What is PPC?

PPC (pay-per-click) marketing is a form of online advertising in which advertisers accrue costs when users click their ads. Advertisers bid on the perceived value of a click in relation to the keywords, platforms, and audience type in which it originates.

The Basics

PPC is used for all types of campaign goals, including:

  • Increasing sales
  • Generating leads
  • Promoting brand awareness

PPC is all about relevance. Users are searching for specific products, services, and information at any given time. Advertisers have the ability to show a targeted ad at the exact moment this search is occurring. For example, if a user searches for “blue running shoes,” an advertiser can show an ad speaking to “blue running shoes.”

Through both targeting settings and account structure, advertisers can run successful PPC campaigns as long as relevance is paramount.

Main Platforms

Google AdWords

Run on Google, Search Partner sites, and Display Network sites, AdWords is the largest pay-per-click platform. AdWords was launched in October 2000 and has gone through several iterations over the last 17 years. AdWords is geared toward the entire spectrum of companies from small businesses to Fortune 500.

Bing Ads

Similar to AdWords, Bing Ads is a pay-per-click platform showing ads on the Bing and Yahoo networks. The platform also utilizes Search Partners. Bing Ads is primarily keyword based advertising. As of 2017, Bing Ads has 142 million unique searchers on the Bing Network*.

Account Structure

Campaigns and Ad Groups

Advertisers begin by choosing keyword themes and creating individual campaigns. For example, a PPC professional may create a campaign with the theme “Coffee Tables”. Within this campaign are themed subcategories, called ad groups. These ad groups may include:

Oval Coffee Tables
Long Coffee Tables
Round Coffee Tables

Each ad group then contains themed keyword variations. For example, the “Oval Coffee Tables” ad group may contain these keywords:

Oval coffee tables
Coffee tables oval
Oval coffee tables on sale

Keywords

Every keyword must be assigned a match type, which defines the queries for which ads will show. There are seven keyword match types:

Exact – Query must be typed in exactly

Exact (Close Variant) – Query must be typed in exactly, but can include misspellings or other variants

Phrase – Query must be typed in correct order, even if there are additional terms before or after the query

Phrase (Close Variant) – Query must be typed in correct order, even if there are additional terms before or after the query. Query can include misspellings or other variants

Broad – Query can be typed in any order and will potentially show ads for similar searches

Modified Broad – Query can be typed in any order, but must include terms that contain a plus sign

Broad (Session-Based) – A form of broad match that takes into account other queries from that user’s search session

Here is a table of the match types, keywords, and potential search queries.

Negative Keywords

Along with the positive terms, negative keywords can be added to help remove unqualified traffic. For example, someone who searches for “free coffee table” isn’t looking to buy. By adding “free” as a negative keyword, the advertiser’s ad will not show when a query containing this term is typed. For a company selling high end products, “bargain” or “cheap” related terms may make good negative keywords.

Audiences

Audiences are groups of users segmented in a variety of ways. Most often audiences are used in remarketing. Audiences can be created based upon specific pageviews, time spent on site, pages per visit, and more. Similar to keywords, audiences are bid upon based on relevance. For example, advertisers may bid more to remarket to shopping cart abandoners vs. homepage viewers.

Ad Copy

Expanded Text Ads

Once ad groups are created and the keywords chosen, ads can be written. Ads should include the targeted keyword theme, any value propositions, and a call to action.

AdWords text ad structure and character limits are as follows:

Headline 1 – Up to 30 characters (including spaces)
Headline 2 – Up to 30 characters (including spaces)
Description Line – Up to 80 characters (including spaces)
Path 1 – Up to 15 characters
Path 2 – Up to 15 characters

Ads cannot contain excessive capitalization, punctuation, or misleading statements. Keep in mind that the display URL will combine the root of the final URL with Path 1 and Path 2.

It should be noted that Expanded Text Ads replaced traditional Text Ads in both Bing and Google. While still currently eligible to serve within AdWords, advertisers can no longer create new variations of the traditional ad format. For reference, this consisted of a 25 character headline and a pair of 35 character description lines