Just thought I’d share a quick experience I’ve had these past couple weeks dealing with the smaller search engines. I’m sure others have had great success with them and this post isn’t meant to be any “guide”, it’s just what I’ve experienced.
I have a niche running now and it’s doing very well, actually better than any campaign I’ve ever run. My big meat of traffic here came from Google, but I wanted to expand and test out a bunch of smaller traffic sources to see what would happen and try and boost the revenue up a little more. Here’s what I tested and how it went :
Looksmart - always hated Looksmart but figured I’d test it. Sent a bunch of clicks with 0 conversions, total bust here and I’ll probably never even bother with them again.
Ask.com - this was the highest volume, I hit my $250 budget easily every day. Shame I spent $750 without a single conversion, the links were working and everything so it was just the traffic. No beans here.
Miva - this was my first time playing around with Miva. Their system is horrible and errored out a hundred times before I just gave up with it. Send a few clicks in a few days before I just paused it. Bust.
MSN/Yahoo - these guys are 2 of the big 3, but I’ve just grown to dislike them more and more over time, especially Yahoo. Yahoo tries to copy Google in almost every aspect and just fails bigtime over it. MSN isn’t too bad, I guess I just have bad luck over there because it doesn’t convert that well.
Pretty much I learned that with this niche at least, I’m going to stick primarily to Google content. It’s just not worth it to mess with the others when even if they profited, would make 1/20 of what Google makes because of the drop in volume.
And in general, I’ll probably just stick with Google, Facebook, and Myspace for my traffic sources. They’re all a pain to work with in 1 way or another, but they all do work if you can figure them out.
One thing you may not be doing with your campaigns is demographic targeting. Demographic targeting allows you to target whichever audience you want to push your product too.
A few months ago Adwords released demographic targeting for content campaigns. You can also target by demographics in MSN adCenter, and with traffic sources like Facebook.
Why target by demographic?
The answer here is pretty simple…because your traffic can be much more targeted and convert much higher. You’ll see a volume decrease as you won’t be targeting everybody, but being able to hand pick who sees your ad can put you at a big advantage. You’ll be able to push your bid prices up and get on top of the competition while still profiting.
Demographic targeting examples…
In it’s simplest form, the best example is that most offers you’ll want to limit to everybody over the age of 18. Most offers (aside from ringtones, etc.) require some sort of credit card, or require the person to be 18 years old. Right here we’re chopping away clicks from little kids that are useless.
Now let’s think of another easy product like wrinkle-cream, I’ve seen offers for this. An 18 year old girl probably isn’t going to be that interested in getting rid of wrinkles, but maybe she’d do some research on it for her mom or something. I’d target everybody 30 and up for a campaign like this.
How about ringtones? Older people aren’t as likely to go through with the purchase, so you may want to set your campaigns and target everybody 25 and under.
One thing you can do is talk to your affiliate networks and try to gather data on the offer you’re running. See if the advertiser has any sort of demographic reports that you can look over and apply to your campaigns.
Just something to think about, hopefully it can give you a little better ROI.
Alright yeah yeah it’s a little play on words, but 202 is the place to be in you’re an affiliate marketer. If you remember a while ago I posted about the launch of Tracking202.
Tracking202 is 100% FREE affiliate marketing tracking software. If you read my post there’s a ton of useful features for us affiliate marketers…keyword tracking, EPC monitoring, graphs, gizmos, and tons more. The one thing that was bad about it was that T202 hosted everything themselves, meaning that if they were really shady (which they’re not, but I myself go with the trust nobody philosophy), they have access to your data. I told Wes that he should make it self hosted and sell it for like $500+/copy.
Well Wes has taken my advice…almost. He made Tracking202 self-hosted, but the fool made it free! He calls it Prosper 202. It has everything Tracking202 has, but you host it privately on your own servers…and it’s free…crazy! Prosper202 also comes with a self-hosted Export202, which will convert your Adwords campaigns into Yahoo campaigns and vice versa, instantly. The dude is insane, I have no idea why he’s making it all free.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t stop here either. Wes has recently created WorldProxy202, which isn’t a revolutionary tool but it is a time-saving one that I use myself. Say I want to run a UK offer and I want to test out the affiliate link. If I just go and enter it in the address bar, it’ll say “Offer not available in your area” and redirect me. To be able to see the offer, you need to go through a UK proxy. Usually I’d just use proxy.org and search through to try and find a working UK proxy, but now I have WP202. I just go there, plug in the link, and bing bang boom.
So pretty much, you’re a fool if you’re not taking advantage of all these FREE products. No this isn’t a paid review either, Wes is an awesome guy and he works hard as hell.
Most of the time I post about PPC, I’m mentioning Google Adwords. Mainly it’s because it’s what gives most people the hardest time – myself included. I’d say it has the most risk, but also the most reward, as Google is the king of traffic when it comes to PPC engines. But what engines should you start with? What about Yahoo and MSN? Here are two open facts :
- Most of my PPC traffic comes from Google Adwords, and I make good money off it. I do have Yahoo and MSN accounts as well, but I’m getting the most traffic from Google.
- I know people who are making $3,000-5,000 day using Yahoo and MSN, with minimal Google. That’s definitely possible as well.
Don’t be tranced into thinking Google is the only way to a lot of money. There is plenty of money to be made in Yahoo and MSN – and generally it’s cheaper. So where I may spend $2,000 in Google to make $3,000, my buddy in Yahoo may spend $1,000 and make $3,000. Where did I start affiliate marketing? Yahoo Search Marketing. So when then do I focus most of my efforts into Google? Mainly because I’m a pretty impatient (scratch that – very impatient) person and I want the most possible traffic in the shortest amount of time. So I usually just go pretty guns and glory in Google and most of the times end up losing a buck or two (or three thousand two days ago – lol).
If you’re starting or having a rough time with Google, take a step back and work in Yahoo a bit. They’re a bit more confusing at times because some things in their system are just whack, but it’s cheaper traffic, lower volume so you’ll spend less, and not as overwhelming or upsetting as Google (because looking and seeing 2/5 bars in Yahoo for quality score just isn’t as rough as seeing “Poor – Please Bid $10.00″). MSN has been hailed as cool by some people because you can get nickel clicks on random keywords…this was cool in the days of ‘ole but I don’t really do anything like that any more. Once you get your campaign optimized and running in Yahoo, just export it and import it straight into MSN and let it run. Track it and make sure it’s profiting, but it should if you keep everything the same.
What about the even smaller guys like Ask and LookSmart. I’ve had a little success with Ask in the past and the traffic is really cheap, but I wouldn’t recommend LookSmart. I got a bunch of terrible traffic and lost a couple thousand, thankfully they refunded it all for me as I set up terms beforehand to “test” the traffic. In either case, I wouldn’t start your campaign testing with Ask or LookSmart, I’d just use them as a possible supplement to your already strong campaign.
So let’s answer the title – which PPC engine should you start with? Ready for the uber surprising answer – it’s up to you. If you’re more conservative, get things going on in Yahoo and MSN. If you’re impatient like me and don’t care about losing a few bucks, try and hit Google hard. There is one fact that I will tell you is the 100% truth though :
There is money to be made in Google, Yahoo, and MSN. All of them.