If youíve been keeping up with search engine industry lately, youíll know that Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a fast growing trend. Nearly all of major search engines and directories have now integrated one type of PPC or another into their search results. At moment Overture.com (formerly GoTo) is clear leader in PPC field, with an estimated 90% of total PPC search market. But others such as FindWhat, Kanoodle and eSpotting are slowly catching on. Overture currently has partnerships in place with Yahoo, AOL, AV, Lycos, Netscape, InfoSpace, MSN and Excite. People bid to purchase keywords from Overture and top 2 or 3 bids (called Premium Listings) appear on their partner sites when searches are conducted for those keywords. Most of time, Overture results appear above regular search results as "sponsored matches", so you can see how effective this type of campaign can be when used to draw targeted traffic to a web site. Whenever a viewer clicks on a sponsored listing, they are taken to advertiserís site and advertiser is charged for click at rate determined by their bid on Overture.
The main drawbacks to advertising on PPC engines to date have been:
a) The quick exhaustion of funds due to large traffic volume
b) The time consuming nature of bid rank analysis for multiple keywords
c) The impact of bid gaps on cost-effectiveness (when your bid is more than it needs to be to maintain your target rank).
When you are managing PPC campaigns for hundreds of keyword sets for multiple client sites, these problems are compounded. Fortunately, software has sprung up to help people manage their PPC campaigns and automate bidding process.
We have reviewed eight of these Bid Management Software programs in our effort to find one right for our client campaigns and thought weíd share results with you:
(Please note a more detailed version of this article, including a Software Features Chart can be viewed at our site here: http://www.high-search-engine-ranking.com/PPC_Bid_Management_Software_Showdown.htm)
1. Tangareís Pay Per Click Maximiser www.tangare.com
The Pay Per Click Maximiser is a great product. A downloadable desktop program, no monthly fees, plenty of keywords and a good price for Standard edition (USD $199 for 500 keywords). It supports FindWhat, Kanoodle and eSpotting in conjunction with Overture US & UK and allows user to determine bid update frequency. Other notable features include ability to export reports to Excel, HTML and email.
My only real problem with this program is Interface, which tends to be confusing, (all that gray on gray) and not very intuitive. There is a help menu, but on first launch, it is not clear where to start or how to launch a new project. The "manage search terms" tab is also a little user unfriendly, but once you study help menu to determine how to set your rank targets and bid limits, youíre off and running. Their free trial download simulates bid optimization process, but is otherwise fully functional. Score 8/10
2. Click Patrol www.clickpatrol.com
Click Patrol claim to be largest provider of automated Pay-Per-Click bid management services, but I canít see any redeeming features that differentiate service from other providers. For starters, it is Internet based, so if you are security conscious, you may not like idea of handing over your Overture account login details to a third party provider. Then there are monthly fees, which are most expensive of all programs reviewed, ranging from $100 to $500, with an extra fee per keyword if you want your bids checked more often than every 24 hours. See Features Chart for details. They do support seven of major PPC engines and I hear their "Auto Position" feature works well to close price gaps, but there is no free trial of their system that I could find, only case studies and a screen capture. Score 5/10
3. Gapster www.did-it.com/gapster
With release of their freeware bid optimization tool Gapster, Did-it had an opportunity to win hearts and capitalize on a thankful market. It sure sounded promising: free automatic bid monitoring & updating for 200 keywords on Overture US & UK, FindWhat and Kanoodle.
Unfortunately, they chose to abuse privacy of their customers and win enemies for their trouble. As reported by Danny Sullivan in his latest Search Engine Update newsletter, beta users of Gapster allegedly had their Overture account login details published on Internet last month, care of one of Did-itís own servers. The security breach was quickly corrected, but damage to Did-Itís reputation was already done. Mindful of this first impression clouding my judgment, I tried to download beta version to verify product itself and give them benefit of doubt. But at time of writing download was unavailable due to software undergoing an update. Letís hope their updating their security protocols. Score 0/10
4. Save Per Click www.saveperclick.com
Another Internet based program, Save Per Click supports more PPC engines than any of other products we reviewed, Nine in total, including some Iíve never heard of. They offer a free 7day trial, but you need to have an account already in place at one of supported PPC engines. This is a fairly straightforward program, but my major gripe is price and inability to pre-determine bid update frequency, although you CAN choose time of day. The monthly fee ranges from $19.95 to $89.95 for Standard edition (updates once a day) and $59.95 to $199.95 for Pro edition (updates once an hour). Price range is determined by number of keywords. See Features Chart for details. Score 6/10