ChannelAdvisor has launched a tool to let online retailers manage multiple paid search campaigns from one interface. The software, called SearchAdvisor, provides e-tailers a more efficient means to manage, optimize and measure complex campaigns running on various search engines.
The tool, designed with the specific needs of Web retailers in mind, can integrate campaigns with a vendor's inventory and deactivate keywords that would trigger out-of-stock items. Additionally, it's able to make margin-based bids based on actual product costs.
An early adopter of the product is Seattle-based sports equipment retailer EvoGear. Ricky DeJong, PPC program manager at EvoGear, commented, "The automatic bid manager function has been really helpful in day to day management and cutting down time." He is also impressed with the software's ability to "drill down into the order level."
"For every conversion that we get there is the functionality to see what products they bought," he said. "We can get an idea of what conversions result from what keywords."
The tool in its current form is meant for search power-users; but Scot Wingo, CEO and president of ChannelAdvisor, hopes SearchAdvisor will eventually be adopted among search amateurs much as eBay appealed to beginning sellers. He added the tool generally relies on templated ads that are auto-generated.
"At the scale that our customers are usually going with, most of the ads are templated in some way," said Wingo. "The end customer does not realize that the ads are templated because they feel like unique copy."
SearchAdvisor consolidates all bidding, optimization and ad template considerations into a single interface. De Jong explained EvoGear's approach: "We progressed from Google to MSN to Yahoo. [SearchAdvisor] saved a ton of time since we didn't have to have creatives for all three engines. Also, the automatic bid manager helped scale the campaigns across different channels."
Wingo confirmed advertisers are most invested in their performance in Google's dominating AdWords program. "From a retailer's perspective Google has been the most efficient, then MSN, then Yahoo, and then Ask. We're optimistic that Yahoo's Panama project will improve their efficiency/ROI to a Google-like level. That could take months or years; we're watching closely and really pulling for those guys."
Wingo and ChannelAdvisor are betting the reported 30 to 40 percent of most retailers' sales that are driven by paid search will only increase. "Our software helps a retailer switch from the viewpoint of a fixed... budget to more of a sales channel, where paid search is a percentage of sales, unconstrained by absolute dollars," Wingo said.
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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