PPC Beyond Google AdWords: Worth the Investment?

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When it comes to pay per click (PPC) advertising, the first thing most marketers think of is Google AdWords. And that’s okay, because it works. And it works well, if you know how to optimize the campaign to get the best possible result. (See my post about keyword tiering if you’re looking for a new strategy.) It works because Google holds the largest portion of the search engine market, but it’s important to remember it’s not the only option.

 

Start Working with Bing

Using AdWords is a wonderful way to drive traffic (and hopefully sales) to your ecommerce business, but if you’re not dedicating a portion of your budget to Bing, you’re missing out. That’s where most of the search volume that doesn’t go to Google goes –so if you can’t catch your audience on Google, go to Bing to find them. This is especially helpful if you find your AdWords ROI diminishing.

If you’re already running campaigns on AdWords, Bing has an import option, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time recreating campaigns. And, as an added bonus, many keywords have lower bids on the Bing/Yahoo network than they do in AdWords.

 

Look Into Other Ad Networks

Yahoo GeminiThis lesser used option allows a range of ad types to target users across devices and platforms. It’s based on user intent, which makes it great to generate revenue, increase brand awareness, and promote your apps.

AdRollThis is a popular retargeted programs. It supports Google’s display network, in adition to its own ad network. Though AdRoll’s prices are a bit high, the conversion rates typically are, too. Beyond retargeting, AdRoll now offers programmatic display, email retargeting, and “AdRoll Onsite” to provide personalized popups, which help push people through your funnel.

Advertising.com/AdSonarIf you want to run ads on premium websites like AOL.com’s network (think Huffington Post and the like), CNN Money, Slate, and CNN Money, this is where you need to be running campaigns.

AdBladeThis is another premium network to help you reach over 300 million users. One major draw back is that it uses a cost per thousand viewable impression (CPM) bidding model, rather than a cost per click (CPC) model. With this approach, you’re paying each time the ad is served, regardless of whether someone actually sees it or clicks it. That means you may or may not have a chance to earn your investment back – and it can yield a much lower ROI than CPC campaigns where you only pay for the ad when someone clicks it. Though it claims to be premium advertiser, the site doesn’t publicly list where your ads are served. You do not have the option to choose which sites your ads are displayed on – the system will do it for you based on where it believes your ads will perform the best.

AmazonIdeal for ecommerce merchants who use Amazon, advertising here gives you the chance to feature your product in sponsored shopping ads, which send users directly to your products on Amazon. There’s also premium services to help you drive traffic off Amazon, but I always recommend people start with the Amazon Seller platform to create keyword campaigns to drive people to your products on Amazon.com. Once you have some traction there, you can upgrade to the premium services.

InfolinksThis is another user intent and real-time engagement ad platform. Since they are focused on that real-time engagement factor now, users are shown relevant ads based on what and where they are searching. Advertisers can choose from six types of ads:

  • inarticle – “User-initiated expanding ad”
  • infold – “Search and display, above the fold”
  • inscreen – User intent focused using interstitial ads
  • inframe – “Display ads with an edge”
  • intext – Native ads presented in a page’s text
  • intag – Display valuable keywords based on the page content

 

Go Social

Social advertising is done on a PPC basis, and expands your reach beyond showing up in search engines, while still ensuring your ads show on highly trafficked websites. In many cases, you can use actual content from your social channels, such as status updates, as part of your advertising, which allows you to blue the lights between advertising and social media content. Think about how many suggested posts you’ve seen on Facebook that look just like they are a status update from one of your friends. How many of those have you clicked?

Facebook: Advertising here isn’t just about getting more likes on your page. Yes, you can use it for that, but you can also use it to drive traffic to your website, or to remarket to people who’ve been to your website, but haven’t made a purchase. There are a variety of ad types, including video, mobile, and shopping ads.

TwitterLike with Facebook, advertising on Twitter can be used for more than getting new followers. You can use it to drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, get people talking about your business, and amplify your reach with quick promote. You can target based on a number of demographics, including: location, language, gender, interest, device, behavior, keywords, and even followers of certain accounts.

LinkedInAdvertising here is ideal for those in the B2B sector. There are plenty of targeting options, including job titles, and business type or job type. You can choose to display ads in the feed so you’re more focused on content, or you can choose to display text-based ads in the upper right hand side of the screen.

Pinterest Buyable PinsThis is another good option for ecommerce businesses. Pinterest says 87% of pinners have made a purchase because of something they’ve seen on the platform. It’s easy to think that people wouldn’t use the network to actually shop, but the opposite seems to be the case. Using the buyable pin format makes the pin blue, and includes the price tag. You’re still in control of the shipping and such, but shoppers can buy on the web and from their mobile devices with ease. And if you want to advertise those products, you then promote those pins. The ads are naturally included in the platform so they look and feel like the rest of the content experience. All you have to do to get started is pin the content to your own profile, and then you can promote it in a few clicks.

InstagramLike you can run ads on YouTube with the Google AdWords platform, you can run ads on Instagram from within the Facebook power editor. You can run photo or video ads, or carousel ads where users can swipe to see additional photos or videos within a single ad. It’s also possible to run ads within Instagram Stories. You can use these ads to drive awareness of your products, services, apps, or business. You can also use them to drive traffic to your website where they can learn more about you, or use them increase sales, visits to your ecommerce store, or app downloads.

 

Worth it? Yes!

It is definitely worth experimenting with PPC campaigns outside of Google AdWords. If you don’t have much of a budget and can’t afford to run things on more than one network at a time, create a plan that allows you to adequately test each network. Run several variations of ads on each network so you can use the analytics data to determine if it was the ad content or the network itself that made a difference in your overall results.

It’s important to remember that while it’s worth it to deviate from Google AdWords, not all ad networks are created equally. If you find the ROI is consistently low, stop spending money with that network, and pour that portion of your ad budget into a network that is bringing you great results.

What networks besides Google AdWords do you use? Tell me in the comments below.

SEO virtuoso, CEO @Sachs Marketing Group. Focused on being of service to business owners – helping to better position them in the eyes of their audiences.

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