The Dirty Truth about Bid Management Tools

OK, I’ll caveat the acknowledgement that I have not tested out all bid tools. That said, I’ve been using a variety of tools since companies like BidRank and Atlas Search were changing the game and bid auctions were open. Some of you probably remember “bid jamming” and all of that fun stuff.  Then of course, Google had to change the rules of the game and close the auction, so that you no longer could see what your competitor was bidding.

What I can tell you is that many of the tools have improved significantly. My biggest complaint, and it’s still true, is that most tools 1) don’t save you time and 2) don’t save you money. There’s a fundamental reason  why they don’t save you time; their interfaces are not substitutes for going into the engines directly. With everyone tool, I or anyone else has used at Point It, we still need to utilize the search engine desktop tools in order to make bid changes most efficiently. With a bid management/reporting tool, now you really access an additional interface. Granted, there are times when you have things set up just right, you can generate reports from the big three at a push of the button.  However, now that you have some funky cool looking reports, your boss or client is going to keep asking for new ways to present the data. Meaning all that configuring you did is duplicated ad nauseum and not as easy to configure as excel charting.

Dirty truth #1

We have or have had clients that are using some of the “premier” search management tools just to say they are staying on the cutting edge of technology. Are they really getting any benefit out of it other than table stakes?

Dirty truth #2

One of our tool vendors (a premier vendor) admitted we’re better off going into Google editor to make changes and then syncing in their interface. Great!!

Dirty truth #3

Have you used one of the premier engines optimizer? I have. It was very successful at bumping up spend 🙁

How many companies are in this space and trying to make a buck? A short list, just from those that have solicited our, our our client’s business include: Marin Software, SearchIgnite, Atlas Search, Efficient Frontier, Did-it, Clickable, Omniture Search Center, Logic 361, SearchForce etc. etc. etc.

Benefits of the latest generation of tools are

  1. Slick reports that will impress your boss or client
  2. Can be some time savings if you configure right and don’t run into technical hurdles
  3. Helps you look like your cutting edge and sophisticated 4) they no longer typically require users to tag their URL’s manually (what a pain in the A that was).


  1. Doesn’t typically save time
  2. Doesn’t bid better than a good human
  3. Can add significant cost and lower overall ROI.

If you are not a tool vendor, then I’d like to hear your opinion or experience.  Am I just blowing off steam or do you agree with me? Have you had great experiences with any tools. If so, I’d like to hear about it.

Jon Lisbin About the author
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