Archive for the 'Web Advertising' category

Google AdWords Campaign - The Second Day

A few things are beginning to come clear to me about how Google AdWords operate. It made little sense to me yesterday, but it is a little clearer to me today.

Firstly, there are some important differences between ads served up by the search engine (which appear to the right of search results) and the same ads served up on websites who operate AdSense.

Ads appearing along side Google search results start appearing pretty much as soon as the campaign is set up.

What seems to happen is that Google runs the campaign for a few thousand impressions, and determines how well the ad performs, in terms of how many times it is clicked. If not many people click on the ad, then the bid price goes up, even if there is no competition. The bid price seems to fluctuate according to the precise wording of the ad, the wording of the website (pay special attention to text in headings etc.), and how well the ad performs.

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Google’s Mysterious AdWords Bidding System

google-AdWordsJust an hour or two after posting my previous article about setting up an ecommerce system, in which I mention the steep rise in the price of the bid for my key phrases, I have found they have dropped by a lot. One was going for $6.00 (which is really too high to be seriously considered as a competitive bid) has dropped to $1.20, while others that were set at $1.20 minimum have dropped to $0.23. I’ll try $0.23 for a while and see what happens.

Mean while, I have signed up for Yahoo Marketing to see how their service compares.

I signed up via a web page that offered $50.00 in credits, but I didn’t get the credits, so off to a bad start.

Worse, there are lots of advertisers using the same key words as I am using in Yahoo, where as I had the place to myself in Google. I find this strange. It may simply mean that Google advertising does not work well for the key words I am using.

First Impressions of Yahoo to Advertise

As noted in a post of just a few hours ago about advertising my new ecommerce site, my first impression of using Yahoo to advertise my site was tainted when I failed to get the $50.00 credit I was promised. I should note that the site,, is pretty positive towards Yahoo. I also got to their website via a paid ad in Yahoo search results.

Another thing I noticed: by default, everywhere outside North America is blocked. They don’t ask what regions you want to include (Google is very fine-grained about this), they automatically block Asia, Europe, Australia etc. and you have to unblock them. I find this unfriendly.

In general, I prefer Google’s user interface. Yahoo uses more style, Google has more features and a cleaner look.

The next thing I noticed is that it is a crowded market for my key phrase, which is hardly Yahoo’s fault. At first, typing in my key words did not bring up the ad, but about an hour and a half or two hours later, I did see my ad place in second position, which is pretty good, given the crowded market and my bid of $.30.

As far as I can tell from my server logs, I’ve not got any traffic from any Yahoo ads, but it is too early to be sure what that means.

I did notice though, that the statistics for ad impressions and clicks are not very current. The best they can do is display what happened yesterday. I think this is too much of a lag. Things change too quickly to make decisions for tomorrow based on yesterday, especially for a new campaign. I may change my mind on this once I’ve been in the game for a while. Google shows statistics that are two or three hours old.

I came across this article on BoingBoing, which is pretty negative about publishing Yahoo ads. Apparently it is up to the publisher to block visitors outside of North America from seeing ads on your website! Of course they took Yahoo off of their websites right away. Some attitude Yahoo has! No wonder no one suggested I advertise on my sites with Yahoo.

So I’m feeling slightly negative about Yahoo right now. But I have not yet come to any conclusion.

E-Commerce Experiment: I Now Have a Complete System

After a lot of work, I now have a complete end-to-end ecommerce system. Is it perfect? No, far from it. Each stage of the system can be improved quite a bit, but if I wait until everything is perfect, I’ll never get started. Firstly, no system is ever perfect. This is even more true on the internet where things change hour-by-hour, quite literally, as I will explain in a moment.

Let’s review what I consider to be a complete end-to-end system at present, noting that complete means the bare minimum to conduct business on the internet, not comprehensive with every imaginable feature one could throw at an on-line business .

Firstly, I have a product, in this case an ebook. Delivery involves a download .

Secondly, I have a website to sell it from. I’m still not revealing the website or the product, simply because I want to conduct and experiment that excludes search engine optimization .

Thirdly, I have a way of taking payments. To keep things easy in the beginning, I am using PayPal , and PayPal only. It accepts credit cards without the need to register.

Finally, I have a marketing method. To begin with, I am using Google AdWords exclusively.

Producing the product was a lot of work, but it was straightforward. I am using someone else’s content (legitimately and legally I might add), but I did have to put a great deal of effort in to turning it into an attractive pdf that is worth buying. This took a lot of work the first time, but it will be much less work the second time. Still, it is time consuming and takes certain skills and talents.

Developing the platform also took a fair bit of work, even though I used freely available software. I used a WordPress plugin, but it didn’t work quite the way I wanted it to, and didn’t look at all the way I wanted it to. I worked at it until I had something that was good enough to get started.

PayPal is not hard to use, but it is not very well documented. And the ecommerce software isn’t documented at all. I bought my own product about four or five times to verify that the system works, and works as well as possible, given the limitations of all the various components. I set my product price very low to keep transaction costs to a minimum, since transaction costs are what it costs me to buy my own product.

If you are considering the idea of getting in to ecommerce at some point, get a PayPal account right now . You need to have one for at least 90 days before you can make full use of all of its features.

For marketing , I am using Google AdWords exclusively. For now. Although setting up and using an account is straight forward, AdWords has some very strange characteristics that I am just learning about. For example, I chose a key word that worked pretty well, but then Google, in it’s infinite wisdom, or lack there of in some cases, upped the bid price on my key words, citing quality issues, in other words the Google system determined that the best key phrase did not very well match the landing page or the ad.

For about 6 to eight hours, I was getting my ads served and very inexpensive clicks, but as I say, Google decided to change the price on me. Things change that fast. One phrase went up by five times, then later up by ten times. Another went up by 50 times. I’m not planning to bid that high at present, I’d rather see what it takes to get the bid price down again. As much as Google changes the rules hour-by-hour, I may change my mind as to what I bid, what ad network I use, and what other promotion techniques I use hour-by-hour.

This is all very interesting. And eventually profitable, that is why I am doing this. The question is: how to make it profitable?

I got a few clicks yesterday, and a few people downloaded the sample chapter. The next challenge is for visitors to buy the book! There are endless adjustments I could make to the website to get it to convert better, including reducing the number of steps to go from landing page, to shopping cart , to checkout.

Each of the above paragraphs can be expanded into many many posts. I’ll certainly be sharing some of what I learn as I go along.

Note that since there is so much I could write about, but won’t be spending all of my time writing this blog, your comments and questions will help direct what I write about next.

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