Friday, July 31, 2009

Is Google doing keyword memory and delayed paid search responses (or just broken)? What do Cairo and Machu Picchu have in common?

'I was doing some random keyword searching on Google this afternoon. Looking up a series of destinations with the search lead in of "hotels in". I noticed a pattern emerging that I had not seen before. Sponsored search results for one destination stayed in the search results for a second destination. I will be specific. First I searched"hotels in Dubai, then "hotels in Cairo". Then I searched "hotels in Machu Picchu". Then I searched just "hotels". In the results for Machu Picchu there appeared sponsored links for Cairo and Dubai (see screen shots below). For the supposedly generic results of "hotels" there appeared Sydney results and Cairo results. Sydney results makes sense as that is where I am but Cairo does not.

I am not sure what this means. One possibility is that Google is convinced that I continue to be interested in Cairo despite having entered other search terms. That (through me being logged in) it has run some algorithm on my past searches and Cairo comes up again and again. The other possibility is that the "broad match" bidding advertisers are doing is now getting more and more broad in terms of keyword matching and maybe even session time. Or - Google is busted. If the former options then the matching that Google is doing is not right as I do not have a history of searching for Cairo hotels. But is shows that Google is experimenting with behavioural targeting techniques. If the latter option (Google is busted) then a lot of advertisers are going to be very unhappy about the click costs that result.

Do you know what is going on here?

UPDATE - GOOGLE have confirmed that is part of broad matching.

Here are the screen shots

Results for "Hotels in Cairo". Sponsored results all make sense

"Hotels in Machu Picchu" with Dubai and Cairo results

Results for "Hotels" with Sydney and Cairo results


Anonymous said...

I think it's people using broadmatch keywords incorrectly - if you broadmatched for "hotels" and had a high enough bid and quality score you could come up for all those terms. You'd have to be pretty dumb to use the same text ad, but the world is full of morons.

Allen said...

I appreciate the labor you have put in developing this blog. Nice and informative.

Jeff said...

Interesting! I tried it out for myself. Here's what I did:

Searched: Hotels in Vancouver. All ads were for what you would expect.

Searched: Hotels in Orlando. All ads were for Orlando hotels.

Searched: Hotels. All ads were generic hotel ads or Montreal and Quebec hotel ads (I'm in Montreal so this makes sense).

Disappointed I wasn't able to replicate your results, I then searched: Hotels in Cairo. And I was served a few Vancouver hotel ads!!

So, in effect, I was able to replicate this phenomenon.

Jeff said...

We've successfully replicated this with a few people around the Openplaces office and have realized something:

This can be replicated any number of times.

This cannot be replicated if you aren't logged into your Google account. An unsigned user will not be served ads based

Kate said...

Google has the answer :-)

Happy Hotelier said...

Had a slight idea it had to to with being signed in into your google account or not. As Kate indicated. Same seems to happens when you are checking out your ranking with google webmaster help

Flux Travel said...

Interesting subject there...
I tried using AdWords for so many campaigns, sites, but unfortunately its biggest disadvantage is its sluggish slow-mo system. One has to put enormous bids in order to get enough visitors and then the ROI suffers...