What is Pay-Per- Click Marketing?
Pay-per-click (PPC) is a method of purchasing targeted advertising space on Internet platforms that takes advantage of organic search terms. Advertisers pay the owners of a web space, such as a search engine results page or a specific webpage, a certain amount of money each time an Internet user clicks on their specific ad. This takes many different forms and has evolved since the technology was first introduced at a 1998 TED conference by Idealab founder Bill Gross.
Search engines like Google and Bing are some of the most prolific providers of PPC space (See also Search Marketing). Instead of placing their ads on specific websites where they believe they will find customers, advertisers enter into deals with search engine platforms. That advertiser’s website appears higher in search engine results, allowing a smaller company to boost their visability in the absense of traditional search engine optimization methods.
For example, a car company that wants to market its 2012 pickup truck could pay Google to insert an advertising link to the car company’s website whenever a user types terms like “pickup truck” and “new truck 2012” into the Google search bar.
Who Uses Pay-Per-Click Marketing?
Today, pay-per-click marketing is commonly used by a variety of businesses and organizations ranging from smaller companies selling goods, to political campaigns hoping to raise awareness about an issues.
Business owners are attracted to pay-per-click marketing because it can be highly effective at a low cost. PPC allows a business to reach people who are likely to already be interested in what the business sells, because many PPC advertisements only appear on websites and search engine results pages that are related to the product.
For political campaigns or other awareness-raising efforts, pay-per-click can also be a cost-effective way to reach likely stakeholders. If a campaign to create no-leash areas for dog owners in the city of Denver wanted to use PPC to raise awareness about the issue or even encourage donations, it could use Bing to place an ad link on search results pages generated by keywords about Denver, dogs, and no-leash areas.
Implementing a Pay-Per-Click Campaign
Depending on its structure, a pay-per-click marketing campaign can be a very frugal or a very expensive form of advertising. An organization that has never used PPC before should start with a small campaign on a limited budget, and then expand the scope of the next campaign based on lessons learned from the first foray.
Before signing up with a pay-per-click service and spending any money, an advertiser should identify who the ad will target and where it will be most effective. Marketers usually first use web analytics software to track web traffic, determining the best location for the advertisement (See also Behavioral Marketing).
Because of the pervasiveness of PPC, some services, especially those on major search engines, can be highly competitive. A small, local taco restaurant, for instance, should think twice about getting into a bidding war with Taco Bell over premium pay-per-click ad space on Google.
Pay-per-click ad space in search engines is the most popular in the field. Here’s how much of the market the major search engines of the world each control in August of 2012.
Many modern pay-per-click packages are very flexible, allowing advertisers to set a limited budget for each day, week, or month, as well as allowing advertisers to freeze the service upon request. An advertiser can allot a monthly PPC ad budget of a certain amount, like $600, and then ask the ad space provider to take down the ad once the number of clicks reaches that limit. This is not only a great way to keep simple financial records during the marketing campaign; it is also an excellent way to control just how many people visit the company website. Such control allows for very straightforward analytics and manageable customer interactions.
Pay-per-click marketing works best as short campaigns, usually ranging from one to three months. The advertiser should analyze the effectiveness of each campaign and then adjust keywords, placement, and budget allocation to capitalize on the data from previous campaigns.
Career with Pay-Per-Click Marketing
A good pay-per-click campaign involves every member of a marketing team, combining the expertise of technical and creative positions. These are just a few examples of the many career tracks involved with PPC strategies.
The proper placement of a pay-per-click ad and the effectiveness of that ad once placed are determined by the analysis of things like site traffic and web page evaluation. Data analysts use software and other technical skills to perform these calculations and make recommendations based on them.
A career in data analysis begins with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, math, computer science, or business. It requires high computer literacy and the ability to communicate complex technical concepts in simple, non-technical ways. Previous experience in systems administration or database management can be helpful as well.
Internet users often experience pay-per-click advertising through images like banner ads or through text-based links. Both will lead to the advertiser’s website. A web designer uses skills in computer programming and visual presentation to make visual ads appealing and ensure potential customers have a good understanding of what their options are once they reach a product website.
Web designers should have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, design, or computer science. Because web design positions require the creation of professional-quality visual materials, a portfolio of past designs can greatly increase the appeal of an aspiring designer’s resume.
While web designers concentrate on the visual and structural elements of the marketing materials connected to a pay-per-click campaign, content specialists engineer the overall message of the product. They write the text of ad materials and develop the tone of the company brand for each campaign.
Content specialists should have a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, English, or communications. A background in copywriting and search engine optimization is very helpful. As with web design, content specialist resumes greatly benefit from the inclusion of work samples.
Learning Pay-Per-Click Strategies
In today’s Internet-dominated business world, marketing education programs now include instruction in Internet advertising, which involves many elements of a pay-per-click strategy (See also Web Marketing). This includes training with software like Adobe InDesign and Dreamweaver for web design, and to customer relationship programs such as SalesForce and analytics software from industry leaders like SAS. Aspiring content specialists will learn the core principles of brand management and the most up-to-date wisdom on keyword usage.
Marketing education classes open up many other great careers with a curriculum that covers other important spheres of knowledge. Tomorrow’s managers will benefit from studies in the best practices of business administration and finance, while those interested in brand development study customer psychology and social trends.
Marketing programs are very hands-on learning experiences. They use texts written by contemporary marketing experts, case studies of real-world marketing campaigns, and student-run simulations to prepare tomorrow’s marketing professionals for careers in fast-paced work environments. The Internet has resulted in a vast array of new marketing systems like pay-per-click, so those who enter the work force with a thorough education in these systems have a great advantage over those who are stuck learning on the job.