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Search123

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I have yet to make use of this engine, but I do recall several instances where "junkiefred" recommends it. For all who might be interested in another avenue of traffic here's the facts on this PPC engine so that you may make better business decisions.

The second tier pay per click engine, Search123, is growing fast thanks to quality listings, intense customer service, and a policy of sharing profits with those driving business their way. This week, we interviewed the company's V.P. of Sales and Marketing, Tony Winders, in order to shine a light on one second tier pay-per-click that remains in the shadows of many web-marketer's awareness.

Search123 launched in October 2000 and now has 20 employees at its office in Agoura Hills, CA. The engine's self-proclaimed goal is to move to the head of the 2nd tier PPCs. And how do they plan to do that? Aggressively pursuing traffic-generation and advertising-generation partners will be essential, and, more importantly, they plan to remain highly accessible to their advertisers.

Traffic generating partnerships are the bread and butter of any PPC, but for the second tier engines, these relationships are essential for survival. Sites with around 1/2 million unique visitors a month qualify to tap into Search123's listings as their own and keep 50% of the revenue.

In accordance with the Traffic Referral Program, marketers that can bring traffic partners to the table are entitled to 10% of Search123's profits on those deals. That leaves 40% for this budding engine – a smaller margin, no doubt, than some more established engines enjoy, but Winders believes this profit sharing symbolizes Search123's aggressive dedication to bringing qualified traffic to their advertisers.

"Rather than 5 big players we rely on hundreds of smaller sites to generate our searches. Everyone wins with our traffic referral program. Sites add valuable search to their sites (backfilled with AskJeeves results if there are no bidders for a phrase), referrers receive a profit kickback, and advertisers on Search123 get qualified traffic."

Of potentially more interest to web marketers is the Advertiser Referral Program that has similar win-win benefits for all involved. Web marketers that bring client bidders to this engine's PPC program are also entitled to 10% of Search123 revenue, for as long as the client bids on the engine. That's a great incentive that only a few web marketers know about. That's because the program is not brought up on the Search123 site and is only available on an invite basis, basically to marketers that can provide a steady stream of new advertisers. According to Winders, the invite-only policy is simply a check and balance to prevent individual companies signing up as referrers and then only "referring" their own site for a bid kick back.

So these are the tactics serving marketers and keeping Search123 growing aggressively in the industry, but what about meeting the needs of advertising clients? How is Search123 standing out from the big and other small players? "We are an overall value. Advertisers with us get more for their dollar. We are more affordable, have client services that go the extra mile to ensure success, and make it easy to get into the PPC game and succeed," says Winders.

He adds that part of what "makes it easy" for advertisers is the amount of accessibility they have to Search123 staff. "We go the extra mile for clients," says Winders. This includes free account setup help, consistent phone or email access to a client rep regardless of the advertiser spend rate, and free help with account optimization. "We take every call. You can always get someone on the phone here. We want to dig into an account with clients and increase conversions for them because there is always something that can be done to improve the performance of an account."

The PCC engine also heeds client feedback and does retrospective editorial review because their advertisers, "like the real-time aspect of our listings." "We review all accounts 7 to 10 days after they are established online and deal with any problems at that time, but problems are very rare. This is because our advertisers create relevant ads for their own benefit, and we trust them to do that. We have also found the search community polices itself -- through the power of clickthroughs and conversions, and by verbally letting us know about bidding abuse."

Search123 also keeps advertisers happy with minimum bid rates of 1 cent and bid rates that cost an average of 1/3 less than Overture. The traffic volume is lower, but a click is a click, and why not pay a cheaper rate for equally qualified traffic?

Winders recounts a common and pleasant cost phenomenon many of his advertisers experience if they also bid in Overture. "When people come to us from Overture, they send us their spreadsheet of words but forget that single words and expensive two-word phrases are affordable on our engine," says Winders. "They are happy to learn this when our customer service reps call to tell them they can now afford to bid on a phrase like "car" or "home" when they could never afford to do that on Overture. We don't want them to waste clicks on a general term, but that traffic may be more effective, and now it is available."

The engine also has set up searches and bidding on an exact match basis for more refined results and bidding simplicity for clients. As an example, plural phrases are all individual bids, which is not true with most other PPCs. GoogleAdWords requires advertisers specify if they want exact or fuzzy matching on bidding, and Overture decides on a phrase-by-phrase basis if plurals require additional bidding.

Search123 admits that it doesn't have all the fancy bid estimator and bid management tools some larger PPC's offer, but the engine does have a bid max tool and what it doesn't offer in software, it promises to provide to clients "manually."

According to Winders, the engine's lack of automation still fits in with its focus on accessible customer service. "As our company evolves, we know what tools are out there, and we have a few things we will eventually offer. But we are all about using our engineering resources wisely. We do have keyword analysis tools, but right now we pull those numbers ourselves for advertisers and personally email them the information they need. Our culture is all about service, so what we don't have in automation, we make up for with personal attention."

So who should bid on an engine like Search123? This is probably not a surprise, but Winders feels Search123 is right for a lot of different kinds of advertisers, including those already entrenched in larger campaigns with big PPC players and those small businesses looking to get started in the PPC game.

"We have bigger advertisers that want to buy up all the click inventory from a branding and conversion standpoint. And we have smaller businesses that want to get involved with pay-per-click advertising on a smaller budget. At the end of the day, the traffic either converts or it doesn't. We realize that and focus on traffic quality with our traffic partners so that our advertisers, regardless of size, can get exactly what they ask for -- conversions."

Who can disagree with that? To learn more about Search123, visit their site, http://www.search123.com/. To learn more about the traffic or advertiser referral program contact Tony at tony@search123.com.

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