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.

35 thoughts on “How To Test a 2nd Tier Pay Per Click Network”

  1. Tom Beaton says:

    Nice to see you posting here Chad. You always offer top advice on PPC and this is no different.

  2. yeu2 says:

    So what are some good second tier ppc networks? I’d love some info on that and how they perform against the first tiers.

    1. SEO mash says:

      Ummm … did you read the whole post? There is a link at the end to his blog with the results of his tests.

  3. Joseph says:

    Sounds interesting, but is it profitable?

  4. Sha says:

    Very informative post. I agree with a lot of it.

  5. Chetan says:

    Good post 🙂
    Although new to this affiliate world, this post was quite understandable 🙂

  6. Troy Duncan says:

    Although Google tries to downplay it, click fraud is still an issue. Are these smaller PPC networks able to combat click fraud effectively? Is it an issue?

  7. Azrael says:

    Can you give some examples of second tier PPC networks?

    1. Terry Tay says:

      See another post above that asked the same thing. If you read the whole post, you’ll find the answer right at the end. He even gives you some “Real World Testing Results” 😉

      1. Syed Balkhi says:

        Yeah some people just never read.

  8. steve dowripple says:

    Totally off topic, but has anyone noticed that Tyler Cruz’s entire network of sites have been offline for 24+ hours? I’m guessing his server has died and hopefully he’s working on getting back up soon.
    Anyone heard what’s going on with him?

    1. Matthew says:

      Probably a DDOS from someone who doesn’t like him. It will pass in a day or so.

      1. steve dowripple says:

        A DDOS attack lasting a full day? I hardly think so, unless his host was incompetent. His server [] appears to be responding to ICMP requests so I’m guessing he’s having a software problem?

  9. kids says:

    The big downer with them is the traffic quality. You just have to test them to find out, but most of the traffic does suck.

  10. Jai says:

    😈 A very chowed out post… I must say !!

  11. Liane says:

    Lists of2nd tier PPC networks will be appreciated. I’m interested on the things they ALLOW you to do unlike those retrictions that the three big networks impose.

    1. Azrael says:

      You may want to read the whole article to find it out.

  12. It is very affordable to start with second tier PPC. Thanks fr the heads up.

  13. Felex Tan says:

    It is an additional make money tools for us,at least we do not rely on Google,Yahoo and MSN only.

  14. I can’t remember the name of the network, but I was given a $25 free ad trial on a second tier a couple of years ago and once I started my trial, the $25 was spent in about 4 minutes. I’ve been leary of second tiers since then, but it might be worth taking a look at again.

    1. Robert says:

      How much were you paying per click? I wonder how you blazed through that so fast.

  15. Fitness Site says:

    Thanks for the article.
    I was looking for a PPC network but was confused.

  16. David says:

    Nice article…
    Im new to ppc network, its help me a lot…

  17. Robert says:

    This is some very good information. People don’t realize that smaller PPC networks are very valuable. When we focus too much on the big giants, we’re only hurting ourselves, particularly if you have a smaller blog.

  18. Mike says:

    Thanks for some good advice. Your site, Chad, looks like it has some interesting content.

  19. Infogle says:

    i firmly believe that good 2nd tier programs give better output

  20. Ashley says:

    First, I agree with John’s sentiment – don’t listen to other people when it comes to these second tier networks. The only way to find out if they work is to try them out.

    With that said, I’ve tried most of them and even if the conversion rate was okay (which in most cases it wasn’t), the volume was so small that it wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to manage the campaign. Just my 2 cents.

  21. SEO hosting says:

    the article is great but what even better is the link to the test. I always see posts on forums about 2nd tier networks but I never see the names of the networks. The linked article has even more info.

  22. To be honest, I only tried adwords at Xmas time for one of my eshops and jumped straight in without learning the ins and outs. Needless to say I made a right mess of it. I think I’ll be giving it a bash again at some stage this year but will definitely have to learn how to use it properly first! Interesting to read about the second tier PPC companys out there and definitely worth checking out when the time comes.

  23. Syed Balkhi says:

    this is one of the better guest posts on john chow.

  24. Chad says:

    Thanks for all the great feedback on the article guys!

  25. Dr. Teeth says:

    I do not have much experience with PPC networks but one thing i can say is 2nd tier commissions are what you need to expect when you have a strong viewer base, just like what John has!

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