The appeal of cost-per-click advertising through search engines like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft is that you can reach potential customers based on keywords - presumably, what they are searching for. Using a pay-per-click advertising program like Google Adwords can be simple, even for the smallest of businesses.
However, if your product is geared toward a niche market, you might want to consider advertising on a website that caters specifically to that group. For example, Wedding Mapper is a site dedicated to people planning weddings. The site has over 400,000 unique visitors each month, all there because they are interested in or looking for something related to planning their weddings.
Wedding Mapper has a slightly different twist on their advertising options. They only offer three fixed ad spots per local page (there are over 10,000 local pages) and each ad runs for two weeks. Here's how it works:
Wedding vendors bid on a placement based on target cost per click, and the 3 vendors who bet the most win the auction and ad space in the “Vendor Spotlight.” The cost is determined by the lowest bidder.
For example, if four vendors bid the following:
Vendor A is willing to pay $.90 cpc
Vendor B is willing to pay $.90 cpc
Vendor C is willing to pay $.50 cpc
Vendor D is willing to pay $.35 cpc
Vendors A, B, C would win this auction and would all pay $.50 per click. They would have fixed placement in the Vendor Spotlight for a 2 week time period. The vendor only pays once the page has been viewed (i.e. if the vendor’s profile is clicked on ten times, they would pay $5. If there are zero clicks, the vendor pays nothing).
Now of course, your business may target more than one niche market - most florists do more than just wedding flowers. And all potential customers in that niche market are not necessarily visiting any one niche website. So advertising there probably won't replace your entire existing online advertising plan, but it can be a valuable addition.
One Wedding Mapper advertiser, Limos.com, uses Google Adwords in addition to Wedding Mapper's ad platform. While they do pay a slightly higher cost-per-click on Wedding Mapper, they find it worthwhile because the audience is highly targeted on a "hyper-local" level.
Ramon Ray is the editor and tech evangelist for Smallbiztechnology.com