Pay-Per-Click Marketing 101 The Basics

The old saying “You have to spend money to make money” could not be more true in the world of digital marketing.

There is a common myth that if you have a great product and build a fantastic website people will just find and buy what you’re offering.

As much as I wish this myth were true, it could not be farther from the truth.

There are a lot of companies out there promising front page Google search results through SEO in a matter of weeks, some even days!

Truth is that it takes about 4 to 6 months to start seeing real results from your SEO efforts.

4 to 6 months can feel like an eternity. So what do we do in the meantime to make sure we get the traffic (i.e. potential customers) we need?

The short answer is that we leverage the power of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing.


What is PPC Marketing?

Pay-Per-Click Marketing is exactly what its name implies.

You pay a specified amount of money each time one of your ads is clicked and a visitor is brought to your site.

Essentially, PPC Marketing allows you to purchase highly targeted website traffic.

This brings in the traffic you need without having to wait for your SEO efforts to begin to flourish.

As a side note PPC Marketing should be an ongoing effort and should not end when your SEO everts start paying off.


How does PPC Marketing Work?


The Creative

The PPC process begins with an ad, or creative.

There are many types of creatives that can be used in PPC Marketing including:


Text Ads

Text ads are the most common PPC ads.

You may be more familiar with these ads than you are aware as they almost always accompany your Google search results.

They may also be shown on Google partner sites using Google AdSense.

Text Ad


Image Ads

Image ads are commonly found while browsing websites.

In recent years companies like BuzzFeed are littered with these guys.

They may also be shown on Google partner sites using Google AdSense.

Image Ad


Video Ads

Are you ready to watch that awesome cat fail video on YouTube.

You search, you find, you wait… usually about 5 seconds for an advertisement about an all new brand of kitty litter.

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!?... Video PPC Marketing.

While there are many forms of video PPC Marketing, YouTube ads are the most prevalent.

Pre-roll, in-stream and in display are just some of the powerful marketing options made available to you through video marketing.

Video Ad


Each form of PPC marketing takes on a slightly different skin depending on your provider.

Display ads in Google AdWords look and feel much different than Facebook’s equivalent Image Ads.

Regardless of how they appear, most PPC outlets will offer the Big Three (Text, Image and Video) in some form.


Keywords and Demographics

Ads don’t just get shown to everyone at random.

Remember we said that PPC Marketing brings in highly targeted traffic.

Traffic is targeted in a number of different ways, but primarily it’s done through keywords and demographics.

Keywords are a set of selected words and phrases that when match with search terms or website content will show your ad.


Example Time

Let’s say you select “Cake baking” as one of your keyword phrases.

You make sure that you select an option that will also loosely match other search terms to your selected keyword.

Jon searches in Google, “How to bake a cake.”

Jon’s search terms are matched to your selected keywords and your ad is shown.

There is quite a bit more to this process which we will discuss momentarily.

Jon clicks a different link into a website about cake baking. This site hosts display ads through Google AdSense.

The content of this website is matched to your keywords and your ad is shown again.

This time Jon clicks and ends up on your website.

Demographics consist of traits and properties associated with your target audience such as age, gender, interests and geographical location.

If you were to specify within your demographics that you only wanted to show your ads to females between 35-50, no matter how exact Jon matched your keywords in his search terms, he would not see your ad.


Bids, Budgets and the Auction

As the name implies PPC Marketing is not free.

You pay a specified price each time someone clicks on your ad.

This raises the question, “How much?”

Every Pay-Per-Click services offers Bids and Budgets.

Bids - are the maximum amount of money that you wish to spend on each click of your ad. Based on auction results (discussed next) you may not actually pay your maximum but you will never pay more.

Budgets - are the total amount of money you wish to spend each day on your marketing campaign. When your total spend on clicks (based on bid and click count) equals your daily budget, your ads are no longer shown for the day.

There are many other bid options, such as bid adjustments which will raise or lower you bid amount, that come into play as well. These are additional features you set and far exceed the scope of this article.


The Auction

The keywords are chosen, bids are locked in and the ads are ready to be show. But wait! There’s one final thing that must take place.

The auction is where the real magic happens in PPC Marketing.

Let’s say Katie, Jim and Sandy are all gunning for the same keywords, demographics and ad types.

The only differences in their campaigns are their bids and budgets.

  • Katie - bids $1.50 per click and has a budget of $150.
  • Jim - bids $2.00 and has a budget of $2.00.
  • Sandy - bids $0.50 and has a budget of $100.

The first result goes to auction. Because Jim’s bid is the highest (excluding any other factors such as Quality Score, etc) he wins the auction.

Jim’s ad is shown, but Jim doesn’t actually pay $2.00. He only pays what is needed to beat out the next qualified ad. He then only pays if an action, such as a click, is taken on his ad.

However, if this auction were to run again, Jim's ad would not be shown (if it was clicked the first time) because his remaining budget for the day is too low, and instead Katie’s ad would be shown.

Auctions determine what ads are shown, where they are shown if there are multiple ad slots and how much is actually paid out when ads are clicked.

The true battle for PPC customer acquisition happens in the auction.

If your ad is not shown, you may lose a potential sale. If your ad is shown second as opposed to first, you may lose a potential sale. <- This is not always the case.

It’s important as in all marketing to monitor, review and adjust.

Winning more customers could be as big as a significant budget increase or as small as a keyword adjustment.


Who Provides PPC Marketing Services?

While there are a plethora of different PPC Marketing channels out there, we are only going to be discussing a few of the larger options.


Google AdWords

Google AdWords

AdWords is by far the company with the largest reach.

Not only do you have the option to show ads on the Google search results page, you also have access to the thousands of partner websites, YouTube, Gmail and more.

AdWords has a robust interface and a lot of customization options for your campaigns to bring you the most highly targeted traffic possible.

Because of their far reach you’ll need to expect to pay a slightly higher cost per click than other PPC services, but your traffic will be the most targeted.



Facebook Advertising

Facebook has a massive reach and a great user interface for setting up your ads.

They walk you through the whole process. Their process even begins by asking you what your goals are so they can better assist you in setting up the best campaign possible.

Facebook’s demographic targeting is quite possibly my personal favorite.

Because of the nature of their network, people have offered up a significant amount of detail pertaining to interests, hobbies, careers and more. And you have access to target each of them specifically.

Facebook’s cost per click is also somewhat lower than other companies on the market.

Personally, I love advertising Archboard on Facebook as they make it simple and the results are fantastic.



Twitter Advertising

Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, BuySellAds and AdRoll are just a few of the other companies offering PPC Services.

Each has it’s own unique reach that may or may not be beneficial to you and your organization.

If you venture down the road of using any of these services, you’ll want to do some research into how far they reach and what you can expect when using them.



This is by no means a complete guide to PPC.

You could write books on the subject and by the time they were done, new features would be added and all the books would need rewritten.

The best way to learn to use PPC Marketing is to use PPC Marketing.

Follow the guides written by your services provide and get in the game.

Remeber, you mostlikely wont hit the jackpot the first time around.

Testing, tweaking, comparing and changing your ads is the only real way to learn.

If you'd like some help in getting your campaigns up and running, check out our Digital Marketing Packages and we'll help you drive the traffic you need!