Overture to Offer Search Optimization Tool

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Overture Services plans to release a tool today that lets advertisers manage search campaigns based on their choice of marketing objectives.

Search Optimizer is a product from Yahoo-owned Overture's Performance Marketing division. It builds on the unit's Marketing Console, a measurement tool rolled out in November that gave advertisers performance data in regular marketing metrics such as cost per acquisition and return on advertising spend.

Search Optimizer users will be able to automate search campaigns based on those response metrics. It also lets marketers develop "watch lists" of keywords or campaigns and run campaigns only during certain times of the day. It will suggest potential keywords that could meet a marketer's business objectives. Marketers also can sort campaigns based on business objectives to see which are underperforming.

"There's an explosion in complexity in the online market," said Steve Mitgang, senior vice president and general manager of Overture Performance Marketing. "As customers are maturing, they're starting to think about different things, and they're managing in a different way."

Search Optimizer was built largely from the analytics capabilities Overture gained through its January 2003 acquisition of Keylime Software, a Web analytics company. Mitgang was CEO of Keylime.

Overture offers Search Optimizer for $500 to $700 monthly, depending on the volume of a marketer's keywords. The price would put it out of the range of smaller advertisers, who could still use Marketing Console, which sells monthly subscriptions for as low as $150. On the other end of the spectrum, analytics companies such as Coremetrics offer sophisticated tools to e-commerce giants with price tags ranging from $3,000 to $40,000 monthly.

The optimization services will put Overture in competition with third-party bid-management tools from companies like Atlas DMT and DoubleClick, which recently purchased Performics. The market also has smaller players like Did-it.com.

"The reason we're producing the application is our advertisers in the thousands are coming to us and saying, 'We need to find a way to optimize our campaigns in a much more efficient way,' " Mitgang said. "They're asking us because they're not being satisfied in the marketplace today."

Mitgang acknowledged that some marketers would feel uncomfortable using a tool from Overture that advised them how much money to spend on Overture listings. To eliminate any hint of bias, Overture has separated its marketing products from its search division. The company said data is not shared across units.

"That's another reason the third parties are not going to get shoved out," Jupiter Research analyst Gary Stein said.


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