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Big Surprise For Search Advertisers

Staff Writer
Published: 2004-10-18

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Many search engine advertisers who are bidding on keywords are in for a big surprise. They are automatically enrolled in, and paying for, a contextual ad program.

According to one search engine marketing expert, unaware advertisers may watch their budgets being drained without explanation.

Search advertisers determine the keywords that'll trigger their ad listings to appear in the search results. Contextual advertisers, however, will have those same listings displayed on content web sites that have been deemed relevant by the search engines. No keyword search is needed. A content site owner simply needs to become a publishing partner of a search engine and allow the search engine to display ads anywhere he designates on his site.

In the book, "Search Engine Advertising, Buying Your Way to the Top to Increase Sales" (New Riders Publishing 2004), author Catherine Seda reveals that Google and Overture advertisers are "opted-into" contextual advertising when they bid on keywords.

"Contextual advertising is greater visibility for advertisers, because their ads will be shown on a greater number of sites, not just in search results," says Seda. "However, search and contextual ad programs need to be managed differently. Copy that works for one might not perform for the other."

Seda advises that new advertisers disable contextual advertising until they get a handle on making search advertising effective. She recommends that experienced marketers manage the two campaigns separately.

Kanoodle.com, Seda points out, offers search and contextual advertising as different programs. A separate sign-up process helps marketers see the distinction between the two.

"I'm not against contextual advertising," comments Seda. "But new search advertisers need to know they're paying for an ad program they don't know anything about. Otherwise, they can't optimize their contextual ad campaign and they could mistakenly blame their search campaign for poor performance."

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