What is Pay Per Click Advertising?
A brief Pay Per Click definition is: PPC is a type of sponsored online advertising that is used on a wide range of websites, including search engines, where the advertiser only pays if a web user clicks on their ad. Hence the title, ‘pay per click.’
When our clients ask us to define Pay Per Click, we tell them that PPC is a very cost-effective means to get their site noticed by their target audience while our other Internet marketing strategies are gradually helping their site achieve their natural ranking potential.
In a way, PPC advertising works like a silent auction. Advertisers place bids on keywords or phrases that they think their target audience would type in a search field when they are looking for specific goods or services. When a web user types a search query into the field of a search engine that matches the advertiser’s keyword list or visits a web page with content that correlates to the keywords or phrases chosen by the advertiser, the PPC ad may be displayed on the page. In search engines, a PPC ad is generally just above or to the right of the search results where they can be easily seen. On other kinds of websites, the ad will be placed in the location that the site designer has determined will be the most advantageous to his site and the advertiser.
To differentiate PPC ads from the natural search results displayed on a page, search engines will often place PPC ads under “Sponsored Ads” or “Sponsored Links” which also makes them easier to notice on a page that is crowded with text and other items competing for a web user’s attention.
Overall, PPC ads are beneficial to advertisers and web users alike. Advertisers get noticed by their target audience and are charged only for the times that their ads are clicked on and web users get to select from sites that may be relevant to the page they are viewing without having to deal with obnoxious banner or pop-up ads that flash and distract.
There are countless pay per click management services out there competing with each other but, without question, the heavyweights in PPC advertising are, in order:
1. Google Adwords
2. Microsoft adCenter
The rates that these outfits charge for a PPC ad vary significantly depending on the popularity of the keyword or phrase. For example, if an advertiser wants a PPC ad targeted for the phrase ‘cottage cheese’, they can get prominent placement for their PPC ad with a very low bid and a low per-click charge. However, for a phrase such as ‘computer’, an advertiser can expect heavy competition for prominent placement and expect to pay premium per-click rates. It all comes down to supply and demand for the keywords and phrases that the advertiser wishes to target.
Pay per click ads also level the playing field like no other form of advertising. A small, web-savvy company can, with a limited budget, outbid much larger companies with enormous advertising budgets and gain the edge they need to get noticed in their market.