Google Adwords vs. GoodReads Adwords: A Case Study

So, of course, the worst part about writing a book has come to pass: promotion. One could accuse me of being conceited, but I hate the prospect of the need to convince anyone of my abilities as a raconteur. In those situations where I must ask for someone’s fleeting attention, I feel like a pauper who has a bowl empty of porridge, begging someone to please give me some more. However, it seems that my reputation has not kept pace with my abilities. So, due to this unfortunate situation, I needed to be proactive and find out how to get the word out about my book Blowing the Bridge. It seemed like going online was the next best step.

I love the idea of experimentation, especially with the idea of comparing a mainline campaign versus a specialized campaign. Of course, I thought GoodReads would be the winner (since GoodReads is a site about books), but I wanted to prove that as the case. So, I started by throwing down $50 on both Google Adwords (starting a few days ago) and GoodReads’ version of the same (starting a few weeks ago). I used the same keywords for both searches, and I used the same bidding price for clicks. When it comes to the ease of use, GoodReads does present a fairly easy interface to promote one’s book. It’s limited in options, but you can get the job done within a few minutes. Google Adwords, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. As an analogy, imagine that GoodReads is Microsoft Photoshop and that Google Adwords is AutoCAD…in Esperanto. The Google Adwords console represents an abstract framework, with various online controls that leverage the power to advertise and the ability to cause an oncoming headache. Google detected my fluctuating EEG and presented me with a link to Aleve, which I naturally clicked without hesitation. I, for one, welcome our heartless online overlords.

After a few weeks of advertising on GoodReads, my ad received 34407 viewings, but I got only 4 clicks. That leads to a click-through rate of 0.02%. That’s fairly dismal, if you ask me. On the other hand, with Google Adwords, I received 28531 viewings after only 4 days, and of that number, there were 80 clicks. That’s a click-through rate of 0.28%, nearly 14 times the amount compared to Goodreads. Curious as to how to interpret these results, I asked for the viewpoint of my fiancée, who is both an avid reader and a student of marketing.

For one, she said that there’s more of an error rate for clicks when people are using Google, enough to significantly reduce the confidence level of its click-through rate (i.e., CTR). So, let’s be safe and assume that half of the clicks were mistakes, leaving the CTR at 0.14%. Still, that’s much better than the results with GoodReads. She also made another interesting observation as one who is very familiar with the GoodReads community. Unbeknownst to me, she told me how GoodReads is more of a haven for erotic literature than anything else. (Translation: it’s a chick site.) Of course, as she explained, there were several other genres whose fans nested there, but that’s the big one. Basically, since most of the site is occupied by several hardcore (pun-intended) demographics, the chances of reaching my audience (i.e., fans of contemporary satire) were greatly reduced.

So, what did I learn? If you’re looking to create a quick-and-dirty advertising campaign for a book and can handle a slight learning curve in order to ramp up, go with Google Adwords. However, if you’re looking to truly find your audience, you’ll need to do some detective work in order to find the right venue. The Web has created a nook and cranny for every different palate, and if you’ve created something a little different, you will have to start looking under rocks to find your initial audience. So, essentially, I’ve learned that I have some more work to do. Plus, I’ve also found the place where I can go to get my literary fix of incest and dino-human porn. Many thanks, GoodReads.

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