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Contextual advertising: a review

Contextual advertising: a review I've recently been experimenting with contextual advertising. For those unaware, this basically involves paying a search engine, or a company that has business associations with search engines or other websites, for ones ads to appear on pages automatically deemed to be relating to them. One then pay the company for each click you receive through, via the ad they are placing for you.

I've tried out: Yahoo, Google, Clicksor, MSN, and Kanoodle.


I first tried Yahoo Search Marketing a few months ago (when it was still 'Overture'), and I hated it. Their web service was slow, their keyword pickyness was ridiculous (they'd flattly deny you advertising on certain keywords so that they could optimise their revenue from other advertisors), and they charged a monthly fee regardless of the hits you got.

The really annoying thing is that I unknowingly joined up for the 'UK version' (being in the UK). The 'UK version' only displays ads in 'the UK'. Unfortunately, when I visit, it doesn't seem to think I'm in the UK! I'd specifically have to go to, and very few people do that. Result: very few people ever saw the ads, resulting in a handful of clicks, and my budget was very quickly eaten up by huge monthly fees.


Google Adwords was definitely the best - we got a decent amount of clicks, and the clickers did browse our website. However, Google Adwords can be expensive, with clicks sometimes costing dollars. Left between a choice between a couple of clicks and a dinner, I think I'd choose to pay for dinner every time. If you avoid the competed keywords however, things can work nicely.

Clicksor, and Kanoodle

Both Clicksor and Kanoodle are very similar. Not having their own top search engines to run off, they run on what I'd call the 'seedier areas of the Internet' - where people don't really have the same kind of understanding of the best websites to go to, and probably end up spending a lot of time looking at ad-filled websites with very little quality.
Result: Clicksor and Kanoodle give out loads of cheap hits, but 95% of them don't result in a single followup click on our website. Put simply, I think Clicksor and Kanoodle visitors don't, in general, even know why they got to, and they quickly find that as we don't sell Jewellery, quickly leave.


I'd love to give a review of MSN click quality, but I haven't got any clicks yet. This is because when I put an ad in it was disapproved for containing the '+' symbol. I think I have fixed that and I'm in an approval queue, but the interface is confusing and the server keeps timing out. Oh, and it malfunctions when using Firefox.


If you don't want to suffer:
  • upfront fees
  • poor quality hits
  • slow administration interfaces
  • bureaucratic incompetance
go for Google. But be very careful with how much you spend, and what you spend it on - carefully tune your ads so you get the right quantity of the right kind of visitors, for the right price.

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