Pay per click (PPC), when it first came on the market, was hailed as exactly what everybody wanted – A great way of making money without actually doing anything. At that time, online advertising, SEO, and the realities of online business were lost in a hazy, feelgood hype. Not unlike the current market frenzy, which seems to believe that social network marketing will save the world, PPC started off in a blaze of glory and then hit a brick wall in terms of performance.
In fairness, PPC is on balance a reasonable working methodology. It does provide the mechanisms for effective online advertising. Flat rate and bid-based PPC are actually pretty straightforward commercial propositions for advertisers. PPC is also a transparent methodology, and advertisers do have the ability to choose how they approach using it.
That said, the internet is definitely and irrefutably the most fickle advertising environment in history. One of the original bases for determining cost per click (CPC) was the possible value of a click to the advertiser. That means the bid based PPC ads, in which the highest bidder on a search engine results page is on top of the ad listings have the potential to be highly expensive. Given that statistically, of all the actual clicks, only a certain percentage are likely to result in a sale, the value of PPC has to be measured in relation to cost-effectiveness.
PPC and Marketing
Commercial indications are that PPC has a direct relationship to the market values of search engine optimization. The fact is that what people search, when they search it, and the search terms used vary over time. These search methodologies are also strongly affected by market perceptions and consumer usage.
The name of a movie, for instance, or a character in a movie are highly probable search terms. PPC ads related to the movie for things like merchandising will do well while these search terms are in vogue. For other products, things like brand names are the most likely search terms. In either case, advertisers using PPC can expect stiff competition on search engine results pages. The commercial returns however may be quite low in such a highly competitive market.
You can see the problem – PPC imposes an ongoing cost on an indefinite commercial outcome. This is far from satisfactory for many businesses, and at best is sometimes is just a nuisance.
PPC is definitely far more effective using distinct terminology and keywords for SEO. This is the PPC version of “branding”, effectively creating higher value out of the combination of search terms and ads. This is a very basic marketing principle, but it seems to have taken forever to catch on in PPC-land.
Perhaps more disturbingly, the association between product identity, PPC and marketing best practice doesn’t seem to have registered with the market at all. Keywords can only reasonably be expected to do so much. When associated with good strong brand identities, keywords can be extremely effective. When associated with bland, low-grade search terms, they’re practically useless.
PPC has several strengths, but many weaknesses. It is naive to assume that PPC advertising is effective without comprehensive support from SEO values and good marketing practices. What’s obvious is that the market needs to understand PPC much better to use it effectively.
Author Bio: Tim Millett is an Australian freelance writer and journalist. He writes extensively in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US. He’s published more than 500 articles about various topics, including SEO and Search engine optimization.