visitor session. One thing to note is that the time spent on the last page is not included in the calculation because there is no ‘next’ time-stamp available within the site. For example, if a site visitor viewed only one page and then exited the site, the visit time recorded would be zero regardless of the actual length of time he or she stayed on the page. This characteristic explains why you sometimes see 00:00:00 site visit time in the Analytics data. The same logic applies to bounce rate. A one page website’s bounce rate would theoretically be 100% because a PPC landing page is always an exit page.

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