Deep Dive Into Naver’s Paid Search Platform

Before Naver launched its own paid search ads platform last year there was only Overture. All of the top paid search in portals, major sites, and news sites in Korea are powered by Overture. But, since the last quarter, NHN’s paid search advertising revenue was 299.5 billion Korean won, an increase by 20 percent compared with the previous year. Daum is 47.5 billion Korean won, SK communications is 15.7 billion, and both the top second and third portals’ sales were worth only a fifth of NHN. (Source: Matrix in Korea) Naver’s decision to go on its own was right after all.

Well, let’s look at how paid search works in Naver. To increase your understanding, I will compare the difference between Google and Naver.

1. Robots vs. Humans
I think many paid search marketers don’t know that the Google AdWords system has its own crawler/bot, which helps to analyze the quality of a landing page. Most paid search marketers just extract a large amount of keywords from keyword selection tools, but it is not a wise approach considering the Google AdWords bot can also read the text in page like humans. It is a very idle system to let the owner of the website improve the content of their site and it leads to increased satisfaction of visitors at the end.

But, as I know, Naver’s ads platform doesn’t have its own crawler. All keywords and ad copy are reviewed by Naver’s editorial team manually and they do not allow any keywords that are not related on each page. Considering the market size in Korea, it is possible to screen all keywords but not every keyword if some advertisers try to abuse with tens of thousands of keywords.

Searching for ‘ec21’ in Naver

The image above shows that major local e-commerce sites like Auction, 11st, and Gmarket take advantage of the weakness in manual reviewing in Naver. Recently, after meeting with Naver, I learned that it’s trying to improve the quality of paid search and it can be rejected if there is an objection from an advertiser.

2. Broad Match vs. Exact Match
Unlike Google or Overture, Naver only supports an exact match for paid search. Unfortunately, there is no phrase and broad match for advertisers in the Naver platform. I don’t know if it’s true but there’s an argument between Naver and Overture about the quality of ads right after separating from each other.

Korean is a very unique and scientific language compared to English. Recently, I needed to purchase a new custom suit to fit my body. If you see the below images, you’ll see the different search engines’ results. Both keywords have the same meaning in Korean but the SERPs are different. Even if keywords on the left column may be in high demand in the market, we can find a niche market with the keyword on the right side.

Searching for ‘custom suit’ in Naver

If we’re in Google, we can surely cover with different keywords match type. But we need to use a different approach considering Naver’s policy and take time to think about the integrated search for universal search in Korea. I will discuss this in another column.

3. Head Term vs. Long Term
One of the negative aspects of exact match is that it will easily increase the competition of narrow keywords like head terms. Perhaps this explains why Naver expanded the maximum listing of paid search from five to 10. Overture only displays the top five paid listings in Daum and Nate. But, the problem is most of the targeted keywords like head term lie in highly intensive markets. It makes most advertisers tired and dislike Naver’s policy more and more. The gap between the large company and the small company is deepening and B2C is relatively more critical than the B2B industry.

To avoid the highly competitive market, you need to analyze the visitor’s pattern instead of just reviewing the reports in ads such as CTR and CPC. I would like to advise you to use the day-parting function in Naver, which is never supported by Overture Korea even though it is available in other countries.

Since I’ve started writing, it’s usually been negative for Naver. But please know that I was the original fan of Naver even when Daum had a bigger market share in Korea a long time ago. There is news that some key persons are leaving NHN, which means that we may face a new stage of Korean search market in the near future.

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A series of green arrows pointing into the distance, one reading NO ADS in white block capitals.