Practical Ecommerce

Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Alternative PPC Venues

In the world of pay-per-click advertising, there are three well-known players: Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter. However, there are several other interesting pay-per-click sites you may not be familiar with, which you might find useful.

Clickriver

Clickriver.com is owned and operated by Amazon.com. All ads are circulated on Amazon, and advertisers running ads through Clickriver are therefore able to reach an audience that is looking to shop online.

The pay-per-click interface is very intuitive and should seem familiar to anybody using Google, Yahoo! or MSN. Additionally, you have complete budget flexibility and easy-to-understand reporting, but no internal conversion tracking is provided (you’ll need to use a third-party solution to track results, such as Google Analytics). Clickriver could be an interesting test for your ecommerce website. No set up fee is required to sign up.

Business.com

Don’t let the name throw you off. It seems as if Business.com would be strictly for business owners, but it has attracted thousands of consumers looking for businesses that sell products or offer services. Additionally, Business.com has recently rolled out an interesting filter search that allows an advertiser to deliver ads to the users looking for specific products.

Its interface is based on categories and keywords, making the initial set up a bit tricky. And it doesn’t provide any internal conversion tracking, but does offer very flexible budget controls (daily budget cap, monthly budget cap, total budget cap). This could be an interesting test for service-based businesses.

Facebook

The famous social network has recently released its own pay-per-click program with cost-per-click and cost-per-impression pricing structures. The beauty of advertising on a social network is being able to select specific target demographics. If you have no idea who your target demographics are, you can use Facebook to figure out an audience that is most likely to click on your ads.

Facebook’s interface is intuitive and easy to understand. Reporting includes demographic data, clicks, ad performance and trends. No internal conversion tracking is available. It could be a great traffic channel for an ecommerce business.

Greg Laptevsky

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  1. Legacy User December 13, 2007 Reply

    Thanks for the mention, Greg.

    Ferdinand – I'm the VP of Marketing for Business.com and am concerned by your comments. There's certainly going to be a diversity of opinions and experiences on a site, like ours, with 65,000+ categories and thousands of advertisers, but what you described doesn't seem to mesh with our own or 3rd party research on Business.com client experience.

    If you have a few minutes, it would be great to talk and learn more about your Business.com experience. You can reach me at ben.hanna@business.com, and hopefully we can arrange a time to chat.

    — *Ben Hanna*

  2. Legacy User December 13, 2007 Reply

    This should be called "impractical ecommerce" – although it's funny that the subtitle "may be useful" was included. I agree with the ClickRiver option in theory but it's yet to be seen that it's any good since shoppers can find everything through Amazon anyway. As far as business.com is concerned, the management system is atrocious, the cost is way too high for the return and it's a haven for sales prospecting – in a way it's about as fraudulent a degree of traffic as GoClick or Miva. Facebook is just a joke of a suggestion – regardless of the targeting, people are not in buying mode at Facebook.

    — *Ferdinand*

  3. Legacy User December 13, 2007 Reply

    Nice little article, Greg!

    — *Mat Greenfield*

  4. Legacy User December 14, 2007 Reply

    I am the President & CEO of TapestryBiz.com, an eCommerece website, and I appreciated this article because I have been using the Big Three, if you will, and was under the impression that it would be a waste of money to consider PPC though any other means. I have thought about using Clickriver, have not heard of Business.com, and find it hard to believe that anyone wants to go shopping at Facebook.com.

    Great Article!!! Two thumbs up.

    — *Roxie Boyd*

  5. Legacy User December 14, 2007 Reply

    I support "Mat Greenfield" point of view.

    — *Amit Khandelwal*

  6. Legacy User December 14, 2007 Reply

    Hi Ferdinand,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I agree that ClickRiver is really in its infancy and that is exactly why it might be a great time to hop in. Run some tests and see if this network makes business sense for you – before it's flooded with thousands of advertisers.

    I would disagree with you on Business.com. I've had mixed results with that network but it was often an external issue (price competitiveness, demographic mismatch, etc). I still think it's worth a test. If you're worried about click fraud – sign up for a 3rd party tool such as http://www.adwatcher.com/ and analyze your traffic.

    You're right about Facebook users not being a buying mode. But, more often than not, branding aspect is just as important in search marketing as the bottom line ROI. Consider running an add on facebook and see if that boosts your regular search campaigns. It's all about reach and frequency.

    Thanks for your input. Keep us posted on your successes.

    Greg

    — *Greg*

  7. Legacy User December 17, 2007 Reply

    Interesting! I am the President of Cabot Components Corporation and our website, cabotcomponents.com has been up and running for a whole 12 days now. I was just getting ready to turn to the big three for PPC, and still plan to do so; however, it may be that these alternative PPC companies warrant a once over. I am curious as to how a company that sells ministorage buildings, kiosks, doors and insulation will fair on these PPC sites. It will be an extraordinary experiment.

    — *Steve Johnson*

  8. Legacy User December 18, 2007 Reply

    Nice job Steve J. promoting your web and products!

    I use the big three because more people use it to search and research products. I agree with the bunch that facebook is not a buying place however you can promote your product there.

    — *David*

  9. Legacy User December 19, 2007 Reply

    On the point about searching and researching products, Enquiro Search Marketing did a fantastic study of how business buyers use the internet, including search engines, during multiple phases of the purchase process. You can download the study here – http://www.enquiroresearch.com/b2b-research-2007.aspx – and see a graph of the most interesting finding.

    With over 1,000 business buyers in the study, they found that general search engine use is reasonably high throughout the purchasing process, but is highest at the early awareness stages (e.g., I know I need to better organize my business contacts, but don't quite know what products or vendors are most relevant). As buyers proceed through phases, general search engine usage drops, while use of B2B vertical search (like Business.com) and vendor sites increases. Makes sense. General seach engines provide a broad range of information to get you oriented around a general need. At some point, business buyers want to see just a list of relevant vendors, and turn to more specialized sites to easily create this shortlist.

    If you market products or services to other businesses, the Enquiro study is definitely worth reviewing to make sure you have a presence in front of buyers throughout the purchase cycle.

    — *Ben Hanna*

  10. Legacy User December 29, 2007 Reply

    I am more in line with what Ferdinand had to say. The whole idea of pay per click has been a big sour note in my experience. I used the big three as well as shop.com, shopping.com and others.

    The amount of orders that I was getting based on the people who were supposedly interested in the product when they clicked on it was extremely low. There is more fraud in the PPC arena than it's worth. If you have one product that you are selling it may be okay. But what if you have hundreds, thousands of products? Maintaining and uploading can be a complete nightmare to go along with the fraudulent clicks that are being targeted to your website.

    I write in my blog – http://web.mac.com/axbooker/Site/Blog/Blog.html – (shameless plug) that it needs to be changed to a more commission based structure. I would gladly give 2 or 3 percent of each of my sales that is referred from a site. These ppc sites should either adapt to a Sales Rep mentailty that they get paid when the deliver an order or e-commerce business are going to start to abandon them. Where is the benefit to the merchant when you get a 1 or 2 percent conversion rate? The PPC sites should put there money where their mouth is and develop a integration point that would place some kind mechanism that would allow a cookie or something that has not been developed yet. The PPC has been a big disaster when it comes to conversions. Ferdinand hit it right on the head.

    — *A Booker*

  11. Legacy User December 30, 2007 Reply

    You have to look at PPC as another venue of direct marketing; it's a numbers game. With direct mail, there's a cost for each piece (the clicks) and a 2%-4% response rate (conversions) is considered good.
    Looking at PPC with any higher expectations is just setting yourself up for disappointment.
    PPC, along with it's low-tech cousin direct mail, will no doubt continue to serve for many years to come.

    — *Russell L. Magidson*

  12. Legacy User December 29, 2007 Reply

    Hi Ben

    It sounded to me as if the original article was focused on C2B, not B2B. You point to an interesting study of business buyers, but I wonder what the similarities and differences are between them and consumer buyers with regard to PPC. Do you have any light to shed on that?

    – Russell
    rlmagidson@altean.com
    http://FlossAndWipe.com

    — *Russell L. Magidson*

  13. Legacy User January 7, 2008 Reply

    I've closely watched my performance with the big three. There is no question that conversions are lowest (i.e., non-existent) when searches are performed on any of the big three's 'affiliates' sites (a.k.a., little Jim Bob who has set up some kind of typo.com website as a vehicle to land PPC traffic). And I believe this is true because search engine users trust the results on Google/Yahoo/MSN over a site that is unfamiliar to them as a web-searching tool.

    In my opinion, that's all that clickeriver (through Amazon), facebook and business.com would be to these people. They might see an ad (and click on it) on any of these alternate PPC sites, but they would (at best) 'verify' their results through any of the big 3 search engines before buying anything.

    My logic is a bit tangental, but I think (hope) it makes sense.

    Greg S.
    http://www.TheTieBar.com

    — *Greg S.*

  14. Legacy User February 9, 2008 Reply

    Hi Greg

    With respect to B2B (your Business.com suggestion), what is your thinking on other B2B/Wholesale PPC sites like wholesle411.com, gowholesale.com, wholesalecentral.com, etc? Are these sites – or any sites – major competitors to business.com or is it far ahead in B2B PPC?

    Thanks.

    — *Fred*

  15. Legacy User March 13, 2008 Reply

    Has anyone out there heard about WideCircles.com. It seems like a way better service then wasting money on PPC. Apparently they are using refering websites ( forums, blogs, wiki, etc. ) and have a viral word of mouth distributed approach to it. My friend told me he got around 100 visits from single post which cost him $0.40c. I am going to give them a try today . In case you are intrested here is it. http://widecircles.com?s=imt1

    — *prabath*

  16. Legacy User April 5, 2008 Reply

    Great Article Greg. To prabath, Yeah heard about Wide Circles aka widecircles, is that the link ? I tried clicking but did not work, is it widecircles.com ? I assume thats the website, looks like they do lot of viral word of mouth advertising. anyways I might give it a try.

    — *Johnatan*

  17. Legacy User April 10, 2008 Reply

    I have been using business.com to drive traffic to my Business Cash Advance website http://www.eq-shelter.com and I find that although I don't get as much traffic as I do with Google or Yahoo, I get a much more qualified leads at a fraction of the cost.

    — *Misael Rodriguez*

  18. Legacy User April 15, 2008 Reply

    Would disagree with you on Business.com. I've had mixed results with that network but it was often an external issue (price competitiveness, demographic mismatch, etc)'ve closely watched my performance with the big three. There is no question that conversions are lowest (i.e., non-existent) when searches are performed on any of the big three's 'affiliates' sites

    — *jack*

  19. Jeff T. October 15, 2008 Reply

    If you really try that, you will find the low conversion rate. Hopefully, long term results will be better.

    Jeff T.

    http://www.TieToSuccess.com