Pay per click advertising has proved to be a fantastic cash cow for Google with Adwords proving to be its flagship revenue generator. Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft AdCenter, the ppc networks offered by Yahoo and MSN respectively, have also tasted success though not on the same scale as the Google Adwords program.
As far as the advertiser is concerned, there is not much joy when it comes to click costs for the keywords they target in their ppc campaigns. Unlike the stock market where crashes occur, the prices of keywords have been going up steadily and there is no possibility of them coming down in future. It is not fair to expect every advertiser to know the intricacies of PPC marketing and factors like quality score, targeting and relevancy.
It is true that PPC marketing can bring forth quick results and most importantly it can be measured accurately. When you spend money on advertising, you want to know your exact Return On Investment (ROI). Please be aware that I am not mentioning other smaller paid networks like Chitika, Bidvertiser and 7Search as the traffic volume is lower and I am not sure about their potential to convert visitors into customers.
Unlike traditional forms of advertising like newsprint, television and radio, PPC is admirable in its ability to give a clear picture of whether a campaign is successful or not in a short period of time. You can get your ad listing and hence your site at the top in no time at all. This is not the case with natural search where search engine optimisation (SEO) is employed to boost the site’s visibility on the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and it is a time consuming effort intense process.
The Cost Per Click (CPC) varies from industry to industry. Even three years ago, it was possible to locate niches within popular industries like real estate and health where the average CPC could be obtained for 30 to 50 cents. Today it is almost impossible to achieve such CPCs. In a major metropolitan city, for example, a popular keyword in the real estate industry can cost anywhere between $8 and $15. A statistical range is quoted here.
As Adwords is a bidding system, if your competitors inflate the bidding costs and you end up in a bidding war, then it is Google that is laughing all the way to the bank. This is where the targeting and relevancy of your PPC campaigns come into play and quality score weighs in to help you keep your ad spend in check to reasonable levels.
Though Google search and content network put together command a huge chunk of the PPC market, it is worth considering a few alternatives which offer a decent amount of traffic and less prohibitive advertising costs. You would be well advised to check out the following alternatives.
What are the alternatives to Google Adwords?
1) Yahoo Search Marketing:
You can run your PPC ads on Google Adwords to start with, say for a month or two and identify the keywords that perform well. You can then open an account with Yahoo and advertise on their paid network. Though there can be a distinct difference in the traffic volume, you can still generate qualified paid traffic at much lower costs.
This is the paid search platform run by Microsoft. There are some cool tools you can use to improve your campaign’s quality once you have registered as an advertiser. In recent years, MSN have lifted their game and the adCenter is a good place to attract qualified paid traffic at lower CPC.
Facebook is a force to reckon with in terms of the huge following it has in the form of its members. It is in the forefront of social media and is poised to be a major influence in search patterns in years to come with social media affecting buying decisions as consumers turn more and more to their counterparts in their human network of which they are a part.
Facebook has an incredible database of user profiles like personal tastes, hobbies etc and a wide range of other personal information. As an advertiser, you can target your ads demographically to suit your target audience in terms of their age, profession, gender, location etc.
This is also an acid test for you as to how much you know about your business. A primary criterion is your knowledge of your target audience to be successful in your business. In the end, you are going to pay far less per qualified visitor than what you would on other major paid search networks.
Stumbleupon has a nice advertising program that is IP geo targeted to display ads that are in sync with the location from where the user is located. SU has a popular browser add on that allows users to stumble (or bookmark) interesting content on the web. The rules governing stumbling are pretty rigid in that Stumbleupon is very strict on spammers.
Ads displayed cost a few cents per click compared to the other big players. It is worth giving this advertising program a try.
This is an extremely popular network of professional of every kind. Yet it is not leveraged properly by many. You can join the group that is relevant to your industry once you join and there is virtually a group for every possible activity on earth.
If you are selling blue widgets, then you can join a group that is focused on blue widgets, build a relationship with your fellow members and after active engagement in the group’s discussions, you can subtly introduce the fact you sell blue widgets. Though this does not inovle any paid activity, it is a good way to leverage a powerful medium like Linkedin.