Google has 64.9 percent market share, and a combination of Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and AOL makes up the other 35 percent, according to the September comScore search engine rankings report. What about the searches that are done on CNN.com, Business.com, or the NYTimes.com? These Web sites all display search ads that get their listings from one of the major search engines.
Search engines like Google have built such a robust technology and network of advertisers that it looks to leverage these resources by getting additional search volume from people who don't search from Google. To do this, Google and other major search engines look to partner with Web sites that have regular visitors and publish content, but don't have a robust search engine technology. This creates an ideal partnership where both the publisher and search engine can mutually benefit.
So the question is how do these relationships impact your paid search campaigns, and how can you use this information to alter your results?
How do Search Distribution Partners Impact Your Performance?
To help provide some insight, let's highlight historical performance of some search accounts across verticals:
- 28 percent lower CPCs on the search network due to lower competition.
- 80 percent of the volume coming from primary search engines.
- 6 percent higher cost per conversion on the search networks versus primary search engines.
- 87 percent of the conversions from primary search engines.
How can you use this information to improve your results?
Run referrer reports in your analytics package, or within the various search engines themselves, to analyze your results. Just as some keywords perform better than others, distribution partners also have better and worse performance. These factors can be the content of the site related to your product offering, or the placement/number of the text ads displayed.
Use the data to identify sites that you want to exclude, or include, in various content campaigns. If a site performs great in search, maybe a content campaign will have similar success, or vice versa.
All three major engines have the ability to block poor referring sites from your content targeted campaigns. Sites can be blocked in these areas of each major engine:
- Google -- Site and Category Exclusion Tool
- Yahoo -- Blocked Domain Tool
- MSN -- Website Exclusions
Only Yahoo offers the ability to block your ads from being displayed in true search campaigns. This can be done in the Blocked Domain Tool.
This is the one area where Yahoo has added a unique capability to its interface versus the competition. However, Yahoo isn't the dominant player in the space, and is much more eager to give advertisers reasons to expand their campaign beyond Google.
Google, as the dominant player, doesn't have the same incentive to add the exclusion tool for the content campaigns to search -- and honestly, with more than three times the search market share, there's not much hurry at this point. However, to their credit, you can opt out of the search network entirely, which can be of value -- especially for accounts with limited budgets.
In MSN/Google, you should leverage your sales representatives if you've identified sites that aren't performing well. They appreciate the feedback, and can often pull a back-end lever to remove that site from your distribution network.
Being aware of how search distribution partners impact our campaigns can provide a great deal of value. Using this data from search distribution partners can provide a great way to identify new opportunities, as well as refine current results.
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