Friday, February 04, 2005

Rant for the Day: Overture ad services (and people who don't read my mind)

Seriously if you can get away with just using Google, I would!

I have had troubles with Overture as a search engine advertising service from the start. their interface is klunky and about as non-intuitive as I've ever seen. Their customer service is slow and the opposite of proactive. The ad service is less flexible and less customizable.

Why use them at all? Well, AOL and Yahoo are the next most-used search engines behind Google, and used more dominantly by residential consumers, as opposed to people at work. Since I'm advertising theatre,it seems like people might be searching for that kind of personal entertainment planning information at home more often than work.

Also, Overture is still damn cheap. You can get most keywords for less than 20 cents (at least the ones in my area, and I grant I are not overwhelmed by other theatre companies using search ads.)

I recently had an issue with both Google and Overture. Google and I resolved it in three days. Overture and I were still working on it three weeks later.

But I thought I'd give it one more try. Within 24 hours I'm trapped by their inflexible system. See, unlike Google, Overture holds your ads while a human being checks them for editorial fitness. Google lets you start advertising right away, with the caveat that they may subsequently shut an ad down if their editorial folks reject it.

But while Overture is reviewing your ads...which can take several days, you can't touch those ads. Even to correct a typo.

See, I've been working with a web designer to create my custom landing pages for my ads (you all do know that's an absolute necessity, right?) You can't have an ad send someone to a generic web page; it has to send them to a page that speaks specifically to the offer your ad was making.

Now, I checked with this web designer...the URL he gave me was going to stay the same, right? Even though I had a couple of corrections I wanted him to make, right? "Yeah, that's the one."

So I went ahead and set up all my Overture ads to make sure that we could get the program up and running as quickly as possible. But, the URL he gave me wasn't the final one. The URL changed. I understand why (something boring about frames...I don't want to get into it) which is exactly why I had checked that we wouldn't have that problem.

Now I sit there with a couple of dozen "pending" ads in Overture that I know will be declined because the URL won't work. Yet I cannot go in and edit the URL. And I cannot set up a bunch of new ads with the right URL because they will be rejected as "duplicate." So here I sit twiddling my thumbs, and I'll be twiddling them again when I re-submit new ads after I get the ad rejection I know is coming.

The lesson: well, mostly that Overture is very user-unfriendly.

But also that you can never be too clear when your communication is only in email.

I shouldn't have asked, "Are you saying this URL is the final one, or are you saying there will be a new URL once the changes are done?" [To which web guy's response was, "that's the one."]

Sure, it seems pretty clear to me. BUT, imagine if I had said:

"If you tell me this is the final URL I am going to go ahead and start setting up the entire program with that URL now, and once I do, it will cause a lot of delay and bounceback if the URL changes in any way, possibly delaying the ad kick-off for days. That being said: should I use this URL or not?"

Point? If there is one, you need to answer the question "What's the biggie?"

I will simply close by telling you that for my Google program I just went in and changed the URLs in about 2 minutes. No fuss. No muss.

Now, if my Gmail wasn't completely acting up for no good reason, I might be feeling all Googley-eyed over Google today!

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