Pay-Per-Click: How it Works and is it Right for Your Business?

By James Tredwell on November 13, 2019

Pay-per-click or PPC marketing can be a powerful tool that you can add in your arsenal of digital marketing skills. 

If you want to improve your visibility online, drive traffic to your website, generate leads, and boost your sales, then PPC can help you achieve these goals. 

But for you to experience these benefits, you need to have a solid understanding of how PPC works first, as well as how you can create high-performing campaigns.

What are Pay-Per-Click Ads?

PPC advertising is a strategy wherein a particular brand places an ad online, and then pays each time a user clicks on it. Therefore, there’s no cost of placing an ad. A cost is only incurred once users start engaging with the ad. 

PPC marketing can be further broken down into two categories:

  • Search advertising: Ads that show up on search results.
  • Display advertising: Ads that appear as videos, website banners, sponsored social media posts, and other third party sites. 

How does it work?

Let’s say you want to run a billboard ad. Then you have to pay for that spot. Also, if you want to run a commercial on television, you have to pay for that too. 

The internet pretty much works the same way. There will be sites that will offer you a prime real estate. So, if you want your brand to be promoted on those sites, then you have to pay per click or per a certain number of views.

At Voy Media, my PPC agency in NYC, we always encourage our potential clients to give PPC a try since it is a cost-effective way of promoting their business. In fact, one of the most common ways these sites charge for ads is through impression count.

So, if you go for that ad model and then run your ad on a premium site like let’s say, Buzzfeed, then you could end up being charging for every 1000 views of your ads.

That said, it is important to know that PPC ad campaigns have two popular categories: Google Ads and Social Media Advertising.

Google Ads

Usually, in a PPC campaign, you’re paying Google to list your ads on the top, bottom, and right pane of organic search results. If somebody clicks on your ad, then you have to pay for the cost per click. When your budget runs out, Google won’t run your ads until you fill up your fund.

Below are the different kinds of Google Ads:

Search Ads

Search ads is the most common type of PPC advertisement. It is shown above or beside the search results on Google, depending on a user’s search query.

So, when someone searches for the products and services that you’re offering, they might come across your ad. Going with the PPC model, you only have to pay once they click on your ad. 

Display Ads

Display Ads aren’t a precise pay-per-click model, but the process is quite similar.

Whether your ads are text-based or media-rich banners, display ads can be developed to be featured on about 650,000 apps or two million websites. Thus, expanding your audience reach.

Local Search Ads

These are not a separate type of PPC ads, rather they’re a subset of the usual Search Ads. 

Local Search Ads are ads that are location-focused, searching for services and businesses near you through Google or Google Maps. 

Usually, Google will set your campaign live. So, if you’re a local business, or you’re shipping to a particular area, or provide your services to a particular geographical location, then you have to customize Location Targeting in Google Ads. 


These types of ads are usually shown to people who have visited your mobile app or your business site. It helps you to easily reconnect with users that have previously shown interest in your products and services.

These types of ads can either be shown as Search Ads or on the Display Network, then priced to an automatic bidding model. 

You need to undergo a few extra steps to set this up, but it’s worth it, especially if it dramatically boosts your conversion rates and click-through by narrowing down your audience and reaching out to those who have already made a connection with your business. 

Social Ads

Aside from Google Ads, Social ads can also give you unmatched refinement with your audience. Of course, the giant in the world of social PPC is Facebook, with billions of monthly active users. If you’re in the B2B industry, then LinkedIn is a more strategic platform. 

Facebook Ads

There are a wide variety of ads that are available on Facebook and its associated platforms. You can also opt to define your audience based on location, demographics, interests, and more. 

To ensure that you get the most out of your Facebook Ads, you have to install a Facebook Pixel, which lets you collect data from your site visitors. 

If you’re not sure how you can define your audience, then the Lookalike Audience feature lets you asses the commonalities of your existing audience, then target users that are quite similar to them.

LinkedIn Ads

If you’re aiming directly for customers, then Facebook is probably going to get you the best return on investment. However, if you’re in the B2B industry, then LinkedIn is worth considering. 

Although there’s a text-only option for ads in the platform, ads that have images tend to get more clicks, so it helps that you do both. 

You can then pick your audience, skills, job title, demographics, and more. These PPC ads are usually placed on the bottom side of the user’s inbox or LinkedIn homepage. 

Is PPC right for your business?

Because of PPC advertising’s success and popularity, more and more businesses are now considering whether or not they want to take the plunge. 

Sometimes, navigating the world of PPC can be challenging, and you can easily be swept up without first considering your business’ needs. 

So what you need to do is to thoroughly examine your business, as well as your current marketing practices to be able to maximize your PPC potential.

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