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Your Online Options: Dollars to Dollars, Click to Click

February 8, 2010
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The following is what I found based on my personal experience in my local city, Pensacola, Fla. Just so you know, I never dismiss any option without first reviewing my goals crunching the numbers and deciding what's best for my company.

The following is what I found based on my personal experience in my local city, Pensacola, Fla. Just so you know, I never dismiss any option without first reviewing my goals crunching the numbers and deciding what's best for my company. Your numbers and experience are certain to be different than mine.

I received a call the other day as I was leaving my office. My assistant said it was the rep for…umm…that phone book with the mustard-colored pages. She wanted to finalize my tiny one-inch ad.

Once on the phone, I asked about the details of my little ad to confirm everything was correct. The phone rep didn’t know anything about my ad. Instead, her motive was to sell me a paid listing on their Web site.


Like most reps, she started off with the typical tactic that, “You’ll never be found if you don’t purchase this ad.” Since I’m interested in online advertising, I started asking questions.

“How many people a month are searching your site for carpet cleaners in Pensacola?” I asked. Surprisingly, she shared the number with me. “On average, 260 people per month are searching in your city, and most of them are buyers,” she said.

Here’s where really knowing about the Internet can help you make a wise choice. I know around 1,000 people per month are searching for carpet cleaners in my city on Google (you can find how many people are searching in your city by using Google’s keyword tool at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal).

“How much is an ad on your site?” I asked. I was told it was $230 for a higher position and $85 for a lower position. A one-year commitment was required. Let’s compare their site with Google Adwords pay-per-click. Since 1,000 people are searching on Google in my city, I may get 20-80 clicks from an Adwords campaign (based on my personal findings and other online research). In my city, the cost for top position is about $1.80 per click. Worst-case scenario, I’m paying $144 ($1.80 x 80 clicks) to show up on most every single Google search for carpet cleaning (1,000 per month). More often than not, the cost would be much lower than $144, and I would have top position.

Keep in mind, these numbers are assuming my Google Adwords account is set up properly. If it’s not set up right, I could easily spend three times this amount for the same result.

So in short:

Their Site = $230 for 260 impressions

Google Adwords = $144 for 1,000 impressions

An impression is the number of times your ad is seen. But clicks on your ad are the only important thing to note. Not everyone clicks your ad. In fact, your ad may only get clicked 5 percent to 25 percent of the time, depending on placement.

In other words, if you’re advertising on their site with 260 impressions per month, you may get anywhere from 5 to 60 clicks on your ad per month, which means you’d be paying anywhere from $4 - $45 per click. Ouch! With Adwords, you’d be paying $1.80 per click or less.

The inflexibility of the one-year contract makes it less attractive. You can’t cancel after a couple of months due to poor ROI. With Adwords, you can cancel at a moment’s notice and spend whatever you want. If you only want to spend $50 in a month, you can do it. If you want to advertise for just a week, you can do that too.

In the end, depending on your situation, both opportunities have the potential to work for you. Make sure you know what you’re getting before buying any type of advertising. Yes, the Internet is a great way to get business. But not every opportunity is a winner.

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