PPC Snobs

Lesson 2: Platforms

Your favorite social media networks, search engine, app and/or website is most likely a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) platform. These platforms can unlock access to a global audience.

Table of Contents

Learning Objectives

  • Objective #1 – Identify the most popular PPC platforms
  • Objective #2 – Outline the pros and cons of different mediums and channels
  • Objective #3 – Understand how platforms are uniquely positioned for specific businesses models (b2b, b2c, etc..)
  • Objective #4 – Recognize why certain PPC platforms resonate with specific audiences

1. Search

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) — also known as Search Engine Advertising (SEA) and Paid Search  — is extremely easy to spot. This is where I usually start any PPC strategy. Search is the king when it comes to PPC advertising. In fact, search ads account for the majority of Google’s +$200B in revenue

If you’re not familiar with Paid Search Ads, look for the little “ad” label the next time you use Google or Bing to search for something. Anything that says “ad” is PPC/SEM. Not to be confused with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which requires a completely different approach to content and website development.

This channel is highly effective because shopping intent is so clearly defined by the user. People are literally typing into a little box what they want! For example, the user who searches “basketballs for sale, next day delivery” has clearly signaled what they need. You really just need to position your brand in front of that query (and offer a great website/trust experience…more on this later).

2. Social

Just like with search engines, if you look for the little “ad”, “promoted” or “sponsored” label, then you’re likely to spot the PPC ad. Most social media platforms have some form of PPC advertising going. Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, you name it. Matter of fact, many of the top trafficked websites in the world are social networks and offer some form of PPC.

Social PPC is primarily audience driven. If search is defined by what users are looking for, social is defined by what users are interested in. Given this distinction, social is an extremely effective awareness, consideration, and brand building medium. For example, a user who’s profile suggests an affinity for sports (likes, follows and engagement on major sport profiles) could make an effective target for a brand selling sports memorabilia.

Social media is also community driven. Think of how much groups, threads and comments influence platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Quora or LinkedIn. I believe that it’s this element that adds most to a network’s credibility and trustworthiness (we can get to data protection later). Users often look towards these groups for advice on service and product recommendations.

3. Display

Display ads show up on content websites, such as online magazines and blogs. You can setup display ads through the Google Ads platform, which reaches 90% of internet users worldwide

Display ads (retargeting) is usually the next channel I open up after search. Display ads are great for brand awareness, but a well designed campaign can also be highly effective at driving middle and low-funnel traffic. Display ads make it possible to reach diverse audiences easily.

With the addition of video and HTML5 ads, you can offer an extremely interactive experience through display channels. I like to experiment with different kinds of visuals for the ads (animated, pop-art, nature scenes). 

4. Affiliates

Display also extends to affiliates, which is a network or website that sells products/services on behalf of a business (or drives traffic directly to an advertiser’s website). In the PPC space, an affiliate PPC network makes it easier for merchants to connect with specialized audiences. 

Some of the most underrated PPC channels are review and directory websites, such as Capterra, G2, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. Review sites can be helpful for branding and trust building, especially when customers are evaluating services and products.

These platforms are lead generation/affiliate networks at heart. They exist to capture, filter and sell leads for target niches.

5. Video

In my opinion, video is the most powerful outreach tool available to a business. As a medium, video has the capacity to educate, influence and connect with audiences in a way that few other mediums can offer. Online video ads have changed the way that businesses can leverage storytelling, especially since users consume content in much shorter segments. 

The best video campaigns capitalize on the shorter attention span. You’re better off cutting a 30-60 second video into several variations of smaller video segments (6s-15s-20s-30s) that can quickly position your brand, show off your unique selling point, and explain your product/service.

Of all the video PPC platforms, YouTube has the most reachThere are also other great platforms for promoting your video content: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Vimeo, Snapchat. If you have the bandwidth, publish your videos to all of them.

6. Shopping

Shopping Ads are specifically related to e-commerce. They usually show the product image, price, review and a quick description or unique offer (like free shipping). 

They are extremely effective for scaling product advertising, even into the thousands or millions of SKUs. They are also effective at generating sales at a targeted return on ad spend. 


7. Mobile Apps

App campaigns are typically mobile driven (there are desktop websites that will point users to finish the download on mobile).

The two major players are Google Ads App Campaigns (UAC) and Apple Search Ads (screenshot above). 

Final Thoughts...

The best PPC strategies are full-funnel, meaning that there’s a presence on at least the most popular platforms. This is the digital equivalent of speaking multiple languages. I believe in multi-channel PPC strategies that penetrate the customer funnel from top-to-bottom, and left-to-right. 

Search is a great channel for targeting direct purchase intent, while Display and Video traditionally perform better as branding and education channels. Social is great for push engagement, especially in certain sectors (i.e. events, concerts, parties, gaming). Certain channels and platforms resonate with certain audiences better than others. 

My advice is to create a profile on several of the most popular PPC platforms (your favorite search engine, social media network, online publication or video platform is likely a PPC ad network). Next time you sign into your favorite network, pay attention to that platform’s PPC features. What kind of ads do you see? How often are you served a PPC ad? Do you feel even more compelled to shop for that product?

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