Online Advertising Experiments

I have been rigorously doing some online advertising (mostly PPC) to promote various landing pages for the past few months. It was definitely a costly experiment with some modes of advertising returning many fold where as some PPC advertising channels just hogged my budget without returning even a cent.

This short article is about the advertising methodologies and channels that I used and the effectiveness of the same. Needless to say, Google AdWords is still the best option in terms of RoI though it can be really expensive if not careful. Facebook ads, as I mentioned sometime ago, can be cheap or expensive based on your delivery model but ineffective for conversion either way.

Online Advertising Options and effectiveness

(Most effective one on top of the list)

1. Google AdWords Search advertising

AdWords’ advertising directly on Google Search results (Text ads) is the most expensive but definitely most effective and conversion oriented PPC advertising option. In some cases, I was lucky enough to get even one out 5-6 clicks getting conversions but at the same time each click cost a fortune. Also, the other major challenge is to optimize your ads and landing pages (read on AdWords landing page Quality score) in a way that it reduces CPC (cost per click) and get listed on top of the SERP as against the side bar.

(Opting Search partners did not yield much or I could not make enough study on the same)

2. Optimized search targeted ads on own blog

If you can do a good job of placing relevant ads along with your searched contents, then that is the best option to sell your products. Moreover, you can control the way the ads can appear and when. Obviously, this can be tricky but I use certain custom-made plugins in order to effect this and it really works.

3. Google AdWords display network – Managed placements

So you are not as famous as Amit Agarwal and you do not get the kind of traffic Labnol.org gets. What do you do? There’s nothing better than using his AdWords space to market your products. I found this to be the next best option and gives you the possibility to advertise on exactly those blog ad spaces you prefer.

4. Google AdWords display network – Automatic relevant placement

This is the next best option if you do not have patience to search and place your AdWords ads exactly where you want them to be. However, you might end up spending a lot of money on junk sites, if you are not very careful and in no time your daily budget will be over.

A couple more points to add to the AdWords options:

  • Though mobile ad options are booming, I didn’t see any visible good clicks from mobile ads
  • Regardless of how great your keyword selection and ad quality is, you will end up paying a lot if your landing page quality is poor and irrelevant
  • There has to be multiple campaigns for the same product promotion and a combination of text and image ads
5. Private ads on selected blogs / websites

Directly purchasing ads on relevant blogs and websites is the 4th best option, in my experience. If your budget is low, it makes sense to avoid bigger sites and go for multiple mid-size sites. And also, most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to purchase those 125×125 slots in a cloud of 8 or 10 ads but a standing out banner, though slightly more expensive, might help.

(Since MSN AdCenter and Yahoo Search Advertising do not accept most of the non-US advertisers, I could not experiment with them. Probably they deserve to be in the 4th or 5th place)

6. Facebook advertising

My experiments with Facebook advertising did not really result in any sales but looks like some amount of leads generation and brand building can be achieved via the same. I spend some money with it but Facebook ads are not as good as AdWords in my experience. I still believe that Facebook is meant for indirect advertising and branding via Facebook fan pages (Read: Facebook fan page create)

7. AdBrite, Bidvertiser etc

I spent some money last month with AdBrite, after a shot slap from Google AdWords but there was absolutely no benefit out of that. Unlike Google AdWords, it is very hard to do proper placement and keyword management with the second-rung PPC options. As for Bidvertiser, I had done some experiments a year or so ago, but it had pretty much the same results as AdBrite. Both these have rather relaxed approach while picking publisher spaces and that can hurt the advertisers.

Final thoughts

Due to lack of budget and/or time, I couldn’t try various other PPC options such as Chitika and Infolinks. However, I doubt if they can be as good as AdWords anyhow. At the moment, Google AdWords ands selected private advertising campaigns seem to be best approach – at least among the options that I tried. Let me know your experiences with PPC advertising.

Happy Advertising!

Comments

  1. I never tried this, once seen my ads in Queryads on my own sites. but now me not using the same.

  2. Ragz :

    hi Ajit,

    Thanks for this post.

    I was just trying to put adsense into my website. I know it is too early for that. I got a NO from google. Prior to this, some 2 years back, I had got approval from google for adsense. I went on clicking the ads on my site and google banned me. I changed my website address and also the gmail account and submitted a new request again but that also has not helped coz I guess it is tracked by IP address also.

    What is the best way to get google adsense approval? Also , what are the other best options?? I am yet to try AdBrite and Bidvertiser. Pls advice.

    Regards

    Ragz

    • @Ragz, once rejected it’s hard to get a Google AdSense account. I think they keep record of various things including IP, cookies, email/snail mail address and even H/W addr!

      The only way to get approval is to have a blog with a number of useful posts and regular updating. Adbrite, Bidvertiser etc are nowhere near AdSense in terms of EPC.. I thought Chitika is slightly better. I have used all of them lol.

      Btw, this post was more about advertiser options – not publisher.

  3. It will be interesting if you can share some of the landing page designs with us. 20% conversion is awesome I guess.

    • @Sita, 20% conversion in selected cases depends on the keywords you use for which you may end up paying a couple of dollars per click. But it’s possible. As for the landing pages, I design custom page templates and keep on modifying them until the page score (in AdWords a/c) becomes good. I had started a landing page plugin development but stopped midway :(

  4. Sam :

    Nice article Ajith. I also tried different networks like Adwords, Bidvertiser, Stumbleupon Ads and some other small networks. But I always felt Adwords is better than most of these networks at least for my purpose. Have to try out Facebook ads and see how well they work out.

  5. It is very hard to make effective advertising on websites. I only tried out Facebook advertising, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I’m looking forward to use Google AdWords Search advertising. Thank you for the tips!

  6. Melvin :

    I really dont believe that facebook is not as good as Adwords. In fact I, myself have seen better conversions on Facebook more than adwords.

    I think it just depends on the product that you’re pushing or the campaign itself. Its easier to get clicks in Facebook but if you’re not careful these clicks will most likely bring no conversions.

    Btw have you tried Yahoo search marketing?

    • @Melvin, perhaps we should have a chat around this topic as to which products work well on FB. I have been unsuccessful on it so far… I haven’ tried Yahoo as it is not available in my country.

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