I’ve been meaning to discuss bid management solutions for a while and there has been some interesting developments in this field over the past couple of weeks. Firstly Google snapped up DoubleClick, adding DART search to their inventory and now it seems Microsoft have acquired ad firm aQuantive, owner of Atlas.

Moving back to my original intention of discussing bid management tools, I wanted to look at there value today in an ever increasing opaque bid landscape. While bid management systems offer a single source for PPC multi channel control and management, there has been a fair amount of grumbles within the industry over their real worth and ability to do what they say on the tin. Bid manage and at least partly auto optimise campaigns.

Now looking at a lot of the rules that were once applicable to the older simple bid to position ad systems we realise that few still work (gap based / bid jammer / don’t jam rules), are now intergrated within the ad platforms themselves (time & postion based rules) or are falling under increasing scrunity for their actual ability in improving performance (ROI / CPA rules).

SearchQuant recently picked up on a particulary amusing piece of fineprint in Atlas’s own campaign optimizer (their automated ROI based management tool) brochure where by they footnote the tool with –

“** Automated campaign optimization does not apply to engines with opaque bid landscapes.”

So that rules out Google, adCenter and soon Yahoo then (in the UK, in the US they are all ruled out). Amusing really. It pretty much sums up where we are with third party bid management. However, things have taken an interesting turn. What’s next for these tools considering they have now both been acquired by the search engines themselves?

Will they be adapated and intergrated into exisiting ad platforms? Will they be offered to agencies and advertisers alike (for free?) as a cross channel management tool similar to Google analytics? That’s a lot of conversion data, competitor conversion data too…

Watch this space.