Update: 5 Pay Search Engines Comparison


#030501-PSE – 5 Pay Search Engines Compared In An 8-Month Study

In the March 5th, Research Edition, we posed a troubling question…

“How can you invest $35 in a pay search engine, advertise for 8 consecutive months, add no additional funds, somehow end up with $65 in your account, and STILL lose money?”

It took us 2000 words, but we eventually got around to explaining the convoluted answer.

It was best underscored by our “harrowing” results: “186 responses at an average cost of $8.33@click.”

You can view the full experiment here.

But what has happened since we last reported on this costly little test? Have the search engines, themselves, improved? Did we ever get our money back out of their impenetrable reserves? Was it possible to change our tactics and improve performance?

Here is a quick summary of the latest developments:


We gave up on ever “spending down” our account on the (popular) term “ecommerce”. Instead, we selected the (very popular) term “marketing.”

The term was too general for a strong conversion ratio, but it offered a chance to expand the scope of our work. Win4Win reported this phrase’s number of searches at 106,304 per month.

Our results? For all of March we won just 41 clicks. By April 15th, we still had a balance of $26.75 ($1.75 more than we started with), and this is after advertising for 10 months.

Our (true) cost-per-click (including reserve/excluding labor)? $.61

We (gently) propose a new name for this engine…



They’ve made changes… they’ve even improved their interface (bravo). But has it won us any more traffic? Not really. We currently (still) have $64.22 in our account. That means we depleted our inaccessible deposit by a grand total of $.88 over the past 6 weeks.

Our (true) cost-per-click (including reserve/excluding labor)? $35 – Yes, that is thirty-five DOLLARS.

Win4Win is offering a new program, however, that might prove to be productive for certain sites: Here is an explanation taken directly from the win4win materials:

Bid on Keyword – “~GLREDIRECT”

Traffic source: Over 2,000,000 redirects per month from our quality partner sites reaching over 2,500,000 unique users.

Pros: Redirects from dormant domains and links offer high volume, cheap traffic. Great for sites that can sell themselves. Get feet through the door — If your site can attract attention quickly — this will be a winner for you.

Cons: Un-targeted traffic.

Traffic per month: Over 2,000,000 impressions to 2,500,000 unique users.

Minimum Bid: US$.02 (2 cents)

Special for April: Minimum Bid: US$.01 (1 penny)

Bid on Keyword – “~W4WLOTTO”

Traffic source: Reach our growing user base of Lotto players. Bidding on this keyword, your website will be exposed to high volume traffic at a very low cost per visit. Lotto Banner buys are available at a small premium and includes a follow up email reinforcing their visit to your website.

Pros: High volume, cheap traffic. Great for brand building and exposure. Targeted traffic.

Cons: Incentivized visit.

Traffic per month: Over 3000 visits per day

Minimum Bid: US$.03 (3 cents), Banners from US$.5 (5 cents)

Bid on Keyword – “~TEXTBANNERS”

Traffic source: Over 100,000,000 impressions per month reaching our quality partner sites with over 10,000,000 unique users.

Pros: High exposure, cheap banner traffic. Your banner ad is served to a great audience waiting to find out about your services or products. Our top bid keywords are also served to these sites ensuring high exposure and quality traffic.

Cons: None.

Traffic per month: Over 300,000 visits from an audience of over 10,000,000 unique users.

Minimum Bid: US$.20 (20 cents)

These win4win terms should be used with extreme care. General traffic typically yields a poor conversion rate.

Remember, the most important ratio is not the cost-per-click (quantity), but the cost-per-customer (quality). You have to focus on your conversion rate to determine your true customer acquisition costs.


We will feature GoTo in an upcoming special issue.


As with FindWhat, we changed our term to “marketing”. This new term netted us just 30 clicks, but its important to now that we only had a small balance in our reserve.

Our (true) cost-per-click (including reserve/excluding labor)? Just $.20 – an extremely competitive rate.


Once again, we changed the term to “marketing”, and (surprise) we won 309 visits… at just $.16-per-click. And more, we won 286 of these visits on a single day.

So this pay search engine, whose peculiar name we chided in the former report, has proven to be highly productive WITH the right term.

But here is a key point. We never once achieved a first place ranking, and notwithstanding the efforts of Kanoodle to persuade us otherwise, we did not even care – just as long as we received sufficient traffic at our (far lower) target rate.

To quote the former report:

“The bidding wars fuel more egos than profits…In June of 2000, the 8th ranked position, on GoTo, costs us $2.61. Today, it would cost us $1.02. Don’t worry about the “Mad Cow” disease; worry about the “Mad .Com” disease. In either case you get brain rot, but the latter rots your bank account as well.”

#05005-YHS – The Yahoo Mall Tested In A 6 Month Study

Could you strategically leverage a presence in the Yahoo Mall to reach their 4 million shoppers? Is the Yahoo store cost effective for single product sales? What about digital product sales? How many products can the Yahoo store (really) handle?

Yahoo claims you can build a store, yourself, in just 10 minutes… Is this really viable? What about Yahoo Store’s built in affiliate, feature? How robust is their email collection feature?

And what about design – how flexible is Yahoo’s proprietary RTML code? Will it work with scripts and forms?

Researchers at MarketingExperiments.Com built a series of Yahoo Stores and tested their marketing potential in a 6-month study.

What they discovered may surprise you. Look for the results in the coming Main Edition.

Other Experiments

  • Award Sites Tested… Are They An Effective Way To Drive Traffic?
  • GoTo Tested – How To Win Your Traffic By Losing Your Bid
  • Opt-In Subscriber Buys Tested – What Is True Quality Of Incentivized Subscribers (as measured by conversions ratios)?
  • Discussion Groups Tested – Can You Attract Traffic Through Smart, Low-Key Postings?
  • “Tell-A-Friend” Email Forms Tested – Do They Really Incentivize Referrals?

Email us with your comments and let us know which experiments you would find most helpful.

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