Paid Media and PPC FAQs

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Have questions about paid media advertising? You’re not alone, and it’s a complex subject. Here are the answers to some questions that our marketing teams hear often.

What is paid media?

Paid media refers to advertisements that businesses pay for to send users to their website or show them a brand message displayed on a website, app or other digital service.

Paid media is the part of advertising that requires advertisers to pay for media placements from different publishers or on various platforms. Advertisers pay to serve text-based ads, display ads or video ads to spread their message to audiences they want to attract to their sites or storefronts. The goal of paid media marketing depends on the business – some focus on increasing traffic, while others are aiming for conversions, leads or revenue.

There are two main types of paid media advertising:

  • Search ads, which appear in Google and Bing as links featured more prominently than organic results. These campaigns allow advertisers to reach users who enter specific keywords.
  • Display advertising, which allows businesses’ ads to appear on various websites and social media platforms. These ads can target very specific demographics and interest groups.

How does PPC work, and are there other ad pricing models?

Most paid media publishers engage in an auction-based models that require advertisers to pay for each click they garner from an ad (cost-per-click or CPC) or by increments of 1,000 ad impressions (CPM). “PPC” refers to an advertising model that uses CPC pricing. Actual costs can vary based on the device, time of day, day of the week, ad ranking and/or position.

What do different types of digital ads look like?

Paid search ads: On Google and Bing search results pages, the paid ads are the ones that appear at the very top, leapfrogging your competition’s organic results for terms that are relevant to your business.

Social media ads: Paid ads in social media take the form of clickable content (e.g., display ad with text; video; carousel) that appears in feeds, stories or apps of targeted users that are part of the social platform’s audience network (especially common with Facebook).

Other display ads: Display ads can appear in various digital display networks outside of social media platforms. The network that reaches the most users is the Google Display Network (GDN), which places your ads in a massive collection of websites, applications, and videos. Display ads can be made in many shapes and forms (banner ads, video ads, interactive ads, etc.). If you’re interested in video ads, learn more about YouTube ads in this resource.

Need your digital ads professionally designed?

What should I use as a landing page for ads?

Our paid media team and content experts typically recommend custom-creating landing pages to go along with your paid media campaigns. This ensures that the campaign messaging and design align with the landing page, which creates a pleasant and cohesive user experience that increases the chances of conversion – especially if the landing page contains a contact form, ecommerce or other direct path to purchasing.

Our advice aside, many ads simply link to a website’s product page, service page, resource or homepage instead of a custom landing page.

Let’s talk numbers. What are some industry benchmarks?

Clients are often curious to know what the averages are for a performance metric specific to their industry or vertical. These metrics commonly include clickthrough rate, cost-per-click and expected conversion rate. That research is important and can be helpful in making projections based on industry averages. For example, this resource from Wordstream shows paid search marketing benchmarks across several different business verticals. However, every campaign and website performs differently, so it’s important to use your own historic data as a benchmark for reasonable goal setting.

How many ads should we have in every ad group?

When we hear this question, it’s usually specific to Google Ads campaigns. Campaigns are made up of different ad groups that are related to the campaign topic being promoted. These ad groups contain highly relevant keywords that are centralized around a specific theme or category. You should create a minimum of two ads per ad group so you can do A/B testing. Google suggests creating four to five ads per group as a best practice, as it allows the platform to identify top-performing variations of headlines and description lines.

How many keywords should be in each campaign or ad group?

The best practice is to put five to ten closely themed keyword variations in each ad group. Choosing tightly themed keywords allows you to use them within the ad’s text and within the landing page content, which yields the highest quality scores for each keyword. The quality score is based on the expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. Applying all these best practices typically leads to lower costs and better positions.

What is “match type,” and what do Exact, Phrase, Broad and Negative mean?

Keyword match types are for paid search ads, determining which search queries on Google or Bing can trigger your ads. You could use broad match to show your ad to a wide audience, or you could use exact match to hone in on a specific group of customers. Exact, Phrase, Broad and Negative are the different match types available in Google and Bing.

  • Exact: Ads may show on searches that match the exact term you selected or are close variations of that exact term.
  • Phrase: Ads may show on searches that match a key phrase or are close variations of that phrase, with additional words before or after. However, ads won’t show if a user types an extra word in the middle of the phrase or puts words in a different order.
  • Broad: Ads may show on searches that include modified broad-match keywords – which are close variations of your chosen keywords but not synonyms – in any order. Add a plus sign (e.g., +keyword) to modify a broad-match keyword.
  • Negative: This keyword type is used to prevent ads from being served for specific queries. For example, Ford would want to include “wild horse,” “mare” and “stallion” as negative keywords when trying to promote their Mustang sports cars through the search network. (More details are below.) View our guide on finding negative keywords here.

Should I bid on my own brand terms?

For eight out of ten companies, the answer is yes. Why? Because brand terms are generally less expensive than non-brand prospecting terms. Bidding on your own brand name (and variations) allows you to take up more real estate on the SERP, control the messaging users see and stay ahead of competitors. The 20 percent of companies who need not bother spending money on their own brand terms are usually advertisers with 1) small budgets and 2) little competition.

Should I bid on competitors’ brand terms?

It depends.

If you 1) have a large budget, 2) have already maximized all your other campaigns and 3) want to be aggressive, then it makes sense to be disruptive and bid on these competitor brand keywords that consumers are searching for. Again, brand traffic is typically less expensive than traffic from non-branded search terms, and it helps increase brand exposure. Bidding on these keywords gives you a “choose me instead” moment when you can provide users with valuable information related to their query. Just keep in mind that you’ll likely have lower clickthrough because many users will still choose the brand they were originally seeking. Here’s our resource on what to do when someone bids on your branded terms.

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are keywords you use to prevent your ad from being served to certain traffic segments. They are the queries that seem similar to your target keywords but are not relevant, in terms of search intent. “Mustang horses” would be a negative keyword for a “Ford Mustang” campaign. Negative keywords help you reach the right people with your ads, which controls spend and increases qualified website traffic.

Get Support with Paid Media

If you’re looking for a paid media account audit, ad creative, or full-on paid media ad management, consider Oneupweb. Our experienced team will take your goals seriously and show you exactly what works. Explore our paid media marketing services or contact us today to see how we can help.

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