This is the third installment of our How I Manage A _________ PPC Account series this week. Today I’ll be talking about how I manage a PPC account without Google AdWords. Why on earth would you choose not to run in AdWords, you ask? There are several reasons that might cause, or even force, you to run in other search engines, such as:

  • The AdWords keyword marketplace is simply too competitive for your budget (increased CPCs).
  • Google bans your AdWords account due to multiple advertising policy violations.
  • Perhaps you had a bad experience with Google previously (customer service, etc).

It is important to remember that this is not a definitive list, but nonetheless offers a few reasons why you might want/need to look for alternatives to AdWords. Whatever the reason may be, there are plenty of other ways to find PPC success. For the purpose of this post, I will share a recent client experience in order to give you an idea for other places to turn to in case things go awry in Google AdWords.

The Situation…

Before I jump into things, allow me to provide some detail about the situation we experienced (…minus the excessive hair gel and Affliction attire). One of my colleagues, who also works with this particular client, wrote an article that explained it well:

One of our clients here at Hanapin is in the hCG diet space, which is a very exciting, fast paced, and competitive vertical in the PPC world. From an agency standpoint, it’s a great account to work on because accounts with a high level of spend generally come with a team of Google folks to work with on the account. That was the case with our client and this Google team was particularly great and collaborative on efforts to improve the account. The other side of having a great Google team is that you get the bad news first. Unfortunately, we were told that hCG was being banned on Google AdWords.

This was unfortunate indeed, considering the fact that AdWords accounted for the majority of our PPC revenue at the time. We had no choice but to move on. Fortunately, as in our case, banishment from the AdWords realm isn’t the end of the world. There are tons of additional PPC avenues out there, so we decided to take action. In fact, we managed to obtain CPLs that were comparable to what we saw in Google. Here’s how we did it…

1. Transition to your next-best option.

The first step in our transition away from AdWords focused on setting up a new “mother ship” that would act as the main source of traffic volume. In our case, fortunately, we had also been running in MSN adCenter, so our transition was relatively easy. If you aren’t running in adCenter, this should be your first option. It is important to keep in mind that Google and Bing/Yahoo have different advertising policies, so there will be discrepancies between particular products that can and can’t be advertised (HCG, etc).

2. Optimize your next-best option.

Set your account up and begin collecting data. But don’t stop there! You need to spend some time optimizing your (new) main source of revenue. This could take weeks, or even months, but you need to be sure that you’ve got a solid account to fall back on.

3. Expand and dabble around.

After you’ve set up and optimized your next-best option outside of AdWords, you need to expand, expand, and then expand some more. You’re objective here is to try out as many 2nd tier networks as possible, while gauging their overall effectiveness. It is important to remember that you are trying to make up for the traffic volume and performance lost with AdWords, so the more the merrier when experimenting  in new networks. In the case of our HCG client, we expanded into 7Search, AdBrite, Findology, Looksmart, Amazon, and Fox MyAds. However, this is only a handful of supplemental PPC avenues, so I would encourage you to go above and beyond these examples alone.

4. Weed out underperforming accounts.

At this point, the performance results should be clear-cut. You should plan to give each 2nd tier platform a few weeks to get rolling, and then make the decision on whether or not it will be profitable for you to advertise with them. Try to not be discouraged by a few unsuccessful attempts because performance results will vary depending on the network and product/service you’re advertising.

You Never Know Until You Try…

Although most of these systems aren’t as refined as AdWords and boast less traffic volume, they nonetheless provide the means to establish a PPC presence when used in tandem. I would encourage anyone struggling with similar issues to exhaust as many resources like these as possible before pulling the plug on PPC. Of course, results will vary from case to case, and industry to industry, but you will never know until you try it for yourself.

Feel free to leave any feedback below, as I would love to hear how others have dealt with similar situations!