Chad Hetherington

Digital advertising is ripe with opportunity. 

The internet was dubbed the “world wide web” in its infancy for a reason. And although people today rarely refer to it as such, it’s more feasible than ever to make your brand widely known across the globe. From search engine optimization (SEO) and social media to email and influencer marketing, there’s no shortage of beneficial marketing and advertising methods to choose from.

Among the most popular (and effective) is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC has been a go-to for marketers for over 20 years and has only grown in popularity over time. The caveat? It can get expensive. However, paying more is often a good thing for PPC.

So, how can marketers know they’re making a wise investment by allotting some of their elusive marketing budgets toward a PPC campaign? Here’s everything you need to know.

How Does PPC Work?

Simply put, PPC is a form of online advertising where marketers pay to have their ads displayed on top search engine result pages (SERPs) and on websites, like Amazon and Facebook. As the name suggests, brands literally pay per click: Each time a user clicks on their ad, they pay a fee.

Setting up a PPC campaign starts with your Google Ads account (if Google Ads is your platform of choice). From there, you participate in an online auction, called an ad auction. Pretty much every major search engine follows this automated process of auctioning, which helps them determine the validity and relevance of the ads that show up on their service.

During an ad auction, you’ll bid on a specific keyword or search phrase. If you’re the highest bidder for a particular term, you win a spot at the top of that SERP. Here’s a brief example of how things might shake down:

Pretend you work for a company that sells, I don’t know, travel mugs, and you want to run a PPC campaign for your new product. So, you bid on the key phrase “best travel mug” in the Google ad auction, and you win. Now, every time someone searches “best travel mug” on Google, your ad will be triggered and served to the user who made that search.

Of course, the hope is then that your ad piques their interest, they click it, browse your website and buy the new mug.

The Efficiency of PPC

Most types of advertising, whether traditional or contemporary, take time to produce results. But, with PPC, the fruits of your labor can ripen much faster. From the moment a PPC ad goes live, you can start generating more revenue. This makes it an efficient and fast-working digital marketing tactic.

Optimizing ads for specific platforms can also help contribute to the success of the campaign. Speaking of which, here are a few of the best PPC channels you can run ads on:

  • Google Ads.
  • Facebook Ads.
  • Amazon Ads.

Each platform is a little different in terms of ad placement, formats and pricing.

Types of PPC Ads

PPC advertising isn’t just for search, either. While that does tend to be the most popular type (and most expensive), PPC ads come in a few varieties, including:

  • Search ads.
  • Display ads.
  • Video ads.
  • Shopping ads.
  • Remarketing ads.

Overnight success can happen with PPC advertising — but in general, you’ll want to give it about three months before you can truly determine whether or not it’s working on any particular platform.

Why PPC Is Worth the Effort

As we mentioned, PPC will cost you. That’s mainly due to the competitiveness of certain keywords and phrases, which thousands of other brands and businesses would love to win. And because PPC runs like an auction, you wind up paying more for the most coveted keywords.

That said, just because it can get expensive doesn’t mean you should shy away. In fact, PPC can also be fairly cost-effective, too. It all depends on how much you’re willing to invest.

Even though PPC can entail a high cost, it’s often worth it — especially if you have an expert team of PPC masterminds to help you with your campaign.

Benefits of PPC

OK, so we know how it works — but why should you invest in a PPC campaign? These benefits highlight just a few perks of getting a PPC strategy up and running:

Easy to Track and Measure

It can often be challenging to view the full scope and performance of more traditional marketing efforts. However, popular PPC platforms like Google Ads and Bing Ads allow you to keep tabs on conversions at both a granular and large-scale level.

For added ease, with Google Ads, metrics plug right into your existing Google Analytics account for easy access, review and reporting.

Can Be Cost Effective

One of the great things about PPC is that you have flexible control over your budget, pretty much down to the dollar. While this advertising type can be expensive, you have the freedom to spend or save as much as you see fit.

It’s More Simple to Target the Right Audience

Engaging your target audience is efficient using PPC. Keyword targeting is the core of these types of campaigns, and it’s really as simple as determining the words and phrases that you believe your target audience would use to search for your product or service. Of course, you can solidify your assumptions with data provided by whichever platform you’re running the campaign on.

Targeting the right audience also helps keep wasted ad spend to a minimum.

Potential Disadvantages of PPC

Almost everything in life comes with at least a few disadvantages. So just because there are a few things to be mindful about, you shouldn’t be scared away. That said, it’s important to be aware of some of the potential pitfalls of PPC. (Don’t worry, the pit is kind of shallow.)

Here are a few that come to mind:

It Can be Costly

Costs can quickly add up if you’re not careful. PPC is extremely responsive, but this comes with a price tag. If you’re not sure about how much to spend, start small and work your way up to a larger total budget once you know you’re targeting the right audience.

For reference, here’s what different sizes organizations typically spend on PPC campaigns:

  • A small business: $1,000-$2,000 per month.
  • A mid-sized organization: $8,000-$10,000 per month.
  • A large corporation: $50,000+ per month.

It Requires Perpetual Management

While strategies like SEO and website content can in some ways be considered a set-it-and-forget-it style of marketing (even though they still require maintenance and upkeep), PPC takes constant management. To have the best chance at success, it’s important to have a skilled professional looking after your PPC campaign ads at all times. That includes:

  • Keeping an eye on analytics.
  • Making adjustments where and when necessary.
  • Optimizing ads (and the campaign as a whole) as they unfold.

New Privacy Laws Make Targeting More Difficult

Yes, we know we just mentioned the ease with which you can target the correct audience with PPC as a benefit — and it is! However, the digital landscape is always changing as I’m sure you know. With that, changes in privacy laws have made targeting your audience a bit more difficult.

Data transparency laws and policies require PPC campaigns to remain compliant with legislation, meaning an advertiser’s ability to collect sufficient data to reach their end-user more efficiently and effectively is impeded.

That said, it’s certainly not impossible. And, quite frankly, targeting PPC ads may still be more straightforward than other types of advertising campaigns.

Partner With a PPC Ads Agency To Grow Your Business

Constant and consistent management is the name of the game for your PPC campaign. Without it, you may be targeting the wrong keywords, ads could be left unoptimized and your ROI may not grow as much as you expected it to.

But fret not, because help is out there! You don’t have to create PPC ads on your own.

PPC ad agencies specialize in this sort of thing. They’ll guide you through all the processes to help you understand what works and what doesn’t, create click-worthy ads for the campaign itself and help you navigate the ever-changing rules of digital marketing to secure your position at the top of SERPs. 

And by “they,” we mean “we.” We can help you do all of that.

Now that you know just how lucrative PPC can be, what are you waiting for?