Should Affiliate Marketers still consider PPC as viable?
My introduction to Affiliate Marketing was through the Google Cash system that was selling through Clickbank. You could actually make money using only Google Adwords back then. You could easily purchase good keywords for what was then Google's minimum bid of .05 (five cents). I remember paying $1,000.00 a day for clicks at .05 a piece and doubling my money. Others did much better, I'm sure.
Man have times changed, and not for the better. Perhaps it would take a smarter person than me to understand, but the Google Adwords bidding system has become convoluted, illogical and just plain selfish.
Why is it that I can find a word with NO competitive ads and for which I use the keywords I'm bidding on in the ads title and Google won't even start displaying the ads until I've hit $1.00, $5.00 or more? This makes no sense to me what-so-ever.
Google talks about the bid price being determined by competition, relavency and other factors, but they are so vaguely explained that one can only guess at what Google is doing.
I just don't see how I can continue using Adwords and making money at the same time. At .05 or .10 per click, I make money. With Adwords bids the way they are today, the margins are so thin, or completely eaten up by click costs, that it's not possible to make a profit.
Since Google is willing to make it nearly impossible for me to make money, I've decided to take my business to other PPC providers
So, back to the title of this article, "Is PPC still a viable Affiliate Marketing strategy?". I think the answer is yes, but not with the same ease of use that we've accustomed to with the OLD Google.
That leaves two big boys to work with and they are showing signs of improvement. Those two alternatives are Yahoo (Overture) and AdCenter (MSN).
First, let me say that you simply can't get as many clicks with these PPC vendors because they're just not as big as Google. But I think than through the yen/yang of change, Google is going to loose business and these two PPC engines will gain.
MSN Adcenter: I have been experimenting with this Pay Per Click engine for a little while now and it's good. The user interface is uncomplicated and it gives very good estimates of where your ad will show (position) and how many times it will be clicked upon based upon different bid prices. We've always known that Google's impression / click estimates have been garbage. This really makes picking bid prices for MSN easy. On my first few ads, it took over 24 hours for them to start playing. I don't know if this will improve with time, but it's kind of a pain now. Also, Adcenter only runs within Internet Explorer because of ActiveX code that it runs on your box. This probably makes things faster, but it's a pain for me because I use Firefox.
Yahoo/Overture: I used Overture a bit about a year ago and just found it too hard to work with. It was slow, adding words was difficult and it took them forever to activate the ads. The good news is that Yahoo is totally revamping Overture and I bet they've learned from the success of Google. The new Overture should be much better. I don't know if a beta is being run or not, but it would be nice to get in on it.
So I'm going to turn off all Google Adwords campaigns and work with Overture and MSN Adcenter for a while to see what happens. I think PPC is still a good strategy. It just makes sense! (cents?) But it will only work for us if we can accurately gauge how much we have to pay for traffic and we can test campaigns quickly. 24 hour delays in testing will make it too difficult to work with.