3 Lessons in Pay Per Click, From Microsoft

Ian Lurie

Sorry, Bill. Just a mild poking of fun here. I did a search for ‘pay per click advertising’ on Google just now, and saw the following:

Microsoft PPC

Note that Microsoft is bidding for, and getting, the #1 position in Google’s sponsored ads. That means they’re outbidding everyone else. Including Google.

Seems like a good idea, right? Beat the 800-pound gorilla at its own game, snag a few more clicks, get more customers. But there are three problems, and each one’s a great lesson learned:

  1. Don’t Let Ego Drive Your Bids. If I sell oranges, and you sell oranges, that little reptile part of my brain is saying ‘Kick their butt’. But the truth is, you can’t assume the return on investment scales from #2 to #1. Maybe Microsoft did their homework, and they know this is paying off. If not, they should slack off: They’re likely paying at least $5.00/click for their ad.
  2. Include Your Brand. Microsoft doesn’t include their name in the ad title. They should. They have the only brand name that can compete with Google. Why not capitalize?
  3. Write a Good Offer. The landing page for this ad offers $50 in free clicks. That’s a darned good offer. Why not put that offer in the ad?

Just to put my money where my mouth is, I rewrote their ad:

MSN Pay Per Click Targeted ads w/ Microsoft adCenter.
$50 in free clicks. Sign up today!

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Oh so true. Ego drives many advertisers to over bid their PPC campaigns for the sole benefit of appearing first. Your second point about showing the brand and the value offer is also very relevant. Thanks for sharing this story

  2. One question, how important is it to mention the company name if the company is small? If the product name is more likely to be recognized, shouldn’t we use just the product name?
    Microsoft is now rotating their ads, and one of them says “Advertise on Microsoft adCenter and Get $50 in Free Clicks.” Maybe they saw your post 🙂

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