Search Engine Wish List, Part 1

The year’s well underway, but there’s plenty of time for the search engines to implement changes that will make PPC (define) search advertisers’ lives easier.

I’ve got a wish list for the search engines, and I asked other marketers and agencies what changes and improvements they’d love to see from the search engines. Some wish list items are my own; others were contributed in conversations and even through a LinkedIn feature that enabled me to ask others in my network to suggest their wish list items. I’ll continue this next week, so if you have any wish list items for the engines, please send them in.

But first, some new products and features the engines have already launched. Yahoo fully launched Panama on February 5, though some accounts hadn’t been migrated to the new Direct Traffic Center (DTC) log-in.

Google rolled out changes to its quality score, and anticipates a new CPC (define) site-targeting option in the near future (currently it’s in beta, as are so many things at Google). Half of all marketers will be pleased with the quality score change (those whose ads are deemed more relevant), so I’m not sure that was on anyone’s wish list. Many advertisers won’t have the time to experiment with Google’s CPC site-targeting when it comes out of beta. Selecting sites with decent traffic and good profiles is hard work.

MSN is launching its platform in Canada within a month, giving Canadians and those wishing to reach that market the same sophisticated targeting options the U.S. market has now. That’s been on advertiser wish lists for some time.

Ad-Click Tracking in Yahoo

Panama added the ability to rotate more than one ad per ad group, yet there isn’t a way to know which ad was in place when a click occurred. It’s important to know which ad has a higher post-click conversion rate, particularly on high volume ad groups. It could also be used to customize a landing page to match the offer.

CPC Behavioral Search Ads in All Engines

Many marketers already do search behavior retargeting based on clients’ inbound search clicks (organic or paid). The engines can deliver a much greater number of clicks, leads, and orders than we can by retargeting only existing visitors. A typical search ad may get a 5 percent CTR (define). That means we only see 5 percent of the total search audience interested in the keyword we’re targeting. The search engine sees 100 percent of the searchers. By retargeting those searchers while they read e-mail and surf, search marketers get a second crack at capturing them.

If the engines roll out a retargeting function, it must be CPC and allow for either a text ad (even if it’s transformed into a Flash banner running across the engine’s network) or a graphical ad. The advertiser should be able to run both and have them auto-optimized, just like two text ads.

The optimal way to roll this out would be with a separate biddable option (or a percentage to set against the search bid). Many marketers would leave the bid at 100 percent of the search bid, while others might go up or down based on the clicks.

My wish for a behavioral retargeting product would include the ability for marketers to set recency when bidding for retargeted clicks. I may only be interested in reaching prior searchers on the phrase “cell phone” for three days, but a recent searcher for “ARM mortgage rates” for 30 days.

PPC Video

Also on my list is CPC (Google click-to-play style) video ads on all three major engines, with the video targeted against prior keyword search behavior. Mixing video with behavioral targeting would be great. After all, most video watching on YouTube and its brethren on Yahoo and Microsoft tells you nothing about the consumer watching the video. Channel-based targeting is bad for everyone. Search or behavioral targeting would mean relevant ads for consumers and targeted media opportunities for us marketers.

That’s it for part one of my wish list. I’ve got enough for part two, but if I get lots of great ideas from you, perhaps a three-part column will ensue.

Thanks in advance for sharing your wish lists.

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