Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is one of the foundations of internet marketing. Without these keyword and context-based ads there’d be no Google or Yahoo; the web would be a much different looking (and less profitable) place.
Every top search engine (including Google, Yahoo and MSN) relies on PPC ads as their main revenue source. When you use a search engine it pairs your search words with ads tagged with matching keywords. That’s why you see related ad content next to your searches. The result: ads about what you’re interested in, displayed on something you probably use every time you’re online. It’s easy to see why PPC’s a powerful marketing tool.
How do you buy PPC ad space? After registering an account with a provider (search engine) you bid on certain keywords: terms that, when they relate to a web search, appear as sponsored content alongside the results. If you win the keyword auction the provider hooks your ad up with that keyword. The three big PPC services are Google’s AdSense, Yahoo’s Search Marketing and MSN’s AdCenter.
Not all keywords are created equal! Providers rate keywords based on popularity and past click-throughs, establishing minimum bids for each. Unlike some other advertising models, you don’t pay just because your ad loads on the page. Your winning bid establishes what you’ll pay every time someone clicks on it.
You might want to go for the cheapest keywords around, or maybe you’ll pay more for leading search terms – but it’s a big mistake to choose keywords based on price alone. This isn’t like offline advertising, where you can adjust your position with social acumen and graceful graphic design. A PPC service is automated, text-based affair. It’s all about the words, so put real thought into picking them.
You have to compare how valuable certain keywords are to you against how valuable they are to PPC providers (who set minimum bids) and competing bidders. Your modest used car dealership isn’t going to get much out of the keyword “cars.” It’s broad, common and thus, expensive. On the other hand, if your dealership’s in a tiny place like Lost Springs, Wyoming you’ll want business from neighboring towns. “lost springs used cars” might be dirt cheap but it won’t make you any money.
This is one reason why companies opt for professional help. GILL Media is in the business of analyzing keywords, linking them to effective ads and incorporating it all into a multifaceted marketing campaign.
We’ve described the bare bones of PPC but the devil really is in the details. Ad quality metrics, distribution settings and other factors make effective PPC campaigns the domain of a skilled consultant. That’s the other reason to get help from GILL Media. PPC’s a deep topic – and we’ll talk about it some more in the second part of our series.