1131_2While the digital marketing world may be gradually maturing over time, it is still particularly dynamic in the field of search marketing and this makes it an exciting area of the market to be involved in, says Margaret Chang, who as General Manager of Search Marketing for Yahoo! Southeast Asia knows what she is talking about. Margaret dedicates her focus not only on MNCs but also on the millions of SMEs in Asia's key regional markets, helping them to stand out against the globally intense competition.

Her advice for SMEs is pretty simple: take products and services to where the target audiences are - on the Internet - to be more effective. The increasingly wired and connected regional and global populace can become a SME's best friend in today’s competitive times, bringing them potential customers who are spending more time online in innovative and attention-grabbing ways, while leveling the playing field against larger global competitors.

Margaret’s main interest and passion is to equip companies with the unique and industry-leading capabilities of Yahoo! Search Marketing (YSM), by making use of Yahoo!'s gathered insights, techniques and tools to reach the right online target audiences.  This industry campaigner of 12 years started her career in 1999 by joining Overture, the data search marketing company that was acquired in 2003, for $1.64 billion, by its biggest customer Yahoo!. Right after the buyout, Margaret started to grow Yahoo!’s search marketing mission in Taiwan and has recently moved to Singapore to take up her new challenge in building up YSM in the Southeast Asian markets.

Overture's original services provided only a list of search results, ordered according to the bid amounts paid by the respective advertisers.  Yahoo!'s Search Marketing's latest iteration was released early in 2007 and replaced the old formula - which was kept secret.  We actually talked a lot about the secret formula during our interview at Yahoo! SEA’s new office in Singapore’s banking district, and most probably I will tell you a little bit more about it in one of my future articles.

Fact is that Yahoo!’s formula is basically: Bid * Quality Score = Ad Rank (more similar to the one of Google AdWords)

Quality score in this case is based on the ad's CTR (click-through-rate), the relevance of the ad to the creative (known as "Quality Index"), and the 'quality' of the landing page the ad is sending the user to.

Yahoo! Search Marketing meanwhile provides features such as Geo-targeting, Ad Testing, Campaign Budgeting, as well as Campaign scheduling.

“We all use search engines when we have a need to find something and don’t know where to go. Then you simply go online to search and the search engine will return a list of all the natural search results.  Further, we have the search marketing ads on the top of the Website, but if that is exactly what’s searched for basically depends of the end user’s point of view”, she explains.

Search engines are indeed vitally important for the retrieval of online information, whereas there are several options to make use of certain marketing formulas:

Pay-per-click options work in a distinctive way and are largely provided by search engines, advertising networks and even websites or blogs.  As soon as a consumer clicks on a particular link, and thus visits the website of the advertiser, the marketer has to pay.  In case of pay per click search engines, the advertisers usually put their stake on certain key words, which they expect the user to insert in the search engine in order to accumulate some sort of information. The ads that appear are instantly corresponding to the entry of the keywords and such ads are referred to as 'sponsored ads' or 'sponsored links'.

Yahoo! Search Marketing ranks among the top three pay per click search engines operating in the World Wide Web at present and it is believed that its most prominent feature caters to about 80% of all Internet users - known as Sponsored Search.

Many SMEs around the region have started to use Yahoo! Search Marketing which has soon become a cornerstone in their marketing strategy. JobsCentral, for instance, shows best what impact it can have on a business with its tremendous 900% growth in revenue from 2006 to 2008.  Their internet-based recruitment business employed Search Engine Marketing to drive interested customers to its website, as well as to exercise geographic targeting and testing out different ads, while receiving detailed performance reports.

What JobsCentral liked about Yahoo! Search Marketing was, that it gives online users an active role in searching for what they want; that it offers a good return on investment dollars, as their cost per jobseeker acquisition fell by more than 300% when compared to traditional media, and that search campaigns run online 24x7.

Margaret mentioned even more case studies that she is proud of:

  • PropertyGuru.com.sg, Singapore’s leading on-line property site.  Its online marketing campaign generated a 15% page view increase and a 17% increase in website traffic, raising awareness and interest in its services.
  • Online travel site asiatravel.com saw traffic rise by more than 50% after embarking on an online marketing campaign, resulting in an increase in gross sales and profits from hotel bookings.
  • Finally, for Japanese fashion site jshoppers.com, revenue in Singapore rose 30% and online memberships jumped 50% as a result of its online marketing efforts.

As each Website has different indicators of success, every site should continuously measure its specific goals to improve performance, Margaret points out. 

She and her team are passionate about lending a helping hand in any search marketing activity planned and therefore we will continue this interview in the next issue of Asian e-Marketing, giving you more insights into her expertise and knowledge.

By Daniela La Marca