CEO at Econsultancy
10 May 2002 09:00am
I’d be interested in hearing about people’s experiences with Espotting, Google Adwords, Overture or any other pay-for-performance or paid search listings service.
The theory is quite compelling: you know what you are paying per ‘lead’, you can cap spend, you can target quite tightly by keyword, you get pretty good reporting and analysis etc. Perhaps most intriguing is the notion that, assuming you know your average conversion rate from click through to purchase/registration, then you can use these services to ‘buy’ customers at a fixed price, or at least a price that you can accurately budget for. So, if you know the average value to you of an acquired customer and you know what it costs to acquire such customers using pay-for-performance services such as those above then you don’t have to be a whiz with the figures to ‘guarantee’ a good return on investment.
I’ve been running a few small-scale campaigns with Espotting and Google Adwords over the last months to test this thinking. Bear in mind that these were quite small campaigns targeted at well defined business niches in the UK (hence Espotting for its European coverage rather than Overture). Bear in mind too, that even in the last few weeks, with AOL teaming up with Google at Overture’s expense, things may be different now. With those caveats, and no doubt others I’m forgetting, here are some observations:
1. The volume of traffic referred by Espotting is surprisingly low and certainly less than that which came from the Google adwords. In both cases the same, quite specific, search phrases were bought. Is this purely because Google has bigger volumes of traffic? Or because people are wise to the ‘sponsored’ Espotting links on their search partners results and so don’t click on them? I don’t know, but it’s proving surprisingly hard to spend any money via Espotting even if I wanted to as the volume of clicks is so low (around 120 in almost 3 months).
2. The cost per lead is higher with Google Adwords than via Espotting. This is essentially because with Google you pay per page view whereas with Espotting you pay per click. Given low click through rates, Google works out more costly, though this does depend on the keyword in question. As Espotting operates a market/bidding environment then some keywords are more expensive than others – ‘interactive TV advertising’, for example, was going for a bargain 5p per click, whereas ‘ecrm’ sets you back around 45p. Over time, and assuming these services continue to gain popularity, the rates are likely to go up. More mass market terms like ‘gambling’ are much more expensive (closer to £3). I haven’t checked anything pornographic but I’d imagine there’s a strong market for a choice list of keywords there too.
3. The resulting conversion rates were higher via Espotting than via Google. The click through rates were similar but the espotting leads resulted in more conversions – in this case ‘conversion’ meaning registration. Could just have been coincidence? Or perhaps it is the fact that with Espotting you have more words to play with in the ad i.e. pre-click the user has a clearer idea of what you are about so they are ‘hotter’ leads upon arrival at your site and therefore more likely to convert.
4. The ‘quality’ of resulting converted customers, relative to the target customer, was equally high in both cases.
So far my experiences of these services has shown that they are indeed an accountable, measurable and predictable way of delivering target customers at a cost that can be accurately budgeted for in advance (always nice…). They are also very effective for targeting niches as the more specific the keyword buys the lower the cost (usually - as fewer people want them) and the higher the click through and conversion rates.
So definitely to be used as part of the overall marketing mix but I’m not yet clear whether they are much good for driving large volumes of traffic quickly? I think Opodo did a big deal with various such services, buying all sorts of travel-related keywords, to do just this for their launch drive. Anyone know how they’ve got on? Anyone got other experiences of such services they’d be happy to share?
Online Sales Manager at Three
17 May 2002 12:59pm
Can I ask if you have now tested Googles Adwords Select as this is a pay per click and not per impression, as with original Adwords. This would be more a direct comparison with espotting.
For the forum's interest, I've been in discussion with Advancepositions.com. A good bunch of guys, who can provide a service that monitors your pay per clicks, automatically adjusting your bid value, up as well as well down to either achieve the highest ranking possible for keywords or based upon your maximum allowable cost per click. This service can work across the main payment engines of espotting and overture.
To me it's a tool that makes the whole job alot easier in managing your keywords and you don't have to worry about trying to keep your keywords to a minimum so you can manually control your bid positions.
In addition to this tool they have a reporting tool that summarises your keyword activity and it can place tags on the pages you wish to track to report back on the effectiveness of the keywords, working out cost per acquisition if needs be.
20 May 2002 09:02am
I haven't yet tried Google Adwords Select though I am aware of it and you are right that this would give a fairer comparison to Espotting. I'll give it a go...
I had a quick look at Advancepositions.com who appear to be first and foremost an SEO (search engine optimisation) company - part of WPP I note - who make no mention of managing pay per click services though this would be a natural extension.
Is the 'service/tool' you mention actually a managed online service that 'sits on top' of the likes of Google, Espotting and Overture? As I understand it what they are essentially offering is to take away the time and effort involved in managing multiple keywords, campaigns, bids etc. across multiple search engines i.e. outsourcing? So they charge a management fee for doing this?
Do they allow their service to be 'white-labelled' i.e. badged as you with them in the background doing the work? I imagine the attraction to an agency such as yourselves is for you to outsource multiple clients SEO needs to them but badge it as part of your broader service?
12 June 2002 15:48pm
Over the last weeks I’ve been running exactly the same ad campaigns using Google’s PPC Adwords Select service as I have with Espotting and Google’s pay-per-impression service. Comparing Google’s PPC service with Espotting’s, I’ve found the following:
1. Google delivers much higher volumes of traffic. The overall average click-through rates (CTRs) for each are the same (circa 1%) but Google just delivers that many more pages.
2. Click through rates on Google appear not to be that dependent on ad position. Although the overall CTRs average out to around 1% the CTRs for individual ads can vary greatly and they appear to do so according to the keyword and the ad itself more than by the position of the ad on Google. The position of the ad in Google depends in large part on how much you are prepared to pay for a click - your chosen maximum cost per click. I stuck at my original costs and saw my ad positions slip and yet my click through rate stayed the same. Is this because Google users are happy to scan all of the ads on a page rather than being overly drawn to the top ones? Perhaps the text nature of Google means the eye / brain / click is drawn to keywords *wherever* they are on the page?
3. Costs per click and customer acquisition are significantly higher with Google. Because there are higher volumes of advertisers using the Google service, so more people competing for the same keywords, the average price you have to pay per click is much higher with Google. This may change as Espotting gets more advertisers. On Google the more popular keywords are also disproportionately more expensive than the less popular keywords – again just a result of market forces driving up the price, I presume. I continue to find that Espotting referrals lead to more conversions than Google ones (see original post for possible explanation). Higher click through costs and lower subsequent conversions ramp up the cost per conversion for Google relative to Espotting. In our case, the average Espotting click through costs 20p compared to £1.20 with Google. However, for the same ads with the same keywords, Google has delivered 5 times the number of clicks in a quarter of the time.
4. Espotting’s targeting appears to work better. Despite the country and language targeting options offered by Google, around 10% of the traffic delivered to us is foreign though, in this case, we set ‘UK’ and ‘English’. We only know about those who subsequently converted but 10% of them were not from the UK or English speaking. Is this because non-UK surfers are using google.co.uk for some reason? Espotting’s European targeting (by the nature of the deals it has with search partners) has so far delivered more targeted traffic.
5. Google’s interface, functionality and service is better than Espotting’s. Probably a personal preference but I have found the usability, functions and reporting offered by Google’s service to be superior to what Espotting offers. I also prefer the way you pay with Google. With Espotting you have to deposit a chunk of money in advance (‘pre-pay’) whereas with Google you ‘pay as you go’. You can also set a daily spend cap with Google. This allows you to turn the traffic tap on and off within certain spending parameters.
My experience so far is for a niche proposition and results are based on a small-ish spend over a fairly short period of time so it is dangerous to come to too many conclusions but so far I would note the following about PPC in general:
1. Do it. It works well as part of the online marketing mix. It sits well with search engine optimisation work (SEOs) because PPC delivers predictable results quickly for a fixed price while you wait for the SEO benefits to kick in a few months down the line. Should you do it yourself or outsource? If you are prepared to gain the knowledge and manage the accounts anyone can do it. But that’s true of many things, including SEO. You might decide your time is better focused elsewhere in which case get someone else to do it.
2. Get in quickly. Everything I have seen tells me that PPC is only going to get more popular and that will drive prices up until the market matures and prices settle down. At the moment Espotting looks like a particularly good bargain though it cannot deliver the volumes of traffic you might want.
3. Be very targeted in your keyword choices. This means you will get better traffic at lower prices and higher subsequent conversions.
4. Use a range of PPC services. I have seen that Google provides a good mix of reach and volume but it is more expensive than Espotting (don’t know about Overture yet). As there are now software tools to manage PPC across multiple providers (Espotting have just opened up their system to allow such tools to integrate with them), it makes sense to use a mix and then optimise the balance once you’ve seen the results you are getting.
5. The quality of the traffic you get is based more on your keyword targeting and the ad itself than the provider i.e. Espotting or Google will provide you with equally good traffic but it is up to you to get the campaign right.
6. You can save money by focusing on the quality of the ad rather than its position on Google. I’m not sure whether this is true, it would need further corroboration, but it appears that you can get just as good click throughs on a lower positioned ad as a top positioned ad if you get the ad itself correct for the keyword. This means you can lower your average cost per click and still get the same number of clicks, saving money.
Anyone else found any of the above to be true as well?
MD at Websitemarketing-UK Ltd
24 February 2004 14:11pm
Excellent article on PPC, agree wth what you have found in most areas.
Personally as a Webmarketing company running many capaigns for clients the Google set up is easier to manage. Tried various software options etc but still like to keep control which is by far easier with Google
The other area is speed, with Adwords we can start literally instantly (appreciate the editors can pull the ads later, but with experience this rarely happens now) and more importantly modify them instantly. It is easier also to set up individual campaign budgets.
With Overture, who we do have many ads running , we set individual "daughter" accounts which as you say means a lot of money is in their bank not mine.
Marketing Director at Nemisys
04 April 2004 21:29pm
I'd be interested in roughly how long it takes you to "translate" a Google campaign to either Overture or Espotting. I did some research on Overture and Espotting around a year ago and stuck with Google - partly my advice, partly clients' budgets preferring the Google model.
The reason I'm interested is I have one client who is running along happily with around 30 adverts (for roughly 150 keywords), giving 1300 clicks/month on Google and I need to estimate how long to extend the campaign to the other networks.
SEO Director at Guava UK
07 April 2004 16:10pm
It all depends how you organise your keyphrases and ads when your planning the campaign to start with. Depending on what ad groups and the amount of variation in the keyphrases it should not take more than a few hours to transform them across to Overtures editorial policy which is the most strict. You can then apply that to espotting +image.
Ashley great summary on PPC.
I would also add Mirago, A great little UK company but growing quite fast. The interface has some good features such as a built in position targeting system. CPC's are much lower, as are traffic volumes but quality is quite good and support team are very responsive.
On 21:29:06 4 April 2004 John Duffy wrote:
>I'd be interested in roughly how long it takes you to
>"translate" a Google campaign to either Overture
>or Espotting. I did some research on Overture and
>Espotting around a year ago and stuck with Google - partly
>my advice, partly clients' budgets preferring the Google
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