What is PPC Advertising and How Does it Work?

Published April 29, 2019 by Bryan Miller

PPC stands for pay-per-click advertising and is a form of digital marketing that displays your advertisement on various search and social media networks, requiring you to pay for each click your advertisement receives. It is often considered to be among the most important and effective forms of digital marketing around today. When you’re searching for effective ways to utilize your search marketing budget, PPC advertising provides you with the cost efficient method of bringing in qualified leads and potential customers (often combined with an effective SEO strategy for long-term sustainable traffic).

Whether you’re a smaller startup or a larger corporation, saving money while also delivering better results than costlier advertising alternatives is something that should appeal to any business. Many search engines, media buyers, and social media networks like Google, Instagram and Facebook (to name a few) offer PPC advertising platforms which allow their customers to run advertising campaigns through their networks. When using these platforms you typically have direct access to the platform’s network and user data (user preferences, demographics, interests) which adds an extra level of convenience and a suite of tools that can help you create an effective user targeted PPC ad. The PPC ad platform that you use largely depends on your general preference.

Along with the immediate inflow of traffic once you kick on your campaign, PPC will allow you to generate new leads while also building brand loyalty and awareness with a marketing campaign that’s far more affordable than other options such as print or television advertising.

If you use the tools provided by a platform for PPC like Google Ads, you’ll also be provided with rich functionality that allows you to customize every element of your campaign. The results that you obtain from your PPC advertising campaign will give you the customer insight necessary to better optimize your overall web and business strategy. Before you get started on PPC advertising, you should first know about how this form of marketing works and the many benefits that you have to gain from running your own advertising campaign.

Man managing ppc campaign

How Does PPC Work?

Pay-per-click advertising is a very simple form of marketing in which you as the advertiser (you) pays a (typically) very small amount of money every time someone clicks on the online ad that you’ve created (often ranging in the $0.50 to $2.00+ — this is known as the Cost Per Click). These ads can be displayed on Facebook, Google, or a wide range of affiliate sites depending on the platform.

When you’re thinking about starting your own PPC campaign, the process of doing so typically involves creating an account on your platform of choice and setting up an advertisement that you would like to display. Keep in mind that these ads need to be straightforward and to-the-point with an attention-grabbing message in order to attract the right attention and improve your chances at converting those users.

Once you’ve created the advertisement that you would like to display, you will then deposit a certain amount of funds into your account, which is referred to as Ad Spend. These funds are then deducted from your account each time that a user clicks on your advertisement (the various PPC platforms have methods of detecting “false clicks” or “bots” to ensure that you do not waste your advertising budget on non-qualified visitors).

While there are a wide range of different types of PPC ads, among the most common type is a paid search ad. With this type of PPC marketing, your advertisement will appear on search result pages in search engines like Google. Once you run out of ad spend for the current campaign, your advertisement will no longer run on whichever site you’re using.

Creating an ad campaign

Setting Up Your Advertising Campaign

When you’re looking to set up a pay-per-click campaign, your main goals should be to attract attention to your business or product while also converting this attention into sales. Before you create the advertising campaign, make sure that you determine what your exact goals are going to be, which means that you should have an idea of what you want click-through rates and conversions to be. While you’re setting up your advertising campaign, you should focus on targeting the visitors who you believe will most likely convert after they have clicked through to your site — which can be done by age, demographic, interest, and location.

The types of customers who most view your ad through search engines or other websites should be the exact audience that you believe would be interested in your product or service. It is essential that you create your advertisement with compelling ad copy (the content within your ad, typically text that relates to your offering with teaser content that entices users to click on your advertisement) and provide a high-conversion landing page to direct the traffic to and increase your odds of generating a sale/lead for your business.

The words or phrases that you use in your ad copy need to be targeted at your core audience while also being short and concise. Add some personalized content instead of sticking to very general ad copy that merely paints with a broad brush and doesn’t actually pique the interest of potential customers. If you implement your unique selling proposition into the ad, you’ll typically draw in more relevant customers. By understanding your ideal customer, you can create better advertisements with higher click-through rates and conversions.

Choosing keywords

Choosing the Right Keywords/Targets

Among the most important elements of creating an effective PPC campaign is to choose the right keywords and targets. You’ll be required to bid on keywords that you want to use in your campaign, which means that you need to bid on the right keywords. In order to make the right decision with the types of keywords you obtain, it’s important that you conduct comprehensive keyword research that will help you determine the ideal keywords and types of media that you would like your advertisement to display for and ensure a positive return on investment (ROI).

A reputable advertising agency with a focus on PPC marketing will know how to micro-target consumer segments for an effective ROI. Segmented marketing is a great way to maximize your ROI but should only be performed if you’ve effectively identified your main audiences and know how to create different ads that appeal to different groups of customers. The ads will then be seen only by the audience that is most likely to be receptive to them.

Monitoring your campaign

Monitoring Your Campaign

If you want your PPC advertising campaign to be effective and deliver a positive ROI, it’s important that you regularly monitor your campaign for ads and keywords that aren’t performing as well as you would like them to. While it’s easy to get rid of ads and keywords that aren’t as visible or don’t have the  click-through rates, it’s less easy to know what to do when the wrong customer is clicking on the ad.

If you find that some of the traffic you’re bringing in through the ad aren’t giving you the sales or interest that you’re looking for, you might want to consider adding some negative words to your campaign. When placed into your campaign, a negative word will block your ad from being triggered by such a word being entered into a search engine. For instance, you could ad the word “free” as a negative word to your campaign. Once you do so, your ad won’t be shown to any user who enters free into a search engine in relation to your product or service.

Adjusting ad copy

Strategically Adjust Your Ad Copy to Improve Performance

While under-performing ads should be adjusted/eliminated, it’s also important to identify why these ads weren’t effective. Perhaps it was the result of your ad copy being poorly written or the ad being focused on the wrong target. If you can smooth out the rough edges of your marketing and ad copy techniques, your PPC campaigns should be able to obtain better results in the future.

Another great way to improve performance is to strategically adjust your ad copy based on the PPC ads of yours that are already performing well. You need to take your effective ads and run with them throughout your entire campaign. Once you’ve identified which advertisements are performing well and why they are displaying positive growth and performance, you can tailor your ad copy and content towards these high-converting strategies. This is an act of refinement that can be the difference between a lackluster campaign and a highly successful one.

Conducting A/B tests

Conducting A/B Tests to Optimize Your Advertising Strategy

Among the best ways to optimize your advertising strategy is to do so by conducting A/B tests, which have proven to be highly effective at providing businesses with key customer insight. This type of testing is very popular with PPC advertising and involves comparing two versions of an ad to determine which one performs better. In order to conduct such testing successfully, create multiple advertisements that are similar in nature but with some key differences in ad copy and content. Once these ads have been created, run them simultaneously to get an accurate comparison of the campaigns (we want to eliminate various factors including seasonality, trends, etc. that may give us different results if ads are run at different times).

All that’s left for you to do is to monitor the results of these ads by measuring such metrics as conversions, cost-per-acquisition and click-through rates. Use these results and customer insight to determine which of the advertising strategies provide better results for your business. With the information that you’ve gathered, you can optimize your advertising strategy to take this information into account.

Assess results

Always Monitor & Assess Your Results

If you want your PPC advertising campaigns to be truly effective, you must always monitor and assess your results. While different PPC ad platforms work in slightly different ways, you should be obtaining weekly and monthly reports about the performance of your advertising campaigns. Even if you are running a minimal-budget PPC campaign, you do not want to waste your ad spend on ineffective campaigns and marketing strategies. With the extensive amount of information that can be gathered from PPC advertisement platforms, there’s absolutely no excuse for wasting your hard earned ad spend on campaigns that aren’t performing well.

While it’s possible to perform every facet of your PPC advertisement campaign on your own, working with a professional search marketing company is essential if you want to reach an effective ROI with your advertisements. These companies typically have the expertise necessary to know what works and what doesn’t and can apply their experience to ensure a successful campaign for your business. Their experience has also given them the knowledge to understand how to assess the performance of an ad campaign, which should save you a substantial sum of money in the discovery stages.


PPC campaigns can be highly effective when properly utilized. Not only do they provide a new channel of traffic and revenue for your business online, but they provide key customer insight that can be highly beneficial throughout your organization. Understanding your customer will allow you to better position your business, your marketing strategy, and your focus towards a successful business strategy.

If you’re looking to begin your own PPC campaign or would like assistance with an existing campaign, feel free to reach out to us and our team of search marketing professionals will be more than happy to work with your business and ensure a successful marketing campaign!

Bryan Miller

Bryan Miller

Bryt Designs

Bryan Miller is an entrepreneur and web tech enthusiast specializing in web design, development and digital marketing. Bryan is a recent graduate of the MBA program at the University of California, Irvine and continues to pursue tools and technologies to find success for clients across a varieties of industries.

Subscribe to our newsletter



Ready to make something great?

Let's chat about how we can help achieve your web goals

Let's Chat

Bryt Designs

Web Design, Development, & Search Marketing Insights