8 Great Paid Search Engines Beyond Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and MSN

We have all heard of, and commonly utilize, Yahoo Search Marketing, Google AdWords, Ask.com Sponsored Listings, and MSN adCenter and most search marketers are generally happy with their proven results. Although these powerful search marketing solutions are robust and drive millions of searches and clicks per day, there are many other paid search engines that try to compete in this marketplace.

The benefits to listing your website on other paid search engines are rather significant and are worthy of your consideration. Sure, some will not produce the traffic you are looking for while others may not convert, but running limited testing on these sites can sometimes unearth some diamonds in the rough, and increase your overall search business or improve your bottom line.

  • The first benefit to consider is that other search engines will charge considerably less per click, yet often feed the same quality of traffic to your web site. This will result in a much high ROI and will expand the impact of your advertising budget immensely.
  • In addition, you will reach an audience which may be untapped, or whom would not have found you through the bigger search engines. A broader reach and more profit per click – need I say more?
  • You may also be getting a jump on your competition if they’re not covering every search angle.

Here is a list of eight great paid search engines that could help you grow your business and reach a broader clientele.

  1. MIVA is a growing and often underrated search engine. They distribute their ads over two networks: the MIVA Precision Network, which concentrates on specific business categories, and the MIVA Core Network which is predominantly content sites. Their minimum CPC is .10 cents, and they have a $25.00 new account minimum. Miva also owns SearchFeed, so they also may be able to set you up with a similar account there. Miva has an Alexa ranking under 10,000, thus they are heavily trafficked and offer a solid reach.
  2. FaceBook Ads, previously known as FaceBook Flyers, is an exciting opportunity to reach a large demographic. The PPC marketplace is a fairly new endeavour for FaceBook. However, they are coming out of the gates with a powerful reach and affordable rates. FaceBook ads is offering CPC or CPM pricing structures, and it offers highly customizable targeting by age, gender, location, interests, and more.
  3. Looksmart is another solid choice for your PPC dollars. They proclaim a 70% reach to all Internet users via their distribution partners, such as Lycos.com, Excite.com, CNET, Cox Interactive and more. Yes, they’ve sold off their article publication arm, but perhaps in a moe to focus on paid search. Looksmart is also known to have great customer service and an easy to use account management system.
  4. GoClick may not be the most attractive search engine, as it does not have the web 2.0 appearance one may expect from a search engine trying to make a name for itself. However, what they do have is quality traffic at low prices. In fact, goClick is known to possess favorable results, boasting strong customer loyalty. If you look at customer retention as a means of determining success, goClick is highly successful.
  5. Superpages, that’s right, Verizon’s local search arm is an absolute must for any brick and mortar business looking to drive relevant search traffic. It’s cost per click can be a little high, dependent upon your geo-location and business niche, but the traffic is interested and ready to buy, and leads can be driven via click thru or pay per call – which is perfect for some restaurants and local services.
  6. Search123.com, a Valueclick company, has been involved in the PPC marketplace since its inception in October of 2000. Search123 derives its traffic from hundreds of content sites, and they do deliver a consistently high level of traffic at considerably low CPC prices. There are no set up fees to test this network, although they do have a $50.00 minimum funding balance.
  7. MySpace SelfServe Ads – coming soon! MySpace has been quoted as releasing the following statement at a recent Ad: Tech conference regarding SelfServe by MySpace, “an advertising network for display ads. The new tool will enable users to select from a number of ad targeting factors, such as geographic, demographic, and various user interest categories. The service will be ready for use by early 2008. The minimum advertisement purchase size is $10; pricing will be based on a click to the advertiser’s profile and will be auction-based once it gets going.”
  8. 7Search : Frank Watson (AussieWebmaster) of FXCM loves 7Search and raves about the ROI and conversions 7Search provides, especially in the financial sector. Give them a try as their low $25 account start up and no minimum bid should be reason enough to investigate.
Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker

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30 thoughts on “8 Great Paid Search Engines Beyond Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and MSN

  1. nice post but are facebook & myspace really paid search?

    I’ll admit though the knowledge of Keywords and short form text copy certainly puts SEMs in pole position to take advantage of the technology

  2. Kelvin, as paid search becomes more content and behavioral targeted, then yes, FaceBook and the upcoming MySpace are somewhat relevant to paid search and can be an excellent add-on for paid search campaigns.

    Sure, they’re more Internet marketing, but isn’t AdSense in the same realm?

  3. The MySpace preview sounds a bit like FM. They (MySpace) are moving into the LookSmart building so their could be some synergies coming out of that.

  4. I was so much interested with what targeting ads Facebook can deliver. Alas, they still dont cover many countries and don’t support different languages. And the campaign I am having is not getting any clicks

  5. interesting inclusion of superpages, I can confirm that the local directory clicks have a higher chance of converting than general search traffic, it would be intersting to know if anyone else is seeing this and if they are able to get real volume.

  6. We switched a client off Adwords/Y!/MSN to a mix of AdOnNetwork, AdBrite (I agree John) and Ask.com. The result: online actions increased 25% (which means quality traffic) while average ppc dropped from $2 to $.40. Miva is next on our list to try. Adbrite also has a Facebook app worth looking at. We tried FB’s flyers without much success.

  7. Hey Loren, thanks for your note. I started testing AdBrite back in October and have it used for one client in particular for 5 weeks. Based on the results, we will continue using AdBrite as part of their PPC strategy. We tested AdBrite along with several other engines, including Ask and AdOnNetwork. AdBrite has consistently delivered high quality traffic (that converts) at an average ppc of $.71 (highest of the three) for a top level position that’s far less than Google’s average ppc of $1.90 (or MSN’s avg ppc of $14.77) for the same keywords but for positions of 4 or lower down the page. When running the test on Adbrite, I of course wondered if paying a lower ppc would result in a need for more clicks and, thus, the same budget. But, like I’ve said before, the AdBrite traffic has resulted in a higher level of activity than AdWords traffic at the same level of clicks. So, we were able to lower overall ppc spend and see an increase in actions. As for user interface, I’m very happy with the AdBrite tools. It has almost all the same functionality as AdWords, organized a slight differently. My biggest complaint is that you cannot target geographically any more granular than country. So in that regard our buy with AdBrite will always be limited by how much of the budget goes to national coverage. On the flip side, it does offer some demographic filtering which is helpful, if there’s available traffic to drive to a particular demo. I’m happy to provide more info if you’re interested. Feel free to email at max@thunderinternetmarketing.com. Best, Max

  8. We’ve had great success with carefully using 2nd tier PPC providers. One has to be careful to set the targeting parameters right and evaluate if you want to participate in their network buys. We generally opt out and stick to search only traffic, works well for us.

  9. I saw that you had one person’s feedback to 7 Search and made it a recommendation, but I would love to figure out who their partners are. I may try their service, but the link from their site to partners is broken.

  10. Good question. The answer is yes and no. B/c the average PPC tends to be much much lower than AdWords or Yahoo, you can buy much more traffic for the same money. For example, AdBrite delivers more than 3 times the traffic as AdWords based on PPC (for a specific keyword set). However, we’ve found that the quality of traffic varies by network or search engine. Much like the quality of visitor from a Google search ad or a Google network ad varies, so too does the quality of visitor from Ask’s search engine ads and AdBrite’s network ads. In working with any network, my suggestion is to try to match the ads as closely as possible with the demographic of the publisher sites. Most of the ad networks let you see which sites are driving the most traffic and give you the control to adjust where your ads run. Overall, we balance how much of a PPC budget is spent on any specific SE/network and we’ve almost dropped Yahoo entirely and AdWords is usually 25% to 33%. The optimal mix varies by advertiser and vertical market.

  11. I was asking because the traffic from Yahoo was so low we had to stop that traffic source at some point. I am not talking about quality of the traffic, but strictly about the quantity.
    And comparing to Adwords, the Yahoo traffic was no match-again, as quantity and not quality.
    And yes, you can buy more traffic for the same money if there is any more traffic to buy.
    See what I mean here? :)
    Thanks for taking the time to answer me

  12. You’re welcome. Yes, I see what you mean. We had the same issue in regard to getting the traffic. Again it depends on the target market, but for most of our clients we were able to get substantially more traffic via AdBrite, Ask and some of the other ad networks. The main caveat is making sure the other networks have legitimate clicks. If you try some of the other traffic sources, please post your experience. It would be interesting to hear. Good luck.

  13. Yes, that’s what I mean. On AdBrite, when setting up your campaign parameters, it tells you how many sites they have and probable reach based on geography and keywords, as well as demo’s. It’s helpful so you know what to expect before even launching a campaign. Ask has strong consistent traffic probably b/c of its search engines.

  14. Loren,

    A thousand thank you’s for this article. I have been looking for less expensive alternatives to the big 3 but really couldn’t determine much. I looked at the ISEDN sites like exactseek and others but just could not find what I was looking for. You have ended my quest.

    Thanks again!


  15. Another non-Adwords online advertising channel I’ve heard good things about lately is Kudzu. We’re about to run a test so we don’t have results yet. I’ll post results after we’ve run some trial campaigns. Perhaps other folks have had success with Kudzu?

  16. We haven’t tried facebook Ads, so that’s something that we can try. Generally, content advertisements do not convert well as the visitors aren’t ready to take desired action advertisers are looking for. As a long time Adwords user, we have turned off content advertisement as it deteriorates overall ROI.