Getting the best value out of your pay-per-click ads - Part 2

Dave Carlson, CEO of GoToast.com, which manages pay-per-click bidding for clients, revealed figures showing that ads in a window's position 3 tend to get a higher ROI ($2.59 per $1 of ad spending) than ads in either position 1 ($2.16) or 2 ($1.36).

Naturally, this higher return has partly to do with the fact that advertisers in position 3 pay less money for each visitor's clickthrough than advertisers in positions 1 and 2.

Carlson's firm automatically changes clients' bids up and down throughout the day to maintain a desired position in 19 separate pay-per-click search engines. So he obviously has an interest in helping e-commerce sites actively manage their advertising bids.

But whether or not you use GoToast's service - or simply watch your own bids periodically as they change against those of your competitors -- some of the tricks Carlson has learned can help make you a sharper observer.

When asked how an e-commerce site can learn which pay-per-click systems produce the best return, Carlson replies that different offerings provide different results, depending upon the product involved.

"We recommend that people invest in the top five or six pay-per-click search engines, then plow the returns back into the ones that provide the best ROI," Carlson says.

In his opinion, the six pay-per-clicks that provide the best starting point for e-commerce sites are the following, in order:

1. Overture.

2. Google.

3. FindWhat.

4. Sprinks.

5. Kanoodle.

6. Ah-Ha.

Overture, as I described last week, feeds its paid listings into "featured sections" of Yahoo, MSN, and 10 other search engines and directories. This makes it the most popular destination for pay-per-click listings. But that doesn't mean it'll necessarily produce the best ROI for your site.

"If you want to advertise cell phones and DVDs, Sprinks.com would be the place," says Carlson. "If you're selling insurance, it wouldn't." He speculates that this is because different services tend to attract younger or older Web surfers, who look for varying products.

It all sounds very complicated. But if you aren't measuring the ROI of your advertising, you're probably wasting your money -- and services like GoToast provide an easy way for you to find out.

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