Study: Overture Better Than Google

Overture, the pay-for-placement search service recently acquired by Yahoo , is a better play for advertisers than top competitor Google, according to Jupiter Research, which shares a parent company with this publication.

The competitive analysis, reported in “Paid Listing Vendor Constellation: Ranking the Leaders,” said that Overture outpaced Google with a strong feature set and the best management interface. Sprinks, the paid search service recently acquired by Google as part of a distribution deal with magazine publisher Primedia, was ranked third. The Constellation rankings compared paid listing vendors, including Overture, Google, Primedia’s Sprinks and FindWhat.com/Lycos, from a marketer’s point of view in terms of business value, market suitability, distribution and quality of the traffic.

Google seems to focus more on pleasing consumers and Web publishers, said Jupiter Associate Analyst Nate Elliott, and less on creating strong toolsets and services for marketers. “People like Google,” he said, “and their reputation does a lot for them. But when you start asking marketers about ease of use, size of the feature set and customer service, those are all areas where Overture does an outstanding job and Google falls behind.” He said that Google could learn a lot from Sprinks, especially about customer service.

Jupiter says advertisers will spend more than $1.6 billion on paid search in 2003, and $4.3 billion annually by 2008, with one quarter of marketers currently using paid search enablers. While paid search began as a cost-effective solution for smaller marketers, Jupiter said that larger advertisers are aggressively moving into the medium. In a companion report, Paid Listing Enablers, researchers found that 12 percent of search marketers control budgets of $1 million or more. They tend to buy large numbers of keywords, with 24 percent buying more than 1,000.

Most search marketers will use both Overture and Google, Elliott said, because both provide a lot of reach and a lot of traffic. “But the fact is,” he said, “that Overture has built a better solution for marketers, and over time that could start to give them an edge in the marketplace.”

Jupiter examined the rise of paid listing enablers Did-It, Go Toast, BidRank, Impaqt and Performics. It found that 50 percent of large marketers and 34 percent of smaller ones were having trouble managing their keyword buys. Among large marketers, 48 percent had turned to enablers to help them out, with 23 percent of the smaller players doing the same.

The research firm advised any size marketer that bid on a few hundred keywords or more to employ third-party management services. They’ll have to pay them from 5 to 15 percent of their budgets, but Jupiter said it would be worth it if enablers can help marketers do a better job.

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