Archive for the ‘PPC Assurance’ Category

Getting Refunds from Yahoo! and Google for PPC Campaign Errors

March 11th, 2008 by Richard Zwicky

A lot of people focus in on how to get refunds from Google or Yahoo for Click Fraud issues. Google doesn’t always call it click fraud, they often call them invalid clicks, and when they catch “invalid clicks” they pro-actively discount your bill accordingly. They don’t catch everything, but they do try hard. Yahoo! does the same thing, but less obviously. They don’t actually show you how many invalid clicks you’ve received, they just don’t appear to bill you for every click.

In both cases there are defined processes for requesting refunds or more commonly, credits.

Completing the documentation to request a refund isn’t simple, trivial, or a speedy process, (unless you have PPC Assurance where it’s a one click process). In fact, it’s quite complicated. Rather than confusing matters by outlining processes for both Google and Yahoo!, I’ll focus on Google. They’re the 800lb gorilla which everyone cares about.

In Google’s case, to file a request for credits for clickthroughs you believe you were improperly billed for, you need to identify all the original referrals, which means figuring out which entry in your log file is the original referral, and isolating the unique Google Click ID (gclid). You then need to document everything possible about that click, as in the course of an investigation, Google’s team might ask you for a lot of data. Be prepared. They are just trying to be thorough.

One issue you’ll face is how to claim what. The obvious documentation on the web deals with “Invalid Clicks” Unfortunately, invalid clicks don’t always mean the same thing to you as they do to Google. Not all invalid clicks are Click Fraud. To you an invalid click might be a referral for an incorrect keyword match. These do happen, but you’re unlikely to notice them in a large campaign, as too many terms are flying across your screen. This type of mistake actually gets handled by a different department at Google. Challenging to navigate, that’s for sure.

It’s not that Google actually sets out to make it difficult to claim back a refund, or to get a credit for mistakes. Simply put, Google’ a big organization with responsibilities for different issues assigned to different groups. They are trying to be as efficient as possible, but these efficiencies don’t necessarily make processes simpler for you, or your clients. They simply need to be thorough.

Is it worth your while to manually track down all the errors? It depends on your cost per click, and your volume. Is it worth doing so automatically? Definitely. At a cost of 1% of campaign spend, knowing what’s going on, when things go wrong, and how to deal with them is invaluable. Knowing you can recoup more than that means the ROI is pretty simple to work out.

PPC Summit - Vancouver, and More!

March 10th, 2008 by Richard Zwicky

For the first time, the PPC Summit is coming to Vancouver B.C. later this month. It should be a great event. I’m hoping / expecting to be there, and in that expectation, the organizers of the conference have been kind enough to extend a special offer to people who want to attend. This is a bit special, as for most people the cut-off was March 7, but here, you get the access until the 12th!

I learned from David Szetela over at Clix Marketing that someone who attended one PPC Summit showed up at a second one later and recounted how his sales had gone up over $1 Million dollars, just based on the campaign management skills he’d picked up at the conference. That’s high value.

So here goes - for the PPC Summit in Vancouver, use the promo code: ENQ and save $200 off the two-day rate, plus get your 10% discount Apparently, this discount code is supposed to be good for all PPC Summits to get 10% off the two-day early bird registration. If it doesn’t work, or you have any questions, call 800.507.2958 ext.703 or email [email protected]

Better Pay Per Click Results in 2 Days!
Dallas, Feb 4 - 5 | Boston, Mar 3 - 4 | Vancouver, Mar 31 - Apr 1
London, Apr 14 - 15 | San Francisco, May 19 - 20 | Los Angeles, Sept TBD

Ways to Minimize Click Fraud

March 7th, 2008 by Richard Zwicky

I was reading yet another article the other day which referred to Click Forensic’s Click Fraud Index, and was particularly interested in their threat map, pictured below.

I’m not going to bother dealing with the numbers quoted, or commenting on which countries are more threatening, but if their threat map is real, what an easy problem this is for you to start dealing with, at least as far as Google, and Yahoo are concerned. That’s right, using their information, it’s relatively easy to minimize your exposure to Click Fraud, and to make your campaign much more effective at the same time.

How about that? Advice which won’t cost you a penny, but will save you a bundle in your PPC campaigns. The best part of it is, you’ll not just limit your exposure to Click Fraud, but you’ll also increase campaign ROI in innumerable ways.

Here’s how you go about it. If you are a retailer selling only in specific countries, why aren’t you simply geo-targeting those countries? If you only sell, or want to reach customers in the U.S., why would your campaign not have geographic parameters? Simple, isn’t it? But you can’t just simply choose U.S. only in your geo targeting. If you do that you’re simply limiting yourself to people accessing .com, .net, and .org sites. People in India (fiery red hot problem spot according to the Click Fraud Index), and Canada (a much bigger problem than the U.S., with only 10% the population), who use, or go to read will still see your ads. Why?

Well, if all you do is select “U.S. only” then you’re limiting your ads to anyone in the world using the U.S. default engines. Same thing if you’re running a UK only campaign, people in Argentina (another hot spot!) looking for information about the Falklands (err… Malvinas) on, or will see Google ads set to “UK Only.”

The good news is that it’s easy to keep those nasty Argentinian click fraudsters away from your ads, (actually I know and like quite a few Argentinians, and their wines!), so you never need to worry about them causing you grief.

The solution really is simple, go into your campaign settings, and instead of choosing “U.S. only” choose each of the 50 States, plus D.C. individually. Now you’ve just limited your campaign to people located only within the 50 States & D.C. Much better, isn’t it?

So what happens now when Google (or Yahoo or anyone else) serves out your ad to a viewer in Argentina, India, or Canada? Well, now you can go back to them, and file a claim for incorrect billings. These clickthroughs should now be labeled as “invalid”, and you should not be responsible for them. After all, if you rent a billboard in Las Vegas, and the company instead erects it in San Jose, you wouldn’t logically be required to pay would you? Same principal should apply here as well.

So, it’s really pretty easy to cut back on your exposure to potential click fraud, isn’t it?

A Step Towards Solving PPC Click Fraud Concerns: PPC Assurance from Enquisite Search Analytics

January 23rd, 2008 by Richard Zwicky

We put out a Press Release earlier today about the automated PPC refund claim submission process that we’ve added to PPC Assurance.

Apart from what’s in the release, here’s what’s notable:

Until now, if you’ve wanted to file a claim with Google or Yahoo! for an error in the way your PPC campaign executed, it was a nightmare process. You had to dig through log files, run whois and geo-lookups against IP’s, check times, etc. In short, it was virtually impossible.

PPC Assurance solves that. One click, and your PPC claim is submitted.

So why did we build it?

When advertising came to radio, a company called Arbitron emerged. They hired scores of people to listen to the radio all day, and mark down which ads ran when on which station. They compiled the data, and provided the information back to the ad networks, and advertisers. They provided an audit and verification service so that advertisers would be able to ensure that they ads they booked to run on particular stations in NYC, at certain times of day, and days of the week, ran as promised. Straightforward business best practices. Buy an ad, have a means to find out that you got what you paid for.

When advertising came to television, Nielsen offered the same service for TV advertisers as Arbitron had for radio advertisers. As with radio, the various networks cooperated with advertisers.

Independent verification is a good standard business practice. In traditional advertising, it’s been around for quite a while. But until now, it’s not been offered to Internet advertisers.

PPC Assurance fills that gap. It’s fully automated, so monitoring your campaigns is easy.

The value in an audit is in verifying what’s happening. We like to say, we help you know every click. We give you an additional benefit. It’s a bonus. Just knowing if things are fine is important. Having the ability to do something about it when things go awry is what the automated refund claim submission process is all about. Press one button, and file the claim with Google or Yahoo! They want to know when things go awry, and this is how you let them know.

In further posts we’ll examine the process after you file a claim. The engines don’t automatically just write you a cheque back, but our clients have been successful.

That’s a key point. Our clients have received money back from claims they’ve filed. We know we can help you too.

SES Paris

January 21st, 2008 by Richard Zwicky

Last week I had the pleasure of attending, and presenting at SES Paris. It was held on January 15, 16, 2008, and somewhere in excess of 200 people were there.

The conference was broken into two tracks, and with one exception - Search Around the World, everything was done in French. I had the honor of being the only presenter for the Click Fraud & Campaign Audit Session. 1:15 minutes of presentation, and Q&A, all in French. That was fun, and I’ll admit I was nervous, but people told me they learned at lot.

This conference was very different from most of the other search conferences I’ve participated in, as in every session, the Q&A periods were much more active than usual. There was no shortage of audience participation. I think almost every session ran late due to overwhelming response in the Q&A. I’d say from a participants perspective, SES Paris was very successful. I don’t have firsthand knowledge of previous SES Paris shows, so I can’t compare them beyond mentioning that attendees who had been there in previous years said this one was a step up.

I also moderated four other sessions. They were a lot of fun. Here’s a quick summary of all the sessions. First off, day 1:

1) Optimiser son site pour les moteurs de recherche

This is the standard SES Fundamentals track session on how to optimize a web site. There were four presenters Maxime Grandchamp from Trellian Europe, Rodrigo Sepulveda Schulz from, Didier Durand from Publicitas, and David Cohen from CVFM. Their various presentations were strong and to the point. Lots of good questions, it went off smoothly.

2) Meandres de la Recherche Universelle

The universal search panel. I was particularly interested in this one as I’d presented on the topic at SES Chicago and SES San Jose in 2007. This time out it was a European perspective on the subject. The presenters were Jean Veronis, a professor from Universite Aix-Marseille, Philippe Yonnet from @position, and Sebastien Billard from Relevant Traffic. Jean Veronis’s presentation about the history of search leading up to Universal Search was interesting, and his slides on what he thought Universal Search results should look like unique. Philippe & Sebastien’s presentations were more about the implication of Universal Search for SEM’s. I threw in a couple of slides at the end which showed some additional data. I’m going to use that info in a post at another blog this week. It’s been sitting in the can for 2 weeks, and I’m way behind in posting there. The Q&A was solid.

3) Clinique - “Optimisation de site web”

The always entertaining site clinic. This was a blast. We had David Degrelle from SEMPO & 1e Position, Walid Elias Kai from Google-Kai, and Yann Lemort from Pole Positioning. A lot of times in site clinics people are shy about having their site critiqued. Sometimes we even ask people to put up a competitor’s site so that they can get insights, and observe some opportunities. Not here. No one was shy. (this seemed to be quite standard in Paris, no one was shy!). We had people putting up sites they had built, new clients, problem clients. It was great, and I think people learned a heck of a lot.

On Day 2 of the conference I did the Click Fraud session, and moderated one other;

4) Click Fraud - clics frauduleux.

This was fun! I was the only speaker on click fraud (and the moderator). I tried to give a very balanced view on the issue, and recounted data that’s been publicly used at conferences and in discussions, as well as information we’ve discovered in our analysis. Then I focused on auditing your PPC campaigns, and ways to minimize your exposure to click fraud. I think this is an important point. Google and Yahoo! overwhelmingly represent the majority of the PPC marketplace. They offer great tools which allow you to minimize your exposure to Click Fraud, by really tightening down your campaign parameters. Unfortunately, most people don’t take advantage of these tools. I did quote from Andy Beal’s article from Click Fraud last year, using this chart to explain Google’s view of how prevalent Click Fraud is, and how it overlaps with invalid clicks;

Google Click Fraud Chart

To add a little humor to a topic which is both serious, and dry, I mentioned that this chart looks oddly similar to another image in common culture which is doubtlessly recognized by many of us. Ironically, this comparison brings a whole new perspective to “do no evil.” Certainly an unwitting comparison.

5) Strategies d’echanges de liens en 2008

Linking strategies. I had the always entertaining David Degrelle on this panel again, along with David Durand-Pichard an independent blogger, and Aurelien Bardon from Atregos, Of course some of the discussion dealt with the paid links update from last year. There’s still a lot of confusion on that, and and many people commented on how they got whacked and don’t sell or buy links. Of course, bugs are being worked out, but some people are still getting hurt. Good info on link-baiting, and David Degrelle tood a picture from the stage which he said he’ll blog about to get link bait from the audience. Similar questions to the ones we get in the U.S., but in my discussions with participants it appears that simpler techniques still work well, as the markets smaller, and not quite as competitive. I found this interesting, as it presents an opportunity as well.

This last session ended the conference for me.

Outside of the sessions, participant feedback and general observations, I enoountered quite a few people making negative comments about Google. I was surprised, but also found them interesting. On the one hand the French love Google. Our own data shows the Google’s marketshare there dwarfs shares in many other markets. All the marketers in the sessions just seem to use Google, and Google’s tools for research; in fact, they don’t really seem to use the other engines’ tools, or at least they didn’t mention them. For link analysis in particular I found this quite surprising, but I understand that each market is different, and habits are habits.  Quite strange.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  The people supported Google, use Google, yet also somehow resent it.

In summary, was SES Paris worth it? If you wanted to learn a lot about SEO & PPC strategies, management and issues, definitely.

One-Click PPC Refund Service and Click Fraud

December 17th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

In my earlier post over the weekend, I used an analogy to explain what PPC Assurance is. Today, I’d like to expand on that thought and explain some of the extras included in (what we think is) our revolutionary paid-search advertising product. One of our user’s favorite features is the one click refund service for PPC (pay per click) advertisers.

PPC Assurance is more than the next step in the evolution of advertising verification services. Unlike the click fraud companies which garner lots of attention by selling fear, PPC Assurance provides you with resolution.

The product name “PPC Assurance” explains a major aspect of our service: Assurance; know what’s happening, and what you can do about it.

Present click fraud services are not assurance services. They attempt to discern whether or not the pattern of behavior of a visitor “seemed” normal. Some of them let you define the parameters of fraud. This is a poor methodology, because it allows for lots of “false positives.” These false positives are a big issue, because you’re essentially making false claims. They are a disservice to you, and to your ad network.

PPC Assurance does not use any subjective measurement techniques. In fact, we’ve ascertained that most of the real fraud that does occur arrives at your site without triggering JavaScript loggers and is thus invisible to most of the click fraud companies out there.

Realizing this, we consulted with the ad networks themselves and figured out a means to coordinate resolving this issue. Expect a major announcement on that front in January.

Here’s how PPC Assurance works. PPC Assurance examines your account configuration, and compares it to the actual traffic you’ve received. Using a simple and easy to understand graphical report, we identify what was good and what wasn’t, (charges for undesired / not good traffic). We also offer you a one-click refund claim submission for the errant clicks.

Many click fraud prevention companies count mistakes in campaign execution as click fraud. I’ve heard innumerable people say, “If my ad runs in China, and I only wanted traffic from Chicago, it must be fraud.” In reality, it’s not fraud. It’s a mistake. But it’s one you should not pay for, and we help ensure you won’t ever have to pay for such mistake clicks again. We’re the only company which provides this one click refund service.

As a search marketer, or even an independent businessperson who is running a PPC campaign, you don’t want to spend time monitoring and verifying every single click that you receive. You would like to know that you’re only paying for the traffic you wanted, and not for the traffic you didn’t. You don’t have time to manage this process but proper business practices require that you do so. PPC Assurance is designed for you.

Small business owners can’t afford to spend the time to verify your traffic. Until now, they have trusted the networks blindly, and wondering why their ROI is fluctuating. Articles in Businessweek, Forbes, Fortune and a myriad of other news sources discuss the impact of click fraud, making small business owners wonder about their own exposure. Unfortunately, “mistakes” - such as an ad targeting New York appearing in Delhi is really not click fraud, although it’s been classified as such. Now, you can minimize your exposure, and get your money back, without having to spend valuable work time monitoring the problem.

Search marketers are pressed for time with multiple accounts all needing support, advice, management, updates and reporting. The reporting tools used up until now cannot answer the simple questions relating to invalid click activity.

“I see traffic coming in from China, but my campaign was supposed to be in California: how did this happen, and did I pay for it??”

Now you’ll know, AND you’ll know if you paid for it or not. If you did end up paying for clicks you hadn’t asked for, press the “submit claim” button, and get the ad network to refund you for those clicks.

Having taken a unique approach to click-stream analysis, we are proud of our PPC Assurance product because it is the only PPC click protection service out there that fully strives to understand your traffic stream from a search technologists’ perspective. It is also the only product with an instant refund reporting option. It’s that simple.

SES Chicago Notes

December 17th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

Alright, I’m way behind. The Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago ended ten days ago, and I haven’t yet posted anything.

One of the things I wanted to comment on was SES Chicago. SES Chicago is the smallest of the big 3 SES shows of the year. Each SES has its own flavor. SES NY in March seems to lead attendance, and there’s heavy participation from ad agencies and advertisers. SES San Jose in August draws heavily on the SEO and SEM practitioner crowd. Chicago seems to be drawing a more corporate crowd, and is the only one which seems to draw almost exclusively from the Midwest. The other two draw a more national crowd. All three shows are extremely worthwhile.The conference itself seemed to be enjoying about the same attendance as the previous year. I was told that registrations were off by less than 1% over the previous year. A lot of us were concerned that with WebMasterWorld running in Vegas at the same time as SES, there would be a significant drop in attendance. After all, only a few people would choose snowy Chicago over sunny Vegas, or so the thinking went. I actually like Chicago and snow! This year I accidentally stumbled into a German style Christmas market at the corner of Dearborn and Washington. It’s worth checking out.

In fact, when I spoke to people who had been to Vegas (I flew into Vegas Thursday afternoon right after the SES show, and just in time for the MSN party at Ghost Bar), I was surprised to hear that they were disappointed in attendance. Others told me attendance was on par with previous years, and they were happy. The crowd for this show would be more akin to an SMX Advanced conference. The emphasis is on practitioners. Many of the opinion makers in the search industry appeared in Vegas, and will appear at SMX Advanced. Almost all the other ones who weren’t there were in Chicago.

As to the sessions, I spoke on two panels. Search Marketers on Click Fraud, and User Behavior, Personalization & Universal Search. Having done the latter panel in San Jose in August, the second time around was a lot easier. What made it challenging was that presentation time was reduced to 5 minutes, with a longer Q&A session. While the shorter presentation time made presenters get more to the point, there was a lot to discuss. Each presentation was unique, and I believe a lot of useful information was shared.

Based on questions asked, and comments I received afterwards, I believe the audience got a lot of value from both the presentations and the discussion. Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR did an excellent job moderating. Knowing that each presenter brought something different to the table, he ensured that questions were answered by everyone, so that the audience got a well rounded perspective on issues. He also posed a couple of questions to presenters, which assisted everyone in highlighting points of interest.

The second session I presented at was on Click Fraud. This became a two part session for the conference. I the past there was one panel, with click fraud specialists, marketers and the engines themselves on the same panel. I strongly prefer the new format. Tom Cuthbert from Click Forensics apparently does not, as he actively complained from the stage that he preferred to sit on the panel with the engines. I disagree. The “discussions which occurred when the engines and the click fraud specialists were on the same panel were often not overly productive.

Marketers want solutions. They know they are trying to deal with serious issues, and want to learn information and strategies for dealing with the problems. By splitting the click fraud sessions into two parts, SES is doing something very positive for attendees. The search engine’s / ad networks session allowed marketers to learn about what the engines are doing to attempt to combat the problem, and to ask them specific questions about specific issues. The engines also provided tips as to how they suggest you as a marketer can help combat click fraud.

Immediately after the search engines on click fraud session came search marketers on click fraud. I believe that all presenters attended both sessions, so really, all SES did was allow for twice as much time, and gave marketers an opportunity to focus on the issue from distinct perspectives. The session was moderated by Jeff Rohrs, and each presenter attempted to focus on different issues around click fraud. In my case I focused on campaign issues which often get labeled as click fraud, but really are cases of the ad networks serving out ads improperly.

As you spread your ads out across the content networks, the incidence of mistakes increases. Detecting and providing you a means to recover the costs associated to these undesired clicks are what PPC Assurance focuses on. Click through traffic which does not match the terms and conditions of your contract is undesired traffic. Auditing and verifying your PPC traffic is what we do, and resolving campaign issues through our unique one click refund claim submission is what sets us apart.

I attended a few other sessions in Chicago. The quality was excellent.

Anyone involved search marketing who attends an SES conference will receive tremendous value for the experience. Even after all these years, every time I show up I learn more. It’s not just a great environment for people who know what they are doing to gather and exchange tidbits. There’s opportunities for anyone at every level to get educated. If you’re a decisionmaker, and want to understand the marketplace, there’s sessions which are right for you. If you are the practitioner who deals with the nuts and bolts, then there are sessions for you as well. It doesn’t matter what level you are at, there’s always something for you at an SES Conference.

What is PPC Assurance?

December 15th, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

We released PPC Assurance a little while ago. People still ask me the question “what is PPC Assurance?” Here’s how I’ve taken to explaining it lately, using comparison as the best analogy.

When radio arrived, and people started advertising on stations around the country, they needed a way to verify did my ads run where I wanted, on the station I wanted, at the time I wanted, and not anywhere else? A company called Arbitron emerged which verified that ads ran when, where and how the advertiser commissioned them. Not too many years ago I walked into an office which was filled with people listening to the radio; They were performing the ad verification service.

When Television arrived, advertising took another leap forward. Nielsen emerged, and one of their services was as a advertising verification service. Did ads run where, when, and how they were commissioned.

PPC Assurance is the next step in the evolution of advertising verification services.

Unlike the past however, it’s no longer just about where or when your ads appeared, but more about whether or not you paid for that display. You only pay for ad displays when your ad network provider actually bills you for a clickthrough. So PPC Assurance focuses on analyzing if the ads you paid for matched the terms and conditions of your agreement with your ad network provider (Google / Yahoo today, MSN soon…).

Unlike click fraud companies which attempt to discern whether or not the pattern of behavior of a visitor seemed normal, we don’t use any subjective measurement techniques. In fact, we’ve ascertained that most of the real fraud that does occur arrives at your site without triggering JavaScript loggers, and thus is invisible to most of the click fraud companies out there. But I’ll examine this issue in a later post.

We examine your account configuration, and compare it to the actual traffic you’ve received. We identify through a simple and easy to understand graphical report what was good, and what wasn’t (you paid for undesired / not good traffic). Plus, we offer you a one-click refund claim submission for the errant clicks.

We’re the only company which provides this one click refund service. You’ll love it.

SES Chicago

November 22nd, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

Next week I will be in Chicago for the Search Engine Strategies SES conference. I will also be in Las Vegas for PubCon, most likely late on Thursday and most of Friday, but possibly also on Tuesday. If you’ll be there and want to meet, please email me.

At SES I will be appearing on two panels, please come check them out, and say hello. I’d love to heard from you! The two panels in question will be Search Marketers on Click Fraud, on Thursday morning, and User Behavior on Wednesday. The format for the panels has changed considerably from previous SES conferences.

In August I presented on User Behavior at SES San Jose. I believe each panelist had 10 to 12 minutes to present, followed by audience questions. This time, presentations are only 5 minutes long, followed by 20 minutes of moderated discussions, and then 20 minutes of audience questions. It’s going to be quite an adjustment to try and make a 5 minute presentation. I hope all of you in attendance will enjoy what I bring forward.

I’ve already laid out my presentations for the conference. Not the final versions, but the outline. For the User Behavior session, I’m thinking of spending time on two things. 1) User trends in so far as clickthrough and conversion rates from different pages within search results, and how local, images & video search behavior is different from web search; 2) language variations. I’ll also share a couple of quick tips on how to optimize a SEO or SEM campaign to succeed as Universal Search becomes the default.

On the Click Fraud panel I risk being a very presenter from the other panelists. I’ll go into some of the science around improper billings, what to look for, and how to lower the time you spend searching for undesired clicks and managing PPC customer reporting, while increasing your effectiveness at identifying the improper billings which often get labeled as click fraud.

As our firm has built PPC Assurance, and I’ve written a couple of patents on Click Fraud detection, I might also have time share some interesting insights into why a lot of the problems are not being properly dealt with.

If you are in Chicago, you’ll really enjoy the Click Fraud session. I know it’s always very well attended, and I’m excited to be there. I know you’ll walk away with lots of answers, and also a lot of questions. Please feel free to ask them. A lot of people are afraid to ask. Don’t be. It’s why we attend and speak at the conferences.

Finally, if there are some specific issues around either User Behavior or Click Fraud which you would like to see me address, please email me. I’ll attempt to include answers to questions in my presentation. These sessions are designed to be more interactive than ever. I think that’s a good thing.

SMX Stockholm and SMX PhoCusWright

November 21st, 2007 by Richard Zwicky

The last three weeks I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of testing out quite a variety of aircraft, and airlines. From Airbus I’ve flown the following series; 319, 320, 330, 340. Boeing: 737, 767. From Bombardier, two different RJ’s, plus Dash 8’s in a couple of configs. The Embraer 75 & 90, and an MD 80. There was one other vehicle I flew on SAS which I’ve quickly forgotten. I have to say, the Air Canada’s Embraer’s are really nice and quiet. I had excellent service on Air Canada and SAS. Lufthansa was ok. On JetBlue & United service was notable in its absence.

Anyhow, this post isn’t about airline review; maybe I’ll start a site about that sometime.

This is a short commentary on the first two SMX’s I’ve participated in. Much to my chagrin, I missed attending SMX advanced last year. Stuff gets in the way sometimes. Fortunately, the opportunity to speak at SMX Stockholm, as well as SMX PhocusWright in Orlando arose.

In Stockholm I presented on Analytics, and on Tools for SEO and SEM. Rand Fishkin moderated both sessions. I used a case study in the Analytics session, something which a lot of people told me that they appreciated, as it was very tangible for them, and thus they understood how to apply the information presented to their own sites.

Building Enquisite’s given me some interesting insights into the data within analytics reports. For one thing, there’s way too much information in too many analytics packages. People drown in the data. Our beta version of Enquisite has a ton of information. It’s a search marketer’s delight however, as it’s focused on just search and only search. PPC Assurance however is different. There’s still a lot of data, but we’ve presented it in a very simple and manageable way. We also give you something no other analytics company does; an action item. PPC Assurance automatically files claims with Google, (and shortly Yahoo) on your behalf. Check it out, learn more, and give it a try. It’ll drive the ROI of your PPC campaigns way up, and your campaign management and reporting time way down.

After lunch, the Tools session was a little more challenging. There are so many great tools for SEO & SEM out there, and some people create a lot of them. I tried to draw on a broad selection, and show how to use them how to make best use of them. Everyone on that panel was extremely strong and knowledgeable. Actually this was true of all the sessions I saw. There were no slouches on the podium. (or in the crowd)

I’ve never been to Stockholm before, and quite honestly this was a very rushed trip for me. I flew 18 hours each way, and only spent ~ 50 hours there. Fortunately, I only slept for ~5 of them, so I made the most of it!

The conference itself was smaller, as expected, but a very high quality of participants. There were a number of individuals I had not met before, but had communicated with via email for quite a while. There were also some Enquisite users, and it was very nice to meet them. We have so many whom I’ve never met or spoken to.

One very nice thing about this being a smaller conference was that I was able to speak at length with friends whom I rarely get much of a chance to chat with at conferences, as well as to comfortably meet at chat with new acquaintances.

On the last night, Rand’s parents invited me to join a group they were putting together to go for a smorgasborg. Unfortunately, they are not in these pictures. Dinner was great, although some SEO extraordinaires like Mikkel deMib Svendsen, and Thomas Bindl did appear to be have had a little too much fun, as witnessed in these pictures!

OK - not sure why, but the pictures aren’t pulling, and I don’t have time to figure out wordpress today. sorry.

Thanks to Rand, or rather Geraldine, for thinking to bring a camera and for using it, unlike me, who never seems to remember to take one anywhere.

SMX PhoCusWright was a completely different kind of Conference. Where Stockholm had a broad representation across industries, Orlando was 100% travel related. I presented on Competitive Strategies, as well as balancing SEO & SEM. For both sessions I used case studies; every time I do so people enjoy it.

Earlier this year, I presented at SES Travel in Seattle. It was a very different crowd from Seattle. The audience in the Seattle conference seemed to be made up more of people who actually did manage campaigns, where SMX PhoCusWright had more decision makers, and fewer on page specialists. Both groups were very interesting to speak with, and it’s nice that there is a different crowd at the two series. Both have real value for attendees, and the value of each conference will continue to grow. Marty Weintraub was actively blogging the sessions in Orlando, so please read his session reports to get a gist of the topics. There was a lot of worthwhile information shared.