Overture or Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions as it will be renamed in the second quarter of 2005 is the inventor of the PPC system and one of the top two pay per click providers.
Overture provides three types of keyword matching options: Standard, Phrase and Broad. All of Overture’s keyword matching options use keyword stemming, which means that keywords are grouped by misspellings, singular and plural variations, and the exact keyword.
With Standard Match, an advertiser bidding for the term “computer game” will also show up for the search terms “computer games” and “computor game” due to keyword stemming. However, keywords that are Standard Matched do not show up for searches like “buy a computer game” and “games for computer”. (Overture a.)
Phrase Match, on the other hand includes all the Standard Match search terms, and it displays the listing when a customer enters a search term that includes the keyword in its exact and contiguous order. Therefore, using the example of an advertiser bidding on the term “computer game”, the advertiser will not only show up for the Standard Match search terms like “computer games”, but also for terms like “buy a computer game” and “the best computer games in the world”. (Overture b.)
Broad Match includes all the Standard and Phrase Match search terms, and it displays the listing when customers enter search terms that include the keywords in any order. An advertiser that is Broad Matching the term “computer game” will be included in all of the following example search inquiries: “computer games”, “buy computer games”, “games for a computer” and “computer and console games”. (Overture c.)
In addition to the matching options, advertisers can define which search terms they do not want to display their ads. Using negative keywords can improve the relevancy of the displayed ads, thus increasing the conversion rates and consequently improve the Return on Advertising (ROA).
Overture feeds several search engines and web sites with its paid results. The distribution network of Overture includes many of the Internet’s top properties such as Yahoo!, MSN, Infospace, CNN.com and ESPN.com. Based on a Nielsen/NetRatings study, Overture reaches 80% of all Internet users through its distribution partnerships. (Overture d.)
In addition to the search sites that Overture feeds, such as Yahoo! Search and Altavista, Overture also feeds other kinds of web properties with advertising results. For example, Yahoo!, MSN, CNN.com and ESPN.com are all concentrated on providing users with high-quality content, instead of concentration solely on search. Overture’s feed on content sites is a bit different from search sites, but a similar system is used to display PPC adverts. The PPC search engine bot visits the web page and based on the text content of the page and the keywords being used, the system determines what ads are related to the content and consequently serves them to that page. This kind of advertising is called contextual advertising.
Contextual PPC advertising is often considered part of search engine marketing, because similar rules apply to contextual and search advertising, even though contextual advertising does not necessarily include searching. Another reason for them to be grouped together is that the providers of search advertising often concentrate on contextual advertising as well.
Overture’s contextual advertising program is called Content Match and it was unveiled in July 2003 (Sullivan 2003c). Overture’s Content Match advertisements are only displayed on web sites of high quality and large amount of traffic. Web sites that reach the monthly minimum amount of searches and page views, determined by Overture, can apply for a distribution partnership. Because the minimum levels are quite high, a lion share of all web sites is ineligible for the partnership program.