"Targeting Google Only Reminds the Consumer That Google is Number 1", John Ellis

John W. Ellis is a Senior Online Marketing Manager with ResortQuest, the largest vacation rental management company in North America. We chose to interview Mr. Ellis because of his expertise in pay-per-click management. John has extensive experience in pay-per-click management, web analytics, online marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing and more. I find his thoughts on ask.com very interesting and even more his tips on campaign management helpful. More information on John W. Ellis can be found at www.JohnWEllis.com

Q: In one of your posts you give sound marketing advice to ask.com. You state very clearly that their recent marketing efforts were a mistake, and that they’ll never be Google. Is there anything you do like about ask.com? Is there anything that ask.com will succeed at in the future, despite their recent mistakes?

A: It is important to note that I like Ask.com a lot. I use it, but the point is my customers do not use it. As long as my customers are on Google, then that is where I spend my advertising dollars. If the customers moved to Ask.com, then I would follow. I don’t care about the algorithm … or even how accurate the results may be. It’s irrelevant to me. There are several recent ads where Ask.com is clearly targeting Google, even though it is not a direct mention. However, targeting Google only reminds the consumer that Google is number 1.

I did say that Ask.com will never be Google. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Google is Google. Ask needs to find their own identity and place in the market. Ask.com is a very user-friendly and strong website. However, the average consumer does not know that. They need to. Ask needs find their own purple cow (www.apurplecow.com) by being remarkable at something. Not by being the same as Google.

Q: Could you give us a strategy that has worked for you before to increase traffic/conversion but not spend more money?

A: To increase conversion with little or no cost increase, it is important to eliminate unwanted traffic and focus on high converting keywords. That can be done by adding various match types, including negative keywords. By creating exact, match and phrase an advertiser is quickly able to tell what words convert vs. just traffic.

Q: In a post from May, you mention seven habits of highly effective pay-per-click advertisers. In this article you recommended that you should not try to be in a #1 position because that draws in researchers and not buyers. Do you think that if a customer doesn’t find your site during their research, perhaps they won’t find it when they finally come back to purchase? In other words, they very well may purchase from the site they did their research on. Are you potentially losing sales by not being in higher positions and getting the customer at their research point?

A: I often do not like the number 1 position because the conversion is not there. However, there may be reasons, such as branding, that impressions may be more important than conversion. Even in that case, I would still question whether PPC is the right avenue for that approach. During the early stages of shopping, because of the non #1 position, a site may not be found quickly. Users have a tendency to shop up and down the page when it is time to purchase. I guess there could be a chance that the buyer may not come back to you when they are ready. However, that’s a chance I am willing to take. The return we would get from those very low conversions at the number one spot would never justify the high cost to be in the position. It is a terrible Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).

Q: Where do you think pay-per-click advertising will be at this time next year? Do you think the three major search engines will remain in their same positions? (i.e., Google, #1, Yahoo, #2 and MSN, #3)?

A: I do not see any major changes in the market share within the next year. However, I do believe Ask.com has the potential to make a move very soon. They have the product; they just need to figure out how to market it.

Q: What do you hope Google, MSN, Yahoo or even Ask.com will achieve or accomplish in the next year in regards to PPC advertising? Is there anything you’re looking forward to or wish would arrive?

A: I am still searching for the ultimate metric (http://www.johnwellis.com/my-quest-for-the-ultimate-metric/).

Hopefully, with the recent purchase of display advertisers by all major search engines, it’s coming soon.