Mastering PPC: Getting to Know Smaller Search Engines

Imagine this: You own a business software company and your goal is for individuals to come onto your site and fill out a short form so you can give them a call and sell them on how your software would benefit their company. Your company is running ads on two engines, both of which have received 5 conversions that week. The difference? One of these engines cost $25 for those 5 conversions, and the other $5 for those conversions. Sounds pretty excellent, no? Welcome to world of secondary engines.

While secondary engines have a tendency to get a bad rap for being all around impractical and nontransparent, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a few that have helped my clients reach their goals at a pretty low cost with some really neat features. The only thing you need to prepare yourself for when signing up for these engines is volume. Everyone in the world has heard of Google and Bing; the goal is target the users who are using less familiar engines for different results. The secondary engine market is larger than you or I could ever write in one blog, so I’ll just cover the engines that I myself have worked directly with since beginning my career in paid search.


This engine is a simple and straightforward CPC engine for English speaking countries.  If you’ve mastered paid search on Google/Bing, this transition will be easy street, it’s the same type of format on a much lesser scale. They offer geotargeting, keyword suggestion tools, and the best part? You run your account. You’re 100% hands on. Their newest program is called “click free" where basically end users visit a website through direct navigation and are automatically redirected to the top bidders website, which given the low budget needed in this engine – isn’t a hard task to manage!


This engine is primarily contextually based option which offers social and email based solutions to drive traffic on a CPC basis. There are three networks where managers are able to place ads.

The first is the premium network- where ads are delivered within emails to consumers who have opted in to receive offers from your company. The ads are dynamic and placed within a category specific search to be delivered to users who are most likely to respond. This network is best for generating high value leads and conversions. Next is the standard network, where ads are delivered across multiple search engines, emails, and social networking alerts. The ads are designed to drive simple and objective conversions such as info sign ups, impulse purchases, and free trials. Last but not least is the social network where ads are displayed to consumers across social networks and websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo. This network serves over 10 billion impressions per month and is targeted to users deemed most likely to respond.

With over 280 million clicks generated per month and average CPCs tending to be below $0.10 – this engine may be your fast and easy way to get some inexpensive traffic


This engine is a keyword based advertising solution, comparable to the Google search partner network. Traffic is sourced from type-in domains, keyword targeted emails, toolbars, search apps, and roll over in text ads. All of the ads are contextual and display based text ads with CPC bidding. It has overall low volume, which may be beneficial if you’re new to internet marketing and advertising and (as a nice plus) has a very user friendly help center!

This engine offers a variety of networks including contextual targeting; keyword based targeting, and retargeting. It now exceeds 10 billion monthly ad impressions with a keyword marketplace that provides you with a single interface to connect. The volume that I’ve seen from clients that are running on this engine seems to be low but effective. It tends to convert well while maintaining low CPAs.


Slightly different than the previous engines we discussed, but you know what they say, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. SuperPages is a local-focused yellow pages style network that allows you to target your customers from a variety of categories and geo-targeting. SuperPages (unlike the other secondary engines I’ve discussed) will utilize spend if it’s available. Meaning, if the money is there, by month’s end you’ll more than likely need to add additional funds.  Make sure to speak with your rep (who happen to be very knowledgeable and quick) about pacing your ads throughout the month so your ads remain active.


This retargeting platform prides themselves on some pretty heavy topics. All of which, I happen to love. Their technology is propriety and 100% cloud based with low CPMs and great targeting techniques which equates into a pretty good ROI for your company. If you advertise with them, you’ll have access to their complete list of online ad exchanges including the Facebook Exchange. Not to mention being a completely transparency driven hands on company in terms of pricing and reporting. They work with standard, animated, and static ad units with no contracts or minimum spend. With your very own “optimizer” who checks in on your account to make sure you’re hitting goals – you’re going to feel comfortable taking that vacation this summer.


This engine reaches over 180 million unique monthly users across the largest premium advertising display network. What makes them unique? While AdBlade has a lot of defining cool features, their newsbullet ads take the cake. They acknowledge that consumers are now becoming very familiar with what an ad looks like and are therefore more and more likely not to click when they see one. So they created a content looking ad that tricks users into thinking your ad is an article. With geotargeting as low the zipcode level and a CPC minimum of $1 – they feel confident in their internal carbon data to strategize and reach your target audience.

The list goes on and on of the possibilities and features of secondary engines.  As they say, never put your eggs all in one basket. Should you be advertising on Google and/or Bing? Probably. But don’t forget about these little guys along the way. What secondary engines have you worked with and loved?

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