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Overture Match Driver Announcement
Just posted to begin Monday.
Tropical Island

 10:14 pm on Aug 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just posted on the main page after Login. They will begin "Match Driver" Monday and reduce the number of search terms we have.



 11:10 pm on Aug 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

This will make a big difference to the way overture works. Becoming more like google adwords!


 5:44 am on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

This match Driver thing is great for Overture to generate more revenue and for big advertisers that don't care how much cash they burn through.

Along with jacking up prices in the form of displaying maximum bids and this Match Driver program, it would be nice if Overture would increase that ability of advertisers to target the spots that work for them.

Would it be too much to ask to be able to:

1) Opt out of this extended MatchDriver system.

2) Select the syndication partners on which listings appear.

While not as Overtly insane as going from a one off $299.00 fee to PPC without warning, it seems that Overture is slowly achieving the same thing by trying to monetize every single click, jacking up bid prices and not offering any enhancements to enable better targeting.

How about some useful features to go along with the price hikes and "this is good for you" spin that goes along with the increases?


 6:01 am on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

absoultely agreed profitpuppy.

It looks like overture is about to lose one of their major competitive advantages to Adwords - that of being better for smaller advertisers to target niche terms for considerably less than Adwords. For us it was the certainly the major advantage.

It WILL jave an affect on the relevance and specificity of OV results returned in portals like AV and Yahoo - most listings will be taken up by major advertisers advertising a very broad and less specific related product. Long term it may mean that people will ignore OV results, especially if the portals comply with the advertising disclosure from the FTC.

OV, like any good company, must increase revenue and profits, but this may kick their selling proposition right where it hurts!


 6:54 am on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

"it would be nice if Overture would increase that ability of advertisers to target the spots that work for them"

Match Driver does exactly the opposite. From the latest Overture "More on Match Driver" newsletter: "Looking at your term, title and description to match your listings to searches where we believe the intent of the user is to find your product or service, even though they have not typed your exact bided keywords"

and: "Reordering words in multi-keyword search queries and directing them to a single primary form" + "Since Match Driver maps search queries to their primary forms, you may find that there are fewer terms, as well as some modifications to the terms in your account."

If I want to bid $.05 on widget, $.10 on blue widget and $1 on musical blue widget because that's my product and that's the best investment for my ROI, Match Driver may pool all 3 under what Overtures calls the "primary form" choosing naturally my highest Maxbid between the 3 bids (what a coincidence! A 1-2 combination?).

Now, if I would like to bid $1 on widget, I would do so. But I do not because there is too many useless clicks and a negative ROI on a vague term.

From the FAQ: "To maintain your highest position in this new marketplace, we will maintain your max bid and bid type for any terms that you are matched to."

Naturally, no way to see to what exactly the algo of Match Driver if matching me: "The traffic you receive from Match Driver will appear under the primary form in your reports-- or in the case of the expanded matching feature, the term believed to reflect the user's intent."

"Beleived", I just love PPC speak! If a surfer clicks on my bid that is listed under pink widget by Match Driver (I sell only blue), no way for me to know.

It's not "more like adwords" like profitpuppy says. It's less and less. In Adwords, I can choose [exact match 1] and [exact match 2], each with it's own specific bid. With Google, I know precisely how many clicks each one got, and it won't bid for me on terms I don't want to bid on, at a price I did not choose.

If the best algo of the top SE's are often returning irrelevant results, why beleive that Match Driver is any better? Maxbid gave control of our bids to the next guy, Match Driver takes away the exact words targeting that made our Goto campaign successful. Now if you sell a mass product like soft drinks (blue?), then you will be happy with blind full carpeting of "where we believe the intent of the user is to find your product".


 7:23 am on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just trying to be user friendly, help folks find those clicks, they may say. I would guess that they are trying to appeal to the end user, rather than SEO.

I was talking to a casual surfer, a typical target for e-commerce (buys things online occasionally, educated, non-tech job, aol) who confessed he skips past the featured sites, sometimes the first page, to get past paid links. I suspect he is not alone.

The ability to target a specific keyword phrase was key to using Overture effectively. Too bad, their loss.


 8:23 am on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

"they are trying to appeal to the end user", I don't think so. They will get less targeted ads.

In tourism for example: on MSN, Expedia's advertising appears on all searches containing the name of the country. If I understand Match Driver (who is at the wheel?): if they have a high bid on "country name", they will appear on "country name small town1", "country name hotel", etc. The big guys will have a big smile. Guess I'm not happy sharing (or getting bumped out) the uncrowded & cheap targeted KW combos that I managed to mine lovingly by hand.


 8:40 am on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I dare Overture to set up a Match Driver tool! Will the Search Term Suggestion Tool be "mapped to their primary forms"? PPC speak, I love you!

Tropical Island

 1:02 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree with Mundonet. We are also in the tourism industry and are constantly beaten out of the top 5 by large blanket advertisers in the more general terms. We have gained our own niche with highly focused regional search terms at low prices that drive our results. We can't compete effectively on the "country" terms because of volume, cost and low ROI. We stick to the regional aspect that most of the big guys have missed. Hopefully they will leave us with some of these terms.

We had already started to move the bulk of our budget to AdWords. We used to be 70/30 in favor of Over. We are now 30/70. Our budget is not that large however it is in the $500 - $600 per month range for our 2 sites and, as a business man, it would worry me to be losing that size of an account.


 1:38 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hey, if Looksmart can charge you for irrelevant clicks, why not Overture as well?

Match driver makes the Adwords model look even more attractive in comparison than it already was before. They just removed my ability to specifically target the niche keywords that will bring me customers. Whatever way I set it up, I have no chance of knowing ahead of time which searches my ad will really appear on.

I'm happy to know that my account has run dry earlier this month, and I certainly won't fill it up again under those conditions.


 1:40 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm waiting for next week to sort this out.
I'm not going to know what will happen until it is implemented.

I can come up with a lot of worst case scenarios for clients budgets.
In one KW example a "product" is 10 times more expensive than a "herbal product"
So if MD is not programmed correctly the surfer looking for "herbal product" may get listings for "product". Will the title say "herbal product" or "product"? We will have to wait and see.

And speaking of MD programming ERRORS, I've complained for 2 YEARS about a mis-spell and nothing has been done about it. I'll give it one more try.

The TOOL says:
Searches done in July 2002
1561946 book
 1273093 kelly blue book

Before MD the 1st was implemented the results were about 60% kelly blue book and 40% kelley blue book [kbb.com] so MD assumed kelly blue book was the correct spelling. :(

>We used to be 70/30 in favor of Over. We are now 30/70.
On new accounts we are 30/70 but not by our choosing. The Overture editors made that decission for us.


 1:58 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Once again, OV shoots itself in the foot. This will not only make OV a less viable advertising vehicle for the smaller players, but will also ostensibly create more irrelevant results for the user.

If I am searching for an "extremely hard to find rare widget" I do NOT want to be directed to a page about "widget", just because they are bidding higher for "widget".

If I understand this correctly, and with 3+ years working with OV I think I do, this will have a dramatically bad effect on nearly all of my clients.

All of the mispelling and extended KW research we provide is wasted, and no longer a valuable service.

This is going to be GREAT for Findwhat and Lycos's new PPC program. I really don't care if the targetted visitors come from OV partners or elsewhere, I care about cost and ROI.

I hate to say it, but LookSmart's program is starting to look better every time I read about OV's "enhancements".

Again, short term proftis will kill the golden goose. They really should use an opt-out system for MD and syndication, but that would foil their foolish scheme.

I can see the stock falling even further now. Imagine, I used to promote them as the "future of web advertising" ...sheesh.


 2:07 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I see this as a disaster for most of us. At least you have to opt in to autobidding.

Am I interpreting the Match Driver information correctly?

Say my term is "New York Discount Hotel," for which I am willing to pay a premium over a generic New York Hotel term. Will Overture now match that premium bid with a search for "New York Hotel" or, even worse, "New York?"

Will it do so even if I do not have bids on those specific terms?

Could "New Orleans Bed and Breakfast" suddenly be considered a match for a search for "New Orleans Accomodation?" Will Overture assume that the person searching for "vacation rental" will be interested in "bed and breakfast? Or vice versa? One brings me poeple I don't want - the other takes people I want and sends them to other, less appropriate, advertisers.

I may drop all my bids down to the bottom and sit out the birth of what looks to be a very ugly baby.


 2:10 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I used to promote them as the "future of web advertising" ...sheesh.

Good thoughts all, bigjohnt - especially that last one :)


 2:11 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think they plot the price per paid introduction against the number of paid introductions and make their projections accordingly. The loss of advertisers may not concern them.

Average price per paid introduction increased to $0.30 on a worldwide basis in the second quarter 2002 versus $0.24 in the first quarter 2002.
*Number of paid introductions was 515 million on a worldwide basis in the second quarter of 2002 versus 587 million in the first quarter of 2002.


 4:13 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Good point Mike. Less advertisers = less administration, server space, etc. This may indeed be a very good thing for OV and its major advertisers, until users get sick of seeing the same exact "deep pocket" advertisers strewn across to tops of all the search engines, for ALL of the terms compliments of Match Driver <a.k.a Cash Snatcher>, rather than most of them.

My crystal ball says that users will begin to avoid sponsored listings, much in the same way as they did with banner ads. What is the value of a users changing search terms to narrow and change a set of serp's if they are all going to be "mapped" anyway?
I also see the FTC requiring paid listings to be indicated as such, in the very near future. This effect will have to be dealt with. I will not be surprised if this creates a huge problem for OV and its partners.

Time will tell, but I trust my crystal ball implicitly. It will all come down to how closely folks track their ROI, figuring in the MD effects. I'll have all of my own answers by Christmas.

An opt-out option of MD would give them the best of both worlds. All of the little players surely must add up.

I am assuming that they will somehow alter the suggestion tool to avoid processing all the "mapped" terms? Or are they just going to slog through all the usual submissions, and tick off advertisers through an endless string of rejection notices?

Does OV ever actually discuss any of these changes with advertisers? My guess is yes - those in the "gold" category only- who'll be all that is left. The same ones that supported $40CPM banner ads.


 4:17 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just went through the FAQ trying to answer my own questions. It looks like they won't swap terms, although they don't actually say they won't.

By their own example, however, they will drop limiting terms to give a broader reach. What is the point in bidding on "diamond solitaire engagement rings" if Overture (their own example) believes you really wanted to bid on diamond solitaire rings?

Which really brings me back to my earlier question - what if the limiter is discount, or red, or cheap - instead of engagement? What will be the result? Will Overture just ignore your limiter and apply your bid to a broader, less relevant term?


 4:21 pm on Aug 31, 2002 (gmt 0)

What if the limiter is "free" ?

We could go on and on!


 3:22 am on Sep 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

"My crystal ball says that users will begin to avoid sponsored listings, much in the same way as they did with banner ads" - bigjohnt

I sure hope you're right, we have top ranking and hate the PPC game. Come to think about it, I am starting to like Overture's Profit Match Driver. The less relevant PPC advertising, the more the regular serps will appeal to the surfer.

"I also see the FTC requiring paid listings to be indicated as such" - bigjohnt That would attack the core of the setup. Joe public thinks that it's regular relevant results because of the PPC speak smoke screen labels. Blanket ads could make things a little bit more evident.


 3:51 am on Sep 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

I really hate this sort of dishonesty... because that's what it is. We all know that they are seeking to get more money from advertisers for a less attractive product. OV know it too. Yet they gloss it like it's some sort of positive enhancement - right from the Looksmart dictionary of doublespeak.

>> I'm not going to know what will happen until it is implemented<<

There's a problem with that. Because they control what is matched they also control when it is matched. Do you imagine that they are going to bang in the whole implementation in on day 1?

No, of course not. This will be piecemeal - bit by bit they will combine your terms. Bit by bit you will pay more for less focused traffic. Less shock means a less obvious crossroads at which to part company.

>> "My crystal ball says that users will begin to avoid sponsored listings, much in the same way as they did with banner ads" <<

I too believe that the big man has it called right and that justice will catch them up.

Even without this change this would eventually occur as more and more searchers begin to understand that 'sponsored listing' = advertisement. This will make this even more obvious and hasten the decline.

I certainly won't be crying in my beer for them.


 5:22 am on Sep 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>My crystal ball says that users will begin to avoid sponsored listings, much in the same way as they did with banner ads<<

The casual surfer will stay away from them, but the buyers will click through. Good for advertisers, bad for OV.

Banner ads are still a bit "too much" to deal with, listings don't annoy people, even if they are ads.


 8:46 am on Sep 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

Just went to my Findwhat bid panel (I check once a month :) when it's rainy outside) and the plurals are in blue type under my bid terms so I really don't see why Overture could not do the same on the Manage Bids page to show the "mapping" of Profit Driver.

What really ticks me is "The traffic you receive from Match Driver will appear under the primary form in your reports" so I won't be able to laugh at the works of Profit Driver.

BTW how will the "primary form" be determined? The terms with the highest traffic, highest bids or a "subtle" mix?


 9:48 am on Sep 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

mundonet... That's a good point about not being able to see all the combinations the stupid thing will likely come up with, that is extremely bad.

>>>BTW how will the "primary form" be determined? The terms with the highest traffic, highest bids or a "subtle" mix?

From what I read, the "primary form" is the one with your highest max bid, and all other forms are charged the same.

Let's say you bid...
$0.50/click for "blue widgets"
$0.20/click for "large blue widgets"

If OVER thinks...
"blue furry widgets"
"large furry widgets"
... etc are all relevent to any of these listings,
you will be billed $0.50/click since it was derived from a combination of those two terms, and they use the one that costs the most to get the price. They also use the descriptions as a way for getting keywords to make all these combinations of search terms from, so lookout if you use odd words in your descriptions!


 11:28 am on Sep 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yikes! Their recent Autobid introduction is starting to make sense (mucho cents) as a combo punch with Roll-of-the-Dice Match.

I sell blue widgets so I bid $1 on my targeted terms, I also fish in the more or less relevant pond of pink widgets but @ $.10 because of the % of useless clicks. If ?&%$#! Match "maps" them toguether because widget is the primary, I could end up with a negative (very) ROI competing with guys that are targeting the pink ones.

Ever heard of Niccolò Machiavelli [lucidcafe.com]? No, it's not a new brand of frozen lasagna.

Tropical Island

 11:54 am on Sep 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

Isn't it curious that this is all happening on Sept. 2 - the same day they lose another partner to Google. Is this just a way to keep the impact of this loss to a minimum on the backs of their advertisers.


 10:32 pm on Sep 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

well ..... i gotta say i don't like it either. very disappointing, even though i need blanket coverage for a couple of clients ...


 2:42 am on Sep 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Overture will definately make more money with Match Driver. For every person that searches for "blue widget" there are dozens of people that search for "buy blue widget" "purchase blue widget" etc.

Normally you cannot bid on these search terms because they are below the radar screen on the overture suggestion tool - not enough people search for them. But if you add them all up, even though only a few people search for them, they add up to alot of money.

That is probably why I spend 90% of my ppc budget on google and 10% on overture. And I rarely pay more than 5 cents per click. Never more than 24 cents per click.

The problem with overture is that you can't bid on all those tiny phrases that not many people search for, but in aggregate are quite good. The new Match Driver thingie will improve this, but most of the benefit will go to the bigger advertisers and it doesn't go far enough. Google is so much better because you can bid on any phrase you want.

However my understanding of the new Overture Match driver is different to the above. I believe it will only apply to two word phrases, is this correct? For example if you bid on "widget" you will not get results for "buy widget" "blue widget" etc. However if you bid on "blue widget" you will get all results with the phrase "blue widget" eg "blue widget gismo" "blue widget car garage sale" etc etc.


 2:47 am on Sep 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

I believe it will only apply to two word phrases, is this correct?

That is not correct. Overture's own example of how Match Driver works involves the four word bid term diamond solitaire engagement rings being paired, by Match Driver, with a search for diamond solitaire rings.


 4:32 am on Sep 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

They give one example in a short PPC speak FAQ for something that will probably add a few millions to their bottom line (out of our pockets). Not enough info to find out who is the Driver and where he's going. I expect to find the real collectively produced FAQ right here on WW in a few days.

BTW being a leftist, I find it funny that so many strong minded individualists join force on this board to advance knowledge of the beast. :)


 11:04 am on Sep 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

I meant 2 word phrases or more 3, 4 etc. But doesn't apply to 1 word keyword phrases, in other words if you bid for widget, you will not automatically get results for blue widget.

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