March 2002 Newsletter

Advertising on Google

***** Links for the Month

Click Z
"The web is shifting from being a dazzling new thing to being a purposeful tool"

Click Z:
This ClickZ article inspired this month's newsletter on advertising on Google and provides a different perspective.
This is the starting point for more information on advertising on Google

***** The 4specs Perspective

Google is rated by many to be the best search engine and top ratings in Google can be tough to achieve for some websites. You may be interested in Google's advertising opportunities. The first type is probably not of interest to many construction product manufacturers. This is a top of the page "Premium Sponsored Link" with a $10,000 minimum over 3 months. You can see examples by searching for a common consumer term such as mortgage or insurance. They are the ones across the top.

Google has had an "AdWords" program where you could purchase a right side ad on a CPM basis. CPM means cost per 1,000 impressions. The cost was $10-15 CPM, or 1-1.5 cents for every exposure. With this type of advertising, the advertiser bears the risk on performance. If you get 2 clicks per 1,000 impressions, each click-through cost $5, 5 clicks = $2 each.

Google recently introduced "AdWords Select" where the cost is per action or per click. Cost per Click or Cost per Action (CPC and CPA) advertising is similar to the commercials running on cable TV at night for records and videos. The advertiser pays a fee only when a purchase is made and the cable station gets revenues for space they could not otherwise sell. With AdWords Select you only pay for clickthroughs.

I was interested in this new program and tried some advertising, both for results and for this newsletter. I first looked at several keywords, with these results:

specs - 4specs is ranked #1, no sense advertising here

specifications - 4specs is below the first 50. I looked at our home page and changed the wording so that the word specifications would appear on the top along with specs. This should improve our rank there in the future.

construction specifications - 4specs is ranked #3. BSDSoftlink (a master specification system) was advertising on this key word.

One comment on key words. While 4specs gets a lot of referrals from Google every month - over 14,000 in February 2002 alone - many of these referrals are not common key words but are manufacturers' names or less common product types. Our experience is that architects are no longer doing general searches for key words but rather looking for manufacturers they know make the products they need. This has been discussed in other places, with a trend to "using the Internet" as compared to the earlier "exploring the Internet."

I decided to try advertising on the word "specifications." After signing up, with a bid of 5 cents per clickthrough, Google showed my ad 1,081 times in one day and 4specs received 4 clickthroughs. Google has a 5 clickthroughs per thousand minimum, and the ad was disabled. This search term was too general and not attracting the construction professional. Advertising on just one word, a request for "ASTM specifications" would also show the ad.

After realizing the ad had been disabled due to low response, I decided to try several more targeted key words. I selected 6 key words and found that three were available only at a substantial premium over the 5 cent minimum. The words I looked at with a premium were:

steel doors - $.74 per clickthrough
vinyl windows - $.31
wood doors - $.41

Apparently someone had advertised in the original AdWords program on these keywords and raised the minimum. This is to be expected, and is what is happening on (formerly, the original CPC advertising program) where bids on key word clickthroughs have increased over time in an effort to stay in the top 3. For the key word mortgage, one loan consolidation company is willing to pay $4.63 per clickthrough.

I went back to Overture and looked at these terms. The cost on Overture was lower and you could pay the minimum 5 cents and be above all the free listings. Overture does provide the ads on other search engines, but generally only the top three are shown on outside networks. Hence the competitive bidding for the top three places.
[Overture is now part of Yahoo! Search Marketing products]

I chose to advertise in the second trial with three key words - wood windows, steel windows and doors and frames. After 6 days, 4specs received a total of 913 impressions and only 3 clicks. I expect that this ad series will be disabled after 1,000 impressions are reached. Comment - many people over estimate the number of times key words are searched. These are three common terms, and they were searched only 150 times per day.

You may want to look at this Google program, and I thought my experience would be helpful to you. I suspect that our choice in key words was too general and not specific enough for the words being searched on. Your ad may do better as your key words will be more targeted to what the user is looking for.


Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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