The New Overture Best Practices, Part 1

Overture launched a significant number of changes to its account management system, the DirecTraffic Center (DTC), this week. With them, the company has opened up a host of new options for search marketers.

The new features may seem complicated, but the key is to understand the various options’ nuances — when to use the features and how to bid within the new landscape. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see the changes are actually fairly straightforward. More important, they provide more powerful tools for planning and executing an efficient search marketing campaign within Overture.

Jumping in without knowing what effect the changes might have is risky. So it’s a good idea to learn how to use them to your advantage. A poor grasp of the features of paid search provider marketplaces can result in both missed profit opportunities and budget waste.

Over the next two columns, I’ll cover the changes and how they can impact your campaign. Realize your competitors will likely be changing their Overture campaign strategies to adapt to the changes; so should you.

The enhancements to the DTC as described by Overture include:

  • Two new match types — “Broad Match” and “Phrase Match” — that will help you to acquire more customer leads by displaying your listings for a wider range of relevant search queries.
  • An “excluded words” feature, which will allow you to block potential matches that are not relevant to your business.
  • A Listings On/Off button, which gives you the ability to pause individual listings whenever you choose.
  • “Conversion Counter,” Overture’s new account performance-tracking tool.
  • IntraDay Reporting, providing updated account statistics several times per day.

Let’s review the new functionality and features individually and consider how to adapt and expand an existing campaign to take advantage of each enhancement.

Potentially, the most powerful new features revolve around keyword match types. For those who also run Google AdWords search ad campaigns, Broad Match and Phrase Match are familiar. Until this week, Overture had been an exact-match auction with a couple of exceptions:

  • Match Driver is an automated matching technique. It works behind the scenes to match the searcher’s inferred intent to her expressed intent, by doing things such as correcting misspellings and changing plural to singular.
  • Similarly, Overture has used its “enhanced matching” as a second way to broaden standard match (the new name for the original default match type) to infer the match between the searcher’s query and true intent. This matching, which is used only when there are no exact match bidders for a particular term, tries to determine the marketer’s objective by looking at the bidded term, title, and description.

When deciding whether to use Broad Match or Phrase Match to supplement the standard match option, consider the incremental level of traffic each option is likely to get beyond your existing campaign. Obviously, Broad Match listings will be exposed to the largest segment of the searcher population.

However, there may be many broad and phrase match candidates that have significant numbers of searches on their own. Those phrases that are most popular should be in your campaign directly as standard listings, particularly if you can write compelling creative that will result in better-qualified traffic or if you have a landing page that is better tuned to an exact match.

Tuning the creative and landing page to the search term is critical. The more specific a search query, the more accurately a marketer can meet the needs of that searcher, resulting in better return on investment (ROI) and conversion. However, there are many very rare searches.

Typically, the rare search phrases include four to eight or more keyword combinations that can occur as infrequently as only once a month or once a year. Others may show up 20 times a month. Until now, the best way to target those searches in Overture-powered engines was to do organic search engine optimization (SEO) and to investigate XML paid inclusion or directory inclusion. In Google, you would use broad and phrase matching options. Now, in Overture, you can include those search types in your campaign through broad or phrase matching.

In part two, I’ll discuss how to determine the appropriate bids for different match types and how to take advantage of some other new features.

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