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E-Business Secrets

Getting the best value out of your pay-per-click ads
Positioning your ads can be complicated, but pays off

By  Brian Livingston May 14, 2002  

I wrote last week about the secrets of getting the best ROI when you sign up for pay-per-click advertising. 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.


http://www.gotoast.com http://bri.li/?4e5b

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1. Microsoft axes RealNames; keywords will stop working

http://www.sfgate.com http://bri.li/?423

2. Departing CEO of RealNames reveals juicy details

http://scriptingnews.userland.com http://bri.li/?80b

3. How one content site makes $300 per 1,000 visitors

http://www.contentbiz.com http://bri.li/?bf3

4. Seals like Better Business Bureau's aid e-commerce

http://www.nandotimes.com http://bri.li/?fdb

5. Can you patent a creature like you, using your DNA?

http://www.latimes.com http://bri.li/?13c3

6. New type of Web spy beacon is virtually undetectable

http://www.news.com http://bri.li/?17ab

7. Service makes money selling instant-message dating

http://www.instantmessagingplanet.com http://bri.li/?1b93

8. Protect your content without disabling right-click

http://www.webmasterbase.com http://bri.li/?1f7b

9. HTML, text, or multimedia for e-mail marketing?

http://www.emarketer.com http://bri.li/?2363

10. And the winner is ... FHM has Top 100 online games

http://www.fhm.com http://bri.li/?274b

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Reader John Spears submitted this week's wacky item, which is a gorgeous Flash animation of a mini-putt golf course. The game is the creation of a young group of gamers called Clan SpyFX, which has been reposted by a P. Yang at Harvard to save their bandwidth.

The game answers a tricky question: What user interface should you use to simulate putting a golf ball with only a keyboard and a mouse? The solution: Show the direction and distance the ball will go as the mouse moves around, then use a left mouse click to "hit" the ball. The game even keeps score for you. Be aware: The site plays music, so you may want to mute your speaker first.

Yang has more on this and other Flash programs he's mirroring at the second of the two links below. Enjoy!

Spears will receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of his choice for being the first to send me a tip I printed.


http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu http://bri.li/?c38b


http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu http://bri.li/?d713

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E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by InfoWorld Contributing Editor Brian Livingston (http://SecretsPro.com). Research eirector is Ben Livingston (no relation). Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets:

http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/?0764534939

Windows 2000 Secrets:

http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/?0764534130

Win a gift certificate good for a book, CD, or DVD of your choice if you're the first to send a tip Brian prints. Mail to: Brian@SecretsPro.com.

Brian Livingston is publisher of BriansBuzz.com. Send tips to him at brian@briansbuzz.com.

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