The Benefits and Challenges of PPC Advertising

March 5, 2014
The benefits and challenges of PPC advertising

When it comes to PPC advertising, the benefits almost always outweigh the challenges. Digital advertising is a relatively new medium that offers marketers a plethora of data to optimize that has never existed before. It’s also a world that is ever-changing, which makes it tough to stay ahead of the curve.

PPC benefits I’m most fond of

Before I outline the benefits, I want to provide some numbers as a framework. In 2011, Amazon, Lowe’s, and Kayak had a combined spend of over $140 million dollars through Google AdWords, the most popular PPC advertising platform. Even for a large corporation, that’s a big investment on one channel of advertising.

What am I saying here? There must be benefits — millions of them!

Unlimited data at your disposal

I love data. So there’s no doubt this is one of my favorite benefits. The beautiful thing for a digital marketer is the potential number of insights you can pull. To contrast against traditional mediums — like outdoor advertising — a marketer knows exactly how many impressions the ad got, how many people clicked on the ad, what they did on the website after they clicked on the ad, and more.

For optimization, this is incredible. There’s less guesswork and more significance.

But it doesn’t stop there. Because nearly every user interaction is measured and Google knows a lot about you, any engaged marketer can really learn their target audience on a granular level.

This means we all win — consumers are given relevant and valuable ads and marketers get to keep their jobs.

Expanded reach and highly optimized targeting

Everyone is online. Okay, not everyone. But Nielsen reports a 79% penetration rate for North America. Which is pretty close to everyone!

From a marketing perspective, this means there’s a good chance that most, if not all, of your target audience is logging on. PPC advertising is an easy way to reach those who matter most.

“Those who matter most” is something that smaller businesses (who don’t have millions to spend on market research) may struggle to define in traditional mediums. But as discussed above, digital advertising makes this easier to find out.

And once you do find out, targeting with PPC is awesome. PPC advertising (Google AdWords specifically) allows you to control who sees your ad. But above all else, there’s the almighty keyword — the best targeting tool around. Users search a keyword that is relevant to marketer’s ads, and those ads show.

Instant results

Maybe not instant, but about as instant as you can get in the marketing world. I’m most experienced with Google AdWords, so I’ll use this as an example.

After launching a new campaign, or even changes, one can expect to arrive at work the next morning and already have a decent amount of metrics to look at. While I wouldn’t suggest optimizing on one day’s worth of numbers, it’s great to have the ability to see them.

This also translates into ads showing instantly! After planning and developing a strategy, getting ads up and running around the Internet takes just a click to get them showing. Contrast this against a print mail piece, where it can take days to start measuring effectiveness and final results could take months. Print mail is still very effective, it’s just snail mail in every aspect.

It isn’t all glitz and glamour

PPC advertising is an exciting new medium, but it still comes with the same challenges marketers have faced for years, plus new ones that come along with the digital advertising landscape.

Overwhelming amounts of data

I may be cheating here a bit by listing this both as a benefit and a challenge, but it fits. There’s a ton of data.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming and you may find yourself asking “What data is important?” and “How can I turn this into something actionable?”

Every business and industry operates differently. Every PPC account manager has different KPIs (key performance indicators), so there’s no set list of which metrics to look at. There’s so much stuff that can muddy the waters, and it takes a lot of skill and practice to learn what matters most in relation to your goals.

You have to be an all-around marketer

Allow me to generalize a bit, but I would venture to say from personal experience, a majority of us who manage PPC accounts handle targeting, ad text, keywords, etc. You have to be a creative writer, marketer, and data analyst at the same time.

I’m a numbers guy. I’m most comfortable manipulating spreadsheets chock-full of numbers and digging through Google Analytics. It secretly may be even one of my hobbies.

But when it comes to writing creative and engaging ad text, I struggle with it. It doesn’t come naturally to me. And this is how many people are: great with numbers or great with creative writing.

Nobody can be excellent at everything. But this challenge also means that you can expand your skills into other areas.

Staying ahead of the curve

Google AdWords has updates nearly every single day, and it's just one digital advertising platform. Keeping at the forefront of updates is a full time job by itself. To be honest, I don’t really have an easy solution to offer to overcome this challenge.

It can be overwhelming, because to be the best marketer, it’s important to leverage all of the new tools that advertising platforms make available to us.

If you have any tips/insight on how you stay ahead of the curve, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

We’re PPC experts

If the challenges overwhelm you, or you see a new potential in PPC advertising for your business, drop us a line. We’d love to help you out! We have experience reaching success with PPC for businesses of all sizes. 

Image credit: Huangjiahui