ADOTAS – This fall, the Yahoo-Bing search alliance will require advertisers U.S. and Canada advertisers to switch to using Microsoft’s adCenter to manage both their Yahoo and Bing paid search advertising programs. According to research we’ve conducted at Marin Software, only about two-thirds of large advertisers have begun to prepare their search campaigns for the transition to a single Bing-Yahoo platform.
For most search advertisers, the move to a single Bing-Yahoo platform will require adjustments to keywords, creative, bids, and analytical reports in order to maintain existing programs.
But how do you get started? We’ve had lots of questions from our search marketer clients about how to prepare for the upcoming Bing-Yahoo alliance, and spent a lot of time thinking about the right answers. Below are some of the most pressing questions search marketers have about “Binghoo” — and our answers on how to best tackle the biggest switch-over challenges.
I don’t have a program on Bing now; what is the first step I should take?
If you’re one of the many search marketers with a smaller or non-existent Bing program, the first step you’ll need to take is to invest in buying new keywords on Microsoft adCenter. This will help maintain your overall paid search marketing revenues after the transition.
Can’t I just move all my Yahoo or Google keywords over to adCenter?
Before you begin adding new keywords to your adCenter accounts, it’s important to have a strategy. To get your adCenter campaigns to parity with your previous Yahoo programs, you can add keywords manually, copy your campaigns over from Yahoo, or replicate your Google campaigns in adCenter.
Each of these approaches comes with separate challenges. Adding keywords manually is the easiest option, but only feasible if you have a small program or if your adCenter campaigns are already very mature.
Copying your Yahoo campaigns over to adCenter is supported by the Search Alliance, which is offering transfer tools and guidance on the process for premium advertisers. Adding Yahoo campaigns will be the easiest way to capture the same traffic you were receiving before.
But remember, Yahoo canonicalizes keywords and uses different match types than adCenter. If you port Yahoo accounts over to adCenter, you’ll need to sink some time into expanding keywords to include misspellings and plurals, as well as modify your creative to meet adCenter character limits.
If you want to move Google campaigns over to AdCenter, the good news is, Google campaigns have a similar structure to Bing campaigns. However, copying Google campaigns to AdCenter will require a manual effort to download, format, and upload bulk-sheets. You’ll want to steer clear of using automated copy tools here, as you may run afoul of Google’s terms and conditions.
How can I make sure I keep existing traffic?
The transition to a single Yahoo-Bing platform will undoubtedly cause some short-term changes in traffic — because you’re merging two separate programs into one. The transition itself will be a period of change, with keyword auctions clearing at new prices and traffic levels for many keywords rising dramatically.
But the Search Alliance transition is also an opportunity for the smart marketer to optimize for new combined traffic patterns. Make sure to check your budgets on adCenter to account for higher traffic levels. The last thing you want to do is white-out on your ads because your budget settings were too low.
Start by adjusting your budgets to meet or exceed your combined budgets on Yahoo! and Bing today. You will also want to set up alerts to notify you when traffic drops to zero for key terms, if CPC prices rise you may burn through budgets faster than anticipated. Understanding when this happens will allow you to increase or shift spend accordingly.
What happens to my bidding history?
As you build out your unified Bing-Yahoo search program, the new keywords you create in adCenter will lack the click and conversion history required to make effective bidding decisions. Adding to the complexity, the bid settings of any old keywords on Yahoo will be irrelevant, because the traffic and auction characteristics for the combined engines will be different.
To prepare for this situation, make sure your bidding solution can create bids for new keywords and adjust quickly to changing traffic data. In order to start bidding accurately with a limited history, use data from similar keywords to determine bids. As individual keywords accumulate history, you can begin to weight their data more heavily into bidding decisions.
How can I make sure my combined program is working?
The best way to make sure you’re reaching traffic, conversion, and ROI goals with your new combined Bing-Yahoo program is to closely monitor keyword and campaign performance and react quickly to issues that crop up. Set up automated alerts that notify you when a keyword or group hits a specific threshold in terms of clicks, conversions, quality or cost.
For terms that exceed benchmarks for performance, you can add similar keywords to your programs using misspellings, plurals, or even raw queries associated with the keyword. For high-volume keywords that end up lagging in quality and ROI, try switching out the copy to see if you can boost overall relevance and conversion. With a different traffic mix, the winning creative you had on Yahoo! may no longer be your best performing ad copy across both engines.
The Yahoo-Bing Search Alliance doesn’t have to be chore. By making the right moves today, you’ll transition two formerly disparate paid search programs into a single streamlined one. Mergers are never fun while they’re happening. But if done right, the Yahoo-Bring Search Alliance transition will bring you lower management overhead, sustained (or increased) traffic levels, and opportunities for buying new, profitable keywords.