You may not realise it, but you will likely have come into contact with PPC at some point today. The listings at the top of Google, those sponsored posts on Facebook, and the banners that follow you around your favourite news websites. They are all a form of PPC that allows brands to reach prospective customers at various points across the web.

In this article I’ll be explaining the basics of PPC and answering a few of the most common questions I get asked about this marketing channel. These questions have been asked of me by both experienced business owners and newbie marketers. So, don’t worry if you’re struggling with the fundamentals of pay per click advertising too.

The questions I’ll be answering include:

  • What Does PPC Stand For?
  • What is PPC?
  • What Are the Different Types of PPC?
  • Why Does PPC Matter?
  • How Does PPC Work?

What Does PPC Stand For?

PPC is an abbreviation of ‘Pay per click’. The term has been used to describe a particular advertising model since the mid-1990s. Whilst many websites have claimed to be the first to offer this model to advertisers, many believe a web directory named Planet Oasis was the first to offer pay per click advertising.

What is PPC?

PPC is a type of online advertising which allows advertisers to pay for each click on their ads. This is opposed to the traditional type of advertising in which you pay for the number of times your ads were seen. Many prefer the pay per click model as it can often be more goal-orientated and cost-effective.

In the majority of cases a bidding structure is at the heart of PPC advertising platforms such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads. This relies on each advertiser setting an amount they are willing to pay for each click on their ads and a total budget per day.

The brand who is willing to pay the most will typically appear most often and in the most valuable spots. Some advertising platforms, however, consider other factors to determine how often an ad should be shown. This includes the relevance to the user, quality of the advert, standard of the landing page and more.

What Are the Different Types of PPC?

Many of the most popular websites offer a pay per click advertising solution for brands. This includes major search engines and popular social networks such as:

  • Google
  • Bing
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

These websites typically fall into one of the below categories. For example, you will often see people refer to Google Ads as ‘Paid Search Advertising’ and Facebook Ads as ‘Social Media Advertising’.

  • Paid Search Advertising
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Display Advertising

The type of PPC that is best suited for your brand is largely dependent upon your audience and goal. This is as some solutions, such as paid search advertising, allow you to reach individuals with high intent (i.e. those who search for your product on Google). Other solutions, such as social media advertising, allow you to reach individuals based upon their demographic (i.e. those with particular interests).

Your agency or consultant will typically be able to suggest the best type of PPC advertising for you. In many circumstances you will benefit from a mixture, allowing you to reach and engage prospective customers at various points on the web.

Why Does PPC Matter?

Whether you’re selling a product or service, you want as many relevant people as possible visiting your website. Whilst search engine optimisation and social media marketing can help with this, they are not typically quick solutions.

Pay per click advertising allows you to quickly reach, engage and potentially convert those searching for your product or who meet the demographic of a typical customer. This may be through paid search advertising, social media advertising or display advertising.

Unlike some traditional forms of advertising PPC is very scalable. This is as you only pay when somebody clicks on your advertisement and how much you pay is largely up to you. You can also set a daily budget to ensure you don’t unexpectedly overspend.

Another benefit of PPC is its measurability. This is as most platforms offer insights on how people discovered your ad and what they did once they clicked on it. You can then analyse this data to further improve the performance of your pay per click advertising.

There are few types of advertising that provide as much control, scalability and measurability as PPC. This makes it ideal for both new and established brands, whatever your marketing budget may be.

How Does PPC Work?

Most pay per click advertising platforms allow advertisers to set a maximum bid. This is the amount they are willing to pay for each click on their ads. Depending upon the advertising platform, this bid may influence how often your ads appear and in which positions.

In some cases there are other factors that impact how often your ads are shown. This could include the quality of the ad, relevance to the user, quality of the landing page and more. Some platforms, such as Google Ads, provide metrics to indicate whether the quality of your ads is negatively influencing their reach.

When running pay per click advertisements you can typically set a maximum daily budget. This ensures that you do not overspend. Some platforms have a minimum budget and you may struggle to assess the success without at healthy budget.

As each platform has different targeting options, bidding processes, campaign structures and creative, you should discuss the details with your consultant or agency. Although, if you’re interested in Google Ads I would recommend reading their basic guides. If you are contemplating Facebook Ads just refer to Facebook’s essential guide.

If you’re time poor and want to ensure your pay per click advertising is being handled by an experienced marketer, then consider working with a consultant or agency. You can learn more about my PPC consultancy online or book a free consultation now.

Beginner's Guide to Pay-per-click Advertising