The year of the boar, otherwise known as 2007, was a year to remember. Whether you followed the dilly-dallying of Britney Spears, the screen writer’s strike or the feud between 50 Cent and Kanye West, 2007 offered something for everyone! All entertainment gossip aside, this past year was also huge for PPC. All three of the major search engines made strides in advancing their PPC programs in 2007. From Google’s proliferation of reporting features, to both Yahoo and MSN making the leap into quality-based ranking initiatives, advertisers were kept on their toes all year long. Here are the top 5 PPC developments that made news in 2007:

1. Yahoo! Search Marketing: Panama Gets Some Quality

While Yahoo officially began upgrading accounts to the Panama interface in late ’06, the real magic didn’t hit until February 5, 2007. That’s the day that Yahoo made the jump to a quality-based ranking system. Since that time, Yahoo has continued to tweak their PPC program. Additionally, they have listened to advertisers and made significant updates to the look, feel and overall usability of the Panama interface. Even though Panama has not proved to be the Google-killer it was purported to be, it is still a significant step forward for PPC advertisers who’s business is dependent on Yahoo’s performance and ease of use.

2. Google AdWords: Reports Gone Wild

You may not have realized it, but 2007 was actually the “Year of the PPC Report.” More specifically, the folks over at Google decided to go wild with reporting transparency this past year. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. The biggest advances were made in increasing transparency for Google’s Content Network. Placement Performance reports give advertisers a glimpse of how well content sites are performing for your campaigns. And when you pair that with the ability to add negative sites or to create a site-targeted campaign, this report is pure PPC gold! Another important content report released was the Reach and Frequency report. This is a more traditional marketing report that gives advertisers insight into how many people saw the ad (reach) over a certain period of time (frequency). Aside from content-related reports, Google dropped a reporting bomb with the Search Query Performance report. This report details the exact search query that searchers entered into that triggered your ad. Some other honorable mentions: Pay-Per-Action, Impression Share, Exact Match Impression Share.

3. Google AdWords: PPA, CPA, BBQ, BMW?

In the world of confusing acronyms, the search engine marketing industry does a superb job of pushing the envelope. IMHO, if you’re an SEM specializing in PPC, but you prefer CPC to CPM and have a disdain for PPA, where does that leave room for SEO? See what I mean? All joking aside, one of my favorite acronyms to emerge this year was PPA, otherwise known as Pay-Per-Action. In a step towards performance marketing, Google unleashed this program into BETA without much of a media uproar. The team here at PPC Hero joined the BETA test as soon as we could and have tested a handful of clients in the 9+ months that PPA’s been active. The results are mixed, with some clients doing great (usually sign-ups or leads) and some literally doing nothing (usually e-commerce). Why this is important within the scope of 2007 is that it shows Google is willing and able to test products and make acquisitions that could take PPA to the next level (i.e. DoubleClick).

4. Google AdWords: Shifty Algorithms

Google announced its intentions to change how ads are placed in the top 3 ad positions in August. The announcement wasn’t a big deal, but it caused quite a stir among PPC advertisers. Many felt that the inclusion of Maximum CPC into the ranking formula was further proof of Google’s greed. Considering the uproar, I performed a statistical comparison of data before and after the algorithm shift. Overall, I found that the change had a negative impact on my average position. Though, despite the decrease in ad position, 2 of my test accounts actually saw an increase in clicks. This piece of news gets the “PPC Mob: Where’s the Pitchfork and Torches?” award for 2007.

5. MSN adCenter: 3rd Place and Lovin’ It

Most of the PPC world’s attention is focused on ye ole Google (please refer to numbers 2-4 on this very list). But lest we forget, adCenter is still trying to solidify their place as the #3 PPC search engine. In 2007, Microsoft made a significant effort to keep up with the newest trends. Not only did Microsoft launch to accompany their other search engine, but they also made countless updates to their adCenter interface and toolset. We now have the ability to advertise to Microsoft’s content network. We now have a much more streamlined reporting interface (which received updates as recently as last week!). There were minor changes to how negative keywords are used and even the addition of conversion data to ad reports. But most importantly, adCenter, much like it’s bigger cousin Panama, instituted a quality-based ranking formula.

Well, these were the top 5 PPC developments to make news in 2007. At least according to us here at PPC Hero! So, I pose to you readers this question: What was the biggest PPC development to affect you in 2007?