Overture Launches ROI Tool, Renews United Online

Overture’s Performance Marketing division Thursday launched Marketing Console, an inexpensive and easy-to use tool for pay-per-click marketers to measure conversion rates from keyword campaigns. It also re-upped its paid listings agreement with ISP United Online, expanding it to add Yahoo-branded algorithmic search. The announcements were made separately.

The Console lets marketers track which campaigns, channels, and creative are generating the most cost-effective leads and conversions on their Web sites. They can compare paid placement, email, paid inclusion, banners, paid inclusion and affiliate programs using ready-made reports.

The deal with United Online will continue the placement of Overture paid listings on the NetZero, Juno and BlueLight Internet services. Additionally, the deal has now been expanded to include algorithmic search branded “Powered by Yahoo Search.”

This is the first agreement that combines paid search and algorithmic search under the Yahoo umbrella in quite this manner. In fact, algorithmic search results on the Yahoo portal itself are largely powered by competitor Google, though the company has been building up its capabilities in the area. Before acquiring Overture, which brought with it AltaVista and the Web search unit of FAST Search and Transfer, Yahoo had already purchased Inktomi. The implementation of the deal may give a hint of what Yahoo’s own algorithmic results will look like when it drops Google, as it is expected to do when their contract expires.

As for the new Marketing Console, just don’t call it analytics, said Stuart Schaffer, VP of marketing for Overture Performance Marketing, a business unit within Overture Services. “Marketers tend to be right-brained in their approach,” he said, “and if you supply lots of analytics, it can be challenging.” Instead, he said, Marketing Console provides a simple set of relevant reports.

“As advertisers have bought more and more search terms, the marketplace has gotten more complex,” said Schaffer. “It’s more important than ever to measure the long-term success of campaigns and the lifetime value of a customer.”

Pasadena, Calif.-based Overture’s announcement is the latest in a trend of paid search providers offering deeper analytics. Last January, Overture acquired Keylime, an analytics technology company, promising to introduce products to help its pay-per-click customers understand the return on investment from their advertising. In March, FindWhat.com was the first to roll out a free ROI-tracking tool. In October, Google rolled out its tool that lets advertisers track conversions. Like Overture’s new tool, both FindWhat’s and Google’s offerings require advertisers to insert a line of JavaScript into their Web pages.

Marketing Console has a three-tiered pricing structure based on the number of leads (or clicks) received, starting at $149 per month. Users don’t need to run campaigns on Overture’s network in order to use the tool. “There’s no simple, affordable leader in the marketplace,” Schaffer said, “so we had a great opportunity to provide that.”

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