When it comes to lead generation, Google and Bing can only get you so far. If you happen to work in an extremely competitive industry you may find yourself paying anywhere from $30 to $50+ per click. If those CPC’s don’t back out into your CPA goals, you'll need to look at other potential traffic sources.
While many large companies tend to stick to the big networks such as Google, Bing and other large display networks, working with second tier engine/networks can provide an abundance of traffic at a low cost. While the quality of traffic coming from these traffic sources may be lower than Google or Bing’s traffic, the large amount of traffic at a low cost rate can end up working out to your CPA goals in the end.
Second Tier Engine Marketing Tactics
While there are many tactics for managing Google and Bing paid search campaigns that directly transfer to second tier networks, they are a different animal and should be treated as such. You’ll be able to take your previous keyword research and ad text to set up your campaigns, but each ad network has specific nuances that need attention.
Here are a few tips that can help you manage campaigns across second tier networks.
Many advertisers on second tier networks place daily caps on their spend; these caps tend to be hit around or before 5 PM ET. Thus, decreasing the competition and letting you sneak in with even lower bids than normal. This will allow you to get a plethora of traffic for extremely low cost.
You’ll also find many advertisers aren't aggressive on weekends, leaving a good opportunity to get some traffic with your average bids reduced by 25 percent. By working directly with the networks and your AM’s, you can get idea of when their traffic is at its peak. If you happen to be working with an email based network, knowing when their mass mailings are sent out can help you optimize your bidding strategy.
The quality of traffic will vary by network and based on your industry. You’ll need to invest some testing spend into a few different networks to find a traffic mix that works for you.
If you happen to be in financial lead generation a network such as FinanceClicks may fit perfectly into your efforts while a network like AdBlade may not. While AdBlade has some decent traffic, FinanceClicks specifically has finance related traffic. This may completely change if you or your clients are in the insurance business.
With only small amounts of up front budget needed to set up an account, it would be wise to continuously test new ad networks on a limited scale to evaluate the quality of traffic.
You’ll find that some networks have extremely low minimum budgets to get started. Advertise.com only requires a $50 deposit, but to get a dedicated account manager, you’ll need to invest a minimum of $1,000. 7Search requires only a $25 investment to get things started and a network such as Financeclicks only requires a $500 investment. If you happen to be active in lead generation on Google or Bing, those types of budgets are probably spent before you wake up in the morning.
If you find yourself in a position where you're the sole SEM manager on an account and attempting to create new accounts across multiple second tier networks, a great strategy is to work with the networks who offer account management support such as Advertise.com and Adknowledge. While not every account manager for the small ad networks is great talent, there are quite a few who really have an understanding of which publishers can work for your account and can turn the cheap traffic into a great traffic source. If you are working with a decent size budget you’ll most likely be paired up with a quality and responsive account manager.
If you don't have the budgets to get yourself an account manager, you’ll want to use what works on your other top performing traffic sources (e.g., head keywords and top performing ad text from Google should work fairly well).
You’ll learn over time and through testing the different ins and outs of the traffic mix and can make changes accordingly. While strategies from Google and Bing may not directly translate to success, they are a decent place to start.
Keep An Eye On ROI
When working with these types of networks, you will want to make sure you keep an eye on your ROI. As mentioned throughout this post, making sure you are getting an influx of quality traffic is important. At times the publishers the networks use will change and the mix of traffic you receive will change.
If you plan to only look at the statistics on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, you may want to change plan. By keeping your eye on ROI on a daily basis, you’ll be able to easily tell if your traffic mix is altered. This will allow you to manually change your traffic mix or work with your AM to make sure you're getting the best traffic the engine has to offer.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Credits/Refunds
Traffic quality fluctuates across every network, and if you notice a spike in low quality traffic you should work with the network to receive credits.
As you can imagine, traffic quality is something that is important for the reputation of a network so they are constantly adding new traffic sources to their mix. Don’t be afraid to get a little stern with your AM and get a refund for a high influx of poor traffic.
Expectations and Results
It is important to realize that second tier networks aren't going to bring you the same results as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But if managed correctly that can be an effective part of your marketing strategy.
With combined markets share for the ‘Big 3’ taking upwards of 75 percent, there is a limited amount of traffic utilizing second tier search engines and networks to navigate the web. While overall traffic numbers are lower, the average CPA from second tier ad networks was between 15-19 percent lower. Keep in mind this was after quite a bit of optimization.
Information On 2nd Tier Engines
There are many ad networks out there who can offer cheap traffic but here are a few that can bring you quality traffic at a low cost.
A low cost advertising network that offers keyword, email, display and retargeting based marketing, Advertise.com is a great network to get cheap traffic. If you happen to operate in a lead generation based industry this network can drive cheap traffic that converts well.
Offering a self-service model for smaller advertisers, and an account team for larger advertisers, the interface is easy to use and allows you to create one text ad per campaign. A combination of their low cost CPC search based traffic and their cheap CPA based remarketing efforts can lead to a large amount of new customers for a significantly smaller investment then Google or Bing.
7search claims to have a better ROI than Google or Yahoo. And with no minimum bid, you can get low cost, low quality traffic by the truck load. With some clicks coming in under $1 depending on your industry this traffic source can be a valuable partner.
While some of the traffic coming in may bounce off your landing page, there is some decent traffic mixed in. With the cost per visitor so low and some extra attention, you will be able to back out into your CPA goals.
7search has made strides over the years to protect their advertisers from fraud and now do a decent job in credited accounts based on low quality traffic from publishers.
Just as the networks above offer low cost traffic options, Adknowledge boasts being able to reach more than 300 million people.
Adknowledge offers both direct response and social media advertising. Their direct response advertising efforts can be spread across display, search and mobile networks. Their backend management system called ‘Bidsystem’ is nothing to write home about but the normal bid management features such as keyword selection, keyword level bidding etc. are all available. Similar to Advertise.com, larger advertisers can work with an account manager to optimize campaigns.
On the social media front Adknowledge offers display and video target. They are also an ‘approved Facebook advertising partner’. You can advertise through apps, mobile games and on web based traffic.
Adknowledge tends to add new publishers frequently to their mix of traffic, so the amount of traffic as well as the quality of traffic will fluctuate. Keeping an eye on this and working with your AM to received refunds for this traffic is essential.
Baidu is China’s No. 1 search engine, and in terms of second tier they are only second tier here in the U.S.
You can receive an absolute plethora of traffic but Baidu is similar to Fort Knox. When attempting create a new account you may wait a while before hearing back from their AM team. Baidu offers search based traffic and requires a minimum investment of $2,000. Average CPC price is around $1-$3 but rises in more competitive industries.
As you can imagine, setting up an account with Baidu has some roadblocks. You need to provide them with a written letter, on your company or client’s letter head, giving authorization for you to advertise on their behalf. If you do work with Baidu, you’ll most likely work with an AM out of their office in Singapore to get on board that can help you build out your campaign and set up any API’s that are needed.
A different network then Advertise.com, Advertising.com actually falls under the AOL umbrella and offers decent traffic at a low CPC. If your target market happens to be baby boomers, then this network may work very well for you.
The network actually contains some high quality sites such as New York Post, ESPN, NFL, NCAA, Fox News and CNN. That being said you’ll also be appearing on the Chitika network and Huffington post so the traffic mix has variance in quality.
This network offers mobile, contextual, video and display based advertising. Average CPCs can range from $0.30 to $5.00 depending on the channel and web property you are advertising on.
AdMarketplace focuses heavily on what they call ‘search syndication’ or advertising on other web properties that are not the big three search engines. This includes tool bar searches, Internet yellow pages (IYPs), parked domains and many other networks. Think of AdMarketplace similar to the Google Search Partner Network.
Visitors to these types of web properties navigate differently than when on a search engine, so they need to be managed differently as well. AdMarketplace lets you do just that. With CPC traffic for just a few dollars per click, AdMarketplace is a cost effective network that can help lower your overall CPA.
The Clicks.net network focuses only on financial traffic but can be a great source of cheap traffic if you happen to be involved in mortgage, debt consolidation, 401K or auto/home/business loan lead generation. Targeting capabilities are limiting and the interface lacks thorough reporting but the traffic through this network has some decent quality to it.
Average bids range from $2.00-$5.00 depending on the industry you are in, but as mentioned in the management tips section, cheaper remnant inventory can be had for under $1.00 during evening and weekends.