As I said in my last post – I use for all of my web site hosting now. Some may say that they are a ‘budget web host’, but I’ve been developing an designing web sites for 10 years now, and I have no problems with them at all. In fact they are one of the best web hosts I’ve ever had. I don’t know where else I would be able to host 50 sites with mySQL databases for just $14.99! One of the things I like is the unique set of tools they have available (like podcasting accounts)…and when I was doing some administration in my hosting control panel the other day I noticed an option to “use my $25 credit for opening up a new Microsoft AdCenter account”.

I recently opened up a Google adWords account due to some of the postings over at about Gaman’s recent experiences with adWords. I haven’t started a campaign in adWords just yet, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the money. Something about MS AdCenter intrigued me though, probably because I thought that less people would be competing for keywords in this newer service than in google adWords. So I signed up for a free account and used my coupon code for a free $25 credit – why not?

I found AdCenter very easy to use and intuitive. I setup a new campaign, and typed in some keywords I thought would work, and it came back with how many times those words were searched in the last month (very handy). It asked me for a maximum “per click” I would pay each time my ad was clicked – so I put in 5 cents. I figured at this rate that I should get about 500 visits for my free $25.00 credit. I have a joke web site Top Jokes that isn’t getting much activity just yet, so it was perfect for the test!

Out of the keywords I looked at, the phrase “funny stuff” seemed to get about 5,000 searches per month through the Microsoft Live search engine. When I signed up – it said that MS Live gets about 99 million hits per month. I setup the campaign to end when my $25.00 was spent. For some reason, I thought in my head that the money would be used up anywhere from 3 or 4 days to a week. I should’ve gotten the calculator out, because 5,000 searches is only about 166 per day, and even with a click through rate of 5% (which is very high), I would only get about 32 clicks per day visiting my site.

Now, normally this joke site only gets like a dozen visits per day. The first day of my ad campaign I only got like 3 clicks, but I did get like 25 visits to my site. The second day I got 7 clicks, but 50 visits to my site. The third day was about 12 clicks and 100 visits to my site. This is the fourth day of the campaign and we’ll probably surpass that. because I’ve already had about 150 visits.

In the past, all my of site traffic (for all my sites) has always been purely organic. I’ve never used paid advertising of any kind. When I set this ad up, since I hadn’t done this before, it didn’t occur to me that the traditional rules of advertising totally apply in the online world in many ways.

Let’s reflect for a minute here:

  • The ad campaign started out slow, but every day the number of clicks have grown
  • The number of paid clicks vs. the number of new visitors is nearly double

On the web during the last so many years there has been much talk about “the long tail”. I think that’s just a very old marketing concept rehashed for the web, but this is definitely the long tail at work.

  • I’ve received 30 paid clicks, but 425 new visits to the site
  • I half a half dozen new rss subscribers (there were none)
  • bsuite reports show new visitors arriving from email sent from our feedburner “email to a friend” links
  • bsuite reports also show incoming searches from social sites like sphereIt and stumbleUpon

That is truly the long tail at work, and I’m now exited that my 500 paid clicks may turn into 1,500+ new visitors, new subscribers, and more “social” visitor activity. In addition there is the “name recognition” value of having an ad – even when people don’t click it. I don’t have the numbers (I wasn’t a marketing major), but it seems that I read years ago the average person has to see a billboard at least 3-4 times before they pay attention to what it says. If that’s the case, someone may have to see the ad for my site 3-4 times before they click.

Exposure is good! My latest report I just ran in AdCenter says I’ve had 806 impressions and 34 clicks. Evertime someone sees your ad (whether they click or not) is a good thing. I’ll post a follow up article once this campaign has finished to see if this trend (of the long tail) continues – and we’ll see what value I really got for my $25.00 credit! So in this post we learned that my latest blogging mistake was not to use any paid promotion for my web sites. I never would have dreamed I could have gotten this much activity for such a low price! If I’d just paid $25.00 – $50.00 per month who knows how many subscribers I could have by now!