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New Tools From Microsoft And Yahoo Help Marketers Manage Search Revenue

With Microsoft Corp.’s Bing and adCenter technology now serving as the backbone of Yahoo Inc.’s Internet search, marketers have several new tools to manage paid search campaigns and help sites rank higher in natural search results. And none is more important than the ability to track revenue in paid search campaigns, marketers say.

For paid-search campaigns, Microsoft adCenter promises to soon release a “significantly enhanced conversion analytics product” that will feature revenue tracking, an ad performance report, and the ability to better target consumers by seeing how well keyword strategies reach particular consumer segments.

“Revenue tracking is, hands-down, the most important feature Bing is adding to their platform,” says Steve Tazic, online marketing manager for Abt Inc., a consumer electronics and home appliances retailer that sells on the web at Abt.com. “This is an area where Bing appears to have lagged behind Google and Yahoo. Revenue tracking is essential to effectively monitoring our paid search programs, and without this information, we sometimes feel like we’re shooting in the dark.”

Tazic says Abt holds its search marketing agency, Rise Interactive, to a specific 10% cost per revenue metric—what the retailer calls its efficiency goal.  Abt defines its 10% metric as a maximum of $1 in search spend per $10 in search-generated revenue.

“We know for certain that we are hitting our efficiency goal in Google, but we have only been able to guess what our efficiency is in Bing,” he says. “As Bing becomes a much larger percentage of our overall cost and revenue, the revenue side of the ratio becomes much more important for our campaign management strategies.”

Microsoft also is introducing a new desktop adCenter tool that will analyze performance statistics to show, for example, which search queries caused a marketer’s paid search ads to appear.

For organic search, Microsoft has introduced a new Bing toolbox that addresses common demands Microsoft has heard from search engine optimization managers, including the ability to download data on how often their sites are crawled by the new Bingbot site crawler, the company says.

“Bing Webmaster Tools provide you a simplified, more intuitive experience focused on three key areas: crawl, index and traffic,” says Anthony Garcia, senior product manager, Bing Webmaster Tools.

Among the new tools:

  • Index Explorer, which lets e-commerce managers browse through the Bing index in order to verify which web pages have been included in the index.
  • Submission of URLs so that particular web pages are indexed by Bing.
  • Crawl Issues, which lets site operators view details on page redirects, malware, and other problems that may have blocked indexing by Bing.
  • Block URLs, which lets site operators prevent specific URLs—such as web pages with terminated product offers that cannot be immediately removed from a web site—from appearing in Bing search results.

In addition, the new tools use Microsoft’s Silverlight 4 rich media technology platform to produce charts for analyzing up to six months of crawling, indexing and traffic as a base for learning how to better optimize a site for natural search.

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