Challenges of Managing a Regional Paid Search Campaign

This blog has always been a place for practical experience sharing and i certainly want to continue that.

For today, i want to share the challenges/things to note when managing a Regional Paid Search Campaign.
A quick note before we start, i primarily work with South East Asia and North Asia regions so what presented below are more applicable to these regions

1. Campaign planning

It all starts with the proposal.
The differences between a campaign proposal targeting a single market and a regional proposal are:

  • You need to take into consideration local languages in each market
  • Understand the major search engines in each market, the split between them.
  • Understand the local search pattern: Are they search savvy? Do they use more generic terms to search or more Specific terms?
  • Client website languages: Simply put, does the client’s site have multiple languages?

For example, if the client’s site only has Simplified Chinese, it ‘s an Absolute NO for Taiwan market. Only if they have Traditional Chinese version, we recommend running Paid Search in Taiwan
I guess the issue of local language in SEA and North Asia is more prominent compared to North America or Europe.

  • Understand the average CPC you are actually going to pay is very different from what Google Traffic Estimator tells you! This happens in every single market that i’ve come across.

Google always tries to give you an highly inflated CPC, which essentially makes your estimated budget goes way beyond the actual spend. Well, at least it applies to seasonal PPC managers who knows how to use basic optimization techniques. You will end up paying much less per click compared to the value Google Traffic Estimator tells you.

  • Be aware of the fact that the average CTRs (click through rate) for SEA and North Asia are very different from those in US, UK or other markets

At the same time, the onsite Conversion Rate can be very hard to predict at first for this region. So you need to be quite careful when you want to calculate the CPA value, be it Cost per Registration, Cost per Lead etc…

2. Campaign Set up

After the contract is signed, it’s time for Campaign set up.

For Google, it’s quite easy because Adwords ‘s a single platform that allows you to target multiple countries.
However, there are still a few things that you need to take into consideration:

  • Are you going to set up one client account under your MCC or multiple client accounts, each for one country. What are the Pros and Cons?
  • Currency
  • Time Zone of the account, which ultimately will affect the reports

As for Yahoo, it’s truly a Pain.
Instead of a single platform, You will need to contact and sign up for various accounts for each territory.
If you are lucky enough, you know that all of the account can be set up under one Master Account. Hence, instead of remembering so many user name and passwords, you will only need to remember one.
But it doesn’t stop there, each territory uses its own currency and You can’t change it even if you Want. LOL
For example, in SEA, Yahoo Panama uses USD, which is alright.
Yahoo uses HKD in HK, JPY in JP, NTD in Taiwan etc…
It’s a really amazing at how Yahoo will go extra length to make the job of advertisers more painful and in the process saving them a lot of time from spending on converting from one currency to multiple currency 😀

And when you want to set up an account in China?? haha, Yahoo China is owned by Alibaba so you will need to contact Alibaba instead of Yahoo to ask them to set up an account for you.
But sales people at Alibaba can only speak Chinese… so if you can’t communicate in Chinese, You are absolutely doomed. The contract is in Chinese too 😀

Not only that, you will be amazed at how Baidu works as well! What you may know is how Baidu is the most popular search engine in China etc… But that platform is highly inferior even to Panama, let alone to Adwords.

Something is note is that by working with Google & Yahoo in SEA and North Asia, you will have coverage in most of the major search engines in each market. For example, Naver and Daum in Korea fall under Google/Yahoo Search Network.
Yeyhey in the Philippines is in Google Network as well.


Ok. This is the fun part too. With Google you can easily apply for credit or the worst case scenario is you post pay using credit card.

Yet, it’s not the case for Yahoo or Baidu.

For Yahoo, as each territory manages its own portal, has its own team so advertisers will need to apply for credit multiple times, in every single market that they want to run the PPC campaign in. For example, advertisers will need to apply for SEA, HK, TW, KR, JP etc… individually to get the credit. Also what will amaze you is the fact that while Yahoo SEA or HK may grant you credit, Yahoo TW or KR or JP can get back with a big NO NO !

And if advertisers resolve to post pay by credit to avoid all the troubles, HEY! You can’t do that with Panama in Korea yet. Right now, they disable all the payment using International Credit Card. The problem is only going to be fixed later this month or next month but you know…it can be longer.

For China, the only option with Yahoo/Baidu for new advertiser is bank transfer. But this process can take up to 3 weeks so be aware when you plan your campaign launch.

Ad copy and Keyword

  • Pay particular attention to character limits when switching from single byte to double byte and from Google to Yahoo.
  • The understanding of local searching/reading habit is the key when creating local language/english ad copies, keywords. Your CTR can be drastically improved or decreased because of the mix of local vs english keywords, ad copies.
  • Yahoo Panama is very particular to the point of being ridiculous when it comes to keyword, ad copy and landing page relevancy. You can only truly experience it when it comes.

I won’t spoil it for you so 😀 All i can say is you have no idea what they request in each market

3. Campaign optimization:

There are so much i can say about campaign optimization and the pain we suffer when dealing with Yahoo Panama system.

Let’s start with Ad Preview first then.

  • Google always has Ad Preview Tool which essentially allows you to view Ads in other countries, in your chosen language accurately. Recently, they relaunch a new version, which is even better.
  • Yahoo has no ads preview Tool. None that i know of anyway. And so the pain begins…

Geo Targeting:

  • You would think when Yahoo mentions Geo Targeting, it means IP targeting across the countries right? Nope, it can be further from the truth. In some territories, No IP targeting is available, they just display the ads on the country specific Yahoo domain

Adwords Editor

  • Google constantly upgrades Adwords Editor, which is an offline Ad management tool allowing you to do bulk changes to the account.
  • Yahoo has no Editor, whatsoever which makes it so painful and irritating when dealing with a large scale/ slightly complicated account.
  • Not only that, they have no UPLOAD buttons for most of the accounts (they simply disable it) so advertisers have to manually making every single change. So even a change of Destination URL can take ages since we have to do it one by one. I know some of you may ask why not asking the account managers at Yahoo do do the bulk changes for you, i will come to that later…

(Edited on 05Oct08: I am sorry but Yahoo Panama does have an option for bulk editing by simply do a bulk download, make changes and then import into the system again)

Ad copy & keyword approval process:

  • The general guideline from Google is unless you advertise on categories that Google monitor closely like drugs, gambling etc… for most of the cases, the online Adwords system or Adwords Editor will straight the way tell you if you ads/keywords can be approved on Search Network. If you face some problems with the ad copy or keyword, they will tell you right on the spot how to change it.
  • The reverse is true for Yahoo Panama.

A significant portion of your newly added keywords/ad copies will be in pending state, which simply means you need to wait for Yahoo editorial staff to manually approve them before they can go live. And Hell, they work within office hours only! So much for the 24/7 or around the clock advantage of Search Engine marketing.
Even change like Destination URL needs to wait for approval. Lucky us!

  • And just when you think that you take care of everything as far as Panama is concern, an auto system will randomly scan your account, decline keywords/ad copies on random basis or even remove the ad.

For example, if you think that “air ticket” is approved as a keyword, “airline ticket” should be fine. But no no, there are cases that the Great Panama system declines one word and accept the other.
And what with removing advertisers’ ads without permission, declining them Randomly without any concrete editorial guideline is one thing, going the extra miles to REMOVE the ads is a whole new level.
You should be amaze at how sophisticated Yahoo Panama system is and how much efforts it put into making sure that in one way or another, there are constantly something wrong with your account. 😀

Traffic quality, Quality Score(Google)/Quality Index(Yahoo), Average CPC, Conversion Tracking etc…

In short, we all know how far behind Yahoo Panama is compared to Google platform.

However, at the end of the day, because so many advertisers have left/given up on Panama, it makes the average CPC on Panama is relatively cheaper compared to Google over time.
In some cases, CPC on Panama can be as cheap as one third of its value on Adwords.
I expressed it before and i will do it again, the average CPC on Google is rising too fast and it’s not because of the level of competition, at least it’s not the cases in SEA.
In North Asia, there are still many cases that in a relatively low competitive vertical, the average CPC is through the roof compared to just last year or a couple of years ago!

You can refer to Google Conversion Tracking: Pros and Cons where i wrote in details the dangerous of Using Google Analytics and by knowing too much info about the CPA value, Google can actually manipulate the min CPC to its own benefits.

Well, that seems enough from myself. Feel free to share your thoughts/comments here as per usual!



  1. hi thanks for your insight! I have a comment though about the Yahoo Platform, a user from Singapore. It’s not true that you cannot perform bulk editing through the platform, the lack of a similar Adword editor can be replaced by doing an export of the campaign files, amending those changes on that file and importing it back to the system for update again.

  2. Yup,
    You are right Shei. I seriously don’t know why i wrote that Yahoo Panama has no bulk download or bulk editing. Yes it has that function.
    However, the process is still quite painful…

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