This post is part of "The Yodle Challenge," a series of 7 posts. You can start at the beginning or see all posts in the series.

Back in June, Yodle agreed to give three months of free advertising to Brea Buettner, a solo bankruptcy lawyer, to prove its worth. We called it the Yodle Challenge. Here is my debrief of Brea, and after that, my own thoughts on whether Yodle triumphed in the Yodle Challenge.

Results by the numbers

Brea signed up five new clients, and another five to eight have said they will pay or are saving for Brea’s retainer fee. That means Yodle generated $6,000 in new business for Brea, and potentially another $9,600 if any of the others come through.

For that, she would have paid $1,000 per month, plus setup costs of $1,500-2,000, so about $5,000, total. Some of the setup costs are standard, I believe. The rest went primarily for a premium, Yodle-built website.

So Yodle cleared a profit, but not much. Not yet, at least. Going forward, however, I do think Brea would probably earn two or three times what she would spend on ad buys through Yodle, every month.

Yodle vs. DIY

I already know online advertising works. I get good results from my Google AdWords account, and the Yodle Challenge also shows good results. However, while I only use AdWords, Yodle buys ads more broadly. Sales & Marketing VP Mike DeLuca says Google actually accounts for less than 50% of most Yodle ad campaigns.

On the other hand, Yodle makes its money in the margins. When you spend $1,000 on ads through Yodle, some of that goes to Yodle, not advertising. Mike DeLuca will not disclose how much, but he says he thinks he can make up for the difference with Yodle’s broad network and ClickRank algorithm when compared to a professional AdWords advertiser.

Of course, you do get a few extras if you advertise with Yodle, like an answering service and detailed tracking capabilities. Taking those into account, Yodle starts looking like a pretty good deal.

The hard sell

My main objection to Yodle—the thing that got this started in the first place—was to their phone-based, hard-sell sales staff. I have not received a call from Yodle since then (I imagine my name is on a special DO NOT CALL list at Yodle by now), but Mike DeLuca assures me Yodle has taken steps to make sure you can opt out of calls, if you want to. He also says they have addressed some of my other concerns.

I still hate getting sales calls, but there are better ways to do them, and it sounds like Yodle is working to improve theirs.

Worth a try?

If you are not interested in creating and maintaining your own ad campaign, you should give Yodle a try. Obviously, we have not done a similar challenge with any other online advertising service—none has stepped up—but I suppose you may be able to find someone who can provide a similar service and get similar results. But I like Yodle for its detailed results tracking, and the answering service is a big plus, especially for the busy solo or small firm.

But even if you are willing and able to do your own advertising, you may want to give Yodle a try. It can take significant time to maintain your own advertising campaign on AdWords, not to mention all the other advertising venues Yodle uses. It may even be worth the risk of a slight dip in results to get your time back. And if you are not a professional, you may get better results with Yodle.

Online advertising works, and so does Yodle. The numbers speak for themselves.