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Develop an XML API and release it as soon as possible.
If I have software which tracks my conversions carefully and automatically bids across a wide range of alternative PPC sites then the barrier to entry will be dramatically dropped for your company.
I would definitely use such software and therefore I would list on your engines.
You have an opportunity folks, don't blow it.
The reason people don't bother listing on multiple PPC engines is the hassle.
But if you could list your keywords just once, and then have some software manage them across all possible PPC engines, wouldn't that be cool?
It would tell you when stuff doesn't convert, etc.
This will especially be exciting for the 3rd placed engines when MSN comes online and makes it almost necessary to have a intermediary software application managing your keywords.
Here is a list of the majors that have XML back ends (I only went so deep into the 2nd tier PPC's)
I'm not sure how many companies have access to the API's, but there are qualification processes, etc. to go through.
My company, Atlas, and a couple others offer web interfaces, and the rest offer localized software interfaces.
You have to understand how much bandwidth/CPU is used for bid/listing XML calls. We alone, update over a million keywords a day.
There are costs on both ends, and it isn't cheap... :) You don't want to see my co-lo invoices...
Add listing management and advanced tracking technology/(real time ROAS-CPA analysis), and you add even more overhead to the mix.
I've been involved in this area since 1998, when Overture was still goto.com, and I can tell you, that the back end processing becomes more intensive each month.
I've seen a couple of players come into the market place over the last year, claiming a better "mouse trap", but a lot of it is smoke and mirrors.
Some of the PPC engines also charge the bid management interfaces, an "per transaction" fee for access to their system. That pretty much rules out "one off software applications" for $100... :)
In the end, for me, it's not just creating and marketing the technology, but working directly with advertisers, to make them more profitable in the volatile paid search space.
Though Google created an Open Source API platform, many individual accounts are limited by a 10K per month quota on operations executed into their API.
10K per month isn't enough quota to do both listing management, traffic estimates for new keyword research, and updating Max CPC's...
In other words, G has opened the door, but only the agencies/advertisers with a large monthly spend get to push the door all the way open. The majority, can only get a foot in the door.. :)
I just want to create a creative, bid on the keywords, and then turn them off if my backend says I'm not converting.
I don't even need reporting. I can do all that backend.
Having to relog into umpteen different engines and turning keywords off/on is too much work and is why I don't bother for that last 10% of revenue.
Automated Keyword research functions may not be important to "you", but saying "you" meaning the rest of us, is implying that you know what's best for everyone else... :)
We feel that automated keyword analysis processes, can greatly reduce the time involved in creating keyword lists for new campaigns, not to mention resources. (Anything we can automate, that reduces manual intervention, helps advertisers be more productive)..
The problem with alternative ppc engines can be boiled down to one thing and one thing only: the trouble it takes to list and delist.
And that is the only reason keeping me and probably most other people from using alternative PPC.
Yes, there are all sorts of bells and whistles that you might also like, but those bells and whistles are not what are keeping the majority from using the alternative PPC engines.
This wasn't really meant to be a debate about what a good PPC management software program should do.
As for automated keyword analysis? I'm not entirely sure what that is.
I don't know what a keyword pays out until I bid and wait a week (or a month, or whatever)
I have a good feel for what a keyword might pay out because of
b) overture keyword tool / google keyword tool
There is no way to automate those processes. That's just an issue of IQ and understanding the english language and how people use it.
With the new Google API, both Overture/Google keyword tools are auto-matable (I like that word)..
Anyone that spends much time building out keyword lists will tell you, that it's more than IQ and mastering the English language. Both Overture/Google keyword suggestion tools, will many times show you related terms, that are getting searches, that you didn't think of. If you can automate those processes (which we do), it's a true time saver...
I know I've digressed away from some of your original intent on the post, but most advertisers want a single interface they can manage all their Paid Search campaigns.
Here's a downside, most of the 2nd Tier PPC's dont have any way to delete an individual term automatically through their API...