The Chicken or the Egg: YSM or AdWords?

August 7, 2009 Posted by Tyler Cruz

I started getting back into PPC affiliate marketing close to 2 weeks ago and have since launched 2 new campaigns in different niches.

I finished my site for the second campaign yesterday, and so the next step was to launch my advertising campaign on a PPC network. So here’s the question: If I plan on eventually running my campaigns on The Big Three (Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and Microsoft Ad Center), which should I start with and why?

Some of you may ask why it even matters which one you start with… after all, can’t you just add both at the same time?


Sure you can, and most people who run on multiple networks may even do that, but the problem I see with adding your campaigns to multiple PPC search engines simultaneously is that optimizing will be a huge pain, especially in the beginning when you’re first launching a new campaign.

For example, whenever you want to make a change you’re going to have to do it on all 3 networks separately. If you decide that you want to stop bidding on a certain keyword, you’re going to have to go into each network individually to make that change. Basically, you’re doing the same task 3 times while you do the original grunt work of the major optimizing of your keywords.

This is why I like to focus on one network at a time. I choose one network and work solely on it to optimize my keywords, prices, and ad copy as best I can. Once I’m profiting with the campaign and feel that I have it pretty much optimized and full of all the good keywords I can think of, I’ll then port that campaign over to the other two networks. This effectively will scale up my campaign and should yield similar results, but en masse.

Therefore, if I start with YSM for example, if we estimate that MSN has the same amount of traffic as YSM and AdWords has triple the amount, then porting my campaign(s) over to MSN and AdWords should effectively give me 4x the amount of volume, effectively and quickly scaling up my campaign.

For example, if I was running with Yahoo first and was making $50 a day profit, then porting to MSN and AdWords should in theory yield an extra $200 a day. Granted, bid prices are more expensive on AdWords, and other factors will change things as well such as Quality Score, but you can still estimate an approximate scaling of your profit from the original network.

Which Should We Start With? Google or YSM?

Now, the question for me personally is really whether I should start with Google AdWords or YSM as I always port over to MSN last. The reason for that is I feel that MSN has slightly less traffic than YSM… plus I really hate their interface 🙂

Let me lay out the pros and cons of starting with Google AdWords first:


  • Since Google AdWords is the most expensive for bids due to competition, you know that if your campaign works on Google that it’s guaranteed to work on the other 2.
  • AdWords has by far the most traffic, so you can get a lot more volume in the beginning which speeds up the testing phase due to more accurate keyword data from a larger sample size of data.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool rocks. I’m personally using Yahoo first at the moment and am actually using the AdWords Keyword Tool to help build my keyword lists. The problem with this method is that the AdWords Tool can’t detect which keywords I already have in my account and list. Normally, it would detect the keywords already in my campaign and show a “In List” status, so I can skip over those and find NEW keywords. Since my keywords are on Yahoo I’m stuck with looking through most of the keywords I’ve already added and I can’t pick out the new keywords easily. Starting with Google first would eliminate this mess as I’d simply port my optimized and ‘finished’ campaigns over to Yahoo. Then for another business we have also been seeing excellent results from a business intelligence platform that we have been using, so are telling everyone about that as it’s just been amazing.


  • Since AdWords is more expensive, it also means the original testing phase is more expensive.
  • A small con, but if you’re using Tracking202 Pro you have to pay Google AdWords API fees. Since you generally do the most optimization and testing of your keywords during the beginning of your campaign, you accrue most of your API fees during this time (due to higher-than-average downloading of the reports). This can be a little more pricey than starting with YSM or MSN since they don’t charge API fees.

And here are the pros and cons of starting with YSM first:


  • YSM is definitely cheaper than Google AdWords, making the start-up testing phase cheaper.


  • While YSM is cheaper than AdWords, the problem with starting with YSM first is that your ads are not guaranteed to be profitable on AdWords as they are the other way around, since AdWords is more expensive. For example, you may have a keyword that is profitable on YSM because you’re getting a $0.50 CPC on it and are averaging a $0.65 return on it, netting $0.15 for every click. When you port over to AdWords, that same keyword might be cost $0.75, instantly turning that keyword to a loser for you, losing $0.10 for every click.
  • This could just be me, but I’m currently very frustrated because Yahoo seems to really take their time approving new campaigns. I added a new campaign close to 2 days ago now and it still hasn’t been approved yet. I don’t remember AdWords ever taking so long. This is a big time waster when starting up new campaigns.

Wait a Second…

It’s funny. I originally started writing this post to lay out the simple pros and cons of which network is better to start your campaigns on with the intention of letting you decide for yourself.

But looking at the pros and cons above, it seems like starting with Google AdWords is the clear favourite. In fact, I think that in the future for new campaigns, I will be starting with Google AdWords first. That’s what I used to do, but decided to try starting with YSM for a change. I don’t think I like it.

As mentioned earlier, I’m currently starting with YSM and I’m really noticing the cons, mainly the 2 facts that it’s taking forever for my campaigns to be approved and that I can’t effectively use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

What do you guys think? Do you prefer to start with YSM or AdWords? Or perhaps you go off the beaten trail and start with MSN first. Or do you like to work on all 3 at once?

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Posted: August 7th, 2009 under Affiliate Marketing  

28 Responses to “The Chicken or the Egg: YSM or AdWords?”

  1. I always start with AdWords. I’m way too impatient to wait days for Yahoo to approve something. I want the instant clicks from Google AdWords. 🙂


  2. adwords gets my vote to! Not that I use it a lot :mrgreen:

  3. Jami says:

    The only pro for YSM is cheaper clicks and even that’s changing very fast. Because of the recent Google slap rampage, a lot of marketers have moved from Google to YSM which has inflated most click prices to near Google rates.

    My personal opinion is that I’m simply too impatient to wait for data from YSM or MSN. Google is might be more expensive (for now) but you’ll get data fast and furious (which might actually save money in the long run).

    Not to mention, if your campaign can survive on Google, it’ll survive just about anywhere since YSM has recently adopted the same belt tightening rules in regards to landing pages and site quality (ultimately frowning upon rebill offers).

    Good luck!

  4. paul says:

    Try google first. If it dont work on there, you wont get enough traffic to make it worth your time.

  5. I agree with you. Adwords is the obvoius choice. When your adwords campaign is successful you know the others will be. And your testing time wil be dramatically reduced when you begin with adwords.

  6. Adwords first. This way you will no for sure if your campaigns on the other networks will. be successful

  7. I agree with Paul. AdWords is great to start as there isn’t the waiting time Yahoo has, it provides more traffic, and makes the whole testing process easier. The downfall is that they are really cracking down on sites, so make sure you have a great site with lots of content and not just a few pages. Good luck Tyler.

  8. I always start with Adwords and filter it out from there. Even though it’s more expensive, it’s fast, easy and the traffic is better.

  9. I would just stick with GOogle period because they are quite effective and have a bigger market.


  10. EarningStep says:

    honesty i prefer to adwords but it look like ysm will be a touch enemy for google adwords

  11. Jami says:

    The most annoying thing in the world is when you write a well though out comment to a blog post… click submit… and it vanishes into the netherworld of internet abyss without ever seeing the light of day.

    Anyway, here’s my second try:

    It’s true that Google will be more expensive, but, YSM isn’t far behind. With the recent Google slaps, there’s been a stamped of folks heading over to YSM which has been pushing up the costs considerably.

    Both advertising outlets are crowded but Google is still a beast with traffic. There’s simply no denying that the data and stats will flow faster with Google.

    Don’t get me wrong, Google is a tough nut to crack. But I personally believe that if you can turn a profit with Google, then you can turn it just about anywhere.

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      We heard you the first time Grandma!!!!

      Haha, JK. For some reason, all new comments are being marked as pending so I have to approve them manually… I was wondering why nobody was commenting on this post!

  12. Tim says:

    Do you register a new domain to host landing pages for each ppc campaign? Or, do you use the same generic domain for multiple ppc campaigns? Do you send traffic to articles or glossy landing pages, like the ones typically distributed by the affiliate networks?

    • Tyler Cruz says:

      I create a completely new site on its own unique domain for each new campaign/offer I run.

      My landing sites have around 8-9 pages and are custom-built for the particular offer.

  13. Umn, why is Adwords the egg and YPN the chicken? I like the photo very much though.

    To answer your question: it’ll have to be Adwords to me. Sorry Yahoo!

  14. I always start with adwords. Often I just find it easier to create another profitable campaign with Adwords rather than spend my time on MSN or YSM.

    Things might change now because of the bing thing, but you can’t beat Google as far as traffic goes. Sure, it’s more expensive, but I’ve made most of my PPC money on Google.

    Have fun,

  15. Dave Starr says:

    Good article, Tyler. It confirmed some beliefs I already had and gave some good, thoughtful reasons to help me work through the decisions I have yet to make.

    One thing which struck me in both your report and in the comments was the slow, unresponsive nature of TPN’s customer service. Years ago when I first started on the other side of PPC, trying to make money from ads, I ws already making beginner-level money with Google when I decided to expand into the YPN area. Not just a different system to learn the ins and outs of, but some downright rude and uncaring folks who were supposed to be building relationships with publishers. They turned me off big time than and what I see now doesn’t make me want to try to renew the relationship any time soon.

    Also, aside from the confusing interface, which even YPN fans don’t seem to like, Yahoo offers very little overall to help either ad buyers or ad publishers. Google’s keyword tools are excellent and their Google Analytics AdWord/AdSense interface is state of the art. You can really drill down and get information on every page and every site, right to the dollars and cents level.

    Especially for PPC newbies like me, I can’t see making life nay harder for myself, just because some competitor might offer a slight cost per click advantage … I say go with the one with the tools to learn your trade.

    One last item I was glad to see you point out. The much ballyhooed Google Slaps and other demands from the Big G to produce quality web sites for selling products or inducing desired actions overall has to be good for the business, long term.

    I want to build a business and make money but I don’t want to leave behind nothing except abandoned ‘junk’ pages and no longer viable ‘Splogs’ and ‘Flogs’. If it isn’t worth registering a domain for and creating useful content for, it isn’t worth the ‘cheap thrills’ of making a few bucks and then having it slapped out of existence.

    After all, you can make a career out of checking for change in the coin returns of pay phones, or picking up aluminum cans on the street until you have a trash bag full of them, but that’s not a sustainable business model for me.

  16. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    In fact, I’ve not tried any 3 of them to start a campaign, I’m recently excited in selling product in Clickbank, so I’m going to create a landing page for that and will be starting using Adwords. I’ve never want to use Yahoo or MSN because I know Adwords will be the most effective 1, but I still need to learn more about it, or else I’ll make a loss.

    Thanks for sharing the Cons and Pros Tyler! 🙂


  17. Ive only used adwords to this point and only a few campaigns, but its nice to know some of the pros and cons of both to get a better idea of what they are all about.

  18. adwords ads says:

    AdWords has my vote! Later, you can easily transfer the data by using AdWords Editor or some third party tool like AdWords Intelligence.

  19. Luke says:

    Do you register a new domain to host landing pages for each ppc campaign? the same questions.

  20. you have better profit on YSM than adwords as i see on your graph.

  21. I would always choose Google first over anything else because they will show you if your keywords get traffic.

  22. I think AdWords should be the first choice before YSM for promoting something online.

  23. Tunes says:

    Adwords Best … I’m always on the most traffic from Google.

  24. according to me adwords is best….it approves fast and it pays out faster is prompt

  25. generic says:

    Hi, So do you register a new domain to host landing pages for each ppc campaign? the same questions.

  26. Bidet says:

    I have never used ysm before but Adwords gave me good results.


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