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Think you should advertise on ask.com? 4 reasons not to!

The easy answer is, “You shouldn’t.” After re-discovering ask.com at the eComXpo, I thought I’d give them a shot. I chose a few keywords that convert very well on the other search engines to run my test. I ran my test campaign on ask.com and found a few problems. Here’s what I discovered.

Initially, I was excited at the lower CPC rates on ask.com. It seemed like I had found a little secret that was as of yet undiscovered in the PPC world. I now realize that they’re cheap for a reason.

1 – Broken keyword matching – Their negative keyword matching doesn’t work. I put in a general keyword and a bunch of negative matches to filter out undesireable traffic. From the referring URLs, I found that I was getting traffic from queries that exactly matched my negative keywords! I quickly changed my strategy from using a small list of broad match keywords combined with a comprehensive list of negative match keywords to a longer list of exact match keywords. My traffic became more targeted. It sure would have been nice if their negative match keywords worked properly.

2 – Security Problems – On the second day of my test, I noticed an extra ad in my campaign that I didn’t place there. I was for something that I’ve never marketed and the landing URL was from a large search marketing firm. The scary thing is, I didn’t put that ad in there. The last thing I want to do is pay for someone else’s advertising! If I had to guess, I’d say this large firm has some sort of API access into the system and ask.com has security holes in their API that they don’t know about.

3 – Lack of customer service/support – Upon noticing the extra ad in my campaign, I immediately contacted their support through the web form that they provide. I have yet to hear from them, other than the automated response to my submission.

4 – Poor conversion rate – In the end, it all comes down to the money. On a campaign where I typically see a 2-5% conversion rate, I had a 0% conversion rate with ask.com. I spent enough to buy over 300 clicks and didn’t see one conversion come through.

So, I can’t recommend that anyone use ask.com for PPC marketing. It probably isn’t worth your money. I know it’s not worth mine.