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Olympics 2008: Which Search Advertisers Get the Gold?

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Google is pushing their previous search behavior for marketing the 2008 Olympics in the hopes of bringing home the gold. But it appears Yahoo has more people advertising with them for Olympic products right now.

A Google search for Olympics 2008 initially returned five results, though after the first refresh Google added the torch map route at the top of the results. The results were mixed: one ticket seller, NBC selling merchandise, Speedo selling their new record breaking swimsuits, a raffle organized by basketballer Yao Ming for charity, and a vegan diet apparently used by former Olympian Carl Lewis.

The number jumped up to 10 when I added hotels to the mix. Two of the hotels are broad matching -- one is for a specific New York hotel by Orbitz and a generic hotel ad from Travelocity -- guess the big guys don't have to be accurate with their PPC advertising. Our vegan diet guy is persistent -- still there, so not using negative keywords. When I try the Olympics 2008 again, I'm stuck with the hotel ads.

Meanwhile over at Yahoo, the Olympics 2008 ads run the gamut of advertisers: collectible coins, tickets, accommodation and even a news service. Though add hotels and the advertisers drop to two, go back to the first search and the same eight are still there.

OK, we know Yahoo isn't using previous search behavior to choose their ads. But because they also run Google ads, we know the Google ads in Yahoo aren't being presented that way.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has another curve. Their top paid search for Olympics 2008 is Lexus. Guess you're a perfect candidate for driving a Lexus if you can afford to go to China for the Olympics.

Actually, Lexus is broad matching 2008. It's interesting to watch how badly major companies use PPC. The Lexus ad disappears if you search for 2008 Olympics, so maybe they have negatived 2008 Olympics and Microsoft phrase matches their negatives. Now that's one I'll be testing this week.

Drop in hotels at Microsoft and there are the same two advertisers -- the ticket guy here is broad matching.

The funny part of all this is I started looking at the Google behavior matching process and what it really showed was some of the "scatter gun" methods used by some big advertisers. I'll keep an eye on this as the event gets even closer to see who starts advertising. No doubt the merchandisers will be out in force when the Olympics are being held.

Chris Boggs Fires Back

Nice to see that the Beijing2008.cn site comes up with sitelinks in the first Google organic result for Olympics 2008. The rest of the page has the omnipresent Wikipedia, the official Olympics site, some news results, and a collection of other legitimate-looking sites, all focusing on Olympic content and mostly news-oriented domains.

At number 11, I find the first profit-oriented page, ChinaOrbit.com, which has done an excellent job from an SEO standpoint in ranking for Olympic content. The site has tons of China content as well as a large chunk of China 2008 information.

It appears the primary business model of ChinaOrbit is a combination of sending traffic to direct sponsors including the Hutong School and Jagbo China Business Portal. The home page leads to several business partners relevant to Chinese business and travel.

Additionally, the site has a lot of Google AdSense, including banners and text ads, placed in a variety of locations depending on the particular page. The home page includes a Google-fed banner for Chnlove.com, in case anyone is looking for a Chinese bride.

The next non-news or social media result doesn't come until page three, where we find a lovely hyphenated Beijing-olympics-2008.com domain that's designed to sell travel, but also falls back on Google AdSense. ChinaOrbit seems to be the only site with a chance of competing for a top page spot for this difficult term for two main reasons: tons of content and 25,000 inbound links to the domain (versus less than 200 to Beijing-olympics-2008.com). The China Olympics page alone at China Orbit has 2,500 links pointed to it, over 2,400 of which are internal links.

We can see who's done their SEO homework pretty clearly here. When Frank follows up, we'll see if any others have snuck into the mix.


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