A brief Pay Per Click definition is: PPC is a type of sponsored online advertising that is used on a wide range of websites, including search engines, where the advertiser only pays if a web user clicks on their ad. Hence the title, ‘pay per click.’
When our clients ask us to define Pay Per Click, we tell them that PPC is a very cost-effective means to get their site noticed by their target audience while our other Internet marketing strategies are gradually helping their site achieve their natural ranking potential.
In a way, PPC advertising works like a silent auction. Advertisers place bids on keywords or phrases that they think their target audience would type in a search field when they are looking for specific goods or services. When a web user types a search query into the field of a search engine that matches the advertiser’s keyword list or visits a web page with content that correlates to the keywords or phrases chosen by the advertiser, the PPC ad may be displayed on the page. In search engines, a PPC ad is generally just above or to the right of the search results where they can be easily seen. On other kinds of websites, the ad will be placed in the location that the site designer has determined will be the most advantageous to his site and the advertiser.
To differentiate PPC ads from the natural search results displayed on a page, search engines will often place PPC ads under “Sponsored Ads” or “Sponsored Links” which also makes them easier to notice on a page that is crowded with text and other items competing for a web user’s attention.
Overall, PPC ads are beneficial to advertisers and web users alike. Advertisers get noticed by their target audience and are charged only for the times that their ads are clicked on and web users get to select from sites that may be relevant to the page they are viewing without having to deal with obnoxious banner or pop-up ads that flash and distract.
There are countless pay per click management services out there competing with each other but, without question, the heavyweights in PPC advertising are, in order:
1. Google Adwords
2. Microsoft adCenter
The rates that these outfits charge for a PPC ad vary significantly depending on the popularity of the keyword or phrase. For example, if an advertiser wants a PPC ad targeted for the phrase ‘cottage cheese’, they can get prominent placement for their PPC ad with a very low bid and a low per-click charge. However, for a phrase such as ‘computer’, an advertiser can expect heavy competition for prominent placement and expect to pay premium per-click rates. It all comes down to supply and demand for the keywords and phrases that the advertiser wishes to target.
Pay per click ads also level the playing field like no other form of advertising. A small, web-savvy company can, with a limited budget, outbid much larger companies with enormous advertising budgets and gain the edge they need to get noticed in their market.
When composing a PPC advertising campaign, the advertiser is able to set a budget, create the advertisement, choose the length of the campaign, select the appropriate keywords, choose the landing pages the user ends up on after clicking the ad and designate other settings. Each time the ad is clicked, the agreed upon amount is subtracted from the budget until it’s depleted and the ad ceases to run.
Compared with traditional advertising in print, radio, television or other media, PPC is a huge breakthrough for small businesses. Not only does an advertiser pay solely for those customers who interact with the ad, the feedback information collected is far richer than anything a traditional media ad can produce. PPC is probably one of the most important breakthroughs for small business advertising success. Here’s why:
As opposed to traditional media, the only schedule you have to worry about is your own. There’s no waiting for the next print issue, available slot or for an ad representative to return your call. If you have a website and something to sell, you can get your PPC ad up and running at your earliest convenience - even on the weekend or in the middle of the night.
Compared to traditional advertising, PPC gives you an amazing wealth of information about the people who are interested in your product. You can see who is interested, exactly what they are interested in and when they may have decided they were no longer interested. On top of that it’s easy to compare what works and what doesn’t without exhausting your entire budget. Metrics such as profitability, return on investment and click through rates are also easily accessible.
It Works For Low Ranking Websites
Of course, it’d be great if your website was the top ranked result when someone used Google to search for your product category or service. But even if it isn’t, a PPC campaign can leap frog your website into a position above the highest ranking websites. Suddenly you’re a ranking with the big names rather than being a complete unknown.
You Reach Your Target Audience
Are you trying to entice a local or international audience? Your PPC campaign will get clicks from either; or both. Do your best customers speak French? You choose the language and those will be the customers who respond. Mobile or desktop users? It’s up to you. You have a much wider choice of parameters to target your audience with PPC than with traditional advertising.
It Works For Any Budget
Because you choose the budget and breadth of your campaign, PPC advertising is perfect for small businesses. The campaign can be analysed for profitability in real time so it’s easy to remain within your budget and not have costs spiral out of control. Whether your budget is limited or endless, a PPC campaign can be tailored to your financial situation.
It’s An Efficient Test For Product And Marketing Viability
The ability to measure and analyse your results quickly and efficiently can give you insight into which products or marketing strategies are working and which are not. Do certain products get more attention? Do different landing pages get different conversion rates? PPC is an easy way to test various strategies and find out what works best. Similarly, it’s possible to use the analysis tools to find out what’s working (or not) for your competitors.
It Creates Brand Awareness
Because PPC puts you in front of your target audience, whether they click on your ad or not, your campaign is creating brand awareness. In the case of someone who doesn’t click on your ad, that brand awareness spike is free. And although there may not be an immediate benefit to this, the awareness can build credibility and pay dividends in the future.
It’s An Integral Part Of A Complete Digital Marketing Campaign
PPC has become so important that it can work as the base of a complete digital marketing campaign. PPC can give you insight into what will work best when building a website, how to optimise that site for search engines and reveal what keywords attract the most customers; all while collecting customer email addresses for future use. PPC can also be the basis for a retargeting campaign where you market to those who clicked through on your initial PPC ad, but didn’t convert into a sale.