Google AdWords update #2

The last time I looked at my AdWords campaign was last Thursday. I suppose I should probably keep better track of it while the impressions are flying fast and furious since I’m getting charged per click. To be honest, it’s all pretty confusing.

I’ve noticed in my web site log files that some hits have been coming in from Google, and it’s definitely the advertising, not the search side of things. After looking through the reports, I appear to have noticed something odd. For one thing, last week I increased my maximum cost per click from 75 cents to $1. It appears that in quite a few cases, my average position for keywords stayed the same (at best) or got worse. And of course, these are the important keywords. Some which I didn’t consider particularly important and still aren’t seemed to have received a better ranking, but no clicks. It’s all very strange.

I’ve always been a bit leery of these ‘click through’ counters and pay per click advertising, for any number of reasons. A long time ago when I was running Game Thoughts, I signed onto the Games Banner Network. It’s essentially a banner advertising program designed exclusively for gaming web sites and shareware authors who sell games. The idea is that you can create banners for the games you’ve made, and upload them to this web site. Then, you add some HTML they have generated to your web site. When someone visits your web site and this extra HTML loads, it shows someone else’s banner for their game. This gives you one credit, which is worth an impression somewhere on the network.

Over time, say you have 1,000 visitors to your site every day. Every month your banner is theoretically displayed on 1,000 other web pages as the scripts load banners for people in the network. Sounds like a great deal, right? Everyone is getting more exposure, and for a tiny bit of screen space, banners for your game are loading on other web sites. If someone thinks your banner looks cool, they click on it and are redirected to your game site. They were advertising click through rates between 3-4%. So, did it work for me? No. Not even close.

While I was not banned outright, I was asked to remove the banner script from my web site because it seems that the click through rates on my web site were not high enough. I was averaging click through rates of about 0.5%, well below their advertised average of 3-4%. This, I was told, was messing up their statistics for everyone else, causing overall click through rates to plummet, and presumably devaluing their entire system. I was rather amazed that a single site, especially one like mine, could devalue their entire system. So, I retired from the Games Banner Network and called it a day. It certainly wasn’t worth fighting over. The interesting part was that my own banner which should have been attracting this 3-4% click through rate was garnering less than 1% as well. It all seemed a bit fishy to me.

In any case, I’m still not convinced of the effectiveness of the Google AdWords program. My total impressions in their syndication network has surpassed 200,000. And yet, a mere 14 clicks total there. Still not enough to warrant a 0.01% click through rate. This little experiment has cost me less than $20 so far. That’s far less than the $250 I set aside for the experiment. Google seemed to think that I’d spend somewhere around $3 per day which was a bit of a high estimate. I put a cap of $5 per day so I wouldn’t blow through all of my budget in under a week, but that seems to have been unnecessary.

I’ve got some other things I’m working on, and if things continue with the AdWords the way that they are, I’ve got an idea to help kick start the program a bit. More on that later.

Interesting Sidenote: Since doing the web site redesign for Moon River Software a few weeks ago, I forgot to update the link in the footer of this website to reflect the new URL where the Milestones trial was located. Whoops!

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