This is the third in a trilogy of columns dedicated to search engine wish lists in which I started with a ton of my own wishes. Readers provided a bunch more. I offer a big "thank you" to all those who contributed. Seeing the same wishes come in repeatedly solidifies which wishes make it into these columns.
Google bid boosts for AOL position: There were rumors at the time of the Google-AOL deal that at some point, we advertisers would be able to bid for AOL traffic separately. Even if we can't, many marketers would like the ability to bid-boost against the AOL searcher. Most of my clients enjoy a higher conversion rate from AOL than from the remainder of the Google network, including Google itself.
Passage of click and non-PII data through the inbound URL: Several folks say they want click-specific data passed into each click URL. I thought I was the only one pestering the engines to provide better transparency on a click-by-click basis in regard to both non-PII and click-specific data. I'm glad to see there are others. The engines have gotten better at this, and some do offer some data or a specific click ID. However, a comprehensive list of what would be great to have would include:
Geo information; given the Web's global nature, perhaps latitude and longitude
Campaign name and ad group name (for those who don't tag with a listing ID)
Ad ID or perhaps the full title and description text
Billed click cost
Ad position at time of click
Exact search query (sometimes the HTTP referrer is stripped, encrypted, or missing)
Any non-PII profile data that exists and was volunteered by the searcher as part of the profile
Having better data lets us all bid more confidently. Overall, this will benefit everyone.
Customer communications/credit card statements: Many customer communications from the engines regarding specific account or campaign issues fail to include the account number or ID. Search marketers often use the same e-mail address for multiple clients (fewer are do this now because of this problem) or for multiple accounts when a client has millions of keywords that are fit into one account. CRM 101 dictates that more information about the account in e-mail notifications regarding billing or account issues help the advertiser resolve issues more quickly. Similarly, none of the engines embed the account ID into the credit card charge listing. Clearly, it's possible to do this; PayPal dynamically identifies the payee when a charge goes through. The engines should do the same with account numbers or IDs.
Micropayments and pay per view: With the user-generated content explosion, the value of quality information is escalating. The time has come for micropayments and pay-per-view content. This supports both independent content creators as well as established owners of valuable information. Google has deployed Google Checkout without a stored-value component. With a stored-value system, micropayments are feasible, given the low clearing costs outside the credit card networks. PayPal and Microsoft are also in a position to make bold moves in this market.
Contextual ad rotation: Not only are surfers different than searchers in terms of the ad creative they prefer, in a contextual environment there's the possibility of ad burnout. In display advertising, advertisers and publishers often set a frequency cap, particularly on CPM (define) ads. For both text and graphical ads served contextually, ads should be rotated when an individual has been exposed to the ad multiple times without taking action. If multiple contextual ads are available, additional impressions can be served.
Keyword transportability/account features: Several readers requested for some kind of keyword transportability between ad groups or the ability to more easily export and import.
Dayparting in Yahoo: Something I neglected to mention regarding Yahoo's new Panama interface is a dayparting feature, similar to those in Google and MSN. Some readers who reminded me of this omission wanted ad-group-level control; others were comfortable with control at the campaign level. The key is a combination of pausing features as well as bid-boost options. Not all advertisers have access to API (define)-driven technology.
Better quality score description: Readers joined me in applauding the quality score column option in Google AdWords, but nearly all the feedback said advertisers need to know more about why their quality scores are deemed low. Is a low score due only to a CTR (define) that's lower than expected given current positions, or are there other fixes an advertiser might try? Quality score has become a black box. Given a limited amount of time, advertisers want to know how to fix a low quality score without having to try everything that could affect that score.
Better relevancy control in Ask.com: Yes, advertisers do advertise directly in the Ask interface, and many of these advertisers asked (no pun intended -- well, perhaps it was) for better relevancy control determining when ads would be displayed. Standard match is quite broad in Ask's system (licensed from LookSmart).
API standards: Several readers reiterated the need for more standardized APIs and for more robust APIs that don't regularly go down. I join them in this request.
There were also folks who reiterated the need to implement site exclusion at both the search and contextual level. Similarly, many advertisers wanted to be able to run specific campaigns against different traffic segments, such as AOL.
Believe it or not, the list continues. But I think a trilogy is as much as we can stomach at present. Next week, we'll jump into a new topic.
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Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.