Espotting is launching new tools tomorrow to help those advertising on its European paid-listings network, including an integrated bid management tool and a search term research tool. Espotting provides paid listings to a wide range of European sites, including those of Yahoo Europe, Lycos Europe and Ask Jeeves UK.
The new bid management tools are designed to let advertisers more easily set their positions within Espotting's results. For an additional fee, advertisers can also choose to automatically have positions maintained and "bid gaps" eliminated, so that they never pay more than necessary to maintain a particular rank.
Within the "Listings Manager" area is a new "Manage Listings/Bid" page. From this, you can select one of your Espotting campaigns or Espotting bids according to keyword. You can then choose your desired rank by keyword or across an entire campaign, push a button an automatically have your bids adjusted to achieve the rank you've specified. You can choose a rank between first and fifth.
The manage bids option described above is a one-time, manual affair. Once you've done it, your positions could change if someone bids more than your. More worrying, bid gaps might open up, where you are paying more than you need to in order to maintain a position. To combat this, a new "Make Me Top" option in the Listings Manager area allows your bids to be managed automatically.
You can choose to optimize your entire account or particular campaigns. You can choose your desired rank and note how often your bids should be checked, with the most frequent option being every hour. Every time your bids are optimized, you'll be moved back into your desired rank and any bid gaps will be eliminated.
It's definitely nice to see this type of auto bid management integrated into Espotting. Google introduced a similar feature into its AdWords program last month, but because of the way Google results are ranked in part by clickthrough rate, it's still possible that there can be big bid gaps between ads. In contrast, Espotting's tool ensures that when your bid is optimized, you'll only be paying one UK penny more than the ad below you.
Of course, the downside is that to get this service, you have to pay extra for it. Auto Bid Management begins at 50 UK pounds per month for 500 keywords. Shouldn't this be something that Espotting gives its advertisers for free?
"We thought of that, but it is a service that we are providing. It is something that for the smaller guys, paying the 50 pounds for the service will actually benefit them overall. It is something that will have effect on our revenue," said Tony Samios, Espotting's Client Services Director.
In short, Espotting is recouping some of the money it loses when bid gaps are eliminated by charging for the integrated service. However, the company says it feels justified in this, given that research it conducted found that 50 pounds per month for the basic bid management package was seen as reasonable.
Of course, there are third-party bid management tools that can be purchased which might turn out to be cheaper than using Espotting's integrated tools. For the moment, you may continue to be successful in using these. However, Espotting is considering its own form of a bid tool authorization program, similar to what Overture recently launched.
Espotting said it is currently testing with two tools, but it didn't want to name them publicly until the test period had ended. Eventually, these tools may be considered authorized to manage bids within Espotting. Unauthorized tools could then be locked out, though Espotting said this isn't happening, at the moment.
Another new tool at Espotting allows advertisers to perform search term research. Amazingly, Espotting has had no ability to do this, similar to the Search Term Suggestion Tool that Overture has long offered. The launch of the Keyword Generator tool will rectify this.
The new tool will show search queries across Espotting's UK network. Tools for its other networks, such as in France and Germany, will be rolled out in the near future. Unlike Overture's tool, you can also use a small check box to add a particular term to your bid choices.
Espotting has also rolled out a range of new reporting options, within the Reports Manger section.
FYI, Espotting says that its Keyword Generator tool will be available to anyone from its site, not just to advertisers. When the direct URL is available, I'll let people know.
SEO Toolbox: Bidding Managers
Rundown on major third-party bid managers.
Overture Names "Authorized" Bid Management Providers
The Search Engine Update, Jan. 22, 2002
Explains how Overture has authorized some third-party bid management tools.