PPC or pay per click is arguably the most popular method of advertising online. The best way to kick start your PPC ad campaign is with a search engine. Almost all the popular search engines such as Google, Bing (Microsoft's new search engine), Yahoo etc. provide ad hosting services.
- Google unarguably is the most commonly and widely used search engine. Therefore choosing Google AdWords as your ad host platform automatically gives your ad a larger audience. It has a great interface and is highly user friendly. The start up fee is about $5 which is a great incentive for small businesses. You can also fix the amount you want to spend. For instance you can fix your daily budget at $3 and make sure you don't over spend. Another great feature Google offers is regional targeting. You can set a particular area say 50 miles from your shop and your ads will be appearing to people in that particular region only. Due to Google's vast network, your ads can also appear in sites like Ask.com, AOL etc. They have introduced 'quality score', which also takes into account the quality and relevance of the ad and the leading page and consider not just the bid to allot ranking.
- Yahoo Search Marketing is another popular pay per click search engine. It partners with Altavista and CNN and Yahoo itself is a very popular search engine. It has a start up fee of about $20-25 which is non refundable and also a minimum deposit of $5 is required. You can set a daily budget to control your expenditure. Add listings appear within a few hours, which is another great feature of Yahoo. It provides extensive market researches and customised campaign reports. Yahoo also helps advertisers by providing them with ways and means to make better ads for increased results. You can 'geotarget' your ads by making them available in certain locations only. This is greatly helpful if you are a service provider in a specific region. You can also schedule your campaigns as when to appear. Yahoo has a comprehensive click fraud solution and doesn't charge the advertiser if fraud clicks are detected.
- ABCsearch is another emerging search engine gaining popularity in the US and Canada. It provides all the standard services like budget setting, ad optimizing, ad tracking reports, geotargeting etc. It requires a minimum deposit of $25 which is slightly on the higher side. But it also offers great incentives. For example, if you refer someone and he makes an account with ABCsearch, then you receive $25 as a bonus. It also employees a click fraud detection method to prevent fraud clicks. One drawback is that it can take up to 24 hours to get the ad approved.
- Microsoft AdCenter is another very popular pay par click search engine. This also requires a minimum deposit of $5. Although it provides all the basic services like ad optimizing tools, extensive market reports etc, what sets it apart from rest is its possession of vast amounts of behavioural and personal database collected through its MSN.net passport accounts and other units. You can set a monthly budget but setting a daily budget is not possible with MSN. There are some hidden costs for accessing some tools which also counts against choosing Microsoft AdCenter as your starting ground.
Comparing all the pros and cons of the above mentioned PPC search engines, Google emerges as the obvious winner. With a simple and clean interface and many great tools it should be the preferred choice to start your PPC campaign. Next on the list is Yahoo which also offers many great features but is less popular than Google. ABCsearch is great if you reside in US or Canada. Microsoft comes last in the list as it lacks some basic required features and is also a bit expensive.