PPC, or pay-per-click marketing, is a form of web advertising that allows companies to place advertisements in search results or elsewhere on the web, paying only when somebody clicks on an ad, rather than paying for impressions.
- Search engine advertising: Advertisers bid on keywords in order to have their ads appear in the search engine results when somebody performs a search that is relevant to their business. It’s a brilliant system because the search query provides a strong indication of what the searcher is looking for, so advertisers can focus their marketing dollars on the audience that is mostly likely to buy from them, rather than broadcasting a message to a very general, unspecified audience (as in traditional TV, radio, or magazine advertising).
- Advertising on partner networks: You can also place ads (both text ads and display ads, or banner ads) on a large network of partner sites. These tend to be less targeted than ads tied to particular keywords, but they are also cheaper (i.e., have a lower cost per click). (Remarketing campaigns, however, are highly targeted, because they show display ads to a specific audience that has already visited your website.)
PPC marketing is a “pay to play” way to get exposure in search engine results. Organic search engine optimization (SEO), on the other hand, consists of efforts to “earn” a free spot on the SERP. Both SEO and PPC have advantages and disadvantages, and most businesses will find that a mix of both marketing channels (along with other methods of lead generation) works best.
Au contraire! This is a pervasive myth, fueled by all the people who go around loudly claiming “I never click on ads!” I’ve personally never understood why this would be a point of pride, as if clicking on an advertisement means you got duped somehow; it’s not like you pay to click an ad, the company doing the advertising pays! In any case, the evidence suggests that many of the people who claim “never to click ads” either don’t realize that some of the results they are clicking are ads, or they’re lying. Here’s some of that evidence:
- Almost all of Google’s substantial revenues (97-98% of its annual revenue, over $40 billion in 2012) comes from advertising. That means, you guessed it, someone is clicking on ads.
- For search queries with high commercial intent, sponsored results (AKA ads) can take up to twice as many clicks as organic results. Most search queries are informational or navigational in nature, so most clicks overall still go to organic results. But for queries that show intent to buy, ads get a lot of space on the SERP and they do get plenty of clicks.
- If there is no right-hand column, almost half of people (45.5%) can’t tell the difference between organic and paid search results, according to one study.
Note also that search ads on Google have a much higher average click-through rate than the typical web banner ad. More on this below.
You can’t answer this question without a little speculation, because we’re talking about human motivation/psychology. Leaving aside the small percentage of clicks that can be attributed to click fraud and accidental clicking, here are some of the reasons that Google users might click on an AdWords ad:
- They don’t know it’s an ad. See above. Some users can’t tell the difference between paid and organic results, and they wouldn’t be doing a web search in the first place if they didn’t intend to click on something.
- The ad is the most relevant result for their query. If the searcher is looking for a specific product or service, with clear intent to buy, an ad could well be the best “answer” to their “question.” Product listing ads, which include a picture of the product in question, can be especially appealing, because they show you exactly what you’re looking for. Google’s Quality Score system works to make AdWords beneficial for everyone – if Google serves up only the best, most relevant ads, they are more likely to be clicked, which is a win-win-win situation for advertisers, searchers, and Google alike.
- The ad catches their attention indirectly. Sometimes an ad is served that is only indirectly related to the searcher’s query. Or they may not be searching at all – they may see an ad on the content network (while they are checking their email or reading a news article, for example). Nonetheless, the ad might be relevant to their interests.
Any of these reasons could work for your benefit, but the safest path to success as a PPC advertiser is to try to make your ad the most relevant result for the search query. Then they’ll have no reason not to click.
There are many good reasons to use PPC. Here are 10 of them:
- It’s scalable
- It’s measureable
- It’s flexible
- It’s faster than SEO
- It’s (usually) easier than SEO
- It’s taking over the SERPs
- It’s engaging
- It converts
- It’s complementary to other marketing channels
- Your competitors are doing it
Like any marketing channel, PPC has a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a highly cost-effective and dependable source of leads.