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Is a non-AdWords PPC account right for you?

Published: February 1, 2013

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is by Shawn Livengood, Director of Search Marketing at CalFinder.
Let’s face facts: if you’re running a PPC account, chances are it’s Google AdWords. It’s the advertising platform with the most traffic and the most features, so it just makes sense.
But, as great as AdWords is, there’s always going to be a point where you hit a plateau and just can’t expand it out with more traffic that is relevant to your product or service. At this point, you probably start thinking about expanding into other ad networks such as Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, or other third-tier search engines.
Diversifying your ads is usually a good idea, but first you need to set some expectations. As of this writing, the U.S. search engine market share looks like this according to Comscore:
Google:   66.7%
Microsoft/Bing:  16.3%
Yahoo:  12.2%
Ask.com:  3.0%
AOL:  1.8%
When you consider that Bing and Yahoo serve the same ads (pulled from the Bing Ads platform) and AOL is a Google Search Partner, your options seem even more limited. Realistically, if you’re running AdWords campaigns, you’re reaching about 70% of the US search audience already. Even if you launch a Bing Ads account, you’re only likely to reach less than 30% of the available U.S. searchers. That’s not too bad, but it does mean you can never expect the same volume to come from non-Google sources. Google is just that big.
If you’re not scared off by those numbers, then Bing Ads is a fine option. I personally find that their interface lags behind Google in terms of usability and convenience, but it gets the job done. I’ve had many accounts perform well on the Bing platform, although they drive a fraction of the conversion traffic that Google does. If you’re just looking to increase total PPC conversions by another 10-25%, you can probably achieve that with minimal effort by just exporting your AdWords account over to Bing Ads and letting ‘er rip.
The only factor to consider is your time. If that extra 10-25% conversion only represents $20/month in revenue for you, it’s probably not worth it to spend the extra 5 hours a week that managing a Bing Ads account might take. Do a serious estimation of your account complexity and how much effort it’s realistically going to take before you take the plunge.
You might also be tempted to create a PPC account on a social site. There has certainly been a lot of buzz lately about how Facebook and LinkedIn are going to change the world. But, if they want to make any money as a company, they’re going to have to sell some ads.
The buzz sounds great, but you have to be honest with yourself: does your company really offer something that’s going to gain traction on a social site? If you run a daily deals site with full Facebook integration, then sure, go nuts with some Facebook PPC. But if you are a B2B supplier of plumbing equipment, chances are people aren’t going to be all that interested in what you have to offer while they’re socializing.
Remember that people go on social network sites to repost memes and look at party pictures – they’re not there to look for things to buy. You may be fighting an uphill battle to even get people to pay attention to your ads, much less interact with them. If you think that your product is attention-grabbing enough to be up to the challenge, then social media PPC might be a fruitful experiment for you. If not, you should probably just stick to search engine PPC.
Overall, I think it’s a good idea for most advertisers to expand their reach and try out some PPC options that don’t involve giving money to Google. Your success rates may vary, but at least you can say you tried. And you might even find a network that is under-served for your niche and make a lot of money! Just approach new networks smartly and cautiously, and use all the right PPC strategies that you’ve learned on the Google network.
shawn livengood ppc
– Shawn Livengood is Director of Search Marketing at CalFinder.com. Read more about paid search strategy at his blog, PPC Without Pity.

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