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What Is Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising?

Pay per click advertising (PPC)

Pay-Per Click can be a massive profit and awareness generator for your product or service. However, without proper and experienced Pay-Per Click Management, you may end up spending a lot for a little in terms of results. If you have any questions or would like to leverage our knowledge and experience in setting up and managing your PPC campaign, we are here to help.       Contact Us today.


PPC Advertising Defined.
PPC is a format of advertising offered by search engines like Google and Bing, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter among others. It general terms it is an advertising medium in which you only pay when your ad is clicked. This means 1,000 users could see your ad, but you only pay when one of them clicks on it. In this post we will detail the most important aspects of Pay Per Click Ad Campaigns on search engines.


Ad Types.
Search Ads:
Search Ads are the ads that appear at both the top and bottom of the search results based on what keywords you have selected to bid upon.

An Example of a search ad



Display ads:
Display Ads are largely image based, they are not shown on search engine result pages but rather other websites that are part of the display network, meaning they allow display ads to be shown on their website.


display ad example
Targeting Options.
Targeting is one of the key benefits PPC has over traditional advertising. Your ad spend can be directly targeted at your most likely potential customers. Those who are not part of the market for your product or service can be avoided, increasing the effectiveness and quality of your advertising efforts. Below you will find some of the most used Pay Per Click Targeting methods; there are however other additional targeting methods ranging from location, to time, to device type.
Search Ad Targeting:

  • Search Ad Keyword targeting– You use this by selecting keywords you want your ads to appear for. This means your ad will only show when those keywords which you have selected are queried by a user in a search engine. If you select mini pizza as one of your keywords, and a user then searches for mini pizza your ad has the opportunity to be shown to them on the search engine where you are running your ads.


  • Search Ad Negative Keyword Targeting – This is largely the same as regular keyword targeting but in this case you select words that may trigger your ad but aren’t relevant to your product or service (I.e. You have a hotel in Portland Maine, you might want to add Oregon to your negative keywords) this allows you to avoid irrelevant clicks on your ads without excluding the entire state of Oregon from seeing them.


  • Search Ad Similar Audiences – This allows your search ads to be shown to users that are similar to users who have visited your website. Based on the search behavior and other factors of users who have visited your website, search engines will identify other users with similar online behaviors and show your ads to them in the Search Network.



Display Ad Targeting:

  • Display Ads Keyword Targeting – Another way to use keywords for targeting is in conjunction with display ads. In this case the keywords you select are used to identify websites that are related or relevant to your product or service on which to show your display ads (Image based ads). If you added brake repair as one of your keywords, your image based display ads will appear on website pages that have content that is related to this (i.e. websites or forums about brake repair, newspaper articles about brakes, and a variety of other websites related to brakes)


  • Display Ads Demographic Targeting– This targeting method is only compatible with display Ads (for now), but gives you a powerful tool to further define the relevant market you want search engines to show your ads to. Search Engine demographic targeting allows you to choose genders, age groups, and parental status to narrow your target market. For instance you sell women’s running shows, you likely would want to focus your display ads on women and limit their exposure to men using demographic targeting, since men are not your primary market.


  • PPC Display Ads Placement Targeting – Placements are the websites and or apps on which your display ads are shown. By using manual placements you can select which websites you want your display ads to be shown on and only show them on those sites you have selected (however not all websites allow ads). If you sell a heavy duty drill meant for professional construction workers, you may want to only have your ad shown on specific construction supply websites and forums you select and nowhere else.


  • PPC Display Ads Topics Targeting – Topics targeting allows you to choose specific topics that are related to your products or services and have your display ads shown on websites that are about the similar topics you have selected. For instance if you sell modern furniture, you might select Home Furnishings as one of your topics.


  • Display Ad Exclusions – Exclusions allow you to negatively target all the previously discussed display targeting options. This means you can choose to exclude certain keywords, demographics, websites, apps, or topics. An example of this would be a company that sells medical supplies to seniors. A company of this nature may want to exclude 18-24 year olds from seeing their ads, and children’s gaming websites and apps from showing them. This allows them to focus their advertising and optimize their budget.


Google Maps Ads:
These ads allow your business to be shown on google maps when a user searches for a related business in the local area or performs a map search on mobile when they are near your location. They provide a powerful tool to grow your brick and mortar visits and grow local awareness of your business.



Re-targeting/Re-marketing Targeting:
Re-targeting was once limited to the Display ads only but is now available for Search Ads as well, It is such a powerful tool we have decided to give it its own section. Re-targeting allows your website to instantly tag visitors and then show them display and or search ads for your product or service across the web. In simple terms it allows your ads to follow users around when they are browsing. This is the most effective PPC targeting method there is. It allows you to consistently show your ad to users who have already visited your site and shown interest in your product or service, and get them to come back and make a purchase or become a lead.


Retargeting infographic


Choosing the Right Ad Type(s) and Targeting.
When It comes to PPC there are many paths one may take to success, however based on our experience some methods are more efficient and effective than others. Choosing the right ad type and targeting methods are dependent on the goals you have for your PPC campaign, so before even thinking about how you are going to target your ads and what type you will use, you need to define in detail the goals you want to achieve with your PPC campaign.
Ask yourself the Following Questions.



  • What is the primary goal of my PPC campaign? Do you want more eCommerce sales, more app downloads, more calls/leads, more email signups, donations, awareness, in store visits etc?


  • Does my website effectively support my goal? Does your website provide users with a clear, easy and convenient method to achieve your primary goal? If the answer is no, you must address this before proceeding with a PPC campaign.


Now that you know the primary goal of your Pay Per Click Campaign and that your website can support that goal you can begin selecting ad types and targeting methods. While the diversity of potential product and service offerings is staggering and each requires a unique ad strategy for success there are some general trends in PPC that can help narrow down your choices.



  • No matter what your goal is or what you offer, if you have the budget for two campaigns re-targeting should be your second choice. These are most often the highest converting (most goal completions) and will act to support your other PPC campaign(s). If your product/service is visually appealing or individual consumer oriented, display ad re-targeting will likely be effective. If your product/service is very niche or complicated a search ad re-targeting campaign will likely be more effective for you.


  •  If your product or service is widely appealing and has a very wide and diverse consumer base (Clothing, shoes, etc.), or you want to generate wide awareness, display ad targeting such as topics, keywords, and demographics can be effective. Giving you wide reach, at costs lower than search ads, while leveraging the general visual appeal of your product. However PPC display ads and these targeting methods are not usually effective for small niche markets (B2B) that require highly defined targeting.


  • If you are a restaurant or other small local business with a storefront that’s primary goal involves generating more foot traffic, Map ads will likely go the furthest to helping you achieve that goal.


  • If you still want the traditional effect of newspaper advertising in the digital world, combine managed placements with PPC display ads and select the newspapers you want your ads to show in.


  • Search Ads provide one of the most effective Pay Per Click ad formats. By selecting relevant keywords and crafting quality copy you can effectively reach those consumers that are directly searching for the same type of product or service you offer. Search Ads are more expensive than display but they are effective for nearly any product or service.


While not all products or services will fit in neatly with our recommended best practices for targeting and Pay Per Click ad types, experience has shown us the above recommendations are true for the vast majority of campaigns. 



Measuring the Effectiveness of your Pay Per Click Campaign.
There are dozens of different metrics that you can view to understand the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns, ad groups, individual ads, placements, and even individual keywords. These range from bounce rates, to click through rates and much more. Selecting the right metrics and being able to understand how they relate to each other can be a difficult and sometimes daunting task. Here are the metrics we give the most attention to.

conversion rate chart


  • Conversion Rate: If there is one metric to rule them all, this is It.* This tells you how often a user who clicks on your ad completes the goal you built your PPC campaign to achieve. When measuring the effectiveness of your PPC campaign this should be your primary focus.


  • Clicks: The number of time your ads have been clicked.


  • Impressions: The number of times your ads have been displayed on a user’s screen for over one second.


  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR): Clicks over impressions. This can help you tell what the most appealing display ad image is or most effective search ad copy is. The higher the CTR the more appealing the ad presentation.


  • Bounce Rate: This is defined as a visitor to your website who arrives and immediately leaves without interacting with your site (Lower bounce rate = better). This is important to use in combination with CTR, for instance if you have an ad that has a high CTR but also a high bounce rate you may have an appealing ad, but where users land after clicking it is not relevant to them or to the ad copy.


  • Cost Per Click (CPC): The price of one click on your ad.


*To be an effective measure of your PPC campaign, conversions must be properly set up and should directly measure the achievement of your goal by a visitor. A visit to your homepage, or other page not directly related to your primary goal should not be tracked as a conversion.
By using these metrics you can understand the effectiveness of your PPC campaign and further improve upon it to increase quality and efficiency, driving more users to complete your primary goal. There is also another important use for these metrics and that is setting your budget.



Setting A Budget.
Before you first start your PPC campaign you will need to do some research on the CPC of the keywords you want to use and or the general budgets or those in the same or similar industries to you, as well as the competitiveness for the keywords you want to use. Based on this information you can set a realistic budget similar to those in your industry. However after 3-4 weeks you should have enough data to accurately calculate your average Return on Ad Spend (PPC Revenue – PPC Cost/PPC Cost = ROAS). Based on your ROAS you can then lower or raise your budget to the optimal level to achieve the greatest return, ensuring your advertising is always profitable. Something you could never hope to effectively measure with traditional advertising.



We hope you now have a fuller grasp and a greater understanding of what PPC is and how it can be effectively leveraged to benefit your business. This post builds the foundation for a full understanding of Pay Per Click Advertising, but is by no means comprehensive. Unfortunately due to space and time we are only able to highlight some of the most important information and aspects of Pay Per Click Advertising and its benefits over traditional advertising methods in terms of targeting, costs, reach, and general effectiveness.



Pay Per Click Advertising is extremely useful and important to the success of almost any business today, but it can also be a complicated and time consuming proposition for any business to manage on their own. If you have any other questions or would like to leverage our experience and knowledge for your PPC campaign Contact Us or Request a Quote today.


By Benjamin Henniges

Faster Solutions Web-marketing Coordinator

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