7 Steps to Prepare For the Search Alliance in the UK

Yahoo Search Bing PPCAfter a year’s delay, Microsoft adCenter will start to power the PPC results on Yahoo UK in Q2 of 2012. Discussion of its potential for success aside, here are some useful links and an action plan for preparing UK campaigns.

Recap on UK Search Engine Market Shares

Yahoo/Bing face a major battle for market share in the UK – more than in the US. Google holds a dominant 91 percent of searches (Hitwise, 4 weeks to Jan 21st), with Yahoo and Bing at 2.28 percent and 3.83 percent respectively; less than the 4.80 percent of UK searches that take place on Google.com. There are more market share resources in this article.

Unsurprisingly, UK PPC campaigns on Yahoo and Bing receive less love than AdWords, although their combined research states their audiences are 41 percent more likely to convert than the “average” UK searcher.

Step 1: Shorten Your Yahoo Ads by February 1

Yahoo’s Panama system switched to ad lengths similar to Google some time ago – but they’re longer than those on adCenter. All new or modified ads on Panama are required to have an ad title of 25 characters (instead of 40) or less, and a display URL of a maximum 35 characters on February 1; ready for migration across to adCenter. Descriptions should also be shortened, from a maximum of 71 to 70 characters.

Existing ads that meet these requirements will migrate over to adCenter but will be truncated and paused – so I’d suggest editing all your ads sooner rather than later.

Step 2: Map Your Accounts

You may have accounts that live on Panama which are not on adCenter – take some time to compare and see which need migrating across, or what’s already in place. If you have a Yahoo or MSN rep, they’ll help with this process.

Best practice is to keep your adCenter account and build it out – not replace it by transferring over a larger Yahoo account; the systems are different.

Step 3: Know the Differences Between Panama and adCenter

The two systems work differently. This webinar explains how on the Search Alliance website – watch from 10:30 minutes onwards. There’s also a comparison guide.

You can view training videos as well and study for the adCenter exam.

Step 4: Allocate Time to Adjust, Expand Campaigns

After reviewing the above steps, there are several areas of your campaigns you will need to work on, including:

  • Editing copy and display URLs
  • Expanding keywords
  • Reviewing negatives and the levels they are applied at
  • Adjusting match types
  • Adjusting geo-targeting 
  • Reviewing dynamic insertion parameters

Consider spending time on campaigns already live on adCenter, too, as there may be keyword variations searched for on Yahoo than never had searches on Bing, and aren’t currently in your adCenter account.

There might be an opportunity here to improve targeting – adCenter has more granular targeting options than Panama down to city or metro areas, as well as region and country levels.

Step 5: Adjust Your Bid, Budget Strategy

AdCenter has higher minimum bids – £0.05 compared to £0.01 – and requires you to set a monthly budget (unlike Panama); you’ll need to incorporate this change into your workflow going forward.

Step 6: Review Your Landing Pages

This is always best practice – review your pages against the keywords driving traffic to them: are the keywords in the page, and is the content relevant? This is factored into rankings.

Step 7: Manage Expectations

Some U.S. accounts saw increases in performance post-transition; others saw the opposite. So communicate that there is a change coming and the waters may be choppy; not just because of the migration of accounts, but because of consumers seeing different ads and performance changing.

Watching Brief

Following the above steps, working closely with your search engine reps and maintain a watching brief should put you in a good position to cope with the change.

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