Alternatives to the ‘Big Three’…Advertising Beyond Google For B-to-B

12/16/2008

- Ryan Faria, Campaign Manager

In this current economic state, advertisers are trying to utilize additional Internet platforms in order to maximize profits.  A common misconception among advertisers is that Google, Yahoo Sponsored Search and MSN are the most viable search engines in which to advertise. This should come as no surprise as these are the most widely recognizable and are often referred to as the 'big three,' 'triplets'’ and 'top players,' etc. Companies who specialize in business related products and services, in particular, should take advantage of smaller search engines to optimize campaign performance. 

In the past, the terms 'low' or 'second tier' search engines were used to describe more niche search engines where the traffic volume was significantly lower, as well.  These smaller search engines were often perceived as generating less than stellar, quality traffic.  With thenumber of Internet users and advertisers increasing significantly, smaller, industry specific search engines have steadily increased as well.  Although these vertical specific engines may not have the sheer traffic volume, as Google, Yahoo or MSN; the quality of the conversions have increased.  One major advantage of using a small search engine is that advertisers have the opportunity to associate themselves with category and industry specific information. Smaller search portals can significantly lower your cost per click.  While the amount of visitors may be fewer compared to the larger search engines, the amount of conversions tend to be greater.

Many advertisers have been looking for options besides the 'big three' search engines, in order to specifically focus on the business-to-business industry.  Sites such as Business.com have shown to be a reliable database for business related products and services.  The popularity of Business.com has increased dramatically since its beginnings and it is now the choice search engine for Forbes, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur, Hoovers, and Financial Times.  According to Search Engine Watch, Business.com has become the exclusive search engine for the Wall Street Journal.  While Business.com has increased the size of its sponsored site network, it still classified as a small search engine in comparison to Google. 

In addition to Business.com, LinkedIn is also a viable source for reaching particular industries.  Unlike Business.com, LinkedIn is not keyword driven, but demographically driven.  For example, LinkedIn makes it possible for an advertiser to target attorneys in the San Francisco area, between the ages of 45-60.  Since LinkedIn focuses on business professionals, the likelihood of reaching your exact audience is much greater than with a larger search engine.

For advertisers looking to reach potential consumers, there are a number of vertical specific engines available.  Various consumer search engine sites include, travel portals, shopping and comparison shopping sites, social media networks and much more.  Like LinkedIn, FaceBook also lets advertisers target their perspective customers demographically such as sex, age, geographic location, marital status, lifestyle, interests and more.

It's not realistic to completely concentrate all of your search engine efforts on vertical or niche search engines and stop traffic from the major search engines.  A balance of both large and small search engines allows you to concentrate on detailed industry queries, as well as general information search, while adhering to your budget.  So if you find yourself wondering how to expand your audience beyond the 'big three,' remember there are many vertical specific engines out there with tools designed to help you reach your ideal customer.

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