What is Pay per Click (PPC) Advertising

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Introduction to Pay per Click Marketing

Updated: Dec 2018 | Level: Beginner | Category: Definitions

So What is Pay per Click?

Pay per Click Advertising or 'PPC' is a model of internet advertising in which an advertiser pays a publisher when an advert or piece of content is clicked. PPC is most commonly known due to it's use by major search engines, notably Google and Yahoo/Bing and more recently by Social Media platforms such as Facebook.

"PPC Advertising Plays an Important Role in Your Online Marketing Strategy"

How Does Pay per Click Work?

Advertisers effectively pay the platform in show their ad over and above other content, typically organic search results or when their targeting criteria have been met. These criteria are a combination of dozens of settings such as keywords used in the search, In PPC, the advertiser is only charged should the ad displayed is actually clicked. In this way PPC represents a really attractive way of bringing highly targeted traffic to your site.

What Types of Ads can you run in PPC?

The most common types are those offered by Google, these being Search, Display, Remarketing, Display, Shopping & Video

types of ads in pay per click advertising

Tip: If your're unsure where to start with PPC then Search campaigns targeting keywords relevant to your core products or services are a good first step.

What are the benefits of PPC?

PPC can be highly effective, with well setup and maintained campaigns delivery astonishing return-on-investment or ad spend.  Ideally any PPC campaigns are undertaken as part of a defined digital marketing strategy. Here are our Top 3 benefits of PPC:

  1. Delivers Instant Results (Traffic!)
  2. Provides a Wealth of Learnings Data
  3. Offers Great Flexibility & Control

Instant Results; Competition to grab our attention and deliver a marketing message online is fierce so the idea of quickly delivering a message to a target user or consumer of your services is very appealing right? But that competition also brings with it a cost so to be effective and see a positive return on investment campaigns must be highly targeted, actively maintained and tracked with meaningful website analytics. Assuming you follow the path you can have ads up and running in just few hours and traffic soon after.

Learnings Data & Keyword Research; PPC platforms want you to advertise on them and hence spend your budget with them. To that end they provide plenty of rich data around the audience who click your ads or content. You can use this data to inform your segmentation, campaign targeting, and website optimisation.

Flexibility & Control; One of the key elements of PPC is the ability to turn on and off campaigns quickly and easily. Contrast this SEO campaigns where you can be looking at many weeks or months of effort before seeing any tangible increase in traffic then it's no wonder this is an attractive benefit.

How much does PPC cost?

There are 3 costs elements associated with running PPC campaigns:

  1. The initial setup costs associated with the research, planning and configuration of your campaigns.
  2. The ongoing advertising costs paid for actual clicks
  3. ...and finally The ongoing management costs (or your time and effort if you plan to run it yourself)

Initial Setup Costs; using Google Ads as an example a simple Search campaign for a single product or service would technically not take more than a couple of hours to setup, in terms of button clicking. This assumes the necessary planning and keyword research has been done and the setup is performed by someone experienced in the Google Ads.

It is possible to setup campaigns for yourself, especially if you have experience with other marketing or advertising technology. Many people simply use specialist Google Partners like us for this work.  For example our Search Setup Service starts from just £59

Ongoing Advertising Costs; Once you're up and running you'll have a spend associated with the clicks you pay for. This can be anything from a couple of hundred pounds (or even less!) up to several thousand, depending on your business and objectives.  This is the cost that goes directly to advertising platform such as Google Ads. You should have a monthly budget in mind when planning your PPC campaigns and make sure you put measures and controls in place to make sure stay within your budget.

Ongoing Management Costs; These are the costs associated with the resource who actively manages your PPC campaigns, be that a member of your internal team, freelancer or an outsourced external company.  Most small business don't have the resource to dedicate someone to running PPC campaigns across a number of advertising platforms and choose to outsource the activity to a specialist PPC service provider.

These outsourced service costs are typically pegged according to your actual advertising costs and typically range between 10%-20% of your monthly advertising spend.  The number, type and complexity of the campaigns you run will have an impact of the management costs. Read about our PPC management service from just £79 per month

Things to watch out for if you're considering PPC

Here are a few things to consider if you're thinking of going further with PPC.

PPC should form part of a marketing strategy

As we've seen PPC has a number of benefits and done right can bring tremendous results. However, it's use should form part of a wider digital marketing plan, ideally one with an overarching campaign strategy that clearly maps to and supports your business objectives.

PPC should never be considered a silver bullet solution to traffic generation and should be used to work alongside and complement other marketing initiatives such as SEO, referrals, inbound content marketing etc. We advise regularly reviewing your web analytics (we recommend Google Analytics) to make sure you have a healthy balance across campaigns and channels.

Running PPC is not 'fire and forget'

Whilst the targeting, optimisation and automation capabilities of platforms like Google Ads are incredibly powerful PPC campaigns should never simply be setup and left. Doing so for any period of time will likely see your budget evaporate quicker that you planned and probably on traffic that wasn't relevant or not ready to convert.

Consider Click Fraud

Ok so fraud might be a bit of strong word but a word of caution. Remember advertisers (i.e. you) pay when someone clicks on your ad.  Who (or what!) that someone is and what their motivation for clicking your ad are can be hard to determine by the PPC platforms, yet alone the advertisers. Whilst most platforms have a number of measures to counteract/prevent this kind of activity it doesn't take much imagination to see one of your more unscrupulous competitors seeing your ad and clicking away.  - Learn more click fraud with robots

Final Thoughts on Getting Started with PPC.

Powerful? yes, cost effective? yes (if done right), easy? nope!

Success in PPC is often grounded in the research and planning and preparation phases. Key tasks such as analysing and describing your target customers, defining segments and mapping customer journeys through your website. These are all important pieces of work that will help shape the structure of any future PPC campaigns you setup, no matter which platform[s] you use.

What Next:

Google Ads Setup Checklist

Introductory | [DOWNLOAD]

Setting up Google Ads yourself? Download our FREE setup checklist for Google Ads.  WE identify the 30 settings you MUST configure for each campaign  [more...]

What's the Difference between Google AdWords & AdWords Express?

Introductory | [GUIDE]

Not sure whether to use 'full' Google Ads or AdWords Express? Read our comparison guide to work out what's best for you and your business  [more...]


In this Article:

Our Beginners Guide to PPC

  1. What is pay per click advertising?
  2. How does PPC work?
  3. What types of adverts can you run on PPC?
  4. What are the benefits of PPC?
  5. How much does PPC cost?
  6. What to watch out for in PPC?


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