There is a near-infinite number of ways that you can spend your marketing budget. For many marketers, pay-per-click advertising, commonly abbreviated to simply PPC, is a primary source of marketing spend.
Why? Because PPC is an incredibly robust and rich strategy that can help a business produce more revenue (it’s also great for brand awareness and achieving many other marketing objectives).
You’ve probably read about the power of PPC before but you need to know how it works, especially before you choose to invest in this new strategy. After all, how else can you ensure that you achieve a positive return on your investment if you don’t know how the PPC model works?
Who Is Involved In PPC?
Before getting to the “how,” you first need to understand the three parties involved in the PPC process. These three groups are advertisers, platforms, and publishers. This section will describe each and discuss their role in PPC marketing.
That’s you! At least, it may be very soon. Advertisers are businesses or individuals that create ad messages and campaigns with the hopes of generating website traffic through the promotion of their brand and products/services.
The chief responsibility of advertisers is to create compelling ad content and then monitor performance to find ways to adjust campaigns to achieve even better results. Advertisers typically spend more time managing campaigns than they do creating ad copy.
A PPC platform acts as a sort of middle-man between the advertiser and the publisher. The platform is where advertisers go to create and manage their ads. Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads are all types of PPC platforms. There are also some other, lesser-known platforms like AdRoll, RevContent, and Bidvertiser.
The job of the PPC platform is to help advertisers reach their desired audience through a network of publishers. This means developing features and tools that help advertisers refine their targeting to further improve campaign performance.
A PPC publisher is essentially a website owner that teams up with a platform and gives permission for advertisers to publish adverts on their site in return for a cut of the costs. The Google AdSense program, for example, teams up with millions of website owners to give advertisers a wider audience to reach. When a click occurs, the platform and the publisher both make money.
That said, most PPC platforms are also publishers. The Google Search Network, for example, allows marketers to publish paid results on search pages. Similarly, Facebook Ads are focused on creating paid content to post in user feeds. In this case, all of the revenue is kept by the PPC platform.
How The PPC Process Works
Now that you know the players, it’s time to discuss the PPC process. There are several steps in this process and each one deserves attention.
Choose A PPC Platform
It starts with the advertiser choosing a PPC platform. Every platform carries its own set of benefits and drawbacks. A lot of businesses select Google Ads because it reaches the most people and offers the widest range of options. Some businesses utilize more than one platform.
Next, the advertiser needs to select how they will target their audience. Every platform has different options for this. The Google Search Network, for instance, uses keywords to align searches with relevant ad messages. Facebook Ads use audience interests based on what they’ve liked on the network.
Similar to targeting options, each platform also has its own rules for what an ad message looks like. Some platforms, like the Google Search Network, use only text. Here it is up to a headline and description to entice users to pay attention and click. Other platforms allow for images and videos to be used in the ad messages. It is important to utilize different ad messages and test which offers and language works best with your audience.
Here is where the costs come into play. Every ad you publish will face competition, which means other advertisers that want to target the same audience in the same places. In order for PPC platforms to decide which advertiser to choose for what ad placements, they hold an auction. Your bid amount is how much you are willing to pay for a single click for that ad. The more competition, the higher your bids need to be. When it comes to keyword targeting, bid costs can range from a few cents to as high as $60+.
Hopefully, your bid was high enough for your ad message to win the auction, which means your ad has been successfully published in front of a member of your target audience. Congratulations! It’s important to reiterate that you only pay for PPC advertising when someone clicks your ad. That’s where the name “pay-per-click” comes from. If the ad appears but no one clicks, then there is no cost to the advertiser.
What happens after a click? When a prospective customer clicks the ad, they are brought to your website. More specifically, they are brought to the page that you’ve linked to the ad. This is known as your landing page.
You should create a special landing page specific to each type of ad you produce. Landing pages need to be designed to follow your ad message with additional content and offer that help drive conversions. Your ads and landing pages are the one-two punch that turns clicks into customers!
A Word About Quality Score And Bidding
When determining ad ranks and assessing bids, some PPC platforms look at other signals beyond how much each advertiser has bid. This way PPC auctions are not controlled by the biggest wallets. Google Ads, for instance, uses Quality Score as a way of rating the value of the ad message in relation to the keyword being targeted.
Quality Score looks at the quality and relevance of both the ad itself and the landing page that it sends clicks to. It also measures the expected clickthrough rate of your ad based on the performance of past campaigns. When advertisers have high-Quality Scores, they pay less for clicks, which means their bids are lower.
PPC is not a complex process, but it does take time and patience to master. Even if your PPC ads are driving a healthy number of clicks and conversions, you still need to monitor performance carefully and look for insights into how to improve. You never know what shift in the PPC marketplace will cause your performance to take a downturn!
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