Google is testing serving AdWords positions 1 and 2 on the right rail for users who don't click on the ads when they're atop the organic listings
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the direct cost of SEM software is dwarfed by two other related costs: the cost of trained staff to run that software, and the opportunity cost of using that software poorly or well.
Yahoo's settlement agreement with OMS raises interesting questions about open vs closed auction bidding.
SEM Pricing: Bundled Prices vs A La Carte. Are you better off buying services for SEM, CSE, Affiliate Management, and SEO all under one price structure, or buying each service separately? George Michie discusses the value of the a la carte model.
Google's "How Fictitious Clicks Appear In Third-Party Click Fraud Audit Reports" wasn't attacking those concerned about fraudulent clicks, Google was attacking firms promoting weak methodologies which attempt to estimate fraud. Reading Google's response was like watching someone shoot fish in a barrel -- not at all difficult for the shooter, and decidedly unpleasant for the fish.
A better compensation model is to pay your SEM based on a fraction of the advertising dollars they spend on your behalf.