I was often asked by clients and paid search marketing beginners about this. After Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, MSN Adcenter, Ask.com Sponsored Listings and Baidu JingJia (for Chinese traffic), what will be the next PPC search engines to try? One of the major reasons could be that paid search is becoming competitive with the top-tier PPC search engines.
Also from time to time, I have always been approached by the so-called 2nd- and 3rd- tier PPC search engines. The sales representatives often came up with the selling pitch similar to below:
- Our search engine will increase your traffic by 200%
- Our conversion rate is 20% higher than Google Adwords
- Our cost-per-click across the board is 25% lower than Adwords
Since a couple of years ago, believe it or not, I have tried at least over 80 non-1st-tier PPC search engines. In my experience, most of them shared the problems below:
Reason #1: Distribution
After Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, the distribution level of other PPC search engines fall off sharply. A good example is MSN Adcenter. Being recognized as the third paid search marketing platform, the distribution level of Adcenter is only a small fraction of Adwords or even Yahoo! Panama.
From this conclusion, the 2nd-tier search engines who have been maintaining high traffic quality are definitely not providing high traffic volume and great reach regarding search network distributions.
Reason #2: User Experience
It is the great reach of distribution that has helped the top-tier PPC search engines to collect more data about their users. With the data, they are then able to continuously improve the user experience by enhancing the reporting and all types of features in their paid search marketing platform. To mention a few enhancements by the top-tier search engines,
- Adwords updated its Quality Score to reduce low quality ads, and has already made its Quality Score more visible to advertisers.
- Yahoo! Panama introduced a way for advertisers to flag their important campaigns, groups and keywords and to have them all displayed in display panel.
- MSN Adcenter was first to introduce demographics options allowing advertisers to only show ads to certain age groups and specific genders.
Obviously, this is not something I have seen with lower-tier PPC search engines.
Reason #3: Cost
Adwords was the first PPC search engine to introduce Quality Score in ranking ads, and in the Quality Score a great portion of it is the CTR. This is one of the main reasons experienced PPC advertisers have been able to save hundreds of thousands of marketing budgets on Adwords.
Only after a couple of years other top-tier search engines have followed. Adcenter, Panama and Baidu all are using a similar way to the Quality Score to rank ads. Ask.com and Adbrite are also using CTR as a factor in ranking ads.
The other search engines down the ranks have not been able to catch up with this technology and are mainly ranking ads based solely on pricing. Basically, they have offered no solution to save cost for their advertisers. This can only make them less attractive to major advertisers and less competitive to the major search engines.
Reason #4: Traffic Quality and Click Fraud Concerns
To increase traffic volume, some of the less known search engines would sign up large amount of distribution partners, without concerning too much about their traffic quality. It is a way for the 2nd- and 3rd-tier PPC search engines to survive, but at the same time they are putting their reputations at risk.
Click fraud detection is also another big concern for the lower-tier search engines, as they are often reluctant to offer technologies to detect possible click fraud. Much of the click fraud detection has to be performed by the advertisers, in which this collides with one of my previous posts on 5 ways to spot click fraud. Click fraud has become great of a concern than ever, and not long ago Inside Adwords Blog has revealed the 3 steps of click fraud detection,
- Real-time filters
- Offline analysis
- Reactive investigations
Reason #5: Return On Effort
Vinny Lingham previously explained in details about Return-On-Effort (ROE) with one of his posts.
Basically, the argument on ROE is that advertisers should spend their time and efforts on expanding and tuning their existing paid search campaigns. In doing this, the ROE will be higher than spending time and effort on the non-1st-tier PPC search engines.