Practical Ecommerce

Alternative Pay-per-click Advertising

When should you consider advertising your products on sites other than on Google, Yahoo! and MSN? By properly identifying and evaluating various second-tier PPC advertising options, you may uncover a diamond in the rough.

Investigate options

Investigating your options is not as hard as you think. has a list of its “Top 10 PPC Search Engines.” You could start with that list. However, if you are in a niche market, consider other options as well. also contains a directory, or, alternatively, consider one of the sites listed in other directories such as DMOZ. If I have a niche product to sell, such as tennis balls, I could go further and search Google for the phrase “tennis pay per click.” Having done that, I found that has a tennis category where I can pay for each click.

Once you have narrowed down your options, consider developing a short list of potential websites. Contact each of these sites by phone, if possible. Tell the employees there that you are considering moving some of your budget over to their PPC advertising opportunity, but you would like to test out their network first. Typically, many of the alternative or second-tier search engines will gladly give you an initial credit of $25 to $100 to get you started, but many times you have to ask them for a credit to test out their network. A small credit is generally enough to get an idea of the quality of traffic you will get from that network and whether or not you will end up seeing any sales. There are a few PPC networks that will not give you credit, however, so consider spending up to $100 to test their network.

Once you have decided on some of these alternative networks, it’s time to start testing. We’ll discuss testing in the next installment of “Alternative Pay-per-click.”

Bill Hartzer

Bill Hartzer

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  1. Legacy User April 9, 2008 Reply

    Be cautious of running a small test with $25 or $100. Generally, PPC leads convert at an average of 1-2%. If you are testing out $1 or $2 per click keywords, you may not receive enough clicks to obtain a true gauge of a site's effectiveness in converting clicks to valuable leads for your business.

    — *IU Tiger Woods*

  2. Legacy User April 10, 2008 Reply

    Generally I receommend to my clients that they max-out their budgets on the main engines, and only move to the second tier if they have more money to spend, but can't get additional clicks from tier one.

    Do you suggest a different criteria for using the tier two engines?

    — *Mat Greenfield*

  3. Legacy User April 10, 2008 Reply

    @mat greenfield
    That is a very broad generalization. is their max budget for display advertising? if they are getting a high enough ROI for direct response marketing perhaps they can increase / remove their budget cap for tier 1?

    — *msdanielle*

  4. Legacy User April 12, 2008 Reply

    Here's the short version a SAFE way to spend your $ with ppc (depending what keywords are relevant to your site,
    buy keyword ads on Google, yahoo…MAYBE msn & bid the min $.05 – $.010
    and or buy one of those top 3 spots on the small ppc engines.

    — *Ed*

  5. Legacy User April 29, 2008 Reply

    Mat, I have to disagree. If you don't take "some" of your budget and test out the other 2nd tier search engines you won't know if you will get better ROI from them or not. You don't know what you're missing.

    — *Bill Hartzer*