A rant: Advertising fail from one of my favorite companies…

Okay, I’ve been a big fan of 1&1′s hosting plans for a long time. I’ve rarely ever had downtime, and I think their built in features (like their control panel components) are top shelf. But I got an email from them today, as I’m sure many of the 530 people I’ve recommended to them did as well, and this is one of the worst offers ever.

They are offering pay-per-click advertising with these rates…

  • 40 clicks = $39
  • 100 clicks = $99
  • 200 clicks = $179
  • 400 clicks = $349
  • 800 clicks = $649

Yes, WTF. Let me set straight anyone not familiar with PPC advertising: these rates suck. Anything nearing $1 a click is absurd. Many years ago I went to see American Beauty in the theater with a good friend thats about 25 or 30 years older than me. There’s a scene where Kevin Spacey is buying pot from that kid next door, and the kid’s pulling out bags of weed and telling him the prices. Which ends with the really primo stuff being like $1000 for a few grams (which is very little dope). So my buddy says “is that really how much pot costs these days?”.  I said, “no way, the kid is totally ripping him off.”  Which if you don’t realize that, is a pretty cruel part of their whole reverse-mentoring relationship. But anyway, thats how I felt when I saw this email today.

Here’s some words straight from their email…

Advertising with visitor guarantee: Pay a monthly fee and 1&1 will guarantee you a fixed number of visits to your website. If the number of visits (monthly clicks) is not achieved, the remainder will be carried over to the next month or refunded to your account. You can’t say fairer than that”

Sigh. Where to begin. A monthly fee is crazy. One of the virtues of PPC (paying per click) is to avoid monthly fees. Buying online advertising by the month is fine if you aren’t doing PPC. And I do have a handful of sites where I’ll advertise monthly but for a flat rate. If I like a site’s traffic numbers and theme, then maybe for $25-50 I’m willing to buy a specific ad spot for an entire month. Its a bit of a gamble because I could get only 40 clicks, but I could also get 4000. But its rare I do that with a site (so please, no offers) . I’m a PPC guy.

As many of you might have figured out, I mostly get traffic from Google. Long time fans might have forgotten how you found the site, but it was probably through a cheap text ad I placed through Google. Which is darn easy to use. Easier than Facebook, lets put it that way. The point of this article really isn’t to sell you on Adwords ( if it was I’d probably have an affiliate link stashed somewhere in here =), but I do want to share this screenshot from my Adwords account. This is my all-time spending through them as of today …

All time Adwords spendingTo paraphrase whoever said this, “when people say they want to be a millionaire, they are really just saying they want to spend a million dollars”.  Well I’m close to spending that much on Google, and I am far from being a millionaire. In fact, I just bought a home and definitely could not buy from Kevin Spacey’s neighbor at the moment. That kid would throw me right out.

Now the thing to note in the image above isn’t the big number, its the small one.  Look at my all-time average CPC:  $0.06. Only six cents per click!  Okay, wait, the big numbers are fun too. 14.5 million clicks and 4.8 BILLION impressions!!  Impressions you don’t get charged for, because the ad has just been shown, not clicked on, and obviously there’s no way of knowing if the viewer even noticed the ad, but still. Billions! Even if someone was like “oh geez, there’s that CartoonSmart ad again, I already know what they’re about”, I’ll take that anyway. Its a reminder the site exists.  They click: win. They don’t click because they don’t want to know me: win, cuz I don’t get charged. They see the ad and don’t care to visit the site again: half-win for brand recognition and I still didn’t get charged.

Anyway don’t get sucked into these “we’ll do it for you” type advertising programs. Just do it yourself. Its fun and you’ll spend less.

Now finally, before I start noticing unusual downtime on my servers, let me remind anyone listening at 1&1 that I am still one of your biggest fans, but I will call bullshit on anyone. And per those stats below, there’s about 530 people that I feel responsible for recommending to you guys, and I cringed thinking about any one of them paying 81 cents to a dollar per click. Stick with hosting, and I’ll try to stick to creating tutorials and not editorials.

Recommendations to 1and1

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4 thoughts on “A rant: Advertising fail from one of my favorite companies…

  1. Tristan says:

    Well I know I found CartoonSmart via an add on BrickFilms … And I’m awfully glad I did, CartoonSmart got me back into Flash and taught me how to really use it.

    I have no idea what I would be doing now if it weren’t for that add on BrickFilms.

  2. sprfrkr says:

    Great post! Yes, I cannot see how they can charge that amount. I think they must have meant 40,000 impressions or something which used to be a commonly used metric, but given the table they sent you, I can’t see how they could have meant that, but they must! Or else they are bad people.

    Also “guaranteed traffic” means they can pay a really junky pay for views website where zombies in china view web pages for a penny per view and get the guaranteed numbers. Not good.

    Google and SEO is the way to go. Get books one both of them and you will be ok.

  3. I might even look into doing some Facebook advertising. I checked out how there’s works, and its essentially like a version of Adwords from 10 years ago.

    And yeah, I reread that 1&1 ad a bunch of times to see if I was missing something like a couple extra 0′s for the amount of clicks you get.

  4. stefanclick says:

    yeap… that’s a rip-off … google is mutch better…. you get good branding by haveing your name over there…. but you do get charged by the number of impresions…. I think it’s 1 $/ 1000 impressions

    and now you get a better cpc if you have a good quality rateing… it’s usualy calculated 90% by the nr impressions/click (CTR) and other stuff

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