What is Pay Per Click Advertising and is it really worth it?


As someone with a firmly embedded geek streak, the creation and management of pay per click advertising campaigns (PPC ads) is a passion. There’s such a feeling of satisfaction to be had when the return on investment and audience engagement is on the increase as a result of good campaign optimisation, we firmly believe that pay per click advertising can deliver some fantastic results. But, only with some robust strategic thinking behind it.

So, what are Pay Per Click Ads?

In their simplest form, they are text, image, video or product ads that advertisers pay to have positioned prominently in front of a target audience on a particular platform or within a publishing network. As the name suggests, advertisers only pay when a user clicks (or interacts) with the sponsored advert.

For example, using the search term “summer holidays“ on Google, Jet2 has selected to display an advert for that phrase. On Google, ads are annotated with the green ad box. Similarly, on Bing Jet2 occupy the top position but ads are annotated with a grey signifier.

pay per click ads google

PPC Ads Bing

Ads appear when a set of preselected circumstances occur. For instance, when a user that matches the advertiser’s target profile searches a selected phrase, all advertisers bidding for that placement are put into an auction. The platform’s algorithm considers several factors and then displays the adverts accordingly.

There are so many platforms out there that offer advertising based on this pay-as-you-go style model, that there’s a wealth of opportunity at your fingertips, not only to reach an otherwise untapped audience but also within a controlled budget. Not only that, but it’s also (almost) entirely measurable so return on investment (ROI) can be keenly analysed.

I’m really proud of our team here at AB, and recently we’ve managed to achieve some really exciting results for our clients.

  • For one of our travel and tourism clients, we recently reached a new high of 419% increase in return on investment measured through revenue driven by PPC ads over a given period.
  • In the case of a UK B2B client, we’ve driven a sizeable quantity of new business leads for under £100 each (which is well within their typical cost per acquisition).
  • We’ve used a combination of shopping ads and branded ads with location extensions to drive footfall to two retail stores, giving them their best sales weekends ever.
  • As part of an integrated campaign, we’ve used sponsored pre-roll video ads to give exposure in selected audiences for an average cost per view below £0.05.

All pretty impressive stuff we think, but how do we do it? Well, that would be telling, but let me give you the principles from which we’ve managed to drive these incredible results for our clients.

The role of PPC ads in the user journey

It’s important to start out with aims and objectives for your business. Before we even get to thinking about pay per click ads as a tactic, think about where your business is going. What is it you hope to achieve? You should have some clearly defined aims and objectives upon which to base the strategic thinking behind any sort of marketing activity. Taking a holistic view of the user journey from start to finish helps identify the situation of the customer at each point. It allows us to think how best to meet their needs with your product or service.

Once there’s a clear set of objectives in place backed up with a strategy, we can start to think tactically. There’s such a plethora of options within Google Adwords and Bing Ads (two of the main publishers we use) that selecting the appropriate type of ad is crucial.

We’ll take the insights you’ve gained about your audience and pair them with the knowledge we’ve gained over several years of running PPC campaigns as well as industry best practice to suggest the optimal approach. This includes:

  • Advert types – we’ll discuss with you which formats we think will work best to meet your objectives
  • Audience targeting – we’ll advise on how best to target your desired audience through these platforms in order to achieve the most effective campaign response
  • Budgets – we can give some guidance on initial budgets based on benchmark ROI that we’ve seen in previous campaigns within similar sectors.
  • Duration – when starting a new advertising campaign, there’s always learning period before we can start to optimise performance, so we’ll discuss this with you.


If you’re thinking about starting a pay per click advertising campaign, pause a moment. Come and talk to us about how we can help. Contact our Sarah Gill, Head of Digital Marketing & Strategy today.


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Sarah is Head of Digital Marketing and Strategy at AB… and enjoys helping organisations get the most from their marketing activities. With an affinity for a data-driven approach, she specialises in customer and user experience, SEO and PPC management. She was recently awarded her MSc in Digital Marketing Comms and joined the AB… team in April 2017.


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