Search, tracking big at ad:tech

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The ad:tech conference in New York last week was a staging platform for dozens of new online ad products, from search to blogs to analytical services.

With the proliferation of search as an effective way to reach online buyers, many companies launched new products to deliver, place and track search marketing programs.

"There is phenomenal momentum behind search engine advertising," said Gary Stein, senior analyst at Jupiter Research, in a recent report that found search advertising revenue will overtake display advertising revenue on the Web by 2010.

According to Jupiter, search advertising will grow at a compound annual rate of 12% over the next five years. Display (also called banner) advertising will grow at a compound annual rate of only 7% in that period.

With this growth, "we see a huge opportunity to work with b-to-b companies," said Patricia Hursh, president and founder of SmartSearch Marketing, which rolled out SmartSearch B2B at ad:tech last week. The product is a new search engine marketing service that guarantees pay-per-click results for companies conducting online b-to-b marketing campaigns. The service includes campaign strategy, messaging, targeting, bidding and conversion tracking.

Tracking search-driven calls

Also last week, iProspect launched SearchTalk, a search engine marketing telephone tracking service. SearchTalk lets marketers monitor inbound telephone calls and track telephone conversions to the keywords and paid search programs that produced them. The service also allows marketers to assess the keywords, search engines, landing pages and ads that are most successful at driving inbound phone calls. The service is powered by ClickPath's Who's Calling telephone tracking service.

In another search-related announcement, SearchForce introduced the SearchForce Search Marketing Management Platform to help companies optimize keyword selection, manage large-scale campaigns, control bid management and create landing pages for pay-per-click marketing campaigns. The service uses a statistical modeling optimization engine that forecasts profitability scenarios, determines ideal bid prices for each keyword and automatically bids on them.

"Using SearchForce, we expect to realize an increase of 50% in our search marketing ROI and significant cost savings by managing our campaigns in-house," said Sherman Hsieh, group director-Web marketing at Siebel Systems, which signed up to use the service.

Inceptor and Sane Solutions announced a partnership to co-market Inceptor's BidCenter pay-per-click bid management system with Sane's NetTracker line of Web analytics software. The companies announced they would integrate their technologies, which will help search engine marketers better control their keyword bidding by analyzing the success of keywords based on the online behavior of customers visiting a Web site. The analytic capabilities will let advertisers link the purchase of specific keywords to specific products purchased online.

However, with the phenomenal growth in search marketing and the rising prices of keyword search terms, click fraud is becoming an increasing threat. Click fraud is the practice of publishers or search companies skewing click results to generate more revenue, and competitors clicking on their rival's search results to drive up advertising costs.

Combatting click fraud

In an effort to help combat click fraud, Web analytics provider Optimal iQ launched the ClickFraudIndex at The site provides in-depth reporting on click activity and pricing, broken out into vertical industry segments. The service reports on such metrics as average cost of search term per week and click fraud threat level per week.

While search products dominated the product announcements at ad:tech, other online marketing products were rolled out at the show.

IMN (iMakeNews) expanded its e-newsletter service to include podcasts. With the service, marketers can add preproduced podcasts to their e-newsletters. Users can play the podcasts through their computers' MP3 audio software or iTunes, or they can download the podcasts to portable devices such as iPods.

Feedster, which develops RSS services for the Internet, launched an automated self-service engine for the Feedster Media Network. Using the service, publishers can sign up for and participate in Feedster's ad network to generate revenue through RSS feeds. The Feedster Media Network places ads in RSS feeds such as blogs, traditional news services, e-commerce sites and entertainment properties.

Also at ad:tech, Vendare Media introduced InFocus, a suite of integrated targeting products that help marketers identify audiences through behavioral, local, contextual and demographic targeting.

Carol Krol contributed to this report.

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