|Pay per click is takin' over the landscape|
It shows no signs of slowing
While GoTo and its clones are most commonly refered to as the pay par click engines, most everyone is getting in the game.
Ink PPC published price is .25 per click. Partners pay less, probably .10 to .15 per click at wholesale.
AV offers pay per click programs for sites with 500+ URLs to submit. Unlike Ink, they charge a monthly per page inclusion fee plus the click charges. 5k is posted monthly minimum. They don't appear to offer a "wholesale" model to partners (agencies), but it would be surprising if they didn't, simply to go head to head with Ink.
LookSmart $2500.00 posted monthy minimum plus around a hundred bucks to setup each URL for inclusion and choose keywords. Per click charges are around .50.
All programs put someone in the distribution chain "closer" to the algos with XML feeds or something similar. After all, pages at the bottom of the pile won't generate any per click revenue.
It's all great for the large advertisers, but what is the overal effect?
Are the results when you search more or less relevant or do you skip it all by going to Google?
What will be the long term effect (if any) on web use and seach engine use when most every engine around except Google and some up and comers auction off as many listings as they can?
Are your LookSmart submisions less visible as time goes by due to the LookListings program getting placed above your $299.00 directory listings?
If you are a large company and make use of the pricey PPC programs offered, how is the ROI, is the traffic becoming any more or less qualified? Is is costing more to maintain current advertising effectiveness?
How will all this affect web use long term? Will people come to have the same faith in search engines that many have in the media (not a whole lot)?
Any other thoght about the future impact of PPC spreading like wildfire around the web?
My spin.. PPC will die as a comprehensive model, as people get more and more irrlevant ommercial listings in their searches. People will leave seacrh sites powered substantially by PPC. PPC as a mechanism for commercialor shopping sites however should continue to grow. There ARE people who go to the Web to shop or purchase, and want to buy and pay quick. For them Go To is a good source. However most people are seaching for objective information - providing comparative revews of products and services etc. PPC, by it's nature, will never emphasise these in listings, cause the toplistings in PPC are from sites that generate revenue from their sites - research, education, economic data, not for profit sites, personal amathuer web sites, they are absent from PPC, and buried in search engines that use them.
Aggreed also that one of the problems with PPC and bulk discounts etc, is that the more you advertise the less price you pay per click. It makes great sense for PPC vendors, but no sense for search. Again it means that Jo Bloggs useful site reviewing different software, costs much more to promote that the software vendor's page just selling their own stuff.
People WILL turn off the Web the more commercial spins there are out there. There may also be a move away from traditional search to vortals, authoritative web site "authorities", and of course SE's that do not contaminate their SERPS with paid for listings.
What we are seeing is just the normal way a new information technology gets taken over eventually by a few major suppliers, we saw it in newspapers, books, TV, etc. Same thing for the Net.
Anyone with a good site that is already ranking highly is very unlikely to participate in these programmes. As a result, only those advertisers who can't seem to make it to the top 10 of the search results (the old fashioned way) are participating in PPC and paid placement programmes to begin with.
IMHO, taking less relevant sites and placing them at the top of the page, only serves to dilute (and pollute) the relevancy index of the SE.
If advertisers jump on the PPC bandwagon as a method of getting around providing decent content in a well constructed and logically formatted site (which very often seems to be the case) ... then all you will have in the top 10 or 20 results on the PPC engines is trash. Past the first 20 results, why would anyone bother paying to be listed?
The SE's might as well call their paid listings "the classifieds" and place a button on the first page which says, "go to the REAL results" (ranked by search relevance), so people have the option to bypass the paid listings. Do any of you have PPC listings past #10 or 20 that get good traffic?
IMHO, I see no "long term" future for the PPC engines and the more SE's that go that way, the more they allow others like Google to get a stronger foothold on the web.
Relevant search results are not just the most important thing ... they are the ONLY thing. The proof of this statement is in your log files!
People are not stupid, they will naturally gravitate to the search engine or directory with the MOST relevant results and they will stay with that engine or directory until it stops giving them what they want. If somebody can't find what they want within a few minutes of searching ... they will go elsewhere or give up altogether and buy a magazine, newspaper or book.
Another way to look at this from a PPC buyer's point of view. Recently we took on a new client. One term they were paying $1.00+ per click on GoTo. It took us 60 days but that term is now #6 in MSN, and #7 or 8 in AOL. At prices of less than $1.00 per click. Old fashioned SEO is more cost effective than PPC for the more common (therefore expensive) terms. This economic factor will help keep the PPC system from taking over the web. IMHO.
Heard a rumor from a reliable source that Look$mart is considering going 100% pay per click. Not quite sure what would happen to the existing express listings that are not currently PPC, but after the cleansing of ZEAL commercial listings, I supposed anything is possible.
LookSmart (like Yahoo) hold zero loyalty for their customers who have supported them first with the paid inclusion fee and then with the featured listings. I really don't care what they do next ... I only know I won't be buying any of it!
Relevancy is determined by the individual landing on the page, based on what they were REALLY looking for. Commercial, or info, education or entertainment.
I don't think PPC will have an adverse effect on people who are looking for the commercial sites, at all. What would they care about whether it was paid or not? Or if the companies with larger budgets are near the top?
Has there been a recent study on how many people are surfing for "info" versus shopping? This data would have to be compared seperately for each category, or keyword set.
Relevance is really in the mind of each *individual* consumer, and at this time cannot be determined by software, OR an editor. They can both get pretty close, but the ambiguity of language still gives you a wide margin of error.
Example: I am a kid doing a report on the Amazon River. I type in "Amazon", I get the bookstore.(100% Irrelevant, or 0% relevant.) VS. I am looking to buy a book on the Amazon River, and I type in "Amazon". I get the bookstore (100%) relevant.
The point of academic or informational searchers versus commercial traffic will play itself out. People who are looking to buy, will learn where to go, and those looking for information or academia will learn where to go.
I believe PPC will be with us for a LONG time, serving both consumers, advertisers, and search engines quite well. There is value to be gained by buyers, sellers and search engines. This is(has become) business, not personal. :)
"The point of academic or informational searchers versus commercial traffic will play itself out. People who are looking to buy, will learn where to go, and those looking for information or academia will learn where to go. "
I think he's right on the ball. I dont see PPC growth as being the death for non commercial sites. I see people using generalised search engines less on the whole, unless they are shopping, and more vortals and authoritative hubs. Ples going to SE's that are not PPC driven like Google and Fast.
It does suggest that the way we find "stuff on the Web" will change fast. Se's going for PPC for revenue may find their use declining more than they think, as surfers become more savvy.
Im actually quite positive myself. More finding of stuff from vortals, Weblogs, hubs, "trusted sites" etc. and less from Search Engines as the sole direction posts of the Net. It is actually more what the Web should be.