Ah, January: the month when everyone makes resolutions and looks at their holiday wish lists to see what gifts people failed to give them. (C’mon, admit it: we all do this!) In the spirit of gifts not received, I got to thinking about my PPC gift list from 5 years ago, and the gifts I still haven’t gotten after all that time. Here are my top 3.
More traffic and search leadership from MSN/Bing.
Back in early 2007, in the early days of MSN’s PPC program, I found myself wishing that MSN (now Bing) would catch the big guys of search, but wondering if they ever could. In that post, I observed, with chagrin, the fact that “MSN falls down on volume and ease of use. Traffic and order volumes are about 10% of what we get from Google.” The post goes on to say that “I don’t even know which I’d like MSN to address first: increasing volume, or fixing the UI.”
Sound familiar? While the latest release of the adCenter UI is a HUGE improvement, it still leaves a lot to be desired, especially given the fact that adCenter now includes Yahoo traffic. In fact, I think traffic from adCenter might even be lower in 2012 than it was in 2007. There certainly isn’t any increase in market share – which is pathetic given the fact that market share is now Bing and Yahoo combined. It’s sad, really.
Better Adwords query matching.
Match type issues have plagued PPC advertisers from the beginning. Novice PPC’ers make the mistaken assumption that match types actually work the way Google says they do. News flash: they didn’t work that way in 2007, and still don’t in 2012. One merely needs to run a search query report to see all the crazy query matches to exact and phrase match keywords to realize that match types are more of a suggestion for Google, as opposed to an instruction.
I do have to give Google credit for adding modified broad match to the arsenal, though. I’ve had good results with this, and I know others have as well.
More accurate PPC traffic estimates.
Back in 2007, I was an in-house PPC’er, which meant that part of my job was budgeting and forecasting. On a regular basis, I had to estimate how many orders we’d get from PPC, along with traffic, cost, and profit. This was a huge challenge back in 2007, and it’s still a challenge today.
In fact, it can be an even bigger challenge for search agencies. Not only do we need to forecast revenue for the agency, we need to provide forecasts and estimates for clients. And clients often take the estimates as gospel: “Great, we’re going to get 20,000 visits per month from PPC!” In reality, it’s a crap shoot: you might get your 20,000 visits; or you might only get 2,000; or you might get 200,000.
Estimating traffic outside the US, or for geotargeted campaigns, is even more of a joke. To see a nice analysis of just how big a joke it still is, check out this post from PPC Northern Ireland.
In the search world, 5 years is an eternity. Back in 2007, I was writing a lot about Yahoo Panama, click fraud, and garbitrage – all of which are non-factors in the 2012 PPC world. So it’s a bit of a surprise that some things haven’t changed.
Will 2012 bring the gifts of more Bing PPC traffic, better keyword matching, and accurate traffic estimates? Will I be writing this same article in 2017 (God help me)? I guess only time will tell, but I wouldn’t bid high on it.