I’m not using any keyword spying tools. At least not right now. It might be one of the stupidest things ever but here’s why.
First, I really feel that I need to learn how to do PPC effectively. Could I jump start my campaigns if I stole someone else’s? Maybe. But what happens when that stops working? Whether it’s a changing market or a quality score update or whatever, at some point in the future, I’ll have to figure out what I’m doing. Then I’m back to square one and probably behind the curve again.
Second, we’re mainly using the content network. If there are tools that let you spy on content network advertisers then it’s news to me (I’m not entirely sure how you’d even do that). Even if someone took a search campaign and duplicated it on content, it likely wouldn’t work. I know from experience that content and search are often very different beasts at times. I’ve taken the exact same campaign (same ads, same keywords, same grouping, same bids) from one and tried it on the other. Even when I later adjust the bids and groupings we got vastly different results.
Third, it’s probably safe to assume that a competitor turns a profit when you see their ads up for months at a time. Days or weeks is a different story though. I’ve lost money till it hurt for an extended period of time while trying to improve a quality score/quality index. I pity the fool that copied that crap. As Chad from CDF Networks pointed out, you can’t see a lot of what’s going on behind the scenes. You don’t know their campaign structure. You don’t know their quality score. You don’t know their payout. Even small differences there can make a huge difference in profitability.
Mastering search engine marketing and honing creativity are assets. It’s like my professors used to say over and over again. “Don’t just memorize the formulas. You need to understand how things work.” That’s what I’m trying to do. As painful as it may be at the moment.
P.S. To the sad souls spying on us now: You’re wasting everyone’s time and server resources. There’s no secret treasure trove of PPC goodies hidden at this IP address. In fact, we’ll probably make more profit doing our Neilsen ratings survey this week (Battlestar Galactica on Friday – Check) than from any online ventures. Come back in 6 or 7 months. We might know what we’re doing by then. Frak you very much.
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