Pay Per Click, or PPC advertising is quickly becoming the preferred advertising method as it reaches a broad range of people who are already searching for information, products, or services that relate to your company. Not to mention, it’s extremely cost-effective.
The question really comes down to whether Google Ads should be your primary focus for your campaigns. Companies may feel that Google offers more payoffs than alternatives, such as driving site traffic and increasing brand awareness. But can you use Google to achieve these things for free? It’s a tricky line to walk, and in some cases, no you can’t.
Here we dive into what Google can actually deliver as part of your PPC campaign, how much weight you should give Google Ads and what alternative PPC networks are available.
A Brief Introduction to Google PPC
What is it, why use it, and is it really worth it? These are the three primary questions around Google PPC. Each of these has a very clear-cut answer, although many people try to overcomplicate the subject.
- What – Google PPC is an advertising platform which shows relevant ads, based on keywords that you choose, to Google users. The advertiser pays a small fee whenever a user clicks on the advertisement.
- Why – Companies use PPC because it provides access to a massive network of potential customers but is still cost-effective. It is easy for companies to remain within a marketing budget, and easily change marketing campaign tactics, unlike traditional forms of advertising.
- Is it Worth It? – Google PPC might not be worth it; it all depends on which keywords you use. Google has a limited number of slots available (4 slots) for each keyword, and there are always companies out there competing for the same keyword as you. If the cost-per-click is too high, it may not be a reasonable expense.
Getting started with Google Ads is simple enough. You would create an account and begin inputting keywords that you want to use in your campaign. After that, you can get an estimate of which keywords are best for your campaign and what you’ll likely spend per day. You can choose a plan that works well for you or set manual restrictions on how much to spend on ads daily.
To get the best value out of a Google PPC campaign you need to research your keywords carefully. Not only will you need to spend time researching these keywords, but you’ll need access to quality tools. In many cases, you’ll need to spend money on keyword research as well as the money spent on advertising.
Using Google for PPC Advertising
Is Google the only worthy PPC advertising option? There are two thought processes on this. First, Google is the only choice because it’s the front line for nearly all internet users. Across mobile, desktop, and tablets, Google holds 92% of the global search engine market share. It’s a safe bet.
The second take on the subject is that it’s just not reasonable to put all of your eggs in one basket. Smart investors always diversify their portfolios, and in that same spirit, a smart marketer should always diversify their campaign. Google may play a large role, but they should not be your only facet of PPC advertising.
Strategy Tips for a Google Focused PPC Campaign
If you have chosen to give Google priority in your PPC campaign, which is what most companies opt for, then you’ll need to strategise carefully.
When mapping out your campaign strategy, consider the following:
- Target return on Ad spend once you have enough conversions (Google requires a minimum of 15 conversions in the last 30 days, but I recommend having at least 30 to be more effective), which will boost conversion rates.
- Opt for second, or third Google Ad positions if the first position is too expensive, they’re often more cost-friendly and can be just as effective as the top result.
- Schedule ads for 24/7 viewing at first, then optimise your campaigns to only target your peak hours.
- Increase your ad’s quality score with tight keyword ad groups.
Your marketing skills and experience will, of course, be the driving force behind every campaign you manage. But when working with PPC, be sure to keep an eye out for crucial pivot moments.
If you have chosen to bring some diversity into your PPC campaign, then you’ll need to carefully decide what percentage of your campaign to dedicate into Google Ads.
Deciding How Much of Your Campaign to Dedicate to Google
Should you give Google priority in your PPC campaign? This depends, but more often than not, if you have a product or solution that people know about and are actively seeking it out, then yes, you should. Their market share, ad limitations, and pricing are all good reasons to make Google the heaviest weighted PPC network in your next campaign.
However, diversification is essential, and deciding what percentage of your ads go to Google, and other sources is difficult at best.
So, what are some factors to consider when balancing Google with PPC alternatives?
Give weight based on your market segment’s use.
You already know that Google holds 92% of the global search market, but does that mean that you should dedicate about 90% of your marketing budget towards Google Ads? It’s a reasonable assumption, and many marketers use that very tactic.
But when you consider using market stats which more closely resonate with your ideal consumers, you may come up with a different mix.
Target the device and platform that your ideal customer will use most regularly. For example, reaching a younger audience might require app-based PPC advertising such as Snapchat or Instagram. In contrast to that, an older adult market segment may perform better through Facebook.
Invest in a PPC network that makes marketing easy and has reasonable policies.
Policies are something that you’ll have to navigate regardless of platform, and it’s best to use Google as your benchmark. If their rules are stricter than the policies, you’re already accommodating with Google, you may want to move on to another network.
Choose PPC networks which are transparent with updates and performance.
One of the things that marketers love about Google is transparency with performance. You can closely track the performance of your campaigns to identify what is and is not working without any additional tools. Not all PPC networks offer this data so openly.
If a PPC network offers only minimal feedback about your ads performances, then it will be challenging to test ads. Additionally, if you need to purchase other tools to identify your conversion rates, you should include that cost when calculating the ROI for your campaign.
Alternatives to Google Ads for PPC Campaigns
Google may be the leader in PPC advertising, but there are many other options available. Some options target only a single niche and others disperse a set of ads across various devices and platforms. Here is a bit of quick insight into some alternatives that you may want to consider.
Microsoft’s Bing search engine certainly isn’t Google, but it does make 2.38% of the worldwide search engine market. That might seem small, but it’s Google’s biggest competitor. Consider using Microsoft PPC to target specific geographic market segments. In August of 2018, Bing made up 14.29% of all U.S. searches.
Bing provides a substantial share of desktop searches as well, reaching 63 million users that aren’t accessible through Google.
Bing Ads is an excellent option for:
- Marketers that have plateaued on Google Ads.
- Marketers that have difficulty driving traffic with Google Ads because of keyword competition.
- Marketers that have tight budget restrictions or are new to PPC.
AOL has continued working in the background and still occasionally comes out with a few really excellent services. ONE is among those that really stunned the community. It’s self-service, which instantly means that it comes with access to a ton of performance data.
ONE acts as a mobile ad platform, creating a network between websites and mobile applications. Advertising through about 50,000 mobiles apps, you can put this network to use to reach a market segment that uses apps and mobile devices more than standard search engines.
Additionally, there’s no minimum, and you can adjust your ads whenever you need to. There’s virtually no commitment. AOL’s ONE stands as a way to raise awareness and increase your leads, but you must then grow, nurture, and manage these leads.
If you run a store online, you should consider Amazon. If you’re primary an e-commerce based business and want to focus on directing people towards your products rather than information or service-based pages, you might want to give Amazon a higher priority than Google. E-commerce SEO requires a little extra attention, and using e-commerce SEO in PPC ads does too.
Amazon offers an edge over other PPC networks with:
- Video and Display Ads
- Custom Ads
- Multiple PPC ad types (sponsored products, product display, headline search)
What is the downfall of using Amazon? For smaller businesses, Amazon is a gamble because you’re putting your product right next to high-performing, similar products on Amazon. Not to mention that Amazon CPC is getting expensive as marketers are flocking to the platform.
Amazon offers a significant benefit though that even Facebook and Google can’t provide. With Amazon PPC, you can closely track conversions after a user clicks on the ad. Consider using Amazon in your mix if you’re also evaluating other ways to improve your conversions.
An important note, if you’re selling to Amazon shoppers, you will use Seller Central. Whereas if you’re selling to Amazon rather than Amazon shoppers, you’ll use Vendor Central.
Facebook is the second largest PPC network with their paid ads. They offer a vast consumer base, reasonable pricing, and guaranteed visibility. But while people are flocking to Facebook, there is a meagre click-through rate. Why?
Facebook users aren’t in the app or on the site with the intent of leaving Facebook. It’s not a search engine, and Facebook users have become accustomed to glossing over unwanted ads.
Then you must consider the rules. Facebook is a different beast when it comes to PPC advertising rules. For example, ads which appear to target a specific group are not permitted. That is the basis of advertising and a fundamental part of marketing.
Source: Facebook Policies
It’s the personal attributes policy which states that ads cannot contain anything which implies personal attributes of users it might reach. With this policy in mind, PPC advertising with Facebook should be considered carefully.
Facebook still stands as the second most common because of their targeting abilities. They even outperform Google with their ability to pinpoint demographics, connections, languages, ages, interests, and even behaviours.
Pinterest definitely taps into specific markets and completely misses others. The impact that the platform has is outstanding as 87% of “pinners” have made a purchase because of Pinterest. Pinterest PPC advertising can bring in a massive stream of customers with very little investment.
The tradeoff that comes with PPC ads on Pinterest is that you need a top-notch creative team. Text and visuals can make a huge difference here, which can put a drain on other resources, specifically on your team’s time.
Getting the Most Impact from Your PPC Campaign
As companies regularly report earning $2 of revenue for each dollar spent with Google Ads, it is reasonable to give Google Ads a substantial percentage of your campaign.
Then when you consider aspects such as Google’s market share, and their average click-through rate of about 3.17%, you may even want to make Google Ads your primary focus in advertising. It is reasonable to put as much as 90% of your PPC campaign into Google Ads.
However, diversification in your campaign’s mix is essential as well. Focus on finding one or two PPC network alternatives to Google that:
- Cater to your market segment
- Offer competitive CPC pricing
- Provide a variety of formats such as image ads, text-based ads, and even app ads.
Don’t forget how relevant your keywords are either. You will need more than a handful of keywords. Instead focus on building a long list of keywords that suit your brand, products, and customers.
Your keywords will create consistency across your brand. Your ads, landing pages, and blog content should create a cohesive message for your consumers. The best way to ensure that your brand is consistent is to use similar keywords across a multi-channel advertisement strategy.
About the author:
Founder & CEO of Market Ease Business Promotions, Binh has worked with, and advised, some of the largest national campaigns and biggest brands in Australia and around the world, including Hyundai Motor Company Australia, Subaru Australia, Etihad Stadium, yd., Tarocash, Connor, Cartridge World Australia, and the Australian Federal Government.