There’s a reason why search advertising revenues in 2009 ($10.7 billion) accounted for almost half of total interactive advertising spend, according to the IAB’s most recent Internet Advertising Report. It can be a wildly successful medium – we’ve all seen ample evidence of that. It can also be time consuming, frustrating and downright confusing. This can make search marketers hesitant about expanding their efforts beyond the big search engines to include campaigns on Tier 2 search networks.
While these concerns are not unfounded, dismissing the value of the Tier 2 players can be a costly mistake – there’s a wealth of diverse traffic sources beyond what the major engines provide, and savvy advertisers understand that capitalizing on that additional traffic can take their search marketing efforts to the next level. With that being said, advertisers need to know what to look for and what questions to ask when vetting new Tier 2 search advertising partners. Here’s a helpful list of things for search marketers to be aware of when evaluating which providers might be a good fit.
1. Experience: New ad networks are popping up all of the time – some of them are reputable and trustworthy, while others are known for making unsubstantiated claims about traffic quality and ROI. Make sure the network you are considering has proven successful for other advertisers before you consider starting an account.
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have any case studies/testimonials/customer references you can share?
2. Volume: Most search marketers have limited time on their hands. Managing campaigns on the large engines takes time, and in order to justify starting a relationship with an additional vendor, advertisers need to make sure it’s going to be worth their while. Syndicated Tier 2 networks can aggregate thousands of incremental traffic sources together, making the move into the network realm more efficient.
- How many queries do you process per day?
- Can you provide me with a traffic estimate for my keywords to help determine the kind of volume I might receive?
3. Platform Capabilities: It’s crucial that the networks you choose to work with have the targeting and tracking capabilities to meet your campaign goals.
- Do you offer the following?
- Conversion Tracking: What kind of conversion tracking do you offer? What kind of visibility will I have into the traffic sources that are converting for me? How will the optimization process work?
- Geo-targeting: Will I be able to target my ads by location? How specific can I get with my geo-targeting (country, state, city, zip)?
- Day Parting: Can I schedule my ads to appear only during certain times of day (e.g. during my business hours)?
4. Safeguards for Network Quality: Click validity is an issue for the search advertising industry at large, and networks are certainly not exempt from that. Advertisers need to make sure search providers have processes, tools and partnerships in place to help ensure click quality and protect against invalid traffic.
- Do you filter invalid traffic? If so, how?
- What kind of screening takes place before you add a new distribution partner to your network?
- Do you work with any 3rd parties, such as Anchor Intelligence and Click Forensics, to help ensure traffic quality?
5. Service: Lastly, advertisers need to make sure the search provider they are evaluating has the customer support to help them reach their campaign goals.
- Do you offer account management services?
- Do you have a customer support line? Does a real person field those calls to answer questions and offer guidance?
Search networks can be a profitable avenue through which advertisers and search marketers can expand their PPC campaigns and drive results. It is imperative, however, that advertisers be cognizant of the above issues when choosing new partners. Asking questions ahead of time and testing new providers before moving full steam ahead are important keys to success.