Paying for Clicks
Paid-for search engine marketing
Paid-for search (or search engine marketing (SEM) or pay per click (PPC) marketing is the bedrock of most online marketing campaigns. In the UK market, for instance, it accounts for nearly 60% of online media spend across all sectors. It is widely regarded as the most cost effective method of generating qualified traffic, customer registrations and incremental sales. PPC differs from search engine optimisation (SEO) in that there is no technical process required to ensure placement on the search engine. PPC is a purely commercial exchange:
- The advertiser bids for a specific keyword
- Based on the price they are willing to pay, a text ad or sponsored link is ranked and displayed accordingly
- The advertiser pays the cost per click(CPC) fee each time a user clicks on their text ad
PPC can be bought from websites as well as from search engines. A
network such as www.miva.com
uses your chosen keywords to select the sites in its network on which to
place your text ads, and
then charges a PPC.
All the search engines allow you to buy keywords and have your web link listed in the search results on their site when the keywords are used. These results are shown as ‘Sponsored links’ or similar wording, and appear either at the top of the main search results or on one side. The individual search engines give ample online information about their offers. Google sell keywords to advertisers as Adwords, Yahoo as Sponsored search, and Microsoft as Adcenter. Always check their latest terms at the time you are planning PPC. Effective PPC marketing needs diligent monitoring, analysis and optimisation to deliver the best return on investment.
Most businesses will be wise to employ an e-marketing agency to plan and manage their campaigns. This can include management of all keywords, listings, and bids across multiple outlets, with monitoring that allows optimisation of conversions and thus of ROI across all PPC keyword campaigns.
The agency will advise on:
- Keyword insights and selection:
- Brainstorm the keywords relevant to your business from the customer’s perspective
- Use online tools such as Hitwise and KeyWord Discover to research search terms and synonyms. These are equally used for natural SEO
- Build a matrix of search terms
- Ad/sponsored link copywriting
- Testing a variety of headlines and body text
- Setting up different ad versions to represent different keyword themes
- Dedicated landing pages
- Ensuring that relevant search terms and ads drive customers to equally relevant pages. Good landing pages achieve site stickiness and conversion
- Establishing bid thresholds and bid management. Agreeing daily, weekly and monthly budgets
- Managing the spread of traffic according to budget and the client’s demand requirements
- Campaign management and optimisation
- Daily optimisation of high-performing key words and text ads
- Monitoring performance relative to day part. Time of day can impact on CPC and site conversion
- Monitoring performance relative to ranking. Often, a text ad delivers better ROI further down the rankings
- Feeding keyword performance back into the original insight and selection process
- Monitoring can be set up to work in real time, subject to the cost of the system and manning of it.
- It is also important to feed back this knowledge into the website natural SEO work.
- Frequent analysis and testing is the secret of a robust PPC campaign.
This is where online marketing really started – a replication of the print advertising model, but with the benefits of interaction, animation and tracking.
Online advertising is familiar to us as the border surrounding most web editorial that we read on commercial sites. However, the choice of media has become ever more sophisticated in order to remain an attractive option for marketers in the face of search marketing’s rise to dominance. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has produced global standards and guidelines for online advertising. Banners, buttons, skyscrapers, and other variations such as animated GIFs have long been the norm for online ads. The standards for the various types and sizes are at www.iab.net/standards/adunits.asp.
Ads in new windows, such as pop-ups
‘Interstitials’ are ads that load when the user has clicked to move to a new page. They may need to be closed before the page that was originally required appears. They are therefore intrusive and should only be used when it is essential to communicate an important message that cannot effectively be placed on a standard page. Many users turn on their browser’s pop-up blocker, so they will not see your message at all. But this does not necessarily make pop-ups an uneconomic advertising option: only delivered pop-ups are paid for. They can produce high responses (and thus are sometimes charged at a high rate per thousand delivered)