Pay-Per-Click Marketing Campaigns or Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
An Introduction to PPC Advertising
If you are seeing advertisements appear alongside search results on Google and other search engines, then you are already familiar with pay-per-click marketing (PPC). This model of internet marketing, in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked, can meet or create customer demand for a product or service.
What is PPC Advertising?
The most commonly used form of PPC marketing is the paid search ad, but others include display advertising, social media advertising, remarketing and Google Shopping.
Paid search ads are those that appear when a consumer searches for something online using a search engine, particularly when they perform a commercial search, i.e. they are looking to purchase something. This could be anything ranging from a local takeaway service to a high-end luxury item. The advertisers running the ads will only be charged when the consumer clicks on the advert, hence “pay-per-click”.
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” —Steve Jobs
Demand generation presents a solution to a problem a consumer is likely experiencing and actively trying to solve. For example, a potential customer searches for golf shoes and ‘demand meeting’ adverts for golf shoes are shown.
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This is in contrast to demand creation which presents a solution to a problem that a consumer is unaware they have. For example, a potential customer is reading an article about golf and ‘demand creation’ adverts for golf shoes are shown.
How Does PPC Advertising Work?
Adverts are subject to Ad Auction. Each time an advert is eligible to appear for a search, an auction studies its relevance and validity. This determines whether or not the advert appears alongside the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and in which position it shows on the page.
An advertiser cannot pay to ensure that their advert appears every time or in a more prominent position to that of their competitors. Even if they bid the highest, a competitor can achieve a higher position – and at a lower price – with highly relevant keywords.
The auction process, used by Google and other major search engines, functions as a bidding system. Advertisers bid on the keywords they want to trigger their adverts. It’s important to only bid on the keywords that are relevant to the business. Every time an advert is clicked on, the advertiser is charged, so relevance is key to ensuring a return on investment from advertising spend.
Keyword Planners such as those offered by Google are valuables tools in the art of a successful PPC campaign. They offer insight into how frequently certain words are searched for and how these searches have changed over time. This can help advertisers to narrow down keywords.
Which PPC Advertising Platform is Right for Your Business?
No two advertising platforms are the same. This gives advertisers the opportunity to gain substantial reach to potential customers across different audiences and online behaviours.
Google is the most popular, owing to the sheer volume of searches made through this engine (more than 3.5 billion a day). It is divided into two groups in order to give advertisers control over where they want their adverts to appear. The Search Network allows advertisers to target customers who are proactively searching for a related product or service. Adverts appear on Google search results pages, other Google sites, and partnering search sites. And the Display Network allows advertisers to target customers in a particular location or with specific buying habits. Adverts appear on Google sites, such as YouTube, Blogger and Gmail, as well as an enormous number of partnering websites and apps.
Facebook is the most popular social network on the planet, with an average of 2 billion users every month, and therefore a highly competitive and potentially lucrative element of a business’s digital advertising strategy. This platform functions in a similar fashion to Google AdWords, but with a greater emphasis on the specific demographics, interests and behaviours of the audience.
The Bing Search Engine is growing rapidly in popularity. This platform has tools for advertisers to import campaigns from Google Ads; this simplifies the process of getting started. Microsoft has the advantage of exclusively serving Yahoo search traffic, powering voice searches, and it has access to LinkedIn data.
Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is home to a wealth of information and audiences for advertisers to target. Over 500 million professionals are currently using LinkedIn and these people can all be targeted by specific criteria, such as job title, seniority, company etc.
The platforms listed are very often seen as competitors. However, many advertisers are utilising the strengths of multiple platforms cooperatively in order to achieve maximum visibility, increase return on investment, and to discover new customers. This may require advertisers to adopt different strategies to suit the functionality of each platform, but – if executed correctly – it is a great way to achieve a significant return on advertising spend.
Things to Consider
There are many examples of companies losing money on pay-per-click advertising campaigns; those that are successful are built from an informed foundation of critical insights.
It is important to remember that a click does not equate to a sale. It is then the responsibility of the landing page to take the customer through the motions, whether that be requesting more information, placing an order, or another action. It’s therefore vital to have a holistic approach to your digital marketing strategy.
Pay-Per-Click Marketing is a technical, complicated and ever-changing environment. Take expert advice and support to make sure your campaigns are optimised and providing value for money.
Blunt thinking on Search Engine Marketing from Yorkshire Powerhouse
You’ve read our introduction to Pay-Per-Click Marketing – have you any questions?
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Keyword Research and Planning is an essential part of approaching pay-per-click (PPC) marketing and there are wonderful free tools to help Read >