Budget Forecasting Continued – Tackling Overture

While running a pay-per-click advertising campaign on Overture is similar to running one on Google, there are some important differences. Likewise, if you are running such campaigns on more than one search engine, you will want to consider certain points. Jacqueline Dooley goes over the differences between Google and Overture, and briefly explains how to handle a PPC campaign running simultaneously on multiple search engines.

My recent article on budget forecasting focused exclusively on Google, but Overture is the other major pay per click search engine on the market. Many advertisers run ads on both sites. This article will focus on the nuances of budget forecasting for Overture using Overture’s advertiser tools.

You don’t have to be an Overture advertiser to access the two main tools I use for budget forecasting. The Keyword Selector tool shows the actual number of searches performed in a given month (usually the month prior to your search, but sometimes the data is not current). The tool also displays any searches that contained the term you put into the tool. So, for example, if I performed a search for the word “airport” the tool gives me the following results.

Count Search Term
161880 airport jfk
48249 Airport logan
41673 airport Philadelphia
38919 airport newark
35983 airport code
35749 airport parking

Note that the word “airport” is included in each of the searches which are listed under the “Search Term” column. The Count is the actual number of searches performed in January 2005. This number will change when Overture eventually updates the tool to reflect February’s numbers.

Getting the keyword count is the first step towards forecasting your traffic, but the number you really need here is clicks. While Google’s tool forecasts clicks per day, Overture doesn’t provide this information. The best way to determine it for yourself is to estimate your clickthrough rate (CTR) and calculate it from there. Remember, it’s only an estimate. Once your campaign is up and running, you can get the actual CTR and recalculate your estimate based on campaign performance. Since this is not an article about keyword selection, I will assume that you already have your keyword list ready to go. You can use the same list as you used for Google, or you can vary it depending on how much money you have to spend and who your target audience is (Google attracts a different crowd from Overture).

The formula for calculating the number of clicks using Count and CTR is Count x CTR = Clicks. So, if the Overture count is 54,639 and you estimate a CTR of two percent, then your formula with the resulting clicks will look like this.

54,639 x 2% = 1092

Full disclosure: I am not a math whiz and don’t pretend to be. I use an online percentage calculator and Excel to calculate forecasts and anything else related to media tracking and management.

The next number you’ll need for each term is the cost per click (CPC). Unlike Google, Overture shows you exactly how much you need to bid to be in any given position. This is your maximum bid amount, which is not necessarily your actual per-click amount. The next tool you’ll need is the bid tool, which is accessible even if you are not an Overture advertiser.

The bid tool is easy to use. Simply enter a keyword and you’ll get a list of Overture advertisers bidding for that term, how much the current maximum bid is for the respective position of the advertiser and of course what position any given advertiser is in. Here is a sample of the results for a random term which I will keep confidential to protect the identity of the advertisers.

1. AnySite.com

Anysite’s ad copy is here

Anysite’s URL is here

(Advertiser’s Max Bid: $0.51)

2. Anothersite.com

Anothersite’s ad copy is here

Anothersite’s URL is here

(Advertiser’s Max Bid: $0.33)

Note that this tool does not show actual bid amounts. For example advertiser #1 has a maximum bid of $.51 per click and advertiser #2 has a maximum bid of $.33 per click, so it is natural to assume that advertiser #1 has to pay $.51 every time you click on their ad. However, the actual amount they are paying is $.34 – just one penny above whoever is below them. Thus, you can set your bid to $.50 so that you appear in position #2 and you’ll only be paying $.34 for the #2 position. You will, however, have forced advertiser in the position above you to pay the full $.51 per click by raising the bid amount. This can be tricky since you can easily get into a bidding war this way. My advice is to stay somewhere in the middle (e.g., bid $.40 for the #2 position).

Although the bid tool is available to anyone, it is really reserved as an advertiser tool so I will not link to it from this article. I will, however, tell you where to find it once you are in the Overture’s ad management console. If you click on “Manage Precision Match” at the top of the screen, the bid tool is available as a link next to each of your search listings.

The Keyword Seector Tool and the bid tool have given you keyword counts, maximum bid amounts and positions for the keywords in your ad. You now have enough information to forecast your monthly budget. Here’s an example of how to put it together in a meaningful way using a spreadsheet.

  Count Estimated Clicks Estimated CPC Position Estimated Cost per Month
Keyword 1 2197 44 $1.51 1 $66.35
Keyword 2 221 4 $1.26 1 $5.57
Keyword 3 96 2 $0.51 1 $0.98
Totals and Averages 2514 50 $1.09 $72.90

The following defines the values for the rows in the above chart.

  • Count – The number of monthly searches performed in Overture for the respective keyword as reported by Overture’s Keyword Selector Tool.

  • Estimated CPC – This is the amount you’re willing to pay per click for the position you want. This amount will always be one penny above the maximum CPC of the advertiser in the respective position for which you are bidding. So, for example, if the advertiser bidding on Keyword 1 has a maximum bid of $1.50 for the #1 position, your estimated CPC would be $1.51.

Payment Options with Overture

The payment options available to Overture advertisers are much more flexible than Google’s. The Money Manager tab in the Overture DirecTraffic Center enables you to select Budget On and Budget Off features. The Budget On feature lets you set a daily budget and a target monthly budget. Once your campaign reaches the monthly budget, your ads go down until the next billing period unless you put more money in your account. Overture will notify you via email when your budget is nearly tapped out.

The Budget Off (Non-Stop Traffic) option enables advertisers to specify a monthly budget, but if that budget taps out before the billing period then Overture will automatically charge your credit card, which they keep on file. This isn’t as scary as it sounds. Overture will send you email alerts that notify you when your card has been charged and you can set the amount to be charged (e.g., $25.00). This way you can’t go drastically over budget unless you want to.

Although this article focused on Overture and my previous article focused on Google, I realize that many advertisers have PPC campaigns running on more than just these two PPC engines. My most far-reaching PPC campaign used a whopping five PPC search engines, including two in Europe. Be sure to factor monthly forecasting from all of the sites on which you plan to advertise into one summary spreadsheet. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

Paid Search Site Clicks/Month Cost/ Month CPC
Google 5,608 $72.90 $0.01
Overture 2,514 $2,466.00 $0.98
PPC Site #3 3,400 $1,298.00 $0.38
Totals/Averages 11,522 $3,836.90 $0.33

Although each search engine in the table is a separate marketing channel, your collective campaign is really just one marketing tactic – PPC search marketing. It is important to understand how each of the PPC search engines work separately, but to manage them together so that you can get the maximum reach, leads and traffic with the minimum expenditure. Pay attention to the cost per click (CPC) for each. Note that Google’s CPC is much higher than the other two. This is something you should pay attention to when you are running the actual campaign. If Google does not bring in valuable leads or sales, you can take a chunk of the Google budget and move it to Overture (assuming Overture’s leads and sales are better). If Google consistently brings you the most qualified leads and/or drives the most sales, slash the Overture campaign and move the money to Google. That’s campaign optimization and it will save you a bundle.

There are tools out there to help you manage unwieldy PPC campaigns. The foremost tool in the industry is Atlas Onepoint (formerly GoToast.com) which has tools to help you launch your campaign, manage bids across multiple SEs, track conversions and build and manage keyword lists.

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