I work full time in CPC affiliate advertising. Overture do not allow
affiliate ads, so I use Adwords, and I use it for many hours each day.
However I have used Overture since before it changed its name from
Goto, and I signed up to use it again last month for advertising my
own sites. I also ran some web searches to read the opinions of others
to see if I missed anything.
Overture's system is very straightforward - you can see the bids of
others, and you can place your ad at whichever position you choose.
Adwords uses an equation: cost-per-click x clickthrough-rate. Someone
paying 10 cents per click, but with a CTR of 3% will appear higher
than someone paying 20 cents per click with a CTR of 1%. However, it
isn't possible to see the bids or CTR of the other advertisers, which
Overture have a number of regional services, each operating
individually. To run an ad in Australia, you need to sign up with
Overture Australia. To run ads in Australia, the UK and USA, you would
need to open an account with each. There doesn't appear to be any way
to run a global campaign.
Adwords excels in this area. You can many different campaigns from
within the one account, and target countries and/or languages. If you
wanted, you could run an ad targeting people using the French langauge
in Fiji, Iceland and Ethiopia. Adwords also has allows the targeting
of many regions within the USA.
Overture require a deposit (it was $100 for Australia, $50 for the
USA, varies) and have a mimimum spend - in Australia it is $25 per
Adwords do not have either, although you need to give them $5 to get
up and running. After that they bill you rather than taking a deposit.
Overture have a minimum bid amount of 10 cents, and some keywords have
a higher amount designated, regardless of whether there is anyone else
to bid against.
For Adwords it is 5 cents or the equivalent in local currency.
A simplistic viewpoint is that more sophisticated searchers use Google
than those that use Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista etc. Which means that
Adwords has searchers who are going to be a little more hesitant to
click on your ad, or conversely, smart enough to realise that often
paid ads have what they are looking for.
Overture has a big focus on the Top 3 positions, because for most of
their network these are the only ones that appear. The Top 8 Adwords
ads appear in Google search results, and next 8 appear on the second
page of results etc.
Adwords customers have the option of having their ads appearing on
small sites that use AdSense.
Keyword suggestion tool
Overture give you a list of searches that include the keyword, ranked
Adwords provide related searches that do not necessarily include the
keyword. Popularity data is not provided.
Both approve ads manually.
Overture take a few days to approve each ad. It also takes a week or
so for your account to be opened.
Google ads run straight away, and get checked within a day or two.
Your account can be up and running in 5 minutes.
PROS AND CONS
Diverse network of search engine partners
Simple bidding system
Third-party auto-bid software available
Takes up to a week for account approval
You can only send traffic to your own websites
Minimum bid of 10 cents
Monthly minimum of $20
You can send traffic to any URL you choose - good for affiliate marketing
Ads can appear on AdSense sites
Free conversion tracking tools
Set daily budgets
Frequent server problems - very frustrating to lose an ad you had half created
For many reasons an ad might stop running, and to find out why
requires asking customer support
If ads have poor CTRs they get disabled
Minimum bid of 5 cents
Cannot see the bids of others
Webmaster Forums - Overture vs Google AdWords
Large PPC Search engines - Pay Per Click Search Engine Review
Choosing Between Overture and Google
Google AdWords: Program Comparison
For in-depth discussions on the ins and outs of each, WebMasterWorld
is the best place:
My recent Overture experience
I hadn't used them for a couple of years, and decided to try them
again for some low-key advertising. Like many people I prefer to jump
straight in rather than scour the site to find if there are any
catches in the small print.
So I signed up. I live in Australia, so I chose Australia as my
country. At no point was I told that signing up at the Australian site
would mean my ads would only run in Australia. What I wanted was
global advertising, or at least USA.
The interface is tabbed, and by clicking on the menu tabs I could do
anything I wanted with my account - except create an ad! For some
bizarre reason this requires getting to the right place in the system
and hovering over some non-obvious words (that don't look like a tab)
to get a drop-down menu. I am extremely experienced at navigating
websites, but in this instance I devoured their entire help system and
was about to give up in frustration before finding it accidentally.
Then I waited a week for my account to be approved and my ads to get
up and running. There was something in my ads that was against
editorial guidelines, so they didn't run. I fixed the problem, but it
took another 3 days for my ads to appear.
Then I noticed that my ads weren't getting any clicks, and only by
running some test searches and some making some deductions did I
realise they were only appearing in Australia. At the same time I
received an email saying that it was halfway through the month, and I
wasn't looking like spending the monthly minimum of $25 - something
not mentioned in the sign-up process.
I do have to say that, after I complained, they are allowing me to
change my account to a US one and start over again. But until then I
was so frustrated I didn't care about the $100 deposit, I just
couldn't be bothered dealing with their system any more.
It would be reasonable to think that I have a natural bias towards
Adwords, but if Overture had a better product I'd use it. Business is