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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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The In-House Search Engine Marketing Holiday Wish List

Now is the time of year for putting together wish lists for Santa, and it got me thinking about what I’d most like to get as an in-house search engine marketer. While the gifts search engines send advertisers are sometimes appreciated (does another USB drive mean I was naughty or nice?), I think all in-house SEM managers would love a present from the list that follows.

Dear Microsoft: Please Bring An adCenter Negative Matching Fix

If you haven’t noticed in the transition from Yahoo, Microsoft adCenter’s negative matching is subpar. There’s no exact negative matching (which Google supports), which means that lots of times you’ll see search queries appearing on broad match for incredibly general search terms (often single word terms), and no way to add negative matching to combat them.

In fact, I’d argue Microsoft’s broad matching is more liberal than Google’s or Yahoo’s, so in even more need of negative advertiser controls. I’ve had very targeted travel keywords for New York matching to “new york botox”, which is arguably very poor broad matching. Of course you can set your keywords to exact match, but it is not an ideal solution to give up good broad match traffic to weed out the bad.

If the lack of negative exact operators wasn’t annoying enough, Microsoft’s campaign versus Ad Group negative matching is set up to be as confusing and contrary to common standards as possible. An SEM manager of sound mind might think that adding a campaign level negative would mean that for any possible broad matches for keywords in that campaign, ones with the negative keyword will not match and display. That’s not how it works at Microsoft. Basically campaign level negatives seem to do nothing in Microsoft Advertising, or at least I haven’t received a good explanation of what purpose they serve to any of the times I’ve asked. All negatives really have to be at the Ad Group level to work.

See the chart provided by Microsoft, which clarifies that campaign negatives really do nothing:

MSN negative tree

Dear Google: Can We Have Travel Product Feeds Again?

For the past several months, nearly a year, some travel advertisers have been frustrated by Google product feeds. Viator, a company that sells a very pricing stable, product-tized set of tours and activities submitted a Google Base feed for inclusion, and happily it was accepted and it ran for some time before we were asked to transition it to a Merchant Center feed. We happily did that, and in conjunction could now run Product Extensions in our AdWords ads. The extensions proved popular with our audience, ad click-through rates and conversion rates increased for campaigns running the extensions. Unfortunately, this happy trend would soon end.

After a few months, Viator was told to transition back to running a Google Base feed as our products were “non-tangible” (not sure that’s true). As a result, the new Product Ads, and ad extensions involving product links, are now off the plate of travel advertisers.

I understand Google’s concern over price and availability volatile travel products being in a feed format, I’m not sure something like airfares should be in a product feed; that could definitely cause more issues than benefits. However, I’d argue that for those advertisers that provide a set of products that minimally change in pricing or quantity throughout the year, there’s no reason they couldn’t run a feed. My rule of thumb: if you can update it only monthly with minimal changes, then you’re feed worthy.

I think many travel advertisers who have limited price and availability issues would love to get a Merchant Center feed again, and the option to continue product ad extensions or trial the new Product Ads.

Dear Yahoo: Please Transition It All

Now that Yahoo has transitioned all US traffic to Microsoft Advertising and will soon transition Japan to Google, I increasingly want them to just write off all paid search to partners. If I have to use Microsoft Advertising anyway, when I can I just manage everywhere there (or in Google)? My non-US Yahoo accounts are like coma patients that I am waiting for the life support to be pulled on, I just don’t want to put in effort on campaigns that I will transition soon to a clean slate with a new partner. We know Yahoo that you aren’t serious about paid search anymore, so just transition it all, the sooner the better.

What Would You Ask SEM Santa?

I didn’t mention the most popular wish of in-house search marketing managers I know, which is getting more people resources to work on their programs. Everybody always wants more elves! Got a wish list of your own going? Post a comment to add to the list!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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