What is PPC Advertising?

What Is PPC Advertising?

Pay per click, or PPC, advertising is an online marketing model that charges businesses only when people click on their ad. It’s also referred to as cost per click, or CPC, and is one of the most popular and effective strategies for online advertising. 

The most common type of PPC is a paid search ad. You’ve most likely seen PPC ads show up in your Google results, especially when searching for commercial products or something to buy. For example, after typing “mattresses” into the search box, the first few results are actually ads for mattress stores or websites that sell mattresses. They’re clearly marked as ads and are set apart from the organic search results.

Read on to find out more, and how you can use PPC marketing for your business.

How Does PPC Work

At first glance, it’s easy to assume that these ads show up in your search results because the business behind them paid Google a lot of money to have their link listed first on the search engine results page, or SERP. Luckily, that’s not how it works with PPC. 

To keep the playing field somewhat level, a major part of PPC is auctioning. Ad auctions are an automated process used by major search engines to determine what ads are relevant to each keyword or search phrase. 

Bidding works by setting a maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. If you outbid everyone else using the same keywords and your ad gets a high enough quality score, it will become the top-ranking ad result for that search term. 

Here’s an example. Let’s say you bid $1 on the word “mattress” and customers are engaging with it. If 200 people click on your ad, the search engine will end up charging you $200 for the entire campaign.

Most platforms allow you to set a maximum, or cap. Let’s say you have an ad that performs much better than you anticipated. You bid $1 and expected that it would end up costing you around $100 but the ad got 400 clicks and now you owe $400. When you set up your initial campaign, you can set a cap for the whole so you can bid $1 per click to a maximum of $100. Once you reach this limit, your ad will stop appearing, and you’ll only owe your capped budget.


Another thing to consider when setting your PPC budget is whether to bid cost-per-mille (CPM) or cost-per-click (CPC). 

With CPC, you will be charged every time someone clicks on your ad. As we’ve already mentioned, you can set your budget to control how much you spend. Another option is CMP or cost per a thousand impressions, not clicks. For every thousand impressions that your ad gets, you’ll be charged. 

There are some benefits to CMP. It’s a great way to work on brand visibility because potential customers see your brand continue to pop up in the search results which could eventually generate leads. Basically, you pay more for more visibility. The downside? You pay for those impressions even if no one clicks on your ad.

Quality Counts

Choosing the right keyword is essential for PPC advertising which is why keyword research is so important. It’s important to use the right word to target the right customer. That said, keywords are only one piece of the puzzle. The automated process that large search engines like Google use to rank their ads is notoriously complicated to crack. But one thing is for sure: quality matters.

Quality scores depend on a variety of elements. Yes, keywords are important but so are your landing page, on-site metrics, and click metrics. This score works on a sliding scale and tells the search engines how much to charge for your bid. 

Getting a high-quality score isn’t always something that happens overnight. The longer the history of your ad or campaign and the more engagement you have, the better.

Experiment to find out what works to get clicks. The more people who click through your ad, the better your quality score will be. You should always use the keywords on both your ad copy and your landing pages so people coming to buy your product know exactly where to go once they reach your page. 

Another way to increase the quality of your ad is to be as specific as possible. Focus your campaign on a specific region, time of day, or search network. The more you target your ad, the more likely the people who click turn into converted customers. 

Is PPC Better Than Organic Search Results?

Depending on what you’re selling, it can be incredibly difficult to make it to the top of the SERP. Huge international companies that have been in business for decades are usually always going to get the top spots for highly competitive products.

It’s still important to use search engine optimization (SEO) on your website, but it can take months to over a year before seeing results. Just take a look at the top search results for the next thing you Google. Chances are they’ve all been around for a long time and have a deep history of backlinks and engagement.

If you want fast results, no other digital marketing strategy can compete with the exposure provided by PPC. Plus, PPC gives you more options to drive traffic to your site. For example, you can branch out into video ads and set up a cost per view (CPV) budget in YouTube or other platforms to engage different types of potential customers.

With the right keywords and ads, you can start seeing results in minutes from PPC advertising. It’s also simple to quickly adjust the copy to figure out what works. Your chosen PPC platform will show data on engagement and trends while giving you the tools to make adjustments and improve performance.

What Are The Best PPC Channels? 

There are a few ways to approach PPC advertising for your business. Here are some of the best PPC Channels out there.

Google Ads

When it comes to anything involving search results, Google is usually the best place to start. Google really started it all with Google AdWords, their original PPC platform. They’ve since changed the name to Google Ads. 

Google is suitable for any campaign because so many people use it to find just about everything. Even if you have a really niche product, there’s a good chance someone looking for it will turn to Google. Where else would they go?

Facebook Ads

One place where Facebook beats out every other platform: how easy it is to tailor your ads to the type of person you’re trying to reach. Take advantage of all the data Facebook has to target your ad by choosing the gender, age ranges, regions, cities, interests, and more of the customers you’re hoping to reach.

And since Facebook acquired Instagram, you can actually run your ads on both platforms from the same campaign.

Twitter Ads

Twitter is new to internet marketing but promoted Tweets can generate a lot of conversation. One of the things to keep in mind about Twitter is that it works through engagement. By participating in conversations, following the right people, and creating an ad that generates a lot of buzz, you can really get your account working for you.

LinkedIn PPC

Depending on what you’re trying to promote, PPC on LinkedIn can also really help you reach a targeted audience. You can narrow your results to different job titles and functions, industries, geography, ages, genders, and regions, or to a specific company or LinkedIn Group.

LinkedIn might not be the first place a lot of businesses think to advertise. It’s commonly thought of as a living resume and jobs sit. But there are definitely ways to take advantage of that kind of audience. If your business provides team building activities, hosts corporate retreats, or offers enrichment activities relevant to a specific industry, LinkedIn allows you to advertise directly to the people who make these kinds of business decisions. 

What Is Real Time Bidding? 

Real-time bidding, or RTB, is a way of selling ads on a per-impression basis instantaneously. While RTB is very similar to PPC, it is considered its own practice, and it’s getting more popular by the way.

Just like with PPC, advertisers bid on an impression and, if they win, their ad is instantly displayed on the SERP. But the RTB system works more like a stock exchange than a single platform. RTB connects advertisers to the websites that display their ads through a single exchange, allowing for real-time auctions for every click taking place. It works across all different networks, and it’s seen as a more effective way of bidding than a static auction. 

There are benefits to RTB for everyone involved. Advertisers waste fewer clicks and end up with more targeted ads, which means less wasted money. If there’s an ad agency involved, it gives them faster feedback and a better way to control the campaign. Plus, search engines and websites make higher revenue since the process maximizes the impression of each click/impression.

Conversion, Not Clicks

One last thing to remember about PPC is that it’s only one piece of the puzzle if you’re trying to build a successful business. Since you’re only paying when people actually click on your ad and visit your website, the ROI is for PPC ads is easily measured but that doesn’t mean that every click is a lead. Yes, it’s important to get people to click through to your website, but it’s more important that they’re engaged when they get there. 

What is a conversion? It’s the number of times someone responded to your ad and did what you wanted them to do. For example, a conversion could be someone clicking through and then signing up for your mailing list, or actually buying products from your website.

How can you increase your conversion rate? 

First, spend some time figuring out how to reach your target audience. What sort of message do they respond to? Rather than casting a wide net to catch any click you can, focus on choosing the right kind of bait to lure your target in. 

Keywords are important but so is good copy. Your ad and website should use words that make it stand out and draw people in. 

PPC advertising can help you get the clicks but it’s up to you to engage your customers enough to turn clicks into conversions. That’s why so many turn to PPC marketing experts to get the job done right.

About the author 

Zaid Ammari

Zaid is a leading expert on data driven digital marketing; focusing on analytics and actionable insights from data. Founder of PPC Masterminds - he helps businesses build & run profitable data driven digital campaigns.

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