Who's Who: 7Search.com

Search engine optimization (SEO) and social media are clearly powerful and popular ways to drive traffic to your website. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, however, is arguably the most immediate and trackable channel available in the Web promotion toolbox and it's used by a vast majority of savvy Internet marketers in at least some capacity - whether to drive brand awareness or conversions.

What most Web marketers quickly realize is that, despite the immense amount of volume that first-tier players such as Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing or even Microsoft (Bing) AdCenter can yield, the return on investment (for even highly-optimized campaigns with liberal budgets) changes little when alternative advertising venues are explored. While the alternatives do have less volume and name recognition, they also have less competition. That means greater potential to capitalize on the traffic available, and for much less.

There is no shortage of discussion about how to maximize the investment made in PPC, from testing ad copy to employing methods to tweak quality score, but the most important has always been to partner with providers that 1) take your success as seriously as they do their own, and 2) offer services with low barriers to entry, short learning curves and the potential to achieve a competitive, if not higher return on the initial advertising spend. Couple that with an opportunity to access a segment of the consumer market beyond the reach of the first tier, and you have a genuine opportunity that is often unwisely ignored.

In its 10-year history, PPC advertising and affiliate network 7Search.com has not once changed its name (something rare in the fast-paced world of Internet marketing), has been awarded multiple patents related to traffic quality and fraud detection, avoided venture capital dollars at every turn and, over time, established itself as arguably one of the most important players in the second-tier PPC advertising market.

The secret to their success, according to Internet Operations Manager Gemma Piscotti is "a commitment to serving meaningful advertising for display on the properties of our affiliates and publisher partners. When we accomplish that, the value proposition is clear on both sides - advertisers receive high quality traffic for a cost per visitor that is attractive enough for an affiliate to promote."

7Search.com drives a majority of its traffic through its search and affiliate network - a diverse group of third-party vertical search engines, niche Web portals and Internet destinations that display advertiser listings through an XML feed (in the case of search engines and portals), or through standard text display advertisements. While a partial list of its partners is kept confidential per the request of publishers, 7Search is rigorous in validating the traffic quality of publishers and has multiple patents pending related to fraud detection and ensuring traffic quality.

Another noteworthy aspect of 7Search.com is its focus on customer service. This is perhaps best manifested in the company's New Advertiser Training (NAT) program, wherein every new advertiser is contacted to initiate campaign creation and optimize their ROI for a period of up to three weeks. Any advertiser needing additional support after that period is assigned a customer service representative for the life of their campaign.

The PPC ad network offers resources common to most vendors of its nature, including detailed reporting (per URL and keyword), mass keyword submission, listings customizations and others. 7Search.com differentiates itself through tools such as MakeTop, enabling PPC advertisers to specify a maximum bid amount for keywords within their campaign and immediately place in the first, second or third position; and ClickFree, a direct navigation (browser typein traffic) offering. 7Search.com's keyword suggestion and keyword activity lookup tools are two quite popular and freely available resources where advertisers enter a keyword to see the number of searches performed for the previous month, other keyword suggestions, and the bid amount for the top five positions.

So what's in the future for 7Search? "We'll continue our dedication to establishing close relationships with advertisers so that they can have the most successful experience," says Piscotti. "We're real people here to help advertisers, not just tools."