Pay Per Click or Pay Per Human Browser?

Pay Per Click advertising has been around a few years now. Pay per click is a multi million dollar industry which, as yet, is still in its infancy. There is no telling how big PPC will become in the future, but there are certainly many young players in the business, and new PPC search engines appearing all the time. Should we use the smaller PPC search engines? Should we use PPC advertising at all?

Is Pay Per Click Advertising a Valuable Tool?

From a personal point of view, the answer to that is a simple "yes". Quite simply, I have used pay per click advertising since 2003, and have got some excellent results. Those results have been mixed, of course, with some very bad results too. But that's advertising for you, online or offline. You try, you test, you monitor, you experiment, all the time aiming to get better and better results.

The basic advantage of pay per click is built into its name. Your ad will cost you nothing, except when somebody clicks on it to go to your website. Imagine being able to do that in the offline world: place an ad in a glossy magazine, and only pay each time somebody sends for a brochure or calls your sales hotline. I used to sell advertising in glossy magazines. Advertisers can spend $3000 on an ad and get no response. A small business can spend $500 on an ad and get no response, really hurting their business cash flow in the process.

In principle, pay per click is a wonderful idea, but the real problem is in the quality, and the quality can be watered down so easily by fraud. Remember, you are paying for a click. That click could be automated, it could be a genuine person looking for a product like yours, or it could be someone clicking because they are being paid to click.

Pay per click advertising is a valuable tool, but you need to monitor with care.

Is 9 Cents Per Click Cheaper Than 1 Cent Per Click?

My first use of pay per click advertising was with Google Adwords, followed a month or two later by Overture. I have always liked Google Adwords, and it is still my favourite today. It combines high quality clicks, with ease of use and a comprehensive amount of useful management information to help your campaigns. To me, it is way above the others, including Overture.

Once I had campaigns set up at Overture and Adwords I let them run, and it was quite a few months before I started to research the smaller PPC companies. Many of the newer entrants in the field offer tempting starting credits and bids as low as 1 cent per click. I must admit, a year ago I was quite excited about getting loads of clicks at a cent a time.

The old saying "you get what you pay for" did not enter my head at the beginning, but it soon came to mind as I saw those 1 cent payments rocket. I tried several of the newer PPC search engines, but two in particular just zipped through my funds, and unlike Google Adwords, you could not set a daily budget.

I decided to take a closer look at my website stats to see what was happening to those 1 cent clicks. What I did was compare one of the new PPC search engines I was using, with Google Adwords. The comparison was based on whether a visitor to the landing page immediately exited again, or whether they browsed other pages on the site. The landing pages were identical.

I already knew Google Adwords provided genuine visitors, as I first used them for a real estate website, and the ads led to sales; big money for small outlay. In effect, I was using Adwords as my proven control.

The results of the comparison were very convincing. Over a one month period the following happened:

1. From small PPC X, 1187 entered the landing page and 1165 of those exited the site from the same page. That's 98 % were a quick in and out.

2. From Google Adwords, 161 entered the landing page, of whom only 44 exited from the same page. That's 27% were a quick in and out.

As you can see, only 2% of the "X" visitors bothered looking around the website. If I had got the same result from Google, then I could just say it was because it was a lousy landing page. But I did not. 73% of the Google visitors went on to have a good look around the website, that's 36 times better.

So, what do we make of these figures? I used the same keywords for "X" and Google, so I should have had similar results. I have to conclude that "X" was sending very poor quality traffic, Google it's usual high standard.

I then worked out the more realistic cost per browser ie the cost of each visitor who stayed at the website and looked around. With "X" I was paying 1 cent per click, and with Google an average 9 cents per click. You will see from the following table the cost per browser for Google worked out much cheaper than "X", less than 1 quarter the price in fact:

1. The 22 people who stayed on the website to browse from "X" cost $11.87, or $0.54 per browser.

1. The 117 people who stayed on the website to browse from Google cost $14.49, or $0.12 per browser.

On the surface, it might always seem the smaller search engines are cheaper. However, it is wise to monitor the reality. If you want real visitors to your website, ensure that is what you are getting. Would you rather pay 12 cents for a genuine visitor or 54 cents?

These results are, of course, from one test. You may get different results. I think the lesson here is to monitor very closely what is happening with your paid for clicks. Cheap may mean expensive; expensive may mean cheap but good value.

All is not what it seems when you compare prices of Pay Per Click search engines.

Roy Thomsitt is the owner, webmaster and author of http://www.change-direction.com, a new website in late 2004, about working online in a home based business. He has a background in offline advertising, with practical experience of working from home in marketing since 1995, plus 2 years of experience with online marketing. He has a substantial background in financial and project management, implementing new office, accounting, computer and management systems. He is an English expat, now resident in the Philippines.

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