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Articles - Search Engine Fever

Search Engine Strategies - Pay Per View advertising

The introduction of "pay per view" entries with major search engines and indices has created yet another challenge for the web master with a tight budget. It has been difficult enough to get our web pages a decent ranking and now we are faced with the prospect of having to spend more money in order to get noticed. The multinationals may have huge reserves of funds for this type of marketing, but most of us tend to rely on more manual means to promote our web sites. This is extraordinarily time consuming. So, is the "pay per view" method worth it for the little guy?

How does pay per view placement work?

First, let's understand exactly how "pay per view" works.

Go to a search engine such as Google and type "web" into the search box. It will list over 85 million entries. Pay per view would allow a company to be at the top of the list. But notice that on the results page there is little or no sponsored (pay per view) advertisements based on this search term. The reason is simple. It would cost an absolute fortune as this word is too generic and it costs x number of cents every time the ad is displayed. The cost of the ad needs to be offset by the number of click throughs resulting from it. Each click through is a potential customer.

Now try typing in "web site design". On Google at present, it will return around 1.8 million results. That's still a lot of competition. A number of sponsors ads will appear at the beginning of the results. They are targeting a specific group, so these ads will prove more profitable. The ads entice consumers to visit the advertisers site. But because this is still a relatively common search phrase for this target market, the ads will be expensive when taking into account the display/click through conversion percentages.

When using pay per view (ad impressions/displays) campaigns with search engines and indices, it is important to "buy" very well defined keywords or phrases. The term "buying" actually means renting. For the period of your campaign, any time a customer types in that particular word or phrase exactly, your advertisement will show up in the results. You can also narrow your target market by specifying the language and countries of your focus.

In the "web site design" example, there is competition between the paying sponsors. Try to think of a term that people may use in conjunction with your product. Then type that in to the search engine and see what comes back. If there are no other sponsors for that term, you have virgin territory! Even if the use of that keyword or phrase is lower than a more generic one, the click-through rate will probably be higher. Most of the major search engines can give you statistics on particular keyword searches as you are running through the "buying" process. Study those figures carefully and experiment with different keywords and phrases.

Our trial pay per view advertising campaign

Recently, I carried out two mini campaigns.

The first campaign in summary looks like this:

Keyword/Phrase: free web tools, free web content
Countries: UK, USA, Canada, Australia
$ spent so far: US$20.00
Impressions: 1394
Click throughs: 21
Click through Percentage:1.51%
Each potential customer sent to my site under this campaign cost me an average of US$0.95

The second campaign (which is still running - rarer keywords and phrases):

Keyword/Phrase: free site tools, free site content
$ spent so far: US$1.40
Impressions so far: 91
Click throughs so far: 7
Click through Percentage :7.53%

Each potential customer sent to my site under this campaign has cost me an average of US$.20

Both of these campaigns were started on exactly the same day. While slower in gaining click throughs, the second campaign is definitely the better deal as the conversion rate is a great deal higher. This is something that is very important to consider when choosing your keywords. Also remember that not all of the potential customers that go to your site via the ad will purchase your product. So the actual cost of advertisement against sale is a great deal higher. Examine your profit margins before spending the advertising money - it may not be worth it. For the webmaster with a small, light traffic site, viral marketing techniques are probably a better way to go. It is more effort, but better results at a lower cost.

In the next article, I'll examine the "pay per click" options now currently on offer from major search engines and indices. Further information on viral marketing, web design, implementation techniques and other concepts mentioned in this article can be found here:

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Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
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