How To Test a 2nd Tier Pay Per Click Network

This post was guest blogged by Chad Frederiksen of CDF Networks.

If you are lucky enough to have found a well converting pay per click to affiliate offer, you are probably looking to expand the reach of that offer. Obviously the big 3 PPC engines: Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and MSN Adcenter make up the bulk of all PPC traffic. But if you stopped there, you may be leaving money and clicks on the table. To capture all the possible PPC traffic for your niche, also consider 2nd tier PPC networks. Oh sure, we have all heard random people in a forum or blog saying that 2nd tier networks are garbage and to stay far away from them. But never believe what you hear about any pay per click service until you test it for yourself. What might have failed miserably for someone else could turn out to be a gold mine for your particular campaign and offer.

Before testing a second tier PPC engine consider the positive and negatives.


Lower bid prices. Clicks are generally cheaper than the big 3 pricing. 5 cents or cheaper are very common on 2nd tier networks.

Looser rules. Generally you can get away with things Google wouldn’t even let you think about. Direct linking, thin affiliate landing pages, and creative use of display URLs are usually fair game. Many 2nd tier services don’t even factor in quality score


Traffic quality. You never know exactly where the clicks will be coming from. A lot of the clicks are from content based pages and expired domains, so the conversion rates can be lower than straight search traffic. Their GEO targeting algorithms can be ineffective or even non existent. Click fraud and traffic bots are always a big concern on 2nd tier networks.

Traffic volume. The smaller networks just can’t produce the volume of clicks that a Google or Yahoo can. This will always be a limiting factor on 2nd tier networks.

So you have weighed the pros and cons, and are ready to test a new 2nd tier network? Well, here are some considerations before you start:

1. Never do your initial niche or offer testing on a second tier PPC engine. Take an offer that you know converts well on MSN, Yahoo, or Google, and then try it on the 2nd tier network. Know your average conversion rates and thresholds you need to hit to be profitable. Adjust your initial bids accordingly.

2. Definitely use a click tracking program. As much as they have cleaned up their acts lately, 2nd tier networks still have traffic quality issues. You’ll want to track your clicks for fraud and other problems. There are many click tracking systems out there, both open source and paid. Whatever you choose, install some kind of 3rd party tracking before starting.

3. Before signing up, look for coupons. Most networks offer free clicks to get started, so why use your own money to test their network? Free is always good! If you can’t find any coupons, try this tip. Give them a call and tell them you are interested in trying their network. Ask if they can match your initial deposit. Mention that you can spend up to $20k/mo on their network if the test works. (To a smaller network, that should get their attention). Act like a big shot if you have to. Whatever method you use, you can almost always get some free clicks to start the test.

4. Use their bulk upload tools. Most networks have tools that will accept a bulk upload of a spreadsheet you have exported from another account. This will save a lot of time and hassle getting started. Remember, you already should have had the campaign running on another network, so don’t waste time building a campaign from scratch when you can just export – import.

5. Set a daily budget. Although you will probably not hit it, it’s good to have a budget on an unfamiliar network in case anything crazy happens while you are sleeping.

6. Finally, like any PPC network, track you stats carefully. Don’t be afraid to let the campaigns run for a while to get a good statistical result from the test. That data will help you determine if the network is a winner or loser for you. Good luck and happy testing.

Here are some real world testing results of many 2nd tier PPC networks to give you a head start.