The Great Google Adwords Experiment One Year On. Did It Work?

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Note: This post hasn't been updated in over 2 years.

A Great Day at the Google HQ! by Trey Ratcliff

It was about a year ago that ActiveDen author Bitfade shared a brief Google Adwords experiment he had been conducting, and proposed a bold plan. His plan showed promise: for every dollar invested, two dollars could be made. You can read all about it on the ActiveDen forum. A lot of interest gathered around the proposal – there are 133 posts in the thread.

Well, that was a year ago. That’s enough time to reflect back on the experience with an objective mind. Did the experiment work?

In this post, I’ll sum up Bitfade’s experiment, and how he proposed to extend the idea to other authors. And then – either in a further post or in the comments to this one – I’ll see if we can get Bitfade’s conclusions on how successful the idea was.

The Experiment

Bitfade’s question was simple. In thinking about how to generate more traffic to his items, and how to generate more income via referrals, the idea of using Google Adwords flashed into his mind. Poof!

He put the idea to the test. For one week he invested $25 in Google Adwords, and in return received $42 back. The generated income came both from referrals and a bunch of sales. The idea seemed to have merit.

Just to be clear:

The Proposal

Since the marketing experiment worked so well, it was time to consider how to maximize its benefits. Bitfade came up with the idea of building a common place to advertise items with other marketplace authors. His initial proposal was brief, but subsequent posts started to contain more and more detail. Other authors were interested.

The main goal would be to advertise items and lead more traffic back to authors items. Each author would only advertise their own items. The secondary goal would be to make some more money via referrals through our affiliate program.

On Page 4 of the thread, he summarizes the plan from various points of view:

From Author’s point of view:

  • Create a YouTube account.
  • Upload short demo screencasts for each item to be advertised.
  • Insert a link to landing page into each video description.
  • Add all videos into a public playlist.

From YouTube’s point of view: (free traffic to landing page)

  • Create a YouTube channel collecting all author public playlists.
  • Clicking on the link of each video will take to landing page.

From landing page’s point of view:

  • Fetch all public playlist.
  • Show thumbnail / video preview / short description / purchase button (random pick, all authors).
  • Click on “Purchase” will lead to the ActiveDen item page (hoping for referral income or purchase).
  • Special case: If a hit comes from a specific author’s YouTube video, the related item and other author’s work get priority over random pick.

From traffic point of view: (paid traffic to landing page)

  • Show ads to users Googling for selected keywords.
  • Clicking on ads leads to landing page.

The Response

Dozens of authors were interested, and ready to join the cause. I literally lost count. (Someone more clever than me can tell us the exact number in the comments.) Most were pledging an initial investment of $50.

Discussion about timing and strategy followed. Finally (on Page 12 of the thread), Bitfade announced:

we started this week and still tweaking adwords settings, page layout, etc. will have some stats next week.

Shortly afterwards he posted some statistics:

adwords definitive settings where in place from 8 Nov

adwords cost 170
referral gain 100
sales (est.) 132 (264 at avg 50%)

overall, in whole November, we had
493 Clickthroughs
19 Registered Members
15 Deposits

From AD point of view
cost 170
deposits 330

That definitely looks like a successful venture to me. Marketplace author Zoomit summed up his own conclusions:

I’d say the program is a success so far. And we have bitfade to thank for that, he is definitely the man when it comes to advertising :D . I got sales on an item that seemed long dead since our little project.

For me, it was totally worth the investment.

Things go quiet after that. I’m curious to see how things continued and progressed after that time. I’ll see what I can find out.

In the meantime, what is your response to Bitfade’s experiment? Do you use Google Adwords in your own marketing? Were you one of the authors who took part in the proposal? What were your experiences and conclusions? Have your say in the comments.

  • pezflash

    As part of that group i should say that the experience has been awesome, not only for the possible incomes (Bitfade gave us exact estadistics each month), but mostly because of the confident group of authors we created, and some long term relationships that came with it.

    Even more, we recover enough money (apart from the sales & referals each one got) to donate some to an ONG, recently, when we have decided to stop the Adwords project. ActiveDen has been largely affected for the “all-against-flash” stupid trend that nowadays rules the web, so the project has ended up with it (guessing if AD will see a similar end soon, sadly).

    So thanks to Fabio for such a great effort, and the other members of the group, for such a nice experience.


  • mpc

    Hi, I was also part of the project. I just want to say it has been great experience so far 😉

  • rzepak

    Seems like a nice idea, I’ve used couple of free adwords coupons, but didn’t have any significant increase in sales or refferals. But I’ve no idea how to make good campaing 😉
    I’m curious, how did you know which sale was generated by AdWords?

    • pezflash

      ^ Actually we didn’t know exactly if a purchase was made from an Adwords referal, but Bitfade (who is a code monster who lives in a cave and do nothing except coding and eating -not even sleep-) created a system to retrieve the exact time of the clickthroughs and purchases, and based on that we assumed that some of them came from the Adwords campaing.

  • Pedro Pereira

    Nice experiment :) – Its valious information since it was tested not “said” :)

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